Music Makes Things Possible

  1. http://www.geraniumfarm.org/dailyemo.cfm?Emo=84
    MUSIC MAKES THINGS POSSIBLE October 18, 2003

    Louis Armstrong toured what was then the Belgian Congo in 1955. Then as now, the country was embroiled in a terrible civil war. But both sides stopped fighting to go and hear Louis Armstrong play.

    It was Christmas Eve, 1914. German and Allied soldiers faced each other across the yards of blank no-man's-land that separated the two rows of trenches. There was no fighting right then; the starry night was silent. Then someone from the German side began to sing "Stille Nacht." More German voices piled onto the lone tenor, and from the allied trenches came still more voices, in English: "Silent, Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright." When the music died away, the men came up out of their hiding places, deep as graves, and shared treats from home: biscuits and sausages, cheeses, Christmas puddings, cakes, cigarettes. Young, they were. The best of their generation. Some of them played a game of football between the rows of barbed wire. Most of them would be dead by the time another Christmas came around.

    Command on both sides put a stop to those impromptu musical evenings, at once. Of course. It never happened again. That's no way to condition a fighting man. He can't afford to see his enemy as a man like himself. To sing his songs. Not while they're shooting.

    Enslaved people in the American South sang spirituals that their masters thought were about going to heaven. And they were about going to heaven. But they were also about going to Ohio: "Swing low, sweet chariot, comin' for to carry me home." The wife smiled at the husband up in the big house when they heard the sweet singing: "Oh, listen -- they're just happy by nature, aren't they, dear?" But the chariot is the big dipper. It is low on the horizon at dusk in the spring, when a person might have a prayer of getting to the river. Leave early in the evening, so they won't miss you until you're already twelve hours from here. Comin' for to carry me home.

    It was a British wag who first sang a one-verse "Yankee Doodle." It was an insult to the colonists' lack of proper uniforms: "Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni." A macaroni was an Italian fop, a male fashion plate. The Americans seized on the insult and turned it to satire, making their rusticity a virtue. And, in a guerrilla army, rusticity is a virtue. As the outcome of that contest would soon make clear to all concerned.

    The Taliban banned the playing of music, public or private, except for unaccompanied religious chant. No musical instruments allowed. There were bonfires of musical instruments. Dancing, too. The arts were as completely veiled as the women, in a fear of beauty we cannot understand. No music. It makes things too possible.

    Let's sing more in church for the next few months of conflict in our branch of the body of Christ. Let's have some extra hymns. Let's choose our favorites. Let's sing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Let's sing "Simple Gifts." How about "Come Down, O Love Divine?" Can we sing "Ubi Caritas" again?" And "Dona Nobis Pacem?" "Blest Be the Tie That Binds?" "I Come With Joy to Meet My Lord?" Let's sing hymns that cry out for harmony, and let our voices settle lightly, one upon another upon another: not all singing the same part, necessarily, but coming together in a beauty that reminds us: With God, nothing will be impossible.
    Copyright 2004 Barbara Crafton
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.louissatchmoarmstrong.com/biography.htm

    Despite the fact he had gone virtually everywhere in the developed world, in 1956 Armstrong was sent on his most adventurous tour to date and toured west Africa. The tour served as a superb marketing tool for Joe Glaser, and brought Armstrong a huge amount of publicity and fame. The All Stars toured the Ea s t Coast of Africa beginning in Ghana. Although to the native peoples (still somewhat living in the dark ages) Louis Armstrong was a distant figure, upon his arrival he very soon became a folk hero, seeing as many hearing he was an American presumed he would be white. Indeed on the All Stars arrival at Accra airport after an exhausting flight they were greeted by a crowd estimated at half a million. The scene was captured on the front page of the New York Times under the headline Ambassador Satch and other newspapers across the world.

    It seemed that his appeal despite the fact the crowds knew very little about him was a human one. They had no idea of his achievements as a musician or indeed what Jazz was, but that did not matter. Armstrong's talent and ch arisma instantly won them over. Armstrong for his part hugely enjoyed the trip as he put it "going back to my roots" (he believed he was descended from the tribes of this area), apparently he did look distinctly Ghanaian. The trip however was difficult for the band had to take a huge number of vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs. Not to mention the fact the food presented a huge problem. No matter, the All Stars revelled in the limelight and entertained thousands wherever they went. Armstrong loved it, as instead of playing to paying audiences in tuxedos, he would play to an audience that could clap, dance and take part in the entertainment. Indeed on one occasion during a version of "Stompin' at the Savoy" , Barrett Deems was playing his solo only to find tribal drummers in the audience joined in beating out the rhythms with their hands much to Armstrong s visible delight.

    However all was not as it seemed, during one performance the Police started to truncheon the audience as they were getting a little lively with the music. Armstrong stopped the band walked off stage and appealed to the Police Chief with tears in his eyes. "For God sake stop them", he hollered. It had brought back powerful memories of similar beatings he had witnessed from the Police in the Deep South and he never expected to see anything like that again. He was too upset to play for an hour after that. It seems that despite his easy going nature events like that shook Armstrong up immensely and he was actually a man of great principle.

