Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Georgia on My Mind

Clearly the song of the day, as all eyes are on Georgia tomorrow to see if democracy will take yet one more step toward its restitution. A song that was written by an Hoagy Carmichael from Indiana with lyric help from his roommate Stu Gorrell. The song was inspired by a challenge by saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer from Illinois (“Why don’t you write a song about Georgia?”), was written by Carmichael when he was living in Queens, New York and first recorded by Bix Beiderbecke from Iowa. Some of the early memorable recordings of the song came from Louis Armstrong (New Orleans), Coleman Hawkins (St. Joseph, Missouri), Billie Holiday (Baltimore) and Django Reinhardt (France). Are you following me here?


It wasn’t until 1960 that a native Georgian recorded it and that was Mr. Ray Charles. Other versions by Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Willie Nelson and others helped move it to the no. 44 spot in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of greatest songs of all time in 2003. The highest ranking of any jazz standard, though it’s unlikely any of those readers ever heard Billie Holiday sing it or the Keith Jarrett Trio play it (in Poland!) in 1985.  (Check it out at https://youtu.be/N0SejD3-Aec)


Thanks to Ted Gioia’s fascinating book The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire for the above information. He writes a page or so about each of some 250 songs to give some intriguing and little known information about this repertoire that has definted so much of American musical culture. 


As for democracy and Georgia’s crucial role in its revival tomorrow, I personally have a new-found faith in Georgia voters, but none at all in the Repugnitans lying and cheating to discount votes. Yes, I know some people believe that the recent Presidential election was stolen, but that is based on this new idea championed by the Trumpists that what you want to believe to be true is true just because you say so. Meanwhile, voter fraud from the Republican side is actually based on evidence and hard facts and has been going on forever—watch Freedom’s Summer  and All In if you want some documentary evidence. 


So let’s keep Georgia on our mind, make those last minute phone calls, pray to the gods of your choice and hope that our rediscovered determination to do what’s right, to hold the cheaters accountable, to keep that moral arc bending toward justice, will come to pass. Let’s get it all moving and grooving with the energy, integrity and soul of the Keith Jarrett Trio’s version of the tune. Yeah!


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