And he played reall good for free...

One of the sweetest and "bluest" tunes I have ever heard is Joni Mitchell's masterpiece, "For Free." It appeared on her 1970 album, "Ladies of the Canyon," her third recording that is a nuanced and tender transition from her earlier folk music song cycles to the more sophisticated and jazz influenced tunes of her mature career. In four minutes it both evokes a sense of urban isolation while telling the story of a brilliant but overlooked street musician.

I have a deep affinity for street performers - buskers - who bring something of beauty and joy into otherwise drab or utilitarian places like subways, desserted street corners or outdoor markets. As a rule I ALWAYS stop to listen - it could be classical guitarists in the London Tube, jazz sax players in Montreal, steel drummers in Manhattan or folk singers in San Francisco (or even Northhampton, MA) - and share a token of my appreciation. It is a shared blessing to hear lovely music in unexpected places and it makes sense to me to reward such exceptional behavior.

Apparently similar thoughts have been in the heart and soul of Luke Jerram, an artist in Bristol, UK, who recently hatched a scheme to install 30 pianos for public use throughout London. (Check out: for pictures and more!) Musician and pop culture TV front man, Jools Holland, kicked Jerram's project off and for the past month people have been flocking to these instruments. "It's a blank canvass for everyone's creativity," Jerram said. The BBC wrote:

Each instrument has been painted to suit its location, for instance the piano near the Royal Exchange Buildings has money printed on it. The project, which runs until 14 July, has been produced by a non-profit organisation Sing London and City of London Festival. The project wants people to have impromptu recitals Mr Jerram said: "Questioning the ownership and rules of public space, Play Me I'm Yours is a provocation, inviting the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment.

"The pianos now belong to the people of London." Sing London director Colette Hiller said: "Our projects are about increasing a sense of public spirit in a city which often feels cold. "We trust Londoners to share and we trust them to take care of them, to look after the songbooks and cover the piano when it rains."

Here is an example of the presence of our still speaking God touching the lives of real people well beyond the scope of the church. Artists - broken as we are - are still acutely attuned to the heartbeat of the sacred within and among us. And because they are willing to take risks, they often help us discover the blessings amidst our wounds.


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