by Brock Zeman

Genre: Folk/Acoustic


Gastown – Brock Zeman

I was wandering around Vancouver
Not knowing what I was about to find
Had a room at the Cambie hostel
And I was just killing some time
When I heard this lonesome sound
Coming from down the street
There was an old man picking a guitar
With a case opened at his feet
He had long white hair beneath an old hat
And a long white beard
He was singing some John Prine tune
For everyone to hear
I leaned up against the wall
And held on to his every word
Then he started playing some old mining song
That I’d never heard
He called it “Dark As a Dungeon”
And it was enough to make you weep
When you hear it played by an old man standing on a corner in Gastown
On an old guitar with nylon strings
A man walked by and flicked a penny
Which landed outside of his case
And he stopped the song before it was through
And said, “Sir let me tell you one thing…
I’m down on my luck
No roof over my head
But I’m an artist not a beggar
And this is the only gig I could get”
He placed the penny back in that mans hand
And said, “You can keep your charity
And if you’re still feeling giving later on
Go see them winos down the street”
The man closed his hand on his penny and his face got all red
And he started walking down the street
And that man with the guitar
Turned and said to me:
“Son, I’ve never had the finer things
But I’m doing all that I love
Which makes me as free as the rich down here
And the birds flying up above”
Then he went back into that old mining tune
And never missed a beat
And the hairs stood up on the back of my neck
When he began to sing
I took a twenty out of my pocket
And dropped it down into his case
And he smiled at me and said, “Thank-you son”
Before I could walk away
And whenever I’m playing in a bar someplace
Where the crowd can talk louder than I can sing
I think about an old man standing on a street corner in Gastown
Picking an old guitar with nylon strings.

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