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.
are good, really
, good. I'm just a guy waiting for
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
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!
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