Friday, March 23, 2007

O Believers

[posted by Callimachus]

Did Charlie Parker play "Loverman" that way because he was a jazz genius or because he was so blasted on heroin he could hardly stand up at the mic?

What if the answer comes back, "both"?

How can I justify my pleasure in the recording? How can I wipe the blood off the coin I pay to hear it?

Not just that song. All the times he blurted into the studios to cut enough tracks to get enough dough to buy his next fix. Playing a borrowed sax because he had pawned his to buy the last fix. And he spilled brilliant music around the place before he staggered out again into the night. And they knew it all, the bastards, and they sold his records anyway.

Say some god of reversible times visits you and makes you an offer: Rewind the tape and instead of what happened, this time old Charlie Parker leads a nice, quiet, unaddicted life as an insurance salesman and family guy, and never records a lick of music. Do you take that reality instead?

How do you divorce your pleasures from their tortures? Find the maker of great art who wasn't tortured into it. By oppressions, crippling injuries, emotional midnight, thwarted lives. Oh, they exist, the happy writers, but there's not enough of them to make a literature. How else did Dante know Hell so well? Must Wordsworth's child die so that I may admire his sonnet on the topic?