She’d turned her back to the wind. Alongside her, and to her left, the river – the river Thames. Waterloo nearby. It’s the heart of London. The wind was streaming along the river, streaming over the river, a river so sad, dull and grey under that winter’s sky.
In front of her, and right against her face, was one of those large microphones that singers use for recording songs. (Like the Beatles and Bob Dylan once did.)
She played a beautiful guitar, the kind of guitar that is more than a friend, an acoustic guitar – and as she played the tips of her fingers poked out through some holes in her woollen gloves. (Little gloves – quite charming – all in harmony.)
Against the wind – with the woollen hood of her soft and muted coat raised up to keep her from the cold: For a moment she made me think of those old paintings of monks – the ones with them wearing their brown or black or greyish cowls. Bare necessities.
I couldn’t really see her face and when she sang she didn’t really seem to open her eyes. She was taken by the music, her music.
She sang the blues, folk blues, jazz blues, soul blues.
There are some things we have to pass over in silence because the words just don’t get the meaning and the feelings. She was achingly good. She sang ’real good’ for free. You can’t do better than that.
I never saw her face but a little cardboard sign told me that her name was Susana Silva. Near to that great big turning wheel, she was singing, like a jewel, on the promenades of the South Bank of the Thames.
P.S. ‘For Free‘ is a wonderful song by Joni Mitchell, a reference to which is made in the above notes.