A guy’s on the subway car with a guitar, ready to sing. New guy for today, but really he’s just another guy with a guitar…the same old story.
But then a passenger yells out, “YOU KNOW ‘MONEY MONEY MONEY BY THE O’JAYS? I WILL GIVE YOU TEN DOLLARS…TEN DOLLARS…IF YOU CAN GET THREE PASSENGERS TO SING ALONG TO THE CHORUS WHILE YOU SING!”
The guitarist says he’s game.
The passenger stands up, starts goading the guitarist, starts goading the other passengers – “C’MON NOW, THE BRAVE ONES ARE SINGING. HOW ABOUT THE REST OF YOU?”
And then, ten seconds later, the trouble-making passenger starts bee-bopping. He’s part of the band, he’s the front man, in fact.
“IT’S TRUE,” he says, “NO ONE ON THE TRAIN WOULD EVER BE THIS NICE TO A STREET PERFORMER!”
And the riffs continue. “WE’RE NOT HOMELESS, WE’RE NOT HUNGRY. IN FACT, WE SMELL BETTER THAN YOU….Just kidding…WE’RE JUST DOING WHAT WE LOVE, SHARING WHAT WE DO. BUY A CD, GIVE A DONATION, WE TAKE CREDIT CARDS…JUST GIVE US YOUR PIN NUMBER…AND GO TO ISAWYOUGUYS.COM…THAT’S ISAWYOUGUYS.COM….ISAWYOUGUYS.COM. HAVE A NICE DAY.”
These guys call themselves Akil and Sciryl (“lyrics” spelled backwards). And you can indeed find them at isawyouguys.com.
Here’s the deal: you’re facing the same choices as these guys. Your can choose to be a regular old street performer by showing up in the way you’re supposed to show up – you look appropriate, you act appropriate, you pitch in an appropriate way – in which case the only way you win is by being the single best street performer they’re looking for that day (and happening to sing the song they love).
Or, you can put on a show, a show they’ve never seen before, a show a lot of people won’t like but a few will stand up and say, “Finally, I’m sick of all these crappy performers, what I was dying for was a little entertainment!! Let’s talk.”
It’s safe to be a street performer, and you won’t make any enemies. But artists put on shows. That’s what makes them artists.
The O’Jays certainly knew that. Look at those outfits, look at those moves. A SHOW.