This photograph, found online, is titled “Fats Waller at home.” Make of it what you will.

Somehow I doubt that Fats Waller — that ebullient rascal — would have taken to social distancing, and perhaps a man who died at 39 is not the best role model for those of us who think wistfully of outliving the current emergency.  But this 1940 recording — music by Fats, lyrics by And Razaf — tenderly speaks to our situation right this moment.  Yes, in some ways it is a romantic saga; it extends the conceit of AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’.  But I find it especially encouraging and poignant for right now.  See if  you agree.  And perhaps you’ll play it again.  Or it will become the sweet soundtrack to your sheltering at home.  I hope so.

There is a wonderful photograph of Fats’ last home, taken by Matthew X. Kiernan. The address of this 1931 Tudor Revival house is 173-19 Sayers Ave. Addisleigh Park. St. Albans, Queens.  Here is the link.  But this is the house as it looked when Fats bought it in 1938.

Someday, perhaps, we can drive by and listen intently.  In between the sounds of traffic, children shouting, and lawnmowers, perhaps we will hear someone playing the piano.  At home, at home.

May your happiness increase!

5 responses to “A TUNE FOR OUR TIMES

  1. Dan Morgenstern

    Thanks for this, like a late variant on “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and how about that keyboard flourish at end of bridge! Also, nobody else could imbue such a tempo with swing, gentle but there. What shall we make of those odd lamps? A gift or did he collect? And what Menuet is that? Thanks again for find!


  2. Happy to know you, of all people, are riding right along on my train of thought. About those lamps: Fats was on the road so much that I suspect Anita decorated the house in typically elaborate style, as did Lucille Wilson Armstrong. Now that’s a book: DECORATING STYLES OF THE GREAT JAZZ WIVES.

  3. Tears. That’s a beautiful song. I’m crying. Love, tenderness, beauty.

  4. Mark Voitenko

    What a great tune! I have already played it three times, and I suspect it could become my anthem for the next few weeks/months. Thank you, Michael.


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