Duke Ellington

John W. Pinkerton


Okay, I know old people are supposed to be set in their ways, but I’ve recently experienced a change in my musical interests.

If you’ve read, which I doubt, my essay, “Music,” which I wrote a few years ago, you realize my connection to music is pretty tenuous.  I pointed out that I don’t have a natural connection with music.  That’s still true.

I still follow my routine of listening to one of my CDs about once a month…or, truthfully, every couple of months.  My primary source of CDs is my wife, Linda.  Bless her heart; she loves music, particularly music from her youth.  If I come close to mentioning a music artist, she takes it as an opportunity to purchase another CD for me.  Once again, bless her heart.

I obediently listen to them---usually just once, and then they go into my stack of CDs.  It must be a pretty lonely life for the CDs because they seldom have an opportunity to do what they do best.

If I can call these favorites, my favorite performers are Dylan, Joplin, and Leadbelly.  I’ve tried to jumpstart my interest in music by listening to classical, Western, honky tonk, blues, jazz and Gregorian chants.  I thought the Gregorian chants had a real shot at stimulating my interest in music, but it didn’t stick.

I was in a bookstore the other day and while thumbing through their CDs, I came across a Duke Ellington album.  Of course I’m familiar with Duke Ellington; anyone my age would know who he was.

When I got home, I went out to my studio to paint and decided to listen to my new CD.  Holy crap!  I was quickly reminded what music should sound like.  I was impressed.  At the same time, I realized that this is just a passing fad for me.

Since I made the mistake of telling Linda that I liked the CD, she has purchased a couple of other big band CDs from the Duke Ellington era.  They’re good, but not as good as Ellington.

Ellington’s music, I think, would be called “swing.”  Come to think of it, I also like Bob Will’s music, which is Western swing.

Ellington and his music were popular in the 30s and 40s.  I was born in ’42; my first interest in music was Dean Martin and Elvis, both wonderful singers, but we were entering the world of rock-n-roll.  Big band music was out…at least for young people.

When I play the Ellington album, I feel as though I’ve entered a time machine and gone back to before I was born.  My time machine also includes moving pictures.  I can’t listen to the music without seeing wonderful silver screen images of dancers hoofing away to the music.

Well, as I said, I’m sure my interest won’t last, but I’m thankful that for a little while I have an appreciation for music…however brief.



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