“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday,” Myles Wood belts uncannily resembling Paul McCartney.
Apart from being a beautiful song, The Beatles hit has sentimental value for the street musician. Myles loves that he can do it well enough that people can actually recognize it. But what’s the most important, to Myles, is “Yesterday” is one of the songs he grew up listening to his dad play. He smiles at the thought that he didn’t realize it was a Beatles song until he was 15.
“My dad played the guitar since he was 5-years-old so I literally had guitar in my life –in utero as they say,” Myles says. “And so I was able to pick it up pretty easily, never took lessons.”
One day, in high school, Myles found a song he wanted to play he was really in to at the time. A friend was learning to play guitar and he decided to dabble to see what it was like.
“He walked in the room and was like man you really suck,” Myles said. There was something about that shook him up, so he practiced until he reached his first milestone- to outplay his friend.
“Like I’m better than he is! Fuck that, I’m going to show him,” Myles said. “From there, I just couldn’t put the guitar down afterwards even after he moved on and just quit all music altogether I was like I’m going to stick around with this and try to find some other music friends.”
Myles notices a man standing there, only moving to let people pass, appreciating the music. “I’m going to play something I haven’t played in a while,” Myles says. “On bright beautiful days like this it’s just appropriate.”
He adjusts the strap on his shoulder and looks up, squinting into the sun as he tries to remember the chords. He smiles and starts to strum the intro to a song immediately recognized by his audience. “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1” by The Flaming Lips is a fun uplifting song about overcoming hardship.
The man can see it makes him happy to play it and starts nodding his head to the beat, making Myles smile more.
Myles regularly plays mostly Beatles tunes- preferably when he can sing like Sir Paul.
“I got a small repertoire of the Beatles I can use pretty often,” he says, “then James Taylor, easy listening kind of stuff then any kind of rock and roll kind of stuff I can play on the acoustic guitar, I can try and make that work.”
Myles comes out to the square three times a week mostly for the love of the music, but if he can make any money on the side, it’s a plus for him. It’s the one town where he can actually play and not be harassed. He hasn’t had any panhandling problems, and a number of times, police come to chitchat or hear him play.
“They’ll never throw in money,” he said, “but at the same time they don’t harass me saying I’m panhandling or anything like that.”
Myles tries to be respectful to the people shopping on the Square. If you want to look at something in the window behind him, he’ll move out of the way for you.
“I think that was one of the things the cops have seen,” Myles says, “is that I don’t cause trouble I’m really just out here to have fun for the most part so they’re cool with it. I see a lot of musicians out here and if they get stopped, they get pissed off and are like I’m trying to make some money here.”
Myles thinks the point of playing street music is to get to know the people maybe even get some inspiration for songs. Many times, people who do not pay are the ones that appreciate it the most.
“The just thoroughly enjoy the music,” Myles said. “That’s what they’re there for and they don’t feel like they need to do charitable work for the day tossing some change in.”
Myles recounts the coolest thing that has happened in his time on the Square.
“I had a couple gentlemen come up to me because they noticed my guitar and they liked the sound of it and they asked me what I could play,” he said. “So I started playing the Beatles for them and these two gentlemen jumped in and started singing harmony with me.”
The next thing he knew they had their own crowd of random strangers, when a group of 3 to 4-year-old girls started jumping around, twirling and dancing, laughing and having a great time. It was a culmination of everything he loves about music in one moment.
“It made my entire day- my entire fucking year at that,” he says.
To Myles, there are two very different worlds and he’s still not sure he wants to go into the profession world. In his career as a musician, Myles has never actually played any real venues or paid shows. He was too shy about it and didn’t think he had enough to put himself out there.
“So that’s why I started playing on the street,” Myles says. “Someone had started suggesting it to me over and over.”
“When I went out there so it was really just bad timing to start college,” Myles says. He ended up dropping out and “kind of doing the drifter thing” for a while figuring out what he wanted to do.
“One thing I’ve gone back and forth on,” he says, “is making a living with music sounds really cool but at the same time I don’t think it would have the same kind of effect as this sort of free performance stuff I do on the street.”
There was one guy who came by and we decided to do some freestyle collaboration and that’s the best part about it, just some random collaboration with people.
“I’m not as much of a lyricist as I don’t feel like the things I write sound good in any way, shape or form,” Myles said as his new friend Poe comes up to talk to him. “It feels contrived when I try to write words and lyrics and stuff but at the same time nobody wants to just listen to an acoustic guitar.”
Every now and then, Myles will try and bring out a few songs. Right now, he has partial lyrics for one song that he wrote and he’ll play on the square– but he usually ends up repeating the same verse and chorus until he decides to end the song. It’s enough, and for the most part, people can’t tell.
Occasionally he’ll just play some instrumental piece he’s working on.
“Some people like it,” Myles said. “But for the most part, they want singing or something else on top of that so that’s what leads me to cover songs instead of write most of the time.”
Myles and Poe start to chat for a while about a possible collaboration in the future, with a natural lyricist and a natural musician as Poe will have music behind all his stuff, whether it’s the guitar, piano or violin, or just two other instruments all mashed up together.
“I just never really get too deep into it because even though I’m not showing it to anybody it’s not good enough for me,” he says as Poe strikes up a tune and Poe walks away. “It’s the perfectionist aspect of an artist I guess.”