This Noise is Free

This Noise is Free is a book about buskers and busking, drawing on the author’s experience as a street musician. It’s a front-row seat to the universe, located somewhere between the rainbow and the gutter, between pigeons and gargoyles, slaveholder mansions and charity shops licking their lips. Inspired by Walt Whitman, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson and Elizabeth Cotten, Andy Green is an unofficial archivist of life on the streets, from Matlock to Memphis, exploring their hidden histories, characters, music and unexpected camaraderie. This Noise is Free is a book about public art, good music, bad weather, and not getting a proper job.

Sample Poems

On the Way to Town

On the way to town
eyes full of broken bicycles
I pass the people
who’ve been pushed out

sleeping rough under bridges
bushy faced loafers
goofy Einstein geniuses
specialists in nineteenth-century law

cardigans and sport jackets
rolled up things
visionaries of no address
dandelions lolling in the sun

cancelled promises
nail bombs of loneliness
discarded stories
ripped out tongues of poetry

stumbling in Van Gogh shoes
the whole world’s fucked
but what can I do?
bash this guitar over its head

The Street is a Vortex

The street is a bottle of white lightning
asking me for a hug
the street is a one-toothed woman
sharing my flapjack

the street is a boy in a bright red scarf
they stole his guitar
and his best Scottish hat
but one day he will get them back

the street is an eighty year old man
singing Elvis in German
giving Nazi salutes
warning me all about his heart problems

the street gets off its bicycle to tell me
it wants to spend more time
making experimental
sonic machines

the street is an Australian jazz musician
blowing the clarinet and roaring
now this is real music!
so sick of this town with its cold jacket potatoes

the street is a beautiful red-haired woman
who’s been out all night dancing
lopsided panther
she winks and hands me a silver coin

the street has been sleeping on the backseat of its car
talking to god and keeping a diary
it’s a long story
the street quietly whispers in my ear

the street is dragging a heavy suitcase
battered and torn
the street comes over and hugs me like a jukebox
it just got out of prison today

Saturdays

Hooligan pensioners in knitted scarves
Primark electric wheelchair jousts
Poundland scrums

market stall slippers and panic attacks
someone trips over
someone else helps them up

wolf fleece lovers
dodgy phone card hustlers
identical twins in pink zebra tracksuits

Sleeping Bag stops to listen
too wary to accept
a flask of tea

soon all this will vanish
the laptops and mobile phones
the hungry mirage of consumer deals

trapped inside charity shops
real ale dads are getting impatient
how long is it till the bloody football starts?

Who these Songs are for

He comes around the same corner
as if his walk were part of it
drifting alone through the streets
five till eleven tonight

working at the local warehouse company
he unloads pallets and fills shelves
it’s not too bad no not really
five till eleven tonight

sometimes I see him on his way to work
sometimes I see him and we talk
sometimes I see him and then
it’s quite a while before I see him again

he comes around the same corner
drifting alone through the streets
as if his walk were part of it
five till eleven tonight

To a Drunk Football Fan

Sorry mate
I don’t do requests
I don’t play Oasis
I prefer to improvise
bending notes
travelling the universe
open D tunings
instrumental
transcendental
astral projection
lunar vortex incantations
discordant doom chant
raw fingerstyle
slide blues
take it or leave it
it’s just what I do
can Sally wait?
she can fuck right off
I don’t mean
to cause offence
but will you please
give me back my guitar?

Crossroads

Play to the ghosts
hands in their pockets
play to left-over
piles of frozen chips

play by phone boxes
no-one’s calling
play to mothers
left holding the kids

play to the factories
no longer standing
Mississippi cotton
from blood red shores

demolished town halls
heaps of bricks
play to left-over
piles of frozen sick

England Blues

It’s tough living in England
grey roads
comatose seagulls
my guitar has a hangover
cold alleyways
slaveholder mansions
charity shops licking their lips
morsels of death
we wade through each other’s lives
how deep the water gets
how cold
whitewashed nausea
rising up around our nostrils
you can’t stop
you’ve just got to keep going
invisible demons
dark thoughts
have you heard of
Mississippi Fred McDowell?
says the man
with his broken gold tooth
well I wish I was in heaven sitting down