Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Sonny’s Blues’

All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it.  And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations.  But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.”  — Sonny’s brother in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

boston harbor blue, may 2014

boston harbor blue, may 2014

I’ve been lucky enough to know people with a wide variety of tastes in music, and I’ve especially appreciated their attempts to express what the music evokes for them.  I wouldn’t mind asking my father what the blues did for him, but I don’t really need any concrete words. I’ll always remember the looks on his face as he played those 78s.  He loved listening to the blues (and wasn’t too bad playing along on a harmonica).   He played the blues a lot after my mother passed away, mostly, because he had the freedom to do so.  You see, my mother hadn’t been too keen on that music.  It made her too sad. But, that music, no matter how dark, seemed to put some pep in my father’s step even as he wiped away tears.

I was reminded of my parents, and other family and friends, as I recently read James Baldwin’s short story, Sonny’s Blues, about two brothers coming to understand one another.  Near the end, the youngest brother, the troubled one, and the musician, is up on stage, playing the blues as part of a quartet.  As the older brother reflects upon what he is seeing and hearing, the reader is reminded that music can be a salve for old wounds, a bridge between past and the present, and, perhaps most importantly, it is through music that life is shared.  As Baldwin writes, “For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.

blue lillies along the mystic, 2014

blue lillies along the mystic, 2014

Read Full Post »