I sat in Union Square park in lower Manhattan the other day. Behind the buzz of conversation on the benches and the shuffle of feet passing by there was a voice singing. The voice sang in Spanish without amplification. It wove itself into the aural plate of spaghetti gently, subtly.
Turning my head I saw him standing near the picnic benches. The man dressed poorly, with a black hat on his head, and he was rather old. In his arms he hugged a CD player. He sang on and on to the slow Latin rhythms, resting occasionally.
His voice was rich, low, and pulsing with vibrato. It was an old voice, and the vibrato made me think of the wear of time, of a fragility insinuating itself into strength. Remember Katherine Hepburne's voice in "On Golden Pond"?
His singing infiltrated the air, infiltrated me, draining my tension. It is not the first time a musician has changed the space of the city for me.