Bus Travel In Nation's Capital Inspires Song

Local vendors help with cross promotion


Faiza Elmasry

Songwriters find inspiration in different - and sometimes unusual - places. René Moffatt, a Washington D.C. singer and songwriter, found it in the bus he travels to work on every day.

The title of René Moffatt’s song is "Route 42," which refers to a bus route that runs through the nation’s capital.

“At first, I was like, 'Why do I want to write a song about a bus?' Then I thought a lot of people have to ride and take public transportation in the city," he says. "So I kind of felt that people might be receptive.”

In the song, Moffatt shares feelings many bus riders can relate to. "It's convenient when it’s right there on time waiting for you. In the times where you miss the bus or miss the connection or the transfer, it’s very inconvenient.”

The song starts off with Moffatt leaving his office, to spend the evening with a woman he’s never met, on a blind date. When the 42 bus finally comes, he gets a seat next to a woman who is chatting loudly on her cellphone.

“...The girl sitting next to me
Has got a graduate degree in talkinology
I swear to God she wouldn’t get off her phone...”

It turns out - she’s his blind date.

“...And my sanity is bein’ tested
Constantly with every stop requested,
Pull that cord and you might not make it home...”

Moffatt says his song talks about some of the annoying things bus riders do.

“Sometimes they are listening to music too loudly. Other times, they are talking on the phone extremely loudly. They might be having a conversation with a friend you don’t want to be part of, or they might have too much stuff.”

The 32-year-old Texas native has lived in the nation's capital for six years. He says Washington D.C. is like a small town.

“There is an energy that’s there for sure. I like the idea of being able to walk places, being in public transportation. In Texas, I had to drive everywhere. And, in a span of six years, I’ve met so many more people than I would have if I lived in a more rural setting.”

Moffatt’s song can now be heard in many places along Route 42 and elsewhere around the city, including Fojol Brothers, a downtown food truck. As she serves chicken curry to a customer, Marianne McLaughlin says she likes having music to work by.

“It brings another element to the truck and to the experience of what we’re doing," she says. "It’s local. It’s awesome. It’s creative.”

Fojol Brothers is one of the 25 Washington businesses that subscribes to Listen Local First, an initiative founded six months ago by Moffatt and his friend, Chris Naoum.

“We work with local businesses and local musicians to create opportunities for cross promotion,” Naoum says.

That helps local musicians find new venues. And it helps local businesses as well.

“When you support local artists, the local artists get to tell their friends, their families and their fans, 'Hey, go to this business because this business is playing my music,’” Naoum says.

With more local businesses playing his music, Moffatt says he is receiving positive feedback on "Route 42." That makes him happy and hopeful he’ll achieve his dream in the near future: quitting his part-time job as a Web designer and becoming a full time singer and songwriter.

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