Arts Desk

René Moffatt’s “Route 42″ Video Offers a Rather Nonsensical Portrayal of Public Transit

Singer-songwriter René Moffatt recently released a music video, partially funded by a grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, for a song about the 42 bus. It's called “Route 42.” Below, a critique of the video's WMATA literacy.

0:00: “Route 42"? The 42 is a bus line. It used to be a streetcar line. It’s not a highway.

0:48: "I don't know what I did to deserve this game of solitaire." So, the bus does not appear the second Moffatt snaps his fingers. This is what happens in a major metropolitan city with a regional transit system facing systemic budget cuts. It’s everybody’s game of solitaire, bud.

0:52: “When do I start walking?” Now. Moffatt's destination is Mount Pleasant, which Google Maps indicates is a 1.5 mile walk from Dupont Circle (and 2 miles from Farragut Square). The walk would take about 35 minutes.

1:24: “Connecticut is fine/But if you wanna party hard you gotta stand in line/I prefer just singin' with my friends.” What?

1:40: “That traffic circle’s going to haunt me to no end.” Moffatt must have trouble living in D.C., what with the 33 roundabouts that dot the city.

1:56: “How long do I wait before it's been too long?” Most of the problems in this song would have been mitigated if René had checked NextBus.

2:23: “And after all the years/That I've been living here/There are times that it don't feel like home to me.” Is there a 42 bus in Moffatt's home state of Texas?

2:38: René looks moody in the foreground of a sunset over the Washington Monument. The 42 bus doesn’t run to the Washington Monument, of course. But, hey, points for infusing D.C.’s local culture with what’s an inarguable symbol of the city’s federal status.

2:52: “The girl sitting next to me/Has got a graduate degree in Talkinology.” I’m so irked by this lyric I’m going to baselessly accuse René of being That Guy who puts all his stuff—shopping bags, gym equipment, groceries, luggage, umbrella, acoustic guitar—in the empty seat next to him during rush hour.

2:56: “And my sanity is bein' tested/Constantly with every stop requested.” Jeez, how long is your ride? Like, 25 minutes max, in traffic? You should have just walked.

3:57: Has Moffatt considered joining Capital Bikeshare?

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  • suitablegirl

    Love 2:52!

  • Harris

    Alex I imagine you are the guy who walks out of a Broadway musical complaining it wasn't 'realistic' and that 'people can't just break out into song and dance spontaneously!'


    I give the guy an B+ for his efforts. I too use to transfer at Columbia Road, NW catching the 42 Metro bus to get to work. The bus was always crowded. Coming home from work in DuPont Circle, waiting for the 42 on Connecticut Avenue, NW, the 42 would be crowded and I sometimes would have to wait for the next bus. Kudos to you Rene.

  • Tiger

    When I first heard the song was gonna be about a bus, I was very skeptical as to how good it could actually be. But I confess, I love the song, it's catchy and not cheesy and the video is pretty cool. You must have been dumped by the Bus 42 driver or something, you've got issues.

  • Sad

    Wow, this IS bad. The auto-tune, lyrics that don't make any sense, boring structure, and stupid visual "story line"...I mean, wow.

    Shit like this is most offensive to writers, so I totally understand where you're coming from. Seriously -- "Good lovin's 'round the bend" is something that a real person (in 2011, presumably) thought of, wrote down, and said "yeah, that's great." Sorry, it just keeps getting worse..."One more stop and I'll be on my way/To that mountain top where I'm gonna stay" -- What the hell is that supposed to mean? Who thinks this is good in any way? Harris? Come on, really?

    I think you let him off a little too easy, Alex.

    Somebody get this guy a show with Justin Trawick. Book it as the Night of 1000 Douche Chills.

  • Douche Chills

    I just came here to say that Sad's comment is the best comment of the day.

  • Ward One Resident

    My issue is that he completely ignores the 43!

  • Aisha O’Brien

    I agree with the two commenters - Harris AND Sad. The lyrics are terrible on their own. However, you can't have a song without any conflict (any WCP writer should know that, right, right , eh, eh?). So if he did check NextBus (which often LIES a thousand LIES), and been on an empty bus, and gotten to his destination in 10 minutes, you'd have no song.

    I think Alexa went too hard on the reality stuff and didn't focus enough on the fact that it's all clever then really cheesy, then back to clever, than groan inducing.

    Or the fact that he's using a TYPEWRITER.

  • Douche Chills

    I wonder if he bought the typewriter with that government money.

  • Jiggity J

    0:00: See WMATA bus site for term "routes" used.

    0:48: Your point being?

