Slowly waking up this morning, this strange memory came back to me in full vivid colour:
It was summer 2020 and I was busking on Bold Street in Liverpool, just opposite Bold Street Cafe. It was glorious weather, perfect ‘Busking Conditions’.
The world seemed to be crawling back to life again – waking from a collective, unruly hibernation.
I was halfway through ‘May You Never’ by John Martyn when I noticed a man out the corner of my eye. He was outside of the Nail Shop with a bunch of flowers, smiling from ear to ear. He wouldn’t stop moving, twitching with excitement. Suddenly a women walks out of the shop. He stops moving. They both just stare at each other. Then as quickly as the moment had happened, they proceeded to jump into each others arms. They just stood there, embraced. Holding as if they did not want to ever let go.
Then I finished the song. By the time I looked over again, they had already gone. A single petal from the flowers was in their place.
As a performer it was a strange time. I hadn’t played music in front of others for nearly 4 months (discounting any livestream attempts). I was desperate to play in front of ‘actual people’ again and not just numbers and accounts on a screen.
Obviously there were little to no gigs going on so my options to do this were very limited. I needed to return to a different type of stage – the place where I started my craft: Busking.
Once I figured out that I could sing and play guitar (and it was possible to juggle these at the same time), 10 year old me took to the streets of Ormskirk to play. It is where I learnt how to really be a musician. There was no messing around when to came to this – you have to learn to be good or you don’t get payed!
It felt like a great place to start again. A natural reset point.
So over the summer I returned to the streets (not as harsh as it sounds). With a massive camping bag full of portable amps and cables as well as a guitar on my back, I’d make the journey every few days on the train into Liverpool and head up to Bold Street.
I don’t have any reason for why that moment happened. I don’t know why the song I was singing matched the moment perfectly. I don’t know why it came back into my head this morning.
But at the time, it gave me the moment I was desperately searching for during the first lockdown. It reminded me of the pure joy that stems from playing music in front of others, from this unique from of human connection. Whatever happens in the world, however lost you get – there will always be beautiful moments like this to bring you back.
And they will. Again and again.