Friday, June 24, 2011

Heart to Heart

Benny Goodman played the Philadelphia Academy of Music around 1973. A bunch of us impoverished jazz fans took seats in the nosebleed section. He was fifteen minutes late and we mortified the rich furred and fluffed front seaters by stomping our feet and chanting, "We want Goodman, we want Goodman". An old man came on, eyeglasses glinting in the stage lights. As he played, his bones unstiffened, the music pulsed up, golden, fluid honey. Then poof, too soon, it was over. We pounded for encore after encore. The rich folk had drifted out way before the final, "Sweet Georgia Brown". The die-hards craved more. By jingo we wanted our seven bucks worth! Goodman moved off stage as music’s afterglow still lingered in the air. We got up without speaking and left.

Friends consider me a bit of a Luddite. Raised with classical music and jazz at home, I never got into contemporary rock, blinking before it like a bewildered cave dweller in the sunlight. As a kid, I’d sit for hours listening to Tchaikovsky’s stretched and mournful Pathetique. By bits and pieces though, it came. The Beatle’s hauntingly beautiful Norwegian Wood. That tight a capella riff in the Beach Boy’s Sloop John B, so lovely you could cry. There was music in there. Good stuff that reached in and grabbed you by the tonsils.

Listen for it in today's music. Every once and a while they get it too. From their heart to your heart.

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