Music; A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


By Tiffany B. Talley 

Dirty blonde dreadlocks rest on the head of the homeless musician as she leans against a building in Ybor City. Sarah performs songs from her first album, “What You Make of It”, having crossed the U.S from California to Florida armed with only a guitar, tent and backpack. 

May 27, 1985, marked the beginning of the life and times of hitchhiking musician Sarah McCoy. A daily routine for Sarah, she belts her raspy tone as she has plays the music of her soul in the streets of cities all over the US. She stands, dusts off her tattered blue jeans and begins to tell her story. 

Sarah views her life as a big punch line.  “My mother was a nun and father was a New York City cop. They met in AA.” 

A classically trained pianist since early years, Sarah lived on the side of a mountain in New York until the age 6 years and moved to South Carolina.  

“Regardless, I’m not accepted from the north, and not from the south. I gave everything away and left South Carolina, which was the best thing I ever did for myself. I really do believe.”  

For 2 ½ years, Sarah has moved on an aimless journey up and down the east and west coast that brought her to Monterey, Calif.

In Monterey, Sarah performed her folk/classical renditions in a local nightclub only to be discovered and signed by Big Wave Records. Under the management of Big Wave, Sarah has recorded songs for “The Voice-television series soundtrack.” 

“Sarah’s music was always in her. She just needed to find a venue to let it out,” said mother, Colleen McCoy in a telephone conversation. 

 Sarah contacts her friends and family via Internet access available at public libraries, e-mailing as frequently as possible.   

Tragically, Sarah’s father passed away when she was 15 years old, only five days after the passing of her grandmother. A life changing experience, Sarah found herself inspired to write music. 

 “What You Make of It”, Sarah’s first album, is dedicated to her father, who passed away from cancer in 2001, and an old friend, Eric Hardy, who took himself from the world.  

“Though I miss ’em both, the inspiration from my loss brought substantial change into my music.” “Life’s experiences give us the choice to stand or fall. And here I stand. Being classically trained, and inspired, I wrote some mile stone instrumental pieces that I bust out every hither and thither.” 

A crowd walks by and Sarah beings to play.

 “Will You Roll?” 


O, sing, feel I toured on this road so long and I feel I’m hanging on,

One last penny, o, that just might save me now, give me a ticket home. 

Will you roll? Tell me, will you roll?

Over and under now honey, this countryside we’ll go. 

They say my eyes so tired and the sun so bright,

And I’ve been eating dust for days

Here this dusty road it falls on, I’m just in the way. 

I learned from this as the winds’ my compass, now,

Know there’s anywhere, where the wind blows bittersweet now

You’ll find me there. 

And when the road gets long, your feet are so tired,

I’ll be weeping willows by the riverside. 

I’ll be the streams fallin’ beneath your eyes. 


Sarah speaks of her experiences hitchhiking across the U.S. in a positive light. She went across the U.S. seeing and learning. Talk of times in country diners and nights in the desert sun flood the air.  

“Not regretfully, but shamefully. I had to learn that there are even cool people in crappy places. BUT THEY EXIST.” 

Sarah credits her relationship with God as a key to her success. She carries small wooden rosary in her baggage, a habit of her Catholic upbringing.  

“I find that God sometimes gives me precise and definitive indications of when things are about to happen.” Inspired by the music of the Grateful Dead, Sarah heard “Stella Blue” and saw (heard) something else in music. Sarah’s friends and family continued to feed her head right through the album of “Carnie” by Leon Russell.  She is also inspired by the music of Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, who was a Russian and American composer, pianist, and conductor, and one of the last great champions of the Romantic style of European classical music, and by many considered to be the greatest American Classical composer ever.

She wears a seashell necklace that reminds her of her days on the beaches in South Carolina. At the end of the evening, she gathers her things and a couple of tips made throughout the night. She has shared herself with the world once again.   

Where to now? 

 “Where ever the music takes me,” she said.   


6 Responses to “Music; A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

  1. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    I really like the subject of the profile, and you portray her very well. The second to last paragraph could be broked up, but other than that its good.

  2. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    This is a interesting story and you did a nice job describing Sarah. It seems like you spend a great deal of time taking with her.

  3. Aaron Says:

    I want to hear some of her music. Even if ou didn’t have a photograph, I would have been able to picture her in my head.

  4. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    i read the whole article bc i see homeless ppl all the time and i always wonder about them like what happened??? very good

  5. Christine Says:

    Good story, nice portrayal of the songwriter. I like that you included the picture too.

  6. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    I liked the story, but skipped over the lyrics. You described her very well. I might have asked the mom about how she feels about her daughter being homeless.

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