January 23rd, 2015

Get on the Bus

by Andrew Christenberry

According to the Indy Star, in 2014 the number of passengers on IndyGo buses topped 10 million, the most riders in a year since 1991. For IndyGo, 2014 was characterized by seven monthly ridership records, which translate into an increasing desire among Indianapolis Hoosiers for more public transportation in Indy. While this story is fantastic for IndyGo, as it turns out, the City Gallery is equally excited about the growing prominence of public transit in Indy, but for a reason you might not expect.

Enter Chad Caroland.


Joining the City Gallery for the next ten weeks is Chattanooga-based singer/songwriter Chad Caroland. Caroland, who recently finished school with a degree in music, concentrating primarily in guitar, has taken up residence in the historic neighborhood of St. Clair Place. As a storyteller in his own right, he has early begun shaping the stories of Indy’s urban neighborhoods into song.

As Caroland grew up on the outskirts of Chattanooga, TN, there were two things he was not used to that he found almost immediately after moving up to Indy: snow, and public transportation. “On my first day as a City Gallery intern I woke up to subzero temperatures and icy roads,” Caroland said, “because I’m not used to driving in those conditions I decided it would probably be a good idea to take the bus to work.” As he stood, bundled up at the IndyGo stop and waiting for the number 10 bus, Caroland began to take in this almost liturgical practice of the city. Inspiration struck, and the idea for a song was born. (Listen here.)


“I began to think about this being my first experience riding the IndyGo,” Caroland explained, “I thought about the practice of patiently waiting for the number 10 as I considered the elements of what I was experiencing: the cold day, the white siding of the bus, the black tires, the rubber mat under your feet when you first step onboard.”


After getting off the number 10 and catching the number 16 bus that brought him to Delaware Street, Caroland entered the City Gallery feeling more at home in Indy because of his IndyGo experience. He began to write music recreating the time he spent on the bus that morning. “I wanted the feel of the song to mimic the steady driving pace of the bus. I wanted to reference the whole aesthetic of the experience, and I wanted to create something approachable and relatable,” he said.

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As the song moves forward from beginning to end, the listener experiences different movements within the same pace as if to capture the steps taken by a bus as it moves from stop to stop. When the song begins to resolve, Caroland unleashes the climax recreating the excitement of reaching your destination.


In the song’s climax, Caroland also gives a nod to the courage of Rosa Parks, and the beautiful diversity found in a bus. Accompanying the crescendo, his lyrics, which state, “White and black all in the back, it’s good to see people like me,” give a simple, yet poignant message of progress in racial reconciliation. “Because of the connotations of racial tension that the bus carries in America, I wanted to put a positive spin on the diversity that I saw riding the IndyGo,” Caroland said, “Coming from that inspiration, and especially after Martin Luther King Day, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that, while we still have a ways to go, progress has been made and times are changing. It’s good to see!”

So, if you have never taken a ride on the IndyGo, grab some headphones and see why the prominence of the bus is growing in Indy. And stay tuned for more music from City Gallery intern Chad Caroland coming soon.