Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jazz legend and connection to a former Sudiejob

Today in history:
In 1991, jazz great Miles Davis died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 65.

You know, as much as I love jazz, Miles Davis was not a player I could get into.


He scared the piss out of me. This picture alone gives me the willies, without a doubt.

I appreciate his place in the jazz spectrum, and I like some of the tunes he created. He played on Quincy Jones' "Back on the Block" album and proved he still had it. That was in 1989 or 1990, I believe.

By this date in 1991, he was gone. I don't think his drug addiction was necessarily a secret in the jazz world, if only because he wasn't the only one. I remember that he struggled with it, but I don't know to what extent.

I remember in the early '80s (the year escapes me now) he was going to perform at the Grammy Awards. The fact that he was on was a big deal. They gave his performance a big buildup, and I was fairly psyched - he was a name and I wanted to see the person.

Finally, he came out and played on stage. I was...well...surprised at how he looked.

He was skinny. Very skinny. Also, he kind of slouched, and he didn't face the audience when he played. His body language was hard to was a mixture of wanting to play but not wanting people to watch him do so.

The cherry on the sundae? He played less than 25 notes, I'm sure of it. Then he left the stage.

HUH? My little 14-year old mind was trying to wind around that idea. What made him so great? My band and choir teachers always talked about sitting up straight, looking out instead of at our feet, etc. And here HE is, doing the exact opposite of what we're supposed to do.

Oh well...what did I know? I was just a kid, right?

Many years later, I worked at a jazz radio station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I learned not to complain about Miles Davis' lack of stage presence because he's worshiped by many, and jazzbos will cut your head off if you besmirch Davis' name.

I also learned that if a "producer" (can't call 'em DJ's in public radio) anticipates a long visit to the restroom, wants a smoke break, or needs to grab something from the vending machines, the sure fire tune to play was "Sketches of Spain". It was so long, they could put on the tune, go do what they had to do, and come back WELL before the tune was over. You can't beat that!

So I guess Miles Davis serves more than one purpose.

PS: From Groovygrrl in Denver, also the site owner of the NaBloWriMo blog listed in the sidebar and a soapmaker extraordinare...she states in the comments that the official bathroom break song for classic rock stations is "American Pie". I don't doubt that at all.

And that got me thinkin'...obviously other music stations have bathroom break type songs, right? Classical stations don't count because all classical songs seem like they could allow you for bathroom time, if not for getting an oil change and balancing your checkbook.

For R&B stations (at least classic ones), I'd have to say Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up" is key because the original full version is 11 minutes.

But what about country? I'm not a country fan, so could anyone that is tell me the name of the song that YOU think is the official "bathroom break" song?


*sudiegirl makes comically pouty face and sez*

I'll give ya a cookie...