John Lester Gordon has been playing the piano for over 20 years. His hair, once brown, has now turned a ghostly white and almost looks translucent when the light hits it right. Most of the time it doesn’t though, because Seattle is a cloudy place and that happens to be where he spends most of his existence. Oftentimes it is raining, anything from a light drizzle to serious downpour, and he has to cover himself and the piano with a tarp and some rope. Even still, he plays outside every day, in a street corner by pike place market.
His piano is old, like something out of a bar in Wild West days somewhere. It’s worn and scratched in too many places to count, and seems to have a life of its own. The people at the business next door let him keep it there at no charge, and he wheels it in every night before going to the homeless shelter.
He is good. Quite good. His playing is versatile, going from classical to saloon music to jazz to covers of Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones. He plays but nobody listens. Tourists mill about, and might even stop for a second to check out one of the quirky extravagances of a bigger city. Pictures might be shot. But they don’t really listen; instead it becomes just one more part of their vacation trip. Locals also walk around, jaded and uninterested. Some might listen as they’re walking past, but they won’t stop. They have somewhere to go, lunch to buy, places to be.
But every once in a while someone does stop, and it could be a local or a tourist. Someone really stops, and realizes just what they are hearing. They stand there, transfixed, as they watch this old looking hippie Seattle dude pour out his fucking heart out to them. For dollars and cents.
And they’ll reach for their wallet.