© 2022 NPR Illinois
Stand with the Facts
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
The X

Help Find The Man Who Inspired Passenger's 'Riding To New York'

Passenger is Mike Rosenberg. <em>Whispers</em> is out now.
Shervin Lainez
Courtesy of the artist
Passenger is Mike Rosenberg. <em>Whispers</em> is out now.

Last year during a tour stop in Minneapolis, Passenger's Mike Rosenberg had made a late-night gas-station trip to buy cigarettes when he walked past an older man.

"I walked past him and he said, 'This is the best cigarette I've ever had in my life,' " Rosenberg tells NPR's Melissa Block. "It was such a bizarre thing for him to say. It was almost surreal."

Upon striking up a conversation, Rosenberg learned that the man had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was midway through a cross-country road trip to see his family in New York, where he'd planned to spend the rest of his days.

Rosenberg never got the man's name, but he says the experience affected him deeply, inspiring him to quit smoking and write the song "Riding to New York." We'd love to reach this man or his family, so if you think you might know who he is, please email nprcrowdsource@npr.org.

Hear the full conversation — about romanticizing busking and adapting to a larger audience — at the audio link. You can also hear three acoustic in-studio performances on this page. In addition, Rosenberg sent us a hand-picked list of his musical inspirations, which you can stream on Spotify.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Passenger Performs 'Riding To New York'
Passenger Performs 'Scare Away The Dark'
Passenger Performs 'Let Her Go'

Related Stories