The Lives of Dead Jazz Singers – Ivie Anderson

28 01 2009

ivie-anderson

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqvh_qZ_0EM&feature=related

Jazz | JazzTimes Magazine > Columns and Features > Final Chorus

THE LIVES OF DEAD JAZZ SINGERS:

Ivie Anderson

born……………….in a small town

sang……………….in the glee club

………………………..choral society

joined…………………..the Duke Ellington Band

sat on a stool quietly became…………………the lyrics

………………………………….when it was her turn

off to Hollywood

……………..appeared as a washerwoman.

……………………in A Day at the Races

Groucho’s eyebrows…………….rose…………………..flew

…………………………………………………………………..away

…………………………………………in the blue

liked the way………………………..her hips……………..rolled

……………………………………………………………………around

……………………………………………………………………in her dress

Harpo’s kiss…………………………blew…………………that house down

………………………..chased Ivie around the set with his flute

……………………………..she laughed like champagne

queen on the stage…………………..made you feel

……………………..you were in love

……………………..for the first time

…………………….and it was sweet

the voice of the Duke died when she was only 43.

……………………

Ivie Anderson. B. July 10, 1905. Studied music. All-black girls finishing school. St. Mary’s Convent. Sang in the glee club. The choral society. Sick the day they took pictures. Say cheese! Traveled. In small towns. In small bands. No one remembered. The big break. Joined Duke Ellington’s band. Became the lyrics. Sat on a stool to one side of the band. Until it was her turn. To play. Her voice. Oh Ivie was crazy about the movies. Appeared as a washerwoman. In A Day at the Races. Groucho’s eyebrows noticed. He liked the way she sashayed. Harpo blew his horn. Chased Ivie around the set. She laughed so hard, her voice broke all the windows. Duke nodded her way. She stood up from her stool. Stepped up to the mike. Like the piano keys. Or the horns. Her voice so clear and light. Like champagne. And those eyes were sassy. Moving those hips… slowly. Biting on her lip. A queen on the stage. She made you feel you were in love. For the first time. And it was sweet. Married a guy named Mark Neal. No one much knew. Had her own club. Ivie’s Chicken Shack. Came down with asthma. Ended her career and her life. The voice of the Duke died when she was only 43.





The Lives of Dead Jazz Singers: Peggy Lee

27 01 2009

peggy-lee

PeggyLee.com – Biography – Current Biography

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGb5IweiYG8&feature=related

THE LIVES OF DEAD JAZZ SINGERS:

Peggy Lee

born where the knives glared……………………….stepmother

………………………………………………………………a slap

Peggy ran…………………………………………………across the face

…………..away.

…………………headed………………………to the city of angels

…………………………………………………..at the end of a long line

…………………………………………………..of dreamers

sang for food

in small clip joints

with fast food cooks and red necks……………customers who wanted

……………………………………………………………..a little pink

………………………………………………………………..in their steak

Peggy took it slow………………..whispered…………when she sang

…………………………………………no one dared……….slam a door

………………………………………………………………………in the kitchen

………………………………………………………………………..in the parking lot

in the hotel rooms

lovers whispered

Peggy’s voice simmered……….in a wheelchair…………..I like men

………………………………………..and the men lined up.

………………………………………..and she whistled something… sinful

in each of their ears.

don’t ask………………….what it was. that’s

…………………………………………………none of your business.

….

b. Norma Deloris Egstrom. 1920. Glares like knives. From her stepmother. A slap across the cheek. Do what I tell you! Off key. You’re so useless. Don’t think your daddy is going to save you now. Ran away. Peggy Lee joined the long line of dreamers. Heading west. To the City of Angels. Sang for food. In small joints. With fast cooks. And red necks. Can you hear that bacon sing? Customers wanted a little pink in their steak. A little fuzz from this peach. Of a kid. With a voice that purred. In smoke filled rooms. The Ambassador Hotel West. Benny Goodman cleaned his glasses. Sat cross-legged. At a table for two, staring. I need that girl. Peggy became the voice of his band. Benny warned the boys. No messing around with the girl singer. The guitarist wasn’t listening. First Dave Barbour got fired. Second Dave got married. Peggy was crazy about Barbour. Soon a daughter was on her way. Passed through Peggy’s pneumonia. Oh Peggy. It was like she was dodging bullets. Almost died in a fall in a New York hotel. Got up. Almost died in a second fall. Kept getting up. Learned a secret. Don’t be in such a rush. Peggy took it slow. The quieter she sang, the quieter the room became. Her voice simmered. Everyone in the room leaned forward. The waiters hesitated to wait. No one dared slam a door. In the kitchen. Or in the parking lot. In the hotel rooms, lovers whispered. Years passed for the Lady and The Tramps. Husbands and boyfriends. She always retained that pose. Leaning to one side. Sang in a wheelchair. I like men. And the men lined up. And she whispered something… sinful in each of their ears. Don’t ask what it was. That’s none of your business.





