Down Ain’t Out
By Tyler Mobley
A corner crowd across from pier 39 in the bay stands in puzzled admiration, witness to a king of pop cover performed by an unlikely pair of troubled souls. These men hadn’t just fallen on hard times, they defined them, yet here they were bearing it all to anyone who’d stop to notice. From a lone weathered acoustic guitar played with hands disgraced by society, and a gruff voice from a scruffy face came the tune of Billie Jean. A sloppy chord change here and there, perhaps due to the Bud Light seated behind him, the song looped from the first verse to chorus, anything beyond was either forgotten or not bothered with. His performance partner, a dynamic fire to his structured ice, repeated a series of dance moves through the circle, theatrics poured out as Bud Light was poured in. The grizzled man flowed in what were probably the only clothes he had, commanding the audience with a repertoire of Michael inspired moves. Tall can in hand the man of the streets danced like nobody was watching, in rhythm with the high hum melody, flaunting shoulders, crotch thrust, and jelly legs. An awakened inner star destined for the spotlight. His unrefined moves only enhanced the charm and confidence perceived by the crowd, or maybe when one has been down and out there’s nothing left to lose. Captivated by the pairing of the familiar from the derelict, arose a humanizing moment across boundaries of have and not; or no longer. The meeting on musical grounds bonded those around in life’s simple pleasures. Yes, his dance moves were more comical than choreographed, but therein lies the beauty, not there to impress only express. Yes, his voice would never sell records, so he played because he could. They gave all they had, making of life what they could, and found the enjoyment was mutual. This was freedom.