July 1, 2012

How to Make Music Out of Buckets & Pans.

I was rushing through the streets of old, hot & dry Madrid, going through my mental list of don’t-forget-tos when I suddenly got hit by an avalanche of buckets and pans.

But it didn’t sound like when I (try to) cook and eventually burn the kitchen. It sounded more like the heartbeat of life or sad joy or something restless in between.

The unexpected bucket concerto made me stop against my will, even though I was late for my next errand. (Time and I have never been great friends, anyway).

An older version of the same performance sounds like this:

After the applause, I asked him how long he had been doing it for. It turns out he’s been a drummer for 20 years, but it took him two years of intense practice to figure out all the different pan and bucket sounds and combine them into a work of art.

I’ve always admired street musicians. They say that playing in the street or on the subway is the best initiation rite for anyone who is serious about performing arts—or just to get rid of unnecessary ego expenses.

I also think it’s the perfect life metaphor.

Because, really, isn’t life just a big street on which we walk for a few good 80 years (if we’re lucky), where each of us performs with our own, unique instrument, reminding the tired passerby in you or in me, that our heart is still beating, that this walk is a brief, painful yet beautiful thing, and that every step should be meant like it’s the first and lived like it’s the last?

Filmmaker Carlos Carcas is currently working on a documentary based on Doctor Bucketman’s work. You can find Doctor Bucketman on YouTube or contact him at [email protected]


I added this to my don’t-forget-to list before walking away:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  

~ Howard Thurman


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