Writing songs on the 966

A post about writing songs on the bus.

It’s 7.34 am. And freezing. “Good morning,” says the friendly lady bus driver. “Good morning,” I reply.

I like travelling by bus, particularly the 966 because it’s always on time. Skimming bus lanes while ‘suckers’ in cars crawl through the early morning gridlock is great. I feel kind of … special.

Today I’m heading to work. And, I think about how fewer people take the bus since COVID. Which suits me, though, because I usually get a seat for myself.

I wonder about where they went. Maybe some now drive cars to feel safer? Perhaps some now work from home? I imagine both explanations hold true.

One of my workmates, a die-hard petrolhead, says he’d never take the bus. He doesn’t want to share his personal space with people not of his choosing. Well, he should take the 966.

On a golf course, there’s a thing called ‘golfing etiquette’ — like you shouldn’t talk while a player is taking a shot, for example. We travellers on the 966 also have rules for behaviour, although unspoken. And, so to respect each other’s privacy, we sit, expressionless, in our seats and keep to ourselves.

Thanks to the many gadgets available in 2020, we don’t get bored, either. I don’t listen to music, though; I don’t have those fancy ear pods. Perhaps I’ll get some? No, instead I write lyrics — try doing that while driving a car!

Ironically, despite being a writer by trade, I have struggled to write words for my songs in the past. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because I had nothing much to say. Things are different when writing for a client because I get a brief; subject matter isn’t an issue.

Well, at this point in time, I’ve got plenty to say. And, ever since deciding to record a new album a couple of months ago, words are flowing.

So, using my phone app, I chip away at lyrics and usually come up with something usable.

“Thank you, folks. Enjoy your day,” says the lady bus driver as people get off the bus. “Good morning,” she says as others hop on.

I think about how our attitudes can influence those around us. The lady bus driver is always friendly. And, in turn, people are friendly back. There is a rippling effect — I’m riding the ‘friendly’ bus. I could learn a lot from the lady bus driver. Mental note: Be nice!  

The 966 turns onto K’ Road; I’m near my destination. The trip usually only takes half an hour, and I think again of those people who are driving today. I reckon that if I took my car, it would take at least an hour to get to work. Then, I’d have to find and pay for a park. Bugger that!

The songs on my upcoming album are about my day-to-day experiences. A lot of them are about things that happened during lockdown. Well, unlike most of the world, New Zealand is largely COVID free and almost back to normal. Hopefully, things stay that way. I’m going to write a song about riding the 966. Watch this space.

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Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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