How To Listen to Radiohead Without Crying.

You don’t. You can listen to Band of Horses instead; you’ll be just as sad but not moved to tears.

I take the bus sometimes, because sometimes I like to remain above ground while I move around this city. The bus often calls for sombre music, unlike the metro. In the metro you can move fast and you can listen to fast music, upbeat music. But on the bus you move slowly and there are many elderly people.

Sometimes it is very, very crowded but I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about bus 27 from Saint Michel to Saint Lazare, at weird hours of the day, especially at night. It’s one of the double buses, accordion-style middle that creaks and lurches in strange ways.

I must always listen to pensive, reflecting music on this bus. I must always sit near the back, alone, with my bag occupying the seat next to me. I take the window. We go down the quai and then through the Louvre arches and past the pyramid, down avenue de l’opéra, and finally our destination just beside the huge christmas lights up at Printemps.

To counteract the fast-paced hustling of Christmas shoppers, the over-crowded sidewalks and endless sea of cars, taxis, motorcycles, scooters, bikers, all attempting to beat the next one for the light, the bus is a giant with a limp. This bus, number 27 in the orange square, huffs and puffs its way through the intersections. It is almost empty. The shell on wheels groans its way around the corner, in contrast to the hundreds of people, maybe thousands of people, filling up sidewalks and bike lanes and taxi lanes and scooter seats.

And I remain in the back near the window until we come to a complete stop. I heave my bulging backpack onto my body and I stagger out the door, across the street, to the next light. Except now that I am among the people, in the air, on the street, I change the song.

This is no place for Damien Rice or Death Cab for Cutie. Instead I invite Paul Simon, and maybe some dance music, maybe some Joe Dassin, but only the happy songs.

Plus it’s December now. If you want to keep warm while you wait for a stoplight (which I know isn’t often, this is Paris after all) it’s way easier to tap your feet with a little grin.


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