This man was playing the accordian just the way you have always expected to hear the accordian played in Paris--slow, sad, sweet, lyrical. The effect was not at all diminished by the fact that half a block away, another guy--younger, dark-haired, with a mustache--sat with his back against the wall by the Metro stop and played his accordian in much the same way.
There were buskers all over Paris--in the parks, along the Seine, outside of cafes, in the Metro tunnels. The most interesting buskers, though, were on the Metro--or maybe they were just the most surprising to encounter. I'm used to street musicians, and I've seen musicians in Metro tunnels before. But I wasn't used to encountering them on the trains.
The first one we saw was a guy on the St. Denis line. We jumped on the train and pulled out our maps, when suddenly we heard the unmistakable electric TWANG!!! of a guitar. The man was standing with his back to the door, his guitar plugged in to a battery-powered amp. He looked like he was there for the long haul. He was not very impressive. When he was done with his first tune, he took his coin cup and walked through the car, but no one even looked up.
The next afternoon, we hopped onto a train car where a woman was performing. She was singing in English about nuclear power plants, and about how they were hot-hot-hot. Her song seemed an unusual choice; it made you feel depressed and worried. Nobody gave her any money, either.
On our last day in Paris, on our way to Montmartre (where the accordian players were), we ended up on a train car with a busker duet. One guy played the french horn, the other the clarinet.
It was magic. They sounded great--like a circus, with that haunting flutey slightly wild clarinet, and the horn brassing out the melody. They played three songs, and just about everyone not only looked up, but clapped. Then the clarinetist kept the rhythm going while the horn man walked through the car with his change cup.
After one pass through the crowd, his cup was full, heavy with Euro coins. They packed up their instruments and got off the train. And at the next stop, so did we.
53 minutes ago