Wednesday, July 06, 2016

`Gratitude to Music'

In the December 1969 issue of Esquire, twenty-five elderly celebrities offered advice to the younger generation. Among them were Rube Goldberg, Maurice Chevalier, Norman Rockwell, Lotte Lehmann, Buckminster Fuller, Leopold Stokowski – and Louis Armstrong. The trumpeter’s reply is collected in Louis Armstrong in His Own Words: Selected Writings (ed. Thomas Brothers, 1999). Here is how he concludes:

“Just want to say that music has no age. Most of your great composers—musicians—are elderly people, way up there in age—they will live forever. There’s no such thing as on the way out. As long as you are doing something interesting and good. You are in business as long as you are breathing. `Yeah.’”

A year and a half later, on this date, July 6, in 1971, Armstrong was dead at age sixty-nine. Geoffrey “Blueberry” Hill died last week at age eighty-four. In section XL in The Orchards of Syon (2002) he writes:

“Still, gratitude to music for making
us vocal: music to find its place here.
Estimable Saint-Sa├źns, firework cadenzas,
Fourth or Fourteenth of July. Does music
know or care how it sounds? Go, horns
of plenty, clash promiscuous
cymbals!”

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