“Now’s the Time for Talking”: Jim Page on Singing on the Streets

On August 20, 1974, the Public Safety and Health Committee considered a petition from Jim Page for legislation permitting musicians to perform in parks and appropriate places on downtown streets.  In Page's letter of June 11, 1974, requesting the change in legislation, he stated, "I make my living singing ballads, and have done so for many years, and I know better than to 'solicit' or 'panhandle'  from my audience.  My hat is quite visible on the ground, and there is nothing that needs to be said about it."

Councilmember Revelle solicited comments from the Department of Licenses and Consumer Affairs, the Police Department, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Board of Public Works.  Concerns expressed included impeding pedestrian traffic, soliciting contributions, use of objects such as tables, chairs, or carts, and limiting hours of activity. 

Councilmember Revelle supported the petition and even suggested that "we Councilmembers might find street singing a new way to get our own points across and perhaps in a way that is just as politically effective."  The petition was ultimately approved as Ordinance 102824; it was signed by City Council on September 16 and by the Mayor on September 20, 1974.

Page testified at the public hearing held by the Public Safety and Health Committee on August 20, 1974. After apologizing for having his back to the audience so he could face the Councilmembers, Jim Page sang the song "Now's the Time for Talking," which can be heard here.  After thunderous applause, many others testified, including other street musicians, the groundskeeper for the Seattle Center, and the president of the Musician's Union.

Jim Page:

Now's the time for talking like there never was a time before,
Out in the open in plain sight, outside out of doors.
Word for word and song and verse, where all the people walk,
It's long been a time of silence, now it's a time for talk.

Yes, seeing the deeds of secrecy and follows where they lead,
The Watergate conspiracy is private power and greed.
All their talking was discouraged seeds allowed to grow.
Now's the time for talking like there never was a time before.

All the quiet country was built and founded from the mud
by the many millions of people whose very sweat and blood
was given in to progress for all these many years
Now's the time to hear their voices, now talking through your ears.

For all the many kinds of people there are all that many ways
And for all their many guns there are that many words to say
Good and bad, right and wrong, they all have had their say.
For only then will the truth be brought to the light of day.

There are ills and diseases of the body and the mind
Like the troubles of society, cannot be put behind
They must openly be dealt with in all the public places
To be seen by the peoples' eyes that watch out from their faces

Seattle has seen the experts that have failed to succeed
Depending only on themselves and on books that they could read
No answers will be found be selected special few
We must trust to the people, they will tell us what to do.

These times are hard times and cannot be denied.
Hard choices must be made to choose and take a side
It cannot be done in private with a waving of your hand
For it is not made of people it is only made of sand.

And these are very special times for the country and the world,
The new wave of the future is being now unfurled
You cannot stop the tide nor can you hold it off for long
For it's the tide that turns the world and has turned it all along.

Yes, now's the time for talking like there never was a time before
For each and all of the people put their hand up and take the floor
They are the voices of the future, we must hear them as they call,
For the progress of the people will be the progress of us all.

Jim Page's petition and related documents can be found in Clerk File 279270.  The entire meeting, which is quite lengthy as it contains several public hearings, can be heard here.

Citation: Public Safety and Health Committee meeting, August 20, 1974. Event ID 2469, Seattle City Council Legislative Department Audio Recordings, 4601-03.