AGE WISE

For the benefit of my fellow geezers out there who may not be aware of it, May is OLDER AMERICANS MONTH (not to be confused with NATIONAL SENIOR CENTER MONTH (September) or NATIONAL ACCORDION MONTH (June). Accordionly, May you and I bask in the recognition which is due us for living long enough to pass along our well-earned wisdom to those who don’t want to hear it.

To be sure, there is also a slight  drawback about old age: there’s not much future in it….but otherwise, it’s not a bad time to be alive. At any rate, it beats the alternative — or so they say (as if “they” have experienced said alternative).  On the flip side, there are many timely quotes on the age-old subject of age, so let’s put on our reading glasses and see if we can make heads or tails of some of them:

If  I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. –Anonymous

An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have: the older she gets, the more interested he is in her. –Agatha Christie

Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone. –Jim Fiebig

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. –Susan Ertz

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re aboard, there’s nothing you can do. –Golda Meir

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. –Chili Davis

You’re only as old as the girl that you feel. –Groucho Marx

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician. –Anonymous

If you worry, you die. If you don’t worry, you also die. So why worry? –Mike Horn

I was going to use that last quote to close with the song DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY, but on the occasion of the birthday (May 10, 1899) of the never-grows-old Fred Astaire, this song and dance make me happy to change my tune:

 

 

 

MAY 23 IS INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY

Although it is tempting to sum up the classic jazz era of 1917-32 with a few major names (Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, etc.), there were many other important contributors. The classic jazz era was one of dizzying innovation and breakthrough. –Scott Yanow, jazz writer

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I am a classic jazz lover, pure and simple — which does not mean I love classic jazz exclusively. On the contrary, I’ve enjoyed the best of various types of music over the decades. But, considering the noisome state of what has been popular of late, I’m glad I was born early enough to appreciate the difference between music and noise. Thus, these poems on this day:

COUNTERFEIT NOTES

The things that pass
for music these days.

OUTDATED

I could tell you what it
was like in those days,
but you had to live it
to appreciate it, and why
should you give a damn?
I wasn’t born yesterday.

The destiny of every
generation is to become
irrelevant to the next.
You may save its music for
your collection of coming
tomorrows, its sounds
long died in the past, but
when you go, so too
goes the living ghost
of the world you knew.

WHEN JAZZ WAS JAZZ

Listen —
You can’t get
there from here.

May 23 also happens to be the birthday of all-time great clarinetist ARTIE SHAW, who was born in 1910 and played with many jazz/dance bands beginning in 1926. In 1936, he formed his own group, which evolved into one of the leading bands of the swing era. He also composed a number of fine songs, including LOVE OF MY LIFE (lyrics by Johnny Mercer) and ANY OLD TIME (which his band recorded in July 1938 with Billie Holiday as vocalist). That same recording session produced his biggest hit:

COLE IN ONE

Cole Porter died fifty years ago today. If you’re under age 50, chances are you don’t know Cole Porter from cole slaw….which is sad in a way, because if you don’t know what you don’t know, you may think what you know is all that’s worth knowing. You know?

To those of us who are into America’s “Golden Age of popular music,” Cole Porter was one of a kind. In those days, few song writers wrote both words and music, and of those few, no one wrote lyrics with more wit and sophistication. Consider this refrain from YOU’RE THE TOP:

You’re the top!
You’re the Coloseum.
You’re the top!
You’re the Louvre Museum.
You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss,
You’re a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare sonnet,
You’re Mickey Mouse!

….about which John Updike wrote, “In the urbane, top-hat fantasy world wherein Fred Astaire and Cole Porter reign as quintessential performer and creator, love is wry, jokey, casual, and even weary but nonetheless ecstatic: you’re Mickey Mouse! He [Porter] brought to the traditional and somewhat standardized tasks of songsmithing a great verbal ingenuity, a brave flexibility and resourcefulness, a cosmopolitan’s wide experience in mundane matters including foreign lands and tongues, and a spirit that always kept something of collegiate innocence about it.”

Porter wrote over eight hundred songs, more than half of which were never published. I will mention but a few of my favorites: BEGIN THE BEGUINE, LOVE FOR SALE, EASY TO LOVE, and practically the entire score of KISS ME KATE. Of these, perhaps this one best epitomizes the sole Cole Porter: