Why can’t baseball players who win a big game or a best-of-something series devise some other celebration rather than dance in a circle with heads down and arms around each other’s shoulders?
Why are we sending CF-18s to battle ISIS when the humanitarian aid we promised in August has yet to arrive and the last I heard we’ve welcomed less than 100 of the 1,000 refugees we promised to take from Syria. Why are we not accepting thousands of refugees as we have done ever since the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 through Uganda and Vietnam to Somali and Sri Lanka. What has happened to our generous civility?
Whatever became of novelty songs? You know, like Bryan Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” or “The Little Nash Rambler” by The Playmates?
What is it with Dracula and the many and various Vampires? There seems to be an insatiable appetite (pun intended) for movies and books about the bloody minded monsters. Is it a sexual thing?
Mozart was touring Europe at the age of seven. Schubert composed his first symphony at sixteen. Their work is played and honoured today. What child prodigy of this era will be enjoyed two hundred years from now?
For a child prodigy to be enjoyed 200 years from today I would be tipping my hat to Louis Armstrong.
Not the all-too-familiar “Hello Dolly!” Louis, but the much younger Louis whose Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings turned the music world on its ear in the late 1920s. To this day musicologists publish books, let alone scholarly research papers about these 79 recordings.
Like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and many other classical music luminaries, going by the best thinking to date Louis simply ‘knew what to do’ in developing his own musical voice. Nobody had to show him; nobody could.
All great artists (whose work becomes timeless) seem to baffle the rest of us mortals this way. Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Palladio, Martha Graham, Caruso, Picasso and many others simply ‘knew what to do’.
So what about Louis? On one hand he and Bing Crosby developed America’s popular song stylings, and on the other Louis’ virtuosity on the trumpet influenced just about every musician who followed, regardless of genre. His influence is felt to this day.
At age 7 Louis had formed his own vocal quartet in the dirty and dangerous section of New Orleans as a means of taking home change for food, and at 17 was asked by a senior jazz parade leader to “Get your horn, boy.” and step into the parade. At the end the members all greed that up until that hot afternoon they had heard more blues in two hours from a skinny, short 17-year-old than they had heard in all their lives.
There are numerous sources which examine his abilities in minute detail, but Benny Green, the great jazz saxaphone player put it well a number of years ago: “Anybody could learn what Louis Armstrong knows about music in a few weeks; nobody could learn to play like him in a thousand years.”