    Arms trong reminisced about the impact of his arrival:

    "In the Congo we arrived three days after they had assassinated Patrice Lumumba and they were trying to kill each other. Do you know what happened? We played three concerts and both armies came, had a ball as soon as we left they were fighting again."

    The concert performances continued as before but became even more well publicised. One of the band's finest foreign tours, their European tour of 1955 was extremely important as it captured perfectly what Arms trong meant to European and indeed international audiences. Indeed the perception of Armstrong up until very recently was very different across the globe. In the USA his constant appearances in concerts, on the radio or on TV meant he had become part of t h e furniture. People would go to see him but there was little hysteria. Outside the US he had become like a god, the fact he was not constantly there meant that when he did visit he virtually became the biggest celebrity around. Indeed he was continually b esieged with photographers and journalists wanting interviews not to mention the crowds of people following him everywhere. The New York Times wrote in 1955:

    "America's secret weapon is a blue note in a minor key. Right now its most successful ambassador i s Louis Satchmo Armstrong. American diplomats have long ignored what has been obvious to Europeans on the face of evidence visible to all. What many thoughtful Europeans can not understand is why the US government with all the money it spends on so called propaganda does not do more to subsidise the travels of jazz bands the best exponents of the music. Jazz has become a universal language it knows no international boundaries, but everyone knows where to look for more".
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.duke.edu/~adl3/adl3-3.html
    http://www.malaspina.com/site/person_134.asp

    Louis Armstrong - Satchmo

    His irrepresible personality, both as a performer, and later in his career as a public figure. His personality was so strong that it overshadowed his contributions as a musician and singer.
  5. by   Havin' A Party!
    Yup, Ol' Satch was loved by many.

    Was one of those who seemed to personify "the simple goodness of man."
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    Armstrong's philosophy of world politics is summarized in his 1970 recording of It's A Wonderful World.
    "And all I am saying is, see what a wonderful world it would be if only we would give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That's the secret. Yeah."
  7. by   Havin' A Party!
    Love that tune!

    Used to play in a variety band a few years ago. Our closing song was "What A Wonderful World." One of our lead singers did a dead-on Louie imitation. At the very end of it, he'd go into a short ad lib (still in Satchmo voice) and talk to the audience. The crowd would go nuts!
  8. by   Energizer Bunny
    Okay, let's call a truce on this thread and sing it here......(someone else start, my voice stinks! LOL!)
  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    Quote from LarryG
    Love that tune!

    Used to play in a variety band a few years ago. Our closing song was "What A Wonderful World." One of our lead singers did a dead-on Louie imitation. At the very end of it, he'd go into a short ad lib (still in Satchmo voice) and talk to the audience. The crowd would go nuts!
    Larry:

    What fun!

    In the summer of 1965 (I think) he performed at Disneyland six nights in a row. I had a job but went every night! He came over to a stage in New Orleans Square on a Tom Sawyer raft with the All Stars! Two shows a night.

    Easy to understand how he stopped a war!
    The oldest person to have a #1 hit on the Top 40. "Hello Dolly"!

    He infected everyone with optimism.

    Have you heard "Boy from New Orleans"?
  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    Quote from CNM2B
    Okay, let's call a truce on this thread and sing it here......(someone else start, my voice stinks! LOL!)

    Oh Yeah!

    Remember "Kiss to Build a Dream on" when he sang, "Lend me your chops for just a moment?
  11. by   Havin' A Party!
    Quote from CNM2B
    Okay, let's call a truce on this thread and sing it here......(someone else start, my voice stinks! LOL!)
    OK! Happy to do the honors!

    "I see trees of green, red roses too... "
  12. by   Energizer Bunny
    Quote from spacenurse
    Oh Yeah!

    Remember "Kiss to Build a Dream on" when he sang, "Lend me your chops for just a moment?
    Gosh Spacenurse...I wish I did, but the only song of his that I know (I think) is "What a Wonderful World". I'm a youngie and only know that one because of my parents taking me to see bands that re-did it.
  13. by   pickledpepperRN
    We were truly blessed when admission to Disneyland was affordable because ride tickets CO$T.
    The "Young Men from New Orleans" played six nights a week on the Mark Twain riverboat ride where you could buy a 25 cent ticket and hear GREAT dixieland.
    You can listen on line!
    Also watch Ken Burns PBS series on Jazz.
    He was the Bach or Mozart of the 20th century.

    http://www.redhotjazz.com/cyr.html

    http://www.redhotjazz.com/louie.html

    http://www.redhotjazz.com/hot5.html

    http://www.geraniumfarm.org/dailyemo.cfm?Emo=84

    MUSIC MAKES THINGS POSSIBLE October 18, 2003
    The Taliban banned the playing of music, public or private, except for unaccompanied religious chant. No musical instruments allowed. There were bonfires of musical instruments. Dancing, too. The arts were as completely veiled as the women, in a fear of beauty we cannot understand. No music. It makes things too possible
  14. by   Havin' A Party!
    Quote from spacenurse
    Larry:... Have you heard "Boy from New Orleans"?
    No, don't know that one.

    But also used to play "Hello Dolly," and "Kiss To Build A Dream On."

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