Saturday, April 01, 2006

Buskers and Busking

A friend recently told me that he is a part-time “busker”.

“Busker”, I said, “what is that?”

It is an interesting concept and I followed up with some research on the internet.
The dictionary says it is a noun that describes “a person who entertains people for money in public places (as by singing or dancing)”. In another site it is mentioned that the origins of the word is from the Middle Spanish word, “buskar” meaning to “seek or to wander”. Knowing my friend, it is this latter description that fits perfectly!

So basically buskers are street side performers – they may be singing, dancing, acting, painting, sculpting, basically entertaining people passing by or a particular community of people for any particular reason like I have heard of people singing besides the camps of the people affected by the Tsunami to bring some measure of cheer into their lives. Singing and listening to good music has a therapeutic effect, we all know that.

But what surprised me was that busking in some societies is “illegal”. Many big cities in the world have banned it. Can such spontaneous expressions of creativity become a law and order problem, I wonder? No wonder we don’t see buskers around.

Coming to think about it now, here in North India at least we often encounter children and adult men in public transport systems who break into songs, often religious ones or who perform some small craft like jugglery and then pass around a vessel to collect money. They are often from lower economic backgrounds. I wonder if this can be called busking as well?

I also found out that busking is an “ancient” way of living. It has quite a history. Anybody interested in the history can check out
here. The writer of this site says something that I thought I must quote, “So the next time you see street performers, carrying on the great and ancient occupation of busking, remember the history they carry, and the risk involved, and remember to toss a buck or two their way.”

Well, my friend and his troupe :) are great fans of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, the legendary singers and songwriters who have been buskers themselves. They sing and play the guitar on the streets of Kula Lumpur and entertain people with classic pieces like “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Forever Young”, “Helpless”, “Heart of Gold” etc. etc.

I have been trying to see if I could upload the mp3 of “Forever Young” and “Heart of Gold” here. The lyrics are beautiful. I came across something called the audioblogger that took me to some unknown territory but without really providing a solution. So I give up (for now). In any case if that does not work, I have come across this wonderful music download software and I will share about it soon.

Anyway the lyrics for now –

Forever Young
May god bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stayyyyy forever young
Forever young forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young forever young
May you stay forever young

Heart of Gold
I want to live,
I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.
It’s these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.

I’ve been to hollywood
I’ve been to redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind, it’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.

Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.


Meera said...

Wow !! Thats very interesting..... I was wondering though are buskers the same as gypsies. You know people were harsh them on too. Have you read "the hunchback of Nortre dame".... if you see the Disney cartoon of it, over there they highlight how people were treated badly......I personally feel any form of creativity should be spread. It shouldn't be made illegal or banned. Gypsies were treated badly because they were considered as thieves so do you think its the same with buskers....

ambrosia said...

Hi!! Your questions led me to some more research :). There are a few blogs on buskers! I found this threaded discussion on where buskers have been described as "Street performers, buskers, and mayhem makers taking the street and making magic in the unexpected moment". Hmmm, sounds exicting! Also found this buskers website where one can listen to some music online.

I think buskers are not gypsies. There is a class difference. I am trying to think why they should be banned. I think a lot of cities have a law that no organised gathering can take place for a certain period of time at any particular place. I know Delhi has a particular street in which no permission from the police is required to hold a gathering. That is the street where we often see trade unions and other movements staging their protests. Because you never know when a gathering may turn revolutionary, I think the State takes precautions. Also I think a gathering which has collected for the sole purpose of entertainment may obstruct traffic, roads, pavements...

I have'nt read the book you mentioned, there are so many nice things to read!!

Meera said...

Well the first link is blocked. So I don't have access to it. The second link is very cool. What you say makes a lot of sense.....didn't think it in this angle. And yes their are so many things especially nice things to read. I have these huge wish list which I keep to remember what I want. Thanks for everything.

The thinking thinker said...

off topic:

Nice post.

Why don't you post more often.


ambrosia said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. Keep coming. Why don't I post more often... I will try to :)

The thinking thinker said...

hahaha please do try and give us a chance to fool around on your blog as you do on my blog.

Where are you from?

ambrosia said...

Where am I from... keep guessing, I have left a good number of clues...

The thinking thinker said...

Well the only hint there is - NORTH INDIA and it is pretty big...

Until and unless ur so big tht I can see u... lol ... ;-)
Its difficult to say where, you are from...