My Ottawa Citizen column this week was inspired by the announcement, from the City, that the busking program was going to make a comeback on the LRT.
We knew this was coming. It had been floated earlier as a way to bring back riders. And after I was done rolling my eyes, I decided to write about the songs I’d love buskers to play.
I love busking, especially the minimally regulated kind. The more random art the better, is my view. I want buskers to do well in our town. But I know this municipal administration; they’ll pat themselves on the back once there’s three guys and a couple of instruments on the platforms, and figure they don’t need to look after the basics of how to attract riders to a transit system, namely reliable service and decent prices. Of course I’m not an expert. Snort.
In the meantime, I made song suggestions and asked people to send me theirs. And boy, did they. Here’s a sample:
On Twitter @Bogdan_Oliver suggested Mad World by Gary Jules, What Else is Thereby Röyksopp, The Last Train and River of Darkness by The Midnight, The Road to Hellby Chris Rea, I’m Waiting Here by David Lynch & Lykke Li, Never Let Me Down Againby Depeche Mode and Numb by Archive “for when stuck in traffic.”
Friend Toon suggested Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan, Train Kept A’ Rollin by the Yardbirds, Train in Vain by The Clash (also suggested by Brian Beard and Phillip Blanchet) and Gone Dead Train by Crazy Horse.
Theresa Kavanagh, the Councillor for Bay Ward, chimed in with Taking Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
William van Geest suggested Spadina Bus by The Shuffle Demons. I had never heard that song and now wish I could go back in time. The 1980s were not Toronto’s best decade.
Derrick sent in Carol Brown by Flight of the Conchords.
Never one to shrink from controversial statements, Sam Hersh offered Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice.
Astrid is spectacularly on point with Tired of Waiting by NoMeansNo.
So are the peeps behind the Friends of Carlington Woods account with I want to be Sedated by The Ramones.
Vicky Smallman chimed in with a blast from the past: M.T.A. by The Kingston Trio. (Also recommended by John Rippo, Rick Kohler and Mike Boone.)
Robin Richardson sent in Runaway Train by Soul Asylum.
The delightful Grumpy In General suggested Greyhound by Harry Chapin. “It’s a dog of a way to get around…”
Peter emailed the traditional folk song She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.
People also sent a bunch of awesome recommendations via Facebook.
I knew I could count on Bruce Levine to add some Springsteen to this list and he did not disappoint with The Train Song. “I’ve been a long time riding down this rusty track and fear that I’ll never get home.” Indeed.
Philip Cassidy offered Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne.
I want to thank Zvi Leve for lightning the mood with a non-painful bicycle song, Diary of a Bike by Lucas Santtana. It’s so lovely I’m going to embed it right here.
Zvi also sent Waiting for the Bus by Violent Femmes.
Gary Dimmock says the best transit song is Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks.
David Willson suggests Born on a Train by The Magnetic Fields, Bus Rider by The Guess Who (also recommended by John Brenner), C’mon N’Ride It (The Train) by Quad City DJ’s, Metrocard Song by The Blue Hundreds, I missed the Bus by Kris’s Kross and This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore by Elton John (which I also have on my list).
And now for the crowning glory. I never said anything about there being a contest, but I didn’t need to. You guys know me well enough by now. And the hands-on winner is formidable Citizen columnist Bruce Deachman who came up with a doozy of a playlist. Here it is, in no particular order. Well done, Bruce!
Road to Nowhere by Talking Head, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain by Hank Williams, It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry by Bob Dylan, Helpless by Neil Young (“There is a town in East Ontario…”), Stuck by Nora Jones (“I’m sitting here stuck and plastered to my seat”), Take the Long Way Home by Supertramp, Long Way Home by Tom Waits, Me and My Chauffeur Blues by Memphis Minnie, Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel, Broke Down Engine Blues #1 by Blind Willie McTell, Lost Train Blues by Woody Guthrie, A Train that Never Runs by Bobby Bare and What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round by The Monkees.
Want to keep the game going? Add your suggestions in the comments.
Sunday update: I’d missed this one. How could I?