Supporting The Arts In Boston

I like riding the subway because it's so completely anonymous. Not only does no one know who you are, but they really don't want to know who you are. It feels so primal to descend the humid concrete steps into that dark & strange underworld. It's a journey outside normalcy.

My travels this morning take me off the Red Line, and through the fluorescent tunnels to the platform for the Orange Line to North Station, Boston. Today, there's an ancient black guy playing music for a mostly indifferent crowd. He's singing the most soulful version of Ernie Marrs' "Plastic Jesus." Slow and low.

I don't care if it's dark or scary
Long as I have magnetic Mary
Ridin' on the dashboard of my car
I feel I'm protected amply
I've got the whole damn Holy Family
Riding on the dashboard of my car

His thick, raspy tobacco-stained blues voice, was backed up with a sweet finger picking harmony pouring out of a giant old Gibson Les Paul. He's got one of those little pignose amplifiers, but the sound seems to fill the subway platform like a concert hall. The song itself rips a hole in your heart. The original subterranean homesick blues.

I'm so deeply moved by this old guy singing his heart out to a bunch of sullen commuters on the grimy Orange Line platform down deep in this cave.

Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air,
A wreck may be ahead, but He don't mind.
Trouble coming He don't see,
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind.

At least the acoustics are good, really, good.  I'm just a guy waiting for a train and unexpectedly I'm in the presence of greatness.  Looking around me, it's pretty apparent that this isn't a religious experience for most of my fellow viajeros

The train arrives, and in a rush before getting on, I grab all the loose change in my pockets and toss it into the musician's hat. He looked up from his playing just long enough to catch my eye, then I was gone, and he was gone.

Once I was on the train, I realized that I'd just tossed him my last subway token and I that I didn't have any small bills in my wallet, and....damn! Supporting the Arts is a tricky business!

{Chorus} Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus, Riding on the dashboard of my car ... I'm afraid He'll have to go. His magnets ruin my radio And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar.


Dedicated to hamster bong who knows all about the T, & Halspal cause he understands the blues