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.
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 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
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?
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
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?
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
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
‘If you pass Andy Green on the street, throw a few quid into his hat. He deserves it.’
Mistress Quickly’s Bed