A Boston Busker’s Tale

I sang a song for sixpence in the streets of Harvard Square
Like Tracy Chapman did — I needed food
But you need some extravangance to make your money there
Most likely, all you’ll earn is attitude

I tried it in the subway, on the Blue line, heading back
and got a few more pennies in my hat
Enough to pay the trainfare, but not more to end my lack
A Boston busker’s seldom sleek or fat

And on the Green line, give it up, that’s penny pinching land
For people listen, but give up no dough
Your voice will ring and echo, for the reverb is quite grand
But the rate of earning is so very slow

The Red line from JP to Alewife, that’s a risky route
through Roxbury deep pockets are not found
And often the performer there is looked upon with doubt
If there is not a subway cop around

Through Chinatown, the Orange line is overcome with noise
There’s not much point in playing down that track
And visiting the strip-clubs, often poncey college boys
Will need to bum the fare on their way back.

My favorite spot? Along the Charles, despite the rotting stench
that floats above the river like a cloud
You may not get much money, but at least there is a bench
where you can sit and play, however loud

In short, there’s not much money to be made just playing songs
Unless you are a juggler or clown
And even then, you’ll draw a crowd, but not a paying throng
It’s never been an all that giving town

So sing for sixpence if you will. And me? I’m now employed
With cash enough to grocery shop and dine
If I see you on the street, I will be overjoyed
And to your meagre coins, add one of mine.

17 AUG 2003

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