Music News

How the Homeless Listen to Music

Frankly, I’ve never thought about the homeless and their musical needs. Give a look at this enlightening article from Common Reader:

Until I could find an a apartment, I rode the number six bus up and down Highway 99 most of the night, from downtown to Aurora Village, listening to muffled, skewed robotic drum beats of fellow travelers from behind the earphones of turned up Walk-mans, looking out into the dark. No, scratch that, looking at myself in the reflection of myself on bus windows in the dark. Those isolated splats overheard, dangling in murky time-space, spending my lostness imaging what sounds could form around them, no vocals beyond a drowsy threat or plea somewhere in there. Crumpled in my coffee-stinking leather and black jeans damp from bus stops and making playlists in my head over and over within the space of sound I inherit as a passenger.

During the day, on Tuesdays when I knew it would come, I would go back and steal my own copy of Rolling Stone from the mailbox where I used to live. My subscription continued seemingly forever. I had a coveted disabled bus pass to keep out my fear of losing complete grip on the world I once cared about. So I rode and rode.

The daytime hours spent then had its own noise: the case manager’s radio softly playing golden oldies in the lobby outside the shelter all night; waking up to the blaring synth-trumpet pomp blasts of the morning news on the TV in the room scampering for coffee and donated University District anarchist diner donations as we got our things together to get out so it can become a day room for seniors. The classic rock cranked high in the treatment lounge in the basement of the hospital: Hopefully, the girl who signs you in will be playing KCMU and you’ll get to hear something like “One way or another, I’m going to find you, I’m going to get you, get you, get you, get you” as you wait for medication. So who’s looking? Will you find me? Outside, downtown, every now and then, you pass a blessed busker who knows more than just one heartfelt gospel song or “Heart of Gold.” You hang out till his or her set starts again.

Read the entire article here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38341 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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