Several weeks ago I put together a list of the many things I love about Chicago and then immediately was flooded with other ideas, things that fall into the stumble upon category, rather than those that we seek out to enjoy. In fact that very afternoon, on the ride home, I was faced with something I love that did not make the list but should have. And so, rather than limit myself to a once every 175 year list, I have decided to tell Chicago why I love it every week (or so), because I believe when you have something nice to say you should say it, and when you don't, say if someone were to vomit on your feet on the subway, then you should just keep quiet, or at least not talk about it here.
Descending into the subway, into the two level under ground odd subterranean tunnel, is a bit mole like. Different from climbing up to the elevated platform, the subway offers warmth in the winter and a cool blast in the summer. It can smell, it can be creepy, it can be lonely and scary.
Nothing subway related, not even an almost empty approaching train when I'm running late, makes me as happy as hitting the bottom step at the lowest level and finding music bouncing off the tile walls. Often it's an acapella voice in an altered rendition of some of my favorite music; recently I heard a very bluesy version of Brown Eyed Girl, sung by an older black man, in a drawn out and deeply longing way, a complete departure from Van Morrison's upbeat classic. It was beautiful.
Subway musicians reflect the diversity of the city, and the spirit of so many people living together in one large, yet very small, space. And the tired commuter, often cranky when left helpless at the mercy of the huge transit system, can't help but sway along when met with a woman singing At Last, accompanied by a beat up trumpet, the week that Etta James died.
Subway musicians make my journey a bit sweeter, and send me off on a crowded train with a song of my own, not to be drown out by the blasting earphones of the guy wedged in next to me, and that is something I love.
Image courtesy of hirechelsea.com