Sing Like Nobody is Listening: London Busker Gives it His All

More often than not, the quality of a live performance can make or break an artist’s credibility and respect within the craft. The ultimate test of a musician’s prowess often lies in their ability to play well to a crowd, and whether or not the crowd is positively responsive to them. This ultimate test was recently presented to a local busker on the streets of London, who — with his sticker-laden guitar and torn up Levi jeans — performed a slew of covers of classic tracks that were instantly recognizable to all passersby.

The busker, who constantly refers to himself as simply “Jim from Peckham,” found himself on Oxford Street at the height of the popular shopping area’s foot traffic–just after 5pm, when tourists and locals alike shoved through one another to get wherever they needed to be; their destinations were much more important than anyone else’s. Jim from Peckham stands fearlessly among this sea of people, creating a bubble for himself with his his open guitar case and miniature amp. As people bob and weave around him, Jim bounces with his guitar as he wholeheartedly covered songs like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” and even The Beatles’ classic “Yesterday.”

Jim from Peckham, a scruffy-looking thirtysomething in a gray zip-up hoodie and tawdry, pseudo-JNCO jeans, sings from the soul: closing his eyes and shaking his head and bending his knees into his guitar with the same fervor and zeal as any bona fide rock star would do. The slight rasp in his tone — think John Mayer — adds a different inflection to the classic songs he so passionately sings; he is truly trying to stand out as being “the next big thing.”

Oxford Circus, London, UK (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Oxford Circus, London, UK (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Oxford Street post-working hours is truly a sight to behold: brightly-lit shops, crowds of bitter people, and constant street traffic make it a truly electrifying place to experience. Buskers of all kinds litter the sidewalks, never once letting their continued plight of being ignored by literally everyone take away from their passion for music.

As hoards of people continued to walk past without so much as a second glance, Jim from Peckham attempts to serenade a group of teenage girls during his rendition of the Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” to which he is promptly shut down. Still, Jim never falters, continuing to strum his guitar; an instrument that he proudly announces was given to him by his father for his 15th birthday however many years ago.

Jim from Peckham is just one of many buskers that magically appear throughout London at all points of the day–and his impassioned crooning and desire to be “the next big thing” is something commonly found and barely unique. Still, Jim swears to be an inimitable talent, and will likely continue to perform on the streets and in the Tube stations of this bustling, eight-million-strong city, holding onto the last thread of hope that he can and will be the next great discovery in music – despite his similarity to legitimately every other acoustic singer ever.

Maggie McHale

Maggie is the Chief Music Director for Atwood Magazine, currently living in Philadelphia. She also works as a music manager and cultural liaison via her management company, PBG MGMT. She is heavily involved in the arts and music scene in the City of Brotherly Love, working previously for as a digital marketer for Fame House, a Universal Music Group subsidiary, and as a staff writer for JUMP Magazine. A self-proclaimed “hug enthusiast” and dog lover, Maggie also enjoys fashion, travel, the paranormal, and drinking way too much coffee.