#7Songs – Number Three

by John on July 25, 2016

I figured it was time to get back to some more lighthearted posts. There has been way too much suffering in the world and the election news cycle is driving people bat shiat crazy.

So to lighten the mood, I’m kicking it old school, jazz standard style.

The Song: Autumn Leaves

Why this one: In 1989 I joined a band. Now I’m not a musician by any stretch of the imagination (unless you count “playing the radio” which is what my wife accuses me of on a constant basis). Well there was that one time where I wanted to be Sting and spend the summer of my junior year in HS trying to learn how to play the upright bass, that’s not the point.

No, I was a roadie for a society band.

The band was composed of musicians in their late 60’s and early 70’s. I hauled all the equipment in the door, set them up, checked the sound, and then would either hang out, usually hiding in some back room, or come back when the gig was over and break them down. Rinse, repeat. To this day, I’ve been through more hotel and country club kitchens and loading docks than I’d care to remember.

This job paid me the princely sum of $30 cash. Between 1989 and 1990 I had saved all my cash to help pay for a good portion of my expenses for my freshman year in college.

I learned a whole lot working with those guys and the stories they shared, well let’s just say they were legendary. There was the one piano player who could play Chopin from memory. He once skipped classes at NYU to attend Gershwin’s funeral. He was awesome. I still miss him, and all the other guys.

The original song is a French tune “Les feuilles mortes” which is literally translated to the dead leaves. Johnny Mercer wrote some haunting lyrics that shake you to your core. This is not guitar riffy “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley, this tune is a “I’m drinking in a bar because I’m an idiot and lost the girl” kinda ballad.

Where it takes me: Right back to the struggle. I was living on my own, working my ass off, hoping and wishing for my life to start. Little did I know that I what I considered a struggle was really a carefree time. I was going to school, reading, goofing off, and having a blast. It was a simpler time, before mistakes were cataloged forever on the internet for all to see.

Parting Shots:This standard always gets me. When my oldest daughter told me that she likes the Leslie Odom Jr. bossa nova version of this tune I was immediately happy. Sure it’s another one of those minor key tunes that evokes sadness and love lost, but it still holds up all these years later.

And while you didn’t get to see us get married Sy, I want you to know that the stories and lessons you shared still resonate. I’m also certain that your professors have forgiven you for skipping class that day. I sure as hell would have.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hector Alfonso October 10, 2017 at 7:33 am

segue… When I think of Midnight in Garden of Good & Evil, I overlook the great performances, the location of the filming, the great story, everything, except Allison Eastwood. My God what a beautiful woman. What were you talking about again?

Could you review Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights… It’s awful yet I can’t stop looking at her modern dance in the video.. see you at the store.

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