The metro has a fairly constant stream of talent plying its trade in the catacombs of the stations or on the train cars themselves.
For me time has crept up in such a way that I just accept any and all of that as a part of the color of the paint on the walls or the occasional smell of urine in the tunnels.
That’s really too bad – for me – because a lot of the entertainers are really, sometimes really, really, good.
But I can’t help how I am.
As I passed from the phase of being an awed tourist to an occasional actually lives here resident of Paris, the needs of getting from point A to point B have overtaken that tourist specialness with its attendant awe.
So what happened today on the 8 line, direction Ballard, was really, really special.
I had managed to get my position of choice when I got on the car: I hadn’t had to wait for several stops for it to clear out so I could take it.
I had just settled into my metro trance when I heard toward the rear of the car a musical start up.
It was the typical recorded background stuff that individual musicians take on to the metro with them so they can add their own music, performed live and on the metro car, making the performance sound sort of fully baked.
So I was ready to ignore the whole thing.
And I did for a surprisingly long time.
I say surprisingly long time because when the stuff that I was hearing finally sank into my brain I thought I must be hallucinating.
I heard guitar such as I have never heard: notes were flying from everywhere; keys were not changing, they were merging and disassembling; there were several tunes seemingly in confluence.
I was just dazzled.
So I looked back to see who was doing this and how it was being done.
I saw a relatively slender, small man who was not playing a guitar (an acoustic, black flat top with a cut out for high fret access, and with an electric pickup) he was engulfing it.
All I can say about that is I saw an organic thing consisting of an identifiable human being who seemed to be connected to the guitar he was brandishing in a manner that made the guitar a part of him, or made him apart of it; in either event the music was sublime.
I saw him doing things with his fingers on the fret board that I understood – sort of – but couldn’t believe that I was seeing.
He even, I swear, played some base notes on the low e string at the highest fret locations with his thumb.
I fought my way back to the part of the car where he was playing, gave him a euro, for which he said “merci” and got off at the next stop which was Strasbourg St Denis.
I am posting a video of me singing an old Buddy Holley song because what I do on the fret board is a trivial to the point of not being very relevant example of the phenomenal stuff this guy was doing.
I am unable to figure out why someone beyond virtuoso is playing on the Paris Metro rather than the concert halls of the world.
Maybe he only knows the song I heard him play?