“It’s a Beautiful Day” Chucka Chung Chucka Chung

Book: Skagboys

Author: Irvine Welsh

Music: What’s Wrong With Me Baby?

Artist: The Invitations

There are four guys who wander through subway cars in NYC singing close harmonies. Having listened to The Invitations’ What’s Wrong With Me Baby? I’m convinced that these are they. They sound just the same. Though any time I see them they’re singing This Little Light of Mine rather than some heart-wrenching Northern Soul classic. Of course it can’t be them because if it were, they’d be barely ambulatory. If they were even still living. Thoughts of buskers singing the same song every day transports me back to the late 80s and early 90s when I would transfer from the D train to the 7 train at 42nd St. / Bryant Park. From the D train you had to walk around the corner through a tiled passageway (still do, though it’s far more salubrious these days) a few hundred yards long before reaching the 7 train end of the station. Every morning there would be an old black guy at the second corner playing guitar and singing. It seemed to me like I heard exactly the same line every morning  … “It’s a beautiful day” followed by some chopped chords on the guitar. I can’t go through that station any more without hearing it in my head … “It’s a beautiful day” chucka chung chucka chung. He probably sang more than that one line but it struck me as a very efficient means of busking in a location such as the one he populated. At morning rush hour  in that location at that station, the chances of anyone stopping to enjoy the performance were minuscule. So you had their ear – thousands of ears every morning – for probably 15 seconds at most as they dashed between hundreds of potential destinations throughout the boroughs. Why waste time and energy learning dozens of songs? Just play the same line continuously, day after day. Even if someone (like me) notices, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like they can complain and ask for their money back.

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