Wednesday, May 6, 2009

For free

Play, San Francisco, March 2009.

Whenever I come across a street musician of exceptional talent, I can't help myself from humming Joni Mitchell's song, "For Free," her guilt-ridden ode to nameless, pass-the-hat, pass-me-by musicians like the ones you see here. The song comes from the 1970 album, "Ladies of the Canyon," her third, following the phenomenal success of "Clouds".

I slept last night in a good hotel
I went shopping today for jewels

The wind rushed around in the dirty town
And the child
ren let out from the school well
I was standing on a noisy corner
Waiting for the walking green
Across the street he stood

And he played real good
On his clarinet, for free

Now me I play for fortunes
And those velvet curtain calls
Ive got a black limousine
And two gentlemen
Escorting me to the halls
And I play if you have the money
Or if you're a friend to me
But the one man band
By the quick lunch stand

He was playing real good, for free

Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never
Been on their TV
So they passed his music by
I meant to go over and ask for a song
Maybe put on a harmony
I heard his refrain
As the signal changed

He was playing real good, for free

VIDEO: Joni Mitchell, "For Free," Live at the BBC

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