moments of illumination in the city of light

001 : Tim Cissell on the RER B, on the way to Charles de Gaulle, 10th arrondissement
Born in 1950 in St Louis, MO, USA, Tim Cissell currently works as Composer/Music producer Why Paris? I think Jimbo is still alive there somewhere… He digs the following Paris bits: 1. Women look you right in the eyes 2. I can take as long to eat a meal as I want 3. I can piss on a building at night on the way home if necessary 4. I love the color gray 5. Churches and museums are my thing He is, however, a bit miffed by the fact that the auto traffic usually tries to kill him, that it takes about three weeks for his legs to stop hurting from all the walking, the student groups at the museums, the queue jumping at Berthillon in summer, and uh-- two words-- dog shit. For more info on Tim Cissell you should send an email or visit his homepage.

image: Courambel

“His guitar was underscoring my morning ride beyond Gare du Nord through the graffitied suburbs”

After three weeks in a rental near Chatelet,[1] I needed to get up earlier than I wanted in order to make the train trek to Charles de Gaulle[2] and my plane ride home. A talented busker with his cart, amp and guitar was underscoring my morning ride beyond Gare du Nord[3] through the graffitied suburbs.

I’m always a little sad to be leaving Paris and the opening lines of his song seemed appropriate:

Now that I’ve lost everything to you
You say you wanna start something new
And it’s breakin’ my heart you’re leavin’
Baby, I’m grievin’…

After the first vocal line in the chorus of this song, “Oh Baby, Baby, It’s a Wild World …”, there’s usually a descending, C-major scale melody played as a guitar solo.

Everyone knows this melody. If there is a hook in the song, that little guitar part might be the hook. Everyone always plays it like it was played on the record, everyone except this busker.

And like some busker lyrics are handed down informally from person to person and unintentionally changed, he played the melody deliberately and exactly the same way in each chorus. Except his new rhythm and dissonant notes reminded me of all the small joyful moments in travel when you think you know what’s coming, but you don’t.

[Listen to the music sample]

referenced works

  1. Seedy neighborhood in central Paris.

  2. (CDG for short) International airport northeast of Paris. Formerly known as Roissy (still called Roissy by nostalgic Frenchmen). Reached from the center of Paris by the suburban train called the RER.

  3. Large railway station in northeastern Paris through which the RER to CDG passes.

location information

  • Name: the RER B, on the way to Charles de Gaulle
  • Address: Gare du Nord 75010 Paris
  • Time of story: Morning
  • Latitude: 48.881891
  • Longitude: 2.35498
  • Map: Google Maps



Art Space Tokyo

Interested in sponsoring Hitotoki? Contact us at sponsors@hitotoki.

Write for Us!

We’re looking for short narratives describing pivotal moments of elation, confusion, absurdity, love or grief — or anything in between — inseparably tied to a specific place in Paris.

submission form


Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Or receive updates by email

Addresses only used for the occational hitotoki mailing. Otherwise stored on the 4th floor of Tokyo Tower.

A list of all available RSS feeds is on the about page