Three months ago I was browsing in a charity shop here in Ireland and came across a guitar with one string. I had no interest in it, as I never played an instrument, and at 70 with injured fingers from a lifetime of construction work in London, it was unlikely I ever would pursue the guitar.

My attention was captured by an engraved name at the back of the neck, up by the metal keys. It was “Erik Clapton”, which initially I assume was the man. Later, I was told his name was “Eric”. I took the Guitar to ProMusica in Cork City and they put 5 strings on for me. The lower thick one was the survivor.

I went online to find out where I needed to put my fingers in the chords. The G is an impossibility as my little finger has been broken and mended crooked. Anyway, I kept at it and managed to learn a few songs. Yesterday, I wrote my first song which I thought might become the buskers anthem. It is based on the story of the one string guitar.

I recall reading something in Alcoholics Anonymous:

“Whenever a society or civilisation perishes, there was always one condition present: they forgot where they came from“

We all had to start somewhere, but not everyone remembers the difficulties of learning. Sitting at home in Lockdown with nobody to ask anything was condusive to developing a lot of bad habits.

I am still very amateur and hence the sentiment and title of the song.

As regards the strum I just belt away at it like single cylinder piston and it sound not too bad.

You can pass it on if you wish.



All verses follow Am / G / F / C chord progression

Bad Busker Bad Busker

Just because my tongue is cleft
and I’ve got tinnitus on the left
doesn’t mean I can’t sing in tune
I’ve being playin’ here since noon

Someone’s thrown me a rotten egg
at least I’m singin’ and I don’t beg
I’d juggle if I had the balls
down the alley a tom cat-calls

Bad busker, bad busker, is my name
all my songs, they sound the same
I’m tapping my feet to the strum
but no one joins me in the hum

The crowd gets bigger when I stop
that’s usually when a string goes pop
I can play with five just as well as six
a D without an E I can hide in the mix

So I keep on going ’til the next one snaps
that’s when I hear the slow hand claps
five already missing, not looking sharp
I’ll finish the song, like on a jews harp

It is sounding like a didgeridoo
no keys no chords and no Ballyhoo
now just imagine, imagine, what if
my only tune was the Peter Gunn riff?

Bad busker, bad busker, is my name
all my songs they sound the same
time to check what’s in the hat
it’s empty again, well it’s tit for tat

Bad busker, bad busker, is my name
all my songs they sound the same
no one ever asks, to play it again Sam
I’m packin up, it’s time to scram

Bad busker, bad busker, I’m movin’ on
leavin’ before the crowd has gone
bad busker, bad busker, is my name
all one-string songs they sound the same.