A Taxicab Soundtrack

FW-903-Douglas-O-Connor-web

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about playing music in the cab…

Over the past five years, I’ve tried to create a soundtrack that not only satisfies my personal need for entertainment but also provides a compelling interlude for passengers. During my first couple months of driving a taxi, I listened almost exclusively to Slayer. The aggression of thrash metal helped me overcome the fear and excitement of working the mean streets of San Francisco as I searched for fares and fought my way through traffic.

When people got into my cab, I immediately killed the tunes and made idle conversation while frantically trying to figure out where to go without the aid of GPS. In the heat of the moment, though, I often forgot to turn the volume down. Upon opening the backdoor, my fares were greeted with the cacophony of piercing guitar solos and thunderous drumbeats. My only recourse was to quickly apologize before they had a chance to run away.

One night, I was waiting for the light at Polk and Clay when a guy jumped in the back of my cab as “Dead Skin Mask” blared from the speakers.

“Sorry about that!” I shouted, twisting the knob to the left so hard it almost snapped off.

“That’s cool,” the guy said. “You can put the tunes back on.”

I turned around to ask where he was headed and noticed his Iron Maiden shirt. “Oh, so you don’t mind Slayer then?” I asked with a relieved chuckle.

“This album’s alright,” he said. “But I prefer the earlier stuff.”

Nowadays, I usually keep a diverse selection of albums in my CD wallet, a habit based on Colin’s early advice to always have music that covers most situations, from the somber vibe out of the symphony to the party-hearty atmosphere at the late-night clubs. That way you can almost avoid sacrificing your musical tastes if passengers want to listen to the radio. Or, worse, request an aux cable …

Read the rest here.

[photo by Douglas O’Connor]

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