Liberal Arts Blog — Thursday is the Joy of Music Day
Today’s Topic: Louis Armstrong (1901–1971) — The Gravely Voice, The Charisma, The Trumpet
The glee and the warmth in his smile and in his voice have made “Pops” irresistible to generations of music lovers. As he himself was fond of pointing out, there has never been anyone like him before or since. His career was unusually long — from the 1920s to the 1960s. In the words of Duke Ellington, “He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone along the way.” Today, three songs that capture his enduring appeal. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD
1. “I see trees of green Red roses too I see them bloom For me and you And I think to myself What a wonderful world”
2. “I see skies of blue And clouds of white The bright blessed day The dark sacred night And I think to myself What a wonderful world”
3. “The colors of the rainbow So pretty in the sky Are also on the faces Of people going by I see friends shaking hands Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying “I love you”
NB: “I hear babies cry I watch them grow They’ll learn much more Than I’ll never know And I think to myself What a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself What a wonderful world Oh yeah”
YOU CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME — Duet with Ella Fitzgerald
1.The way you wear your hat The way you sip your tea The memory of all that No no they can’t take that away from me The way your smile just beams The way you sing off key The way you haunt my dreams No no they can’t take that away from me
2. We may never never meet again On the bumpy road to love Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of The way you hold your knife The way we danced till three
3. The way you’ve changed my life No no they can’t take that away from me
No they can’t take that away from me”
NB: The music was written by George Gershwin, the lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Armstrong and Fitzgerald did three albums together: Ella and Louis (1956), Ella and Louis Again (1958), and Porgy and Bess (1959). Unforgettable. Irresistible. Squared.
“HELLO DOLLY!” (1964)
1. Hello, Dolly This is Louis, Dolly It’s so nice to have you back where you belong You’re lookin’ swell, Dolly I can tell, Dolly You’re still glowin’…you’re still crowin’ You’re still goin’ strong
2. I feel the room swayin’ While the band’s playin’ One of our old favourite songs from way back when
3. So take her wrap, fellas, find her an empty lap, fellas, Dolly’ll never go away again”
NB: The song made Armstrong the oldest artist ever to have a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 — breaking the Beatles’ streak of “3 chart-stopping hits in a row over fourteen weeks.” This was the biggest hit of Armstrong’s career and won him a Grammy in 1965.
1. Tributes: “the beginning and the end”
a.) “If anybody was a master, it was Louis Armstrong. He was and will continue to be the embodiment of jazz.” (Duke Ellington)
b.) “He is the beginning and the end of music in America.” (Bing Crosby)
c.) “The two great American contributions to the world’s art, in the end, are Walt Whitman and, after him, Armstrong and jazz … If I had to choose between the two, ultimately, I wouldn’t. I would say that the genius of this nation at its best is indeed Walt Whitman and Louis Armstrong.” (Harold Bloom)
2. Armstrong on Armstrong: “can’t nobody touch it”
a. “Ain’t nobody played nothing like it since, and can’t nobody play nothing like it now.”
b. “My oldest record, can’t nobody touch it.”
c. “And if they say, ‘Which record do you like the best?’ I like them all, because I didn’t hit no bad notes on any of them.”
3. The Nicknames: Satchmo, Satch, Pops
a.) “Satchmo” is short for “satchel mouth” or “big mouth.” The legend is that as a child singing on street corners he would put the money he earned into his mouth so bigger kids would not steal it.
b.) “Pops” was the nickname given to him by Billie Holiday. It stuck.
Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash:
Last three years of posts organized thematically:
Time to share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to music. Or the coolest thing you learned in your life related to music. Say your favorite song or songs. Or your favorite tips for breathing, posture, or relaxation. Or some insight into the history of music….Or just something random about music… like a joke about drummers. jazz, rock….or share an episode or chapter in your musical autobiography.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. And perhaps to cement in your memory something important you would otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters to you.