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Friday Conundrum: Busker Funk

Courtesy Joey Pasco at

Yesterday, I was riding uptown on the number 1 train, or the IRT as those of us old enough to recall New York when it was worse (and we liked it that way) sometimes refer to it, when a group of Mexican buskers boarded my car and favored us all with a little musica. Now I always enjoy an impromptu concert during my commute and generally tip the performers to say thanks; yesterday’s trip was no exception.

But as they strummed and sang, it occurred to me that, as far as I could tell, they were singing exactly the same song that every Mexican group I have ever heard on the subway performs. You know the one — it’s an up-tempo, cheery number that’s rendered on a couple of guitars, occasionally accompanied by an accordion, and it usually features two vocalists. This one:

So what I’m wondering is this. Do they all really sing the same song, or do I just think so because I don’t speak Spanish and am completely tone deaf? Maybe it’s easier to dance if you only have one song or it could be that’s why so many musicians come here — to expand their repertoire.


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