One of the few things that irks me about the city today is that there are no “scenes,” at least, the way in which I’ve heard about them when my parents were my age in New York. Since information travels much differently than it did, say in the ‘60s and ‘70s, people no longer devote evenings to an art or music venue to just hang around and see new talent. Today, it seems as if everyone seeks to get in and out due to tight schedules.
I’ll blame my frustration with this loss of a culture on my father’s vinyl collection. Growing up with the display of records as the main focus of our family room, just as a fireplace may be for other families, for years I heard stories about how my father’s hearing was blown out from a Grand Funk Railroad show, or how sick it was to see a new band called the Clash perform in the East Village. Having been born in the ‘80s, not quite understanding that these records were from another era, I remember asking my dad if the Beatles’ “Help” Album was a new release when I was six years old.
As a daughter of the digital age, I sometimes feel as though I don’t always have a deep appreciation for the streamlined, fast-paced times that we live in.
I suffer from what’s called “we always want what we don’t have” syndrome. As if the replica rotary phone, typewriter in my room, or my current obsession with finding a pair of saddle shoes doesn’t represent my yearning for a nostalgia that’s not even my own, I’m severely jealous of my dad’s memories for all the rock shows he saw back in the day.
So, imagine my delight/surprise that I can now give my dad a run for his money after my commute on the PATH this morning, since I witnessed a LIVE performance of Abbey Road. The performer’s name may not have been John, Paul, George, or even Ringo, but he wore socks with sandals and was rockin’ it out at 9:30 AM.
Sitting directly across from me, I got the full spectrum. I didn’t even pretend not to stare, even though my sunglasses helped. It was a one-man show, with an umbrella tapping against the rail as percussion to his “hushed” yet perfectly audible vocals. I was witness to this from “Here Comes the Sun” to “Polythene Pam.”
Although my ears may not ring from this free show, nor did I discover any new or raw talent, sometimes I feel that the PATH has become a scene for me, simply because it has given me so many stories, most of which I’ve written about here. Because of this man’s lack of self-awareness and love for Abbey Road, I have yet another first-hand, ridiculous account that I can share with my family one day, as just another installation in my tales of commuting under the Hudson on a little train called the PATH.