    0:52: Congratulations on your ability to use MapQuest or Google. Your point being?

    1:24: Like standing in line for a nightclub. Your D&D discussion forums don't have them, so I can understand your confusion.

    1:40: When you get your driver's license, you'll understand.

    1:56: If you ever decide to use NextBus, you'll understand, about 1 out of every 5 times.

    2:23: A quick internet search yielded the following information: yes, Houston has a Holman Connection line, numbered, you guessed it, 42.

    2:38: Points for whining about the approximately 10 out of 360 seconds the director included a shot of an easily recognizable landmark in the city that the video for the song is about.

    2:52: Nice non sequitur. Wait a minute... you interned for Family Guy, didn't you? That reminds me of the time I rented a Cadillac from a dinosaur on Mars and it smelled like cigarettes.

    2:56: And get all sweaty... for a blind date... one day when you try to get a date or a girlfriend, you'll understand.

    2:57-3:56: Because 4 minutes is too darn long to hold your attention for. Maybe a squirrel ran by the window?

    3:57: See 2:56.

    Otherwise, great article. Nah, just busting your rocks for you, Alex. All in good fun!

    Awesome job, Rene! Congrats on all the great press, you deserve it! Rock on! :)

  • Peter

    You do realize that Moffatt is correct in calling it Route 42 on the Mount Pleasant line. Open up the timetable, look at the top of the map...

  • Songwriter

    Congrats on finding trivial detail-related errors in another man's work of art. "good" songwriting is about creati a piece of work that the audience can relate to. From the publicity that this video has seen, hes obviously done a great job of this. I'm sure that if Rene (who is a top-notch songwriter in my book) could have written a very well researched paper on the public transit options available to a DC commuter, had he wanted to. But oh wait- it's not a research paper... It's a song. And songs aren't boring articles.
    Did Rene sleep with your daughter or something?

    This is why you wound up writing for a no name paper.

  • Wheresdafolk

    Alex, great article! This is a pretty terrible song, and a pretty bad video. Is this the best D.C. can do, when it comes to folk music?

    @douche chills, I wonder that myself? Pretty lame, for a folk musician to take government funding. Where's the heart, fight the power! Would Dylan have taken government funding to write a song about NYC, at least so early in his career?

    @Jiggity J, I wouldn't interpret 2:52 as though the author was going for Family Guy, I believe Alex was trying to say "I'm going to assume Rene does douchey stuff, because of this douchey terrible line" I'd assume that's it.

    Maybe if this track had some real heart in it, if it didn't sound like he went to a recording studio and said "Polish this up and make it as white bread and soul less as possible so people eat it up" maybe it wouldn't have been torn apart. Sadly, there is nothing that separates this from other lackluster "folky singer/songwriters" of the day (Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz etc...)

    Write something like Lou Reed's "New York" album, that's a love song to a city. It point's out flaws, and beauty, and does so beautifully.

  • Purveyor

    Why is everyone so hung-up on the "Government Funding" thing? I didn't realize the City Paper was the rag of choice for the Tea Party. It's an Arts Commission Grant - not a defense spending earmark.

    And insulting an artist on their taste or genre is foolish - after all, if you saw someone look at a Pollock and say "my kid could do that," you'd probably be quick to judge that person as a simpleton. And yet, here you are, assuming that if you were to fart out a song, it would be so much better than Rene's, when none of you knows his process or approach to writing.

    It's sad to see that instead of tacking corruption or injustice, the City Paper is in the business of belittling local artists who have invested their passion and heart into their craft.

    I'm reminded of a quote from a classic novel: "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

    Nice shot, Baca - direct hit.

  • Sad

    This guy is not an artist, so he absolutely does deserve to be ridiculed and belittled.

  • Purveyor

    @Sad - I'm assuming the DC Commission for the Arts is paying you a decent salary to post comments on the internet right now. You must look absolutely adorable in your smock and beret, anonymously lobbing insults at strangers. Yes sir - you truly are a master of the art of cowardice.

    When was the last time you took a risk, and put your self out there for the world to see?

  • Ward 1 Voter

    There hasn't been a good bus song since the Replacements did "Kiss Me on the Bus." Hurry, hurry, here comes my stop.

  • MtPforMe

    As a 2x daily 42-rider, I relateded big-time to this song. Complain about the artistry if you want (no accounting for taste) but he is spot-on about some of the annoyances of commuting via the 42.

  • MtPDC

    Why would he have walked a block to 16th street and taken an S bus? They're much faster and more direct to Mtp. Oh yeah, the 42 is the starter bus.