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Thread: Birdleg by Kim Jorgensen, excerpt from work in progress

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Default Birdleg by Kim Jorgensen, excerpt from work in progress

    Jaggerís in the hospital. Didnít know it because Iím staying away from all news, since Barrís summary of the Mueller Report, which has proven to be very refreshing. I know as much about whatís going on as any happy hermit without a radio, tv, smartphone or computer. Musicís a really hard life, not that it was particularly hard on Jagger, but for most others. Our next door neighbor here, P. J., is a musician and came to Oahu from a very little town in New Hampshire when he was 17 or 18. He liked to play basketball as a teenager and was good at it but couldnít be on the high school team because he was too busy in bands playing keyboards. Now he goes up to the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus and plays a couple times a week. He plays indoors on a wood floor, easier on the knees and cooler. Heís 69. Heís played many times in gigs in Vegas and had a long time gig up at a Club Med in Quebec where he met his second and current wife, love of his life and heís the love of her life. In Vegas he opened for Louie Prima and Keely Smith. He knows just about every musician on the island and has played with most of them. Robert Cazimero, one of the most famous musicians here, part of Sunday in Manoa with his brother, Roland, and Peter Moon, used to have him play for his own private Christmas parties. Thatís saying something. Robert Cazimero performed at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

    Now P.J. plays several nights a week at Chuckís Cellar which is nearby. Itís an old fashioned lounge kind of place that attracts Japanese tourists and longtime locals. Some of the waitresses have been there for years. P.J. specializes in songs from the Sixties and Seventies. Heís a born musician and can remember all the chord progressions for all the songs but not the lyrics so he has folders with all the words, not the music, on his music stand above his keyboard. He has a very nice voice. Itís a retro place and we take friends there when they come into town. It kind of reminds us of the Dresden Room Lounge in Los Feliz down near Hollywood, a place where Hollywood stars have been known to drop in, a place thatís said to be so square itís hip, a place where Elayne and Marty have played and sung together in the club longer than most of their audience have been alive. We were down there one night and saw some hot young L.A. musicians sitting in with them. Most of the younger crowd were on dates sitting at tables looking at their cellphones. We dug it. It was the most. I guess the young crowd did. Hard to tell.

    Yes, musicians have a hard life. We have friends, a couple, who are both great cellists. They have played with symphonies and chamber groups all over the world. When I used to work on my tomatoes and Meyer lemons in our backyard In Rockridge, Oakland I would sometimes hear Dave practicing pieces with the pianist from the San Francisco ballet. Not too bad to have your own world class private concerts on a weekend morning. I donít even think Adam had it that good in his Garden of Eden. Not too bad at all. Inez, Daveís wife, has a brother whoís a violist with the San Francisco Symphony. She says that musicians speak of the Freeway Symphony. Even highly trained and highly talented musicians have a hard time making a living. They have to spend half of their lives driving on the freeways from one symphony to another or from one private lesson they give to another, not easy. One loves music. One dreams of playing and enjoying. One never dreams of all the hardships that entails. Daveís first gig as a cellist in the army was accompanying a singer by the name of Joan Sutherland at the White House. Not too bad, not too bad, but Dave didnít make his living as a cellist even though he played in a studio symphony backing such notables as Ray Charles and Chet Atkins, not to mention all his classical work. Dave doesnít audition. Heís too far above that. If they donít take him theyíre fools. But Dave didnít make his living as a musician. Heís a very talented CFO specializing in getting companies going.

    What is the definition of a jazz musician? Itís a guy whoís taken $50,000 worth of lessons, has a $5000 instrument, a $500 car and drives 50 miles to make 5 bucks. Musicians have good jokes, gallows humor. When somebody walks into a bank with a violin case everybodyís afraid they might open it and pull out a gun. When somebody walks into a bank with a viola case, everybodyís afraid they might open it and play the viola. Actually I think Iíve read that Mozart, on viola, would join Haydn and Salieri and someone else to play together just for themselves, eine kleine brilliant music. Mozart would bring out music by a then little known or somewhat forgotten composer he loved, Bach, a guy who worked his butt off supporting his multitudinous children, composing weekly pieces for several choirs or churches, whatever, another brutally hard life in the upper echelons of art, beyond the stratosphere, where choirs sing the Ode to Joy, and Van Gogh continues to paint even though no one will buy his paintings.

    P.J. says he has a friend who left his accordion in his unlocked car at the Ala Moana Center. When he came back several hours later there were three accordions in the car. He asked me if I knew what perfect pitch is. Itís when you throw an accordion in a dumpster and you hit a banjo. What do you call a bass player without a girlfriend? Homeless. Whatís the difference between a violin and a viola? You can tune a violin. What do you call a guy who likes to hangout with musicians? A drummer. Hijackers have hijacked a plane full of banjo players. If their demands arenít met theyíll release one an hour. Et cetera, et cetera, and they go on suffering to bring joy to our lives. P.J. is not wealthy by any means but he has led a life that he has enjoyed and has raised three very nice children, including a son who has done very well in hedge funds in Manhattan, a son who loves his father, as we do too. We spend Christmas and Thanksgiving with P.J. and his wife. We are lucky to be included. Sometimes weíre accompanied to dinner by some of the musicians P.J. has played with around the island. One just retired from his side gig as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines. Sometimes they pick up ukuleles or guitars and play. Hey, do you know this one?

    So you havenít seen your friend, Birdleg, in ages. Used to play harmonica and blues at all those little clubs in Berkeley and Oakland. And our great friend, Bob, who had songs recorded by Norton Buffalo and who refused to let David Soul release one of the songs he had written because he said David Soul wrecked the song, continues to live, hopefully, on government subsidies. He said that once Joe Cocker was set to do a recording of one of his songs but it didnít turn out because Joe was too drunk to do it. Bob was always trying to do something commercial, something with a hook. Listen to the music, listen to the music, listen to the music as the Doobie Brothers sing over and over until you canít get it out of your head. Listen to the music. Bob said you can always make art at home but you have to write something that sells, art or not, but as I said, he could have had commercial success but he didnít want to let David Soul wreck his song.

    Bob said that once he was with some of his Richmond Okie friends who were accompanying Dylan at that time. Dylanís producer was from Richmond. Bob said he was with them one night and Dylan was complaining asking why his songs werenít as popular as Paul Simonís. One of those Okie Southern boy musicians said, ďBecause your songs just ainít that good, Bob.Ē Then Dylan started playing and said, ďHow Ďbout this one? How Ďbout this one?Ē I heard that Van Morrison showed up at the door of a party over in Marin and the guy who opened the door asked if Van was the guy with pizza. Van said, ďNo, Iím the butcher.Ē

    So, Jaggerís in the hospital you say. It would be ironic if Keith Richard were to outlive him. Theyíve always said that when Richards dies theyíre going to use his skin to coat the space shuttle. You have to have a hardened exterior to make it in the music biz. I hope Birdlegís doing well. He was great, kind of like Taj Mahal, a born entertainer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Sweet Home Osaka Japan


    Hi, thank you for this thread. I have not see who Jagger is, until Kieth Richard has mentioned. Hope he will get well soon.
    Last edited by zztush; 04-07-2019 at 11:13 PM.

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