Sunday, September 7, 2014

How odd ... How lovely

I hopped in the shower this morning and began a weirdly excellent experience.

I have a very small Bluetooth speaker in there, and I thought my iPhone was set to continue an audio book I’d been listening to. But no. Some illicit digital shenanigans had been going on, and up came “Boplicity” from Birth of the Cool. Which naturally made me feel like one smooth operator. And when it was over I was set up for more ultra-sophisticated post-bopness from Miles and the guys.

But no again. Little Richard asking Lucille to satisfy his heart.

It’s hard to go so fast from supercool to down and dirty, and I didn’t quite make it before here was Fats Waller and his famous variations on Tea for Two, which made me remember for the first time in years asking my mother, who loved Waller (“great left hand”), if this was a joke that was played on him or a joke he was playing on us. She told me she thought he was just taking an insipid tune and demonstrating how it could be played in various jazz styles. I wasn’t convinced then and I’m not convinced today.

By this time, I was in the car headed north to a great farm market. We went classical for a stretch, and the sounds took me deeper and deeper into the memory tunnel.

A movement of a Vivaldi Cello Concerto made me remember that we used to listen to a lot of Baroque when H was a little girl. She always recognized this composer, and called him “Mr. Vivaldi.”

Next, a movement of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto (Michael Chapman!) reminded me that while I used to know most of the Köchel numbers, now I can barely tell Mozart from Cab Calloway.

Onward to Coleman Hawkins sedate but ground-breaking “Body and Soul”.  My dad, the first time I played it for him decades ago: “Where’s the melody? I can’t hear the tune! Why would anyone do that? You don’t like this stuff, do you?”

But dad loved the next one (which is why it’s on my iPhone): Bing Crosby crooning his massive early hit, “Please”. (“Your eyes reveal that you have the soul of / An angel white as snow / How long must I play the role of / A gloomy Romeo?”) My mother used to roll her eyes at stuff like this and make the “square” sign.

Back to a movement of one of Big Mo’s string quartets. Until I lost the hearing in one ear in the mid-’80s, chamber music was my thing, and the Mozart Quartets were pretty much my idea of perfection in music. But they became vastly less enjoyable to me in personal mono. Which is a shame. On the other hand: jazz. Louis and Wolfgang exist somewhere together. They both treat Billie Holiday with great respect.

By this time, I was cruising along back roads that were beautiful, green, and cool. It’s an awfully nice part of the country here. And up came Patti LuPone singing “Rabbit Tango” from a Sandra Boynton collection we bought for B. We love everything Boynton, but especially Moo, Baa, La La La, which in our family is always pronounced Moo, Baa, Ya Ya Ya, because that’s the way H said it when she was very small.

This was unfortunately followed by Simon & Garfunkel singing “Save the Life of My Child,” which I actually don’t remember ever hearing before, and which brought my spirits low even on this beautiful day in the beautiful place.

But then, just before I pulled into the farm, The Beatles offered “Let It Be”, which made me realize that the older I get, the more I love John Lennon.

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