Anita O’Day

26 01 2009

anita_o_day-1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuzWegDm2HY

Anita O’ Day Biography

continue to have problems with the spacing in the words so I’ve tried using periods in the lines to space them out. Pretend you don’t see the periods.

THE LIVES OF DEAD JAZZ SINGERS:

Anita O’Day

born on the road……………………………. too many buses

…………………………………………………… too many stops

…………………………………………………… too many handsome men

…………………………………………………… with dark sunglasses

emptied heart……………………….. sling gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda

……………… over a chair…………. too many cloudy mirrors

…………………………………………… too many dairy queens

…………………………………………… too many walls for company

silk stockings………….holes……………………………….in the knees

lovely ………………sentiments…………………………… hallmarks

raped……………….. in a gas station ……………………..washroom

………………………………………..too many office buildings after hours

……………………………………………. too much talk about nothing

…………………………………………………. too many miles going nowhere

3 dollar hotel rooms

……………….. too much booze

……………………… too much dope

……………………………. not enough time.

…..

Anita Belle Colton b. Chicago 1919. Dropped out of high school. It was the Depression. You couldn’t live on words. Learned how to be tough. No body pushed Anita around. Entered a walkathon. Changed name to O’Day. Pig latin for dough. Slang for money. And just as she was getting used to eating. Tonsillitis. Cut out half of her throat. Developed a more percussive style. Short notes and rhythmic drive. Short for jazz. Became a singer in a band. Too many buses. Too many stops. Too many men with dark glasses. Empty hearts. Stockings over chairs. Staring aimlessly into a mirror. Breakdown. You got to keep it moving. The girl who couldn’t say no. Raped in a gas station washroom. Or was it a police station? Or was it a church? 14 years of H. Jail time. She didn’t mind that so much. A nice reprieve from the road. She wasn’t no canary. Just one for the boys. In the band. In 1966, she nearly died of a heroin overdose in a bathroom in a Los Angeles office building. She’d gone there to buy life insurance. The experience rattled her. Kicked heroin. But things didn’t pick up. In the early 1970s, she was living in a $3-a-night hotel in Los Angeles. Bums used to beat her for a song. Died of alcohol dementia. Her autobiography was dedicated to her dog.





A new start: The Lives of Dead Jazz Singers – Bessie Smith

25 01 2009

bessie_smith-1

I am going to start a series on female jazz singers. I do have problems with the way the poems come out on this blogg. I try to space words out over the page, like images on canvas, rather than a series of words that play out in your head. (I am very fond of Brueghel, a painter in Europe during the middle ages.) So bare with me as I try and correct any errors that arise. And I may try and get this published (probably self-published since poetry is almost impossible to get published). But I’ll try them out here first.There are some who on reading these bits will take the position that I have misread these women or done them some offense. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are my impressions of public figures and not a writing of historical facts.

Today I begin with a poem about Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

YouTube – BESSIE SMITH ANY WOMANS BLUES

THE LIVES OF DEAD JAZZ SINGERS:

Bessie Smith

born old                                                               sitting on a hardwood floor

.                                                                               a glass and a bottle

.                                                                              eyes soft and forgiving

looks at the bartender

nice white shirt                                                 and cigarette

.                                                                               ragged rage in the piano keys

audience huddled around their tables

waiters’ skelter smoke swallowing the air

drinks for my lovely paramour

nothing much                                                                                           on the menu

what does life come to just a room and an empty bed

killed

in a vehicular accident hospital shook its head

.                                                                                           sorry, no blacks today

money collected                                                           for a tombstone

her husband put it in his pocket

the dead got no worries. the living got to take care of themselves.

………………..

