On the 1 train to Target in the Bronx. Big, rough black man with sunglasses and huge earphones (or “cans”) on. He’s standing right in front of the subway train door, rocking and swaying to the music flowing into his ears. And singing along.
Not just singing. Not just a mild humming or quiet rendition of his music. This is a Wolfman Jack version of the song. A wild yaowling, explosive and powerfully jarring cover. His voice fills the train cab. Some people move from where they are to a different train. Most of us sit with eyes glued to our books or pocket video games, some pushing their earbuds further into their ear cannals. All the while, we listen with eyebrows raised.
I can tell he’s listening to modern rock music – something like “Black Hole Sun” or it’s equivalent. But he’s repeating lyrics beyond the original version. Screams of the same three-word phrase over and over. I recognize the song but didn’t write it down. He’s obviously enjoying himself, but the sound eminating from him is so violent that it makes people uncomfortable.
Finally, he gets off the train a few stops before ours. I feel the people in the train relax, the heavy strain of his vocal prowess lifted. Then, from the other side of the train, I hear a woman say (with all sincerity and sarchasm rolled into one), “That was REAL.” We all laugh, this one man creating connective tissue between us all through a common experience.