Daily Archives: July 3, 2012

DREAMS, BLUEBIRDS, GOODWILL

I don’t usually write blogposts about blogging, but I ask my readers to follow this one to the end.  It has its own surprises.  The Beloved and I sometimes talk about worry and its ubiquity and how to shake it off.  About a week ago, I posted GET HAPPY?  And a day later, the Beloved posted her own variations on the theme, MY WORRY CUP.  Both of these blogposts have this piece of music in common:

I am always moved by the wistful optimism of the song and the beauty of Bing’s voice — and the way that this performance has its own satisfying dramatic shape, moving from song to recitative to whistling.  It’s a very compelling performance, and it always reminds me that one’s troubles can be made to vanish if you gently wrap them in dreams.  The lyrics also suggest that there is a limitless supply of dreams in the universe — always a good thing to hear.

You will notice that the YouTube video begins with a close-up of a lovely record label — what collectors call a “buff Bluebird,”very attractive in itself.  Bing recorded the song in 1931 and the record seen here is from mid-1937.

A few days after we had published our blogposts, the Beloved spotted a Goodwill store we had both delved into in 2011, always finding treasures.  We went inside, elated and curious, and threw ourselves into the treasure hunt.  I found a spectacularly bold Hawaiian shirt; the Beloved found her own prize.  I remembered that in 2011 I had bought a half-dozen late-Twenties records there, so I knelt on the floor among scattered 78s.  I opened one of the ten-record brown cardboard albums and saw a buff Bluebird label.  Expecting nothing remarkable, I drew out a well-preserved copy of Bing’s WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS, a record I had never owned.

It is a cliche to write, “My mouth fell open.  I was speechless,” but it was true.  Carefully I put the record into a paper sleeve and, holding it behind my back, went over to the Beloved and said, quietly — in the presence of Mystery — “You won’t believe this.”  And we marveled at the artifact that had appeared to us.

The object and its suggestive powers are both powerfully in our thoughts.  If you like the mathematical: what are the chances that a piece of fragile, breakable shellac would emerge intact after seventy-five years?  What are the chances that it should appear to us, who had been humming and singing and thinking about that song for the days immediately before?

I could hypothesize that Someone or Something put it there for us to find, as a little gleaming light on the path, or The Path.  Since I believe that the dead know what is going on on this planet, I could — with some quiet amusement — think momentarily that Bing had arranged for it to be there.  I could even entertain the possibility that it was there as a reward in a universe where such synchronicities are all around us if are hearts are open to them.  I could turn the whole idea on its head and think that this disc was the starting point for my journey and the Beloved’s, that we had thought of the song and written our posts because the record was waiting to be found.  I think it meaningful that the disc appeared in a place called GOODWILL, where many less fortunate people come to shop — their troubles larger than their abilities to dream them away.  All the omens, including the hopeful Bluebird, augur well.  The other side of the 78, and I think not by accident, is an Irving Berlin song called THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE.  Ponder that.

I have no real answers.  But I am awestruck, delighted beyond the quick formulaic responses with which we brush away the beautiful Mysteries: “accident,” “randomness,” “luck,” or “coincidence.”

What do my readers think?

And while you muse and dream, please listen to Mister Crosby.

I send thanks to Bing, to Harry Barris, Ted Koehler, Billy Moll, David J. Weiner.  I hope to spread Goodwill through JAZZ LIVES.

May your troubles be small.  May your dreams be powerful.

May your happiness increase.

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SINGULAR, REMARKABLE: MATT MUNISTERI EXPLORES THE LOST MUSIC OF WILLARD ROBISON — at JOE’S PUB (July 10, 2012)

Sometimes there is a perfect marriage of an artist and the material (s)he chooses or stumbles upon.  I think of Lester Young and the slow blues; Louis Armstrong and the songs of Harold Arlen; Lee Wiley and SUGAR . . . you can continue my list or compile your own.

One such remarkable pairing — lively and sad, wry and deeply ethical, sardonic and hopeful — is that of guitarist / singer / improviser Matt Munisteri and the body of work composed and sung by Willard Robison.  Serious songhounds know Robison immediately for OLD FOLKS, A COTTAGE FOR SALE, ‘T’AIN’T SO, HONEY, ‘T’AIN’T SO, and several others, but it took Munisteri to bring him back to life for us in all his multi-faceted surprising glory.  Robison is simultaneously philosophical and goofy, spiritual and naughty . . . and his playful, profound spirit animates his music and lyrics.  He has found the perfect person to levitate his art from the flat surfaces of sheet music and shellac discs in Munisteri, whose art is anything but one-dimensional.

I’ve written enthusiastically about Matt’s new Robison CD — the one we’ve been waiting for! — here.

And NPR got it, too — npr.

But right now what I am suggesting is that anyone within reach of downtown Manhattan saddle up the pony, rent a car, hitch a ride, get on the bus . . . and go to Joe’s Pub for the official CD release show in slightly over a week — that’s Tuesday, July 10.  I’ve heard Matt perform the Robison material live, and he is brilliantly cutting his own new paths through this surprising world.

Here are the details!  JOE’S PUB is at 425 Lafayette Street in New York City — easy to reach by public transit.  The show begins at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $20 on the day of the show and $18 in advance.  Joe’s Pub now has assigned seating and I expect the show to sell out, so don’t be caught short with a mournful look . . . stuck outside while the sweet music happens within.  And this is the link to Buy Tickets

May your happiness increase.