Born in 1892 to a Baptist preacher. Passed on before. Bessie opened her eyes. She was nine. Her momma gone. Left performing on street corners with her brother, Andrew. Money from suckers. Suckers need their food. Married a security guard. Named Jack Gee. Bessie became the biggest colored star. All the other stars were white. Almost six feet tall. Almost 200 pounds. Sitting on the hardwood floor. A bottle and glass between her legs. There must be a man somewhere. Sitting in a bar. Bartender with his nice white shirt and cigarette. Alone. With a beer in her hand. Eyes soft and forgiving. Ragged rage in her voice. Why does he keep me waiting so long? When he knows I can hardly keep my eyes open. Piano keys. Playing. Everyone else waiting. I don’t want to see that sun go down. While I’m still alone. Oh, I’ll get someone else. If I have to. You know I don’t want to. The audience huddled around their tables. Dinner finished. Drinks coming. No one wants to look anyone else in the eyes. I can hardly stand up for falling. Waiters rushing in. Smoke swallowing the air. My lungs are burning. My eyes want everything to go away. Everyone’s got their business. And I got mine. Accidents happen every day. Bessie’s was in an automobile with her old lover, Richard. The car rolled over. Crushed poor Bessie’s legs. Hospital was sorry. No blacks today. Richard insisted. When they heard Bessie singing, they couldn’t keep their tears away. Bessie was taken in, but poor Bessie was buried anyway. Collected money for her tombstone. Her husband, Jack, put it in his pocket. Let’s get up and dance. The dead got no worries. The living got to take care of themselves.





The Promise of Epub

20 01 2009

Many years ago when I started there was a great  hope that literature, especially new work would find its place in the electronic media, that people would read novels, poetry etc on electronic devices. With that in mind I structured much of my work so that it could be read and enjoyed in small portions. Many people including myself cannot read on any moving transit so I thought that the smaller portions might help. And I thought that it nicely paralleled the rhythms of travel. Well, very little has happened in the meantime. Those e-devices that were supposed to replace books never arrived. Perhaps the new telephones, Blackberrys and such will perform this task. In my darkest moments I think that reading itself will become a medium for the transportation of information and cease to be an opportunity for pleasure.





The End

19 01 2009

Well, that’s the end of OPEN24hr, my jazz novel. I call it a jazz novel because the stories and images are dictated by the rhythms of jazz and swing music from the 30’s and 40’s. My favourites I would have to say are Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and the Andrew Sisters. Even the rhythm (line breaks) were dictated by the music. It was fun. There are something like 130+/_ stories/episodes. I’m not sure what I will do with it now. Either submit the separate pieces to emags or the whole manuscript to epublisher. I’m still hoping to work on some illustrations for the stories.





Moonlight Cocktail

16 01 2009

archromance150-500jpg9

MOONLIGHT COCKTAIL

The rain was black. Glistening asphalt. Like an engagement ring. Moon shattered. Shards in the faces of pools. Motor oil slicks. Cheap impressionistic cringes. Two dancers. Everest and Edna McGuire. The gentleman wore white. His lover wore red. Glided across the parking lot. Glenn Miller was playing over the intercom. Everest looked up to the heaven. Listen to those horns swing, he thought. Without noticing that the sky was empty. No stars a-twinkling. Occasionally the couple bumped cars. Parked. Alarms went off. Love has that affect. Edna got lost in Everest’s arms. Everest got lost in the moment. The couple didn’t notice. The police car slipping into the lot. Its lights flashing off and on. Neon lights splashing in the wet asphalt. Now add a couple of flowers, Everest sang. Delighted Edna crawled into his chest. Crowds poured out of the shops to watch. The cops. The lovers danced on. Til the cops threw them to the ground. OOO, cried a lady from the PTA. One cop stuck his knee in Everest’s back and reminded him who was the boss. Edna McGuire was tossed against a ’56 Chev. Her lipstick smeared across the hood. Bracelets clamped on her wrists. Both were thrown into the back seat of the cop car. Honeymoon hotel. They kissed. The cop car sped off. The lot was empty. The music played on. Couples looked at each other. A drop of dew. Stir for a couple of hours. Till dreams come true. Sean Ohara sang. His brother Pat played a little rhythm on a garbage can. And the music played on. The couples gathered their courage and took each other in their arms. Stepped onto the dance floor and began to do the eighteen step waltz. Now add a couple of flowers. As for the number of kisses. It’s up to you. Moonlight cocktail. Need a few. Cop cars roared into the lot. Lights flashing. Couples grabbed and tagged. And the music played on. More cop cars. Riot squad. Until there were no dancers left. No customers in the plaza. No cop cars. And the music played on. For a while. The lights in the plaza went off. One by one. And then the music stopped. And there was just the quiet. And the parking lot. And the Six Points Plaza. Open 24 hours. Waiting.