Don Partridge, busker: Rosie; Blue Eyes; Breakfast
On Pluto. For some the last one is a Patrick McCabe novel. But for
those of us who were there, Breakfast On Pluto was Don's third
single, a flop after the stunning success of the first two. Don was finished.
Despite his brief time in Eden, I, like most buskers then, didn't see busking as a path to stardom. It was about getting a couple of quid. We weren't musos; we strummed a few tunes.
The way it is
Now, for the times we live in, I sometimes say to people who stop with me, Listen, I'm only 69 ... I can still make it ...
The sine qua non
Do you write your own stuff? a fellow busker asked me.
No, I replied, the Nobel Laureate got there before me.
Oh, says he, I think I've managed to say a few things Dylan didn't. I write all my stuff.
Is it about breaking up being hard to do? I asked.
Instead of laughing at this, what I considered to be a quare bon mot, he recommended tartly that I catch myself on.
The ascent of man
Electricity, wheels, and a shitload of singer/songwriters vivisecting love are the defining characteristics of any civilisation worthy of the name. I’ve done my bit – I wrote two tunes in homage to my cocker spaniel.
The new Donovan
Give us Ride On ... ! shouted another punter.
Christy Moore, finger in ear, stupid skull cap thing on, eyes closed tight, face all scrunched up to indicate total - bogus - immersion in the bullshit lyrics: Royde on, see you, Oy could niver go wit chew ... Oh dear ...
What about Jennifer Juniper instead? I reply.
Fuck off, he says.
Jesus is on that mainline - tell him what you want
You shouldn't be fuckin' sittin' there with your fuckin’dog! roared some young guy right in my face. That girl down there has been buskin' here for months, ya bastard ...
He's referring to the jazzy-type, crooner chantreuse strumming blandly, about 70 metres away up the same street.
I saw him talking to her earlier. Is he her personal vigilante man? Brim-full of indignation, he seethes around, hopping from foot to foot, a real crosspatch. I’m nearly 70, and he’s, like, 25. I don’t like that sign.
Desperate measures needed. Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring. I read once that the physicist, and celebrated rationalist, Richard Feynman had a 'lucky' horseshoe above his front door. When tackled about this clash between principle and practice, he is reputed to have replied, Apparently it works, whether or not you believe in it ...
I can report, as an atheist, it's the same with Jesus. For lo and behold, the Equaliser, on hearing Bach, wanders off ...
After the rain
As a Philosophy graduate, I sit on a public bench while busking. This denotes that the philosopher is in, and consultations are free. It’s mostly head-the-balls, numbskulls, and saved fruitcakes. But once there was this woman. I'd been playing You've Got A Friend, and she sat down and told me it was her beloved ex's favourite song. It all came out: he’d dumped her, without even saying why. This lack of any reason for it still gnawed away at her.
Gifted, as I've always been, with less than zero insight into dangerous liaisons, I still felt obliged somehow to sweat out a few words of commiseration. Well, I finally said, as the Prophet says, Somebody hurt you; go on and search, but there’s no reason to be found; somebody told a lie, tears fall down ...
She said, No offence, but I’ve no patience with that Bible crap ... And, assuming, I suppose, that I was a saved nincompoop, she hurried off.
Actually, I’d been quoting some lines from a song by Chuck Prophet IV, ex-lead guitarist of a long ago American band called Green On Red. Furthermore, my contention is that if we could get all the singer/songwriters in the world into a big detention centre, waterboard them, and systematically hammer Chuck's lines into their refined sensibilities, we could leave relationships at all you need is love, but it might as well rain until September.
⏩Michael Praetorius spent his working life in education and libraries. Now retired, he does a little busking in Belfast ... when he can get a pitch.