Left foot, then right, then left again; staying behind the yellow line; people reading Fifty Shades in their kindles, the Evening Standard from the person sitting next to them, or the tube ads to avoid eye contact; and then walk down corridors, stay on the right side, or walk on the left if you are in a hurry; touch in, touch out, and make your tube journey as short as possible.
I was coming up the escalators, when this sound started creeping in my consciousness, slowly taking over all of my attention. I can not really describe it; it had this other-wordly quality to it, this crystal clarity embellished with human emotion, sound waves carrying something more than just sound.
I continued walking, trying to find the source of that music. And then, at the end of the escalators, I found it.
Mark Campbell was standing in between two platforms, producing melodies just by himself, a one-man organ of extraordinary music. I guess you can describe his song as whistling, but it was so much more than that; it came from deep inside, from a place that surpassed skill, talent, and description.
If I had to sum it up, it would probably be the most heartbreaking, uplifting, humane and super-human sound I have heard for a long time. I was mesmerized. I walked past him, over to the to the escalators, and up to the exit. And then I stopped; I turned around, went down the same way, and sat in a corner, put my bag on the floor, crossed my arms in front of my chest and stood there, taking his music in.
A few minutes later, I approached him and asked him his name. My compliment about his talent was rewarded by a firm handshake, and he then resumed whistling. I googled him, and found a video from a project he was involved in, called the Busker Symphony, composed and directed by Benjamin Till. You can hear Mark in action there, but I found that his song lose something when you don’t hear him live; it is almost as if the acoustics of the tube amplify his songs, as if the underground was built as a stage for his music.
When I came out of the station, I felt elated; for some reason, Travis came into my mind, and I found myself singing ‘Sing‘.
It is amazing to see what a human can do. Makes you proud and humbled at the same time.
For the love you bring, won’t mean a thing, unless you sing, sing, sing.