Lightening up the Subway

In the Stockholm subway it’s common to see older men stepping on to the train playing instruments and sometimes even singing. It’s like a street musician on board. Usually they get on at one stop, play a song and then step off at the next station either to move to another train or another wagon.

It looks like they have a rather short repertoire but the level of expertise with which they deliver the songs they know is pretty impressive. Usually they are completely ignored by the passengers but the other day I saw a fantastic little scene play out.

This older guy with a harmonica got on at Fridhelmsplan and performed the usual ninja routine of walking down the moving coach while at the same time masterfully improvising and never loosing a beat or his balance.

At first the passengers played their role perfectly and treated him as pure air, but then an old man suddenly got up to give the musician some cash. Nothing too far from the ordinary, but the donor whispered something and they suddenly burst out in laughter. The notes that started flowing out of the harmonica next were easily recognised as the old russian tune ‘Kalinka’. On top of this the man that gave the cash started singing the words in russian with a clear and strong voice.

By now the other passengers looked pretty uncomfortable, but staying true to Swedish nature no one pretended to notice the scene taking place in front of them. It was clear though that the two older guys were having an awesome time, lost in the music and totally ignorant of the stiff looks from the people around them.

Another thing these walking musicians are really good at is wrapping up just in time to get of the train as it pulls into a station, so as the we started slowing down for the stop at Odenplan the song came to a stop. Laughing loudly the two said goodbye and the musician stepped off.

Awesome way to to start an afternoon at the town :).

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