Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy Blues

I don't know what made me think of this song today. My sister had the soundtrack to Mo' Better Blues; I think it was during her Spike Lee phase, when she had movie posters on her wall and would try to tell me watered down synopses of the films to give me an idea of the plots and issues without inducing nightmares (not always successfully - her skinny on one, maybe Fresh? anyway, a one-word title, haunted me before I went to sleep for a long time afterwards), and since our only cd player was in the dining room, that was where she listened to it, so I would listen to it too. I think it was the reassuring and kind of familiar sound of the song that immediately resounded with me; it was around the time of my Kool FM fanaticism (which I guess has never really left me), and when I was starting to understand about the situation of black people in America (and elsewhere, having seen The Power Of One the year before and taking it to the absolute extreme - every old black man became Geel Piet, and I an unwitting Harriet Beecher Stowe, and yes I know one was in South Africa and the other the USA). Sometimes it scared me, like the movies I didn't understand but always seemed to end in young men dying, and other times it made me feel so much love and compassion for a group of people with whom I had never had any personal experience (something else that has stayed with me, although thankfully my viewpoint is not as patronising and romantic as it was when I was eight) that it comforted me more than anything else. So I would listen to this song over and over and over, walking past the stereo and pretending to accidentally knock it back to play again. It was before we knew I was a music freak; we still just thought I was a general freak, and luckily the song was inoffensive enough to the rest of our family that I was allowed to keep repeating it for a while. I still remember the cover; it had a man playing a sax, and a brick wall, and the name was in little ovals and all in lowercase letters. I haven't seen the movie; I haven't seen any of the movies my sister told me about, and I think if I did, I would find them just as upsetting as I did then. Things are supposed to be better - it's nineteen or twenty years since I first heard this song, but the things reflected in those films are still happening, and the people living the story-lines are still largely forgotten.

Anyway, here is the song. I haven't actually listened to it yet and I'm a bit nervous that age and cynicism might mar my enjoyment of it. But I'm going to try to pretend that I'm eight or nine years old, and sitting at the dining table with my sister, and that everything is still to be discovered.


I don't know if it was Brick Lane or my looming period that is doing this to me, but I have such a sad longing for the time when my sisters and I were young and together that it is kind of breaking my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Branford Marsalis will still flick the switch even when we're old ladies with blue hair x

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