YOU COULD HEAR him from a block away, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing his heart out.

“There was no man like Job of old/He was a man who eschewed all evil.”

Michael Pastore, 18, sat cross-legged Wednesday morning on the sidewalk in front of the Chapter 11 store on The Concourse in Waterville, passionately belting out the tunes.

His guitar case lay open; inside were scraps of paper containing his hand-written songs, a couple of $5 bills and three $1 bills.

Shoppers strolled by. Some acknowledged the music with a smile; others looked as if they were on a mission and did not notice.

“It’s interesting,” Pastore said. “Some people give you this random look like they don’t really care. Some people say the music’s good. Some people recite their music history, like back in the ’70s, and some people say, ‘Don’t stop,’ and that kind of helps.”

Pastore is tall with jet black hair that is smooth at his temples but feathers out into curls where it falls beneath his shoulders. I was struck by his chiseled good looks, Roman nose, intense dark eyes, perfect white teeth and articulate speech. He was wearing a long black raincoat, blue jeans and tinted dark glasses. To me, he looked more like a movie star than a man playing on the street for pennies.

“I haven’t recorded or anything, or gotten any copyrights,” he said, when I asked about his music. “I don’t know how many songs I’ve written — I just know I’ve written quite a lot.”

Pastore started playing guitar about five years ago, he said, but has been singing since the fourth grade. A 2016 graduate of Waterville Senior High School, he was in theater and last year performed in “The Wizard of Oz,” he said.

He has a rich, strong voice and plays his Fender Armstrong acoustic guitar well, for having been at it only five years. He calls his guitar Gabriel.

He plays all kinds of music including folk, rock and classics.

“I can use music to control myself. Like if I’m angry, I listen to heavy metal, or French rap is really good,” he said. “I’ve listened to music from all over the world. When I’m sad, I’ll listen to something by independent artists. I grew up with music. It was really a womb instinct. I knew the Beatles lyrics from the womb. I call it a ‘Featle.’ My parents used to put headphones up to me in the womb. I have this brain that works solely on music.”

Music — and words — are Pastore’s passion. He said he loves words and the poetry of Walt Whitman, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost.

“And the Bible. That is the most beautiful poetry. If you read Psalms, it just weaves together so beautifully.”

It was cold and raw Wednesday, so Pastore collected his things and we walked over to Selah Tea on Main Street to get warm. As we meandered around the cars and trucks, he talked about what he says is his main passion — the Lord.

“The thing is, I became a born-again Christian four months ago. I used to be this irritating person because I was very introverted, really. I was very sad. I called myself a Christian for years, but I wasn’t really one. I listened to a false prophet here in Waterville, and I didn’t really care so I was just searching for something, something to ease the pain I had. He convinced me I was a demi-God. I was just so far gone, I actually believed I was a demagogue. I was extremely lonely.”

We sat in the cafe where he told me that, after he graduated from high school in June, he got a job at a restaurant but left the job and landed another one at a retail store. He was fired from that job because so many customers were always asking him about Christ and he took the time to answer them. He took a third job at another restaurant and was fired from that, too, he said.

Then he met a pastor who changed his life, he said.

“I started talking to him, and he’s a prophet of the Holy Spirit. Now, the more I read the scripture, the more knowledgeable I get. It makes me sad to think there was a time in my life when I was so lost. This has given me the greatest gift I could ever have, and that’s the relationship with Christ.”

Pastore said he now lives at the pastor’s home and aspires to be a singer and evangelist.

Meanwhile, he plays his guitar on the street to pick up a few bucks and talks with people who will listen.

I wanted to talk with Pastore more, but I was running out of time as I had to get to another appointment. As a parting question, I asked where he thought he might be in 10 years.

He paused, searching for an answer.

“I can’t say,” he replied. “Where do I want to be? At 18 years old I can honestly say I want to marry a holy, spirit-filled woman and have a son. I want a son, and that’s an intimacy that I crave and I have for years and I think that’s another reason for the sadness.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 28 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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