Sunday, April 29, 2007

Influence Peddling

Many years ago, around the time I started performing in the subway, I began an experiment to see if I was able to have any effect. After all, I was playing music in one of the the world's great cities, and thousands of diverse people from all over the world were hearing me every day. In fact, a fellow performer noted to me once that just performing three hours a day downstairs, one could easily be heard by a million people a year.

When I heard this I began to see this street music thing as something that could make a difference. To test my theory, I would close each set when the trains arrived by saying "Have a wonderful day." Several years later, Dan Rather was saying it at the end of his nightly newscast. I have no way of knowing how the phrase made it that far up the food chain, but I was floored when I heard him say it.

My work often has me in diverse parts of New York City. From the financial district of Wall Street, to as far North as East 96th St in Manhattan, and as far south as Park Slope and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Prior to 9/11 I performed at least once a week at Prince St in Soho. Many times over the years folks have come up to me and declared that my performance 'made their day' or that I had sung their favorite song just when they needed to hear it.

I'll probably never know the extent of the influence I've had on my audiences over the years. However, while playing with my new Gizmo this week, I discovered that the heart adjusts its rhythms to the tempo of whatever music a person is listening to. I've probably known this on some instinctual level all along, but it was fascinating to see it proven right here on my computer screen, and it affected how I view the work I do. For now I know that just by singing Love songs I've changed the rhythms of millions of hearts from all around the world, if even for a couple of minutes.

When Pope John Paul II visited here and said mass in Central Park, he quoted St. Augustine when he said, "To sing once is to pray twice."

To quote Dan Rather quoting me, "Have a wonderful day!"

1 comment:

Betsy said...

Have a wonderful week!