The wheels on the bus go round and round” Trad.
So it says in the British Book Of Folk Songs which suggests that a song about a machine driven by an internal combustion engine pre-dates the existence of copyright laws and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Or the pea-souper fogs of the 1930’s. I have a more radical suggestion – perhaps the writer was too embaressed to admit writing a song about a bus.

So imagine how stupid you would be to write a song about a bus driver. Step forward the admittedly reknowned for their stupidity The Frank And Walters, and the no less stupid but slighter better at hiding it Bruce Springsteen. People proud enough to put their name to and even record records about bus drivers.

“Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street” comes from very early in The Boss’s career, so early that he was at best in middle-management. Oddly middle-management was something Bruce was notoriously bad at in this period, the middle of his songs often going on for ten minutes. This being a perfect example, having a section about World War 2, and tips on how to differentiate between blood and oil, and plenty of other ridiculous lyrics:“Hey Bus driver, keep the change/Bless your children give them names”. I’d agree it starts well, being nice to a bus driver may just edge out the bad karma in later life for writing Tunnel Of Love. But he really should have stopped with the money, because his advice starts of as patronising, goes throuygh petty prejudice and ends up in drug addled nonsense. What does Bruce think the bus driver was previously using as a classification system for his children. Numbers, colours, natural phenomena (I believe that is just the Pheonix family that did that, and River is no longer flowing). Still the hint about giving them names at least makes sense even if it is blindingly obvious. The next lines are just offensive: “Don’t trust men who walk with canes/Drink less and you’ll grow wings on your feet”. People who walk with canes would be those physically disabled with a walking impairment or blind people. Good on you Bruce, kick the minorities. But I can say this from observation, and having a number of warnings in hospital myself, that of the physical benefits of sobriety growing Hermes-esque flappers on your footsies will not happen.

Still perhaps singing songs about bus drivers leads you directly into madness. “Happy Busman” by The Frank And Walters would certainly confirm this. Their driver is not the nameless transit employee of Springsteen, theirs has a name, a route of his own and a bus which is described in a voice which is so out of tune that even dogs refuse to howl at it. See Andy James drives a bus for the lonely – possible the Franks and their fans. You see Andy James’s mission is to make the whole world smile. Because, as the tortured simpleton continues, if you smile, smile all the time, smile all your life you won’t ever die. I use as my main counter-exaple the film Batman which was on TV last night. The Joker smiles all the time. He dies. As a second counter example I’ll use the career of the Frank And Walters, who equally smiled all the time, but their career no longer has a pulse. They would have been bettr off singing “Smile all your life, don’t ever have a decent haircut”. Imagine if you will being remembered as the poor man’s Sultans Of Ping FC. And therein lies the moral. If you write a song about bus drivers you could either be Bruce Springsteen or The Frank And Walters. And in so many ways Bruce Springsteen IS The Frank And Walters. Which I think you will agree I have proved.

Now try and listen to Thunder Road without hearing the lousy tones of Fashion Crisis Hits New York….