Friday, March 06, 2009

Brought to you by a degree of separation..

Many neighborhoods have them,I suppose.
Those curiously bedraggled folks that you notice,from time to time,wandering the streets in solitary fashion.
You probably don't know them in the sense that they are 'friends',but they have established themselves as being harmlessly familiar enough,so that you might sometimes wave,and exchange the occasional nod of recognition.

One such character was known to us teenagers that routinely hung out in our garage on Spreckles Lane,in Redondo Beach,California.
We didn't spend a whole lot of time speculating about him,but it was clear to all of us that he was a junkie.
Lets just say that my older brother had been addicted to heroin long enough for me to recognize the symptoms.

There was a day when,while fussing about the front yard with my mom,she noticed him across the street and casually remarked,..'That's Chet Baker'.

'You know him??'

'He used to be a famous trumpet player'..

'But not for me'

Chet was,in fact, a bona fide Jazz icon.
His melancholy brass delivery and smoldering voice made him,along with Charlie 'Bird' Parker with whom he often toured, stars of the emerging 'Be-Bop' genre of the 1950's.
He became best associated with his signature song,'My Funny Valentine'.

He made a brief comeback attempt in the 80's,but drug addiction is a faithless friend.
Chet died in 1988,having fallen from a hotel window in Amsterdam while under the influence of heroin,and cocaine.

I just figured,given our tenuous connection,that I'd tender some recognition to him here,in Sling's Domain.



At 11:18 AM , Blogger sageweb said...

Wow what a sad story, beautiful music and he probably didnt even realize it.

At 12:21 PM , Blogger Willym said...

A sad story indeed. Such a great talent and such a great waste. His Funny Valentine CD is a constant on our player and my Ipod.

At 12:47 PM , Blogger Sling said...

Sage- I wasn't anxious to relate such a tragic tale today,but I wanted to acknowledge him,and there just ain't no other way to spin it.

Willym- Speaking of degrees of separation,it was your post Wednesday last that got me thinking about slices of musical history.
Shortly after my mom told me who he was,she came home with an album she aquired at a local thrift store.
If I recall correctly,it was simply titled 'Chet Baker'.

At 1:09 PM , Blogger Doralong said...

Chet Baker?? Damn!! It was a sad waste of talent to go that way. He's been in my jazz rotation for years, I remember my Daddy remarking his death was a tragedy of what could have been created. So very sad.

PS- As always, you dear friend are truly a man for all seasons.

At 2:56 PM , Blogger billy pilgrim said...

whenever i watch a stan getz video i always think, "geez, stan's dying for a fix."

At 4:02 PM , Blogger jan said...

Sling's Friday musical is again a stroll down memory lane for me, except I didn't know about the heroin thing. Very sad.

At 5:39 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

Wow, what a story! And now I'm wondering if the guy that Iwanski and I refer to as "homeless Yanni" is actually an amazing musician--or maybe he IS Yanni...!!!! :)

At 8:20 PM , Blogger Sling said...

Doralong- Invariably,we end up doing the 'what if' thing.
Sadly,the route he took isn't all that uncommon for musicians.

Billy P.- I always think the same thing about Whitney Houston.

Jan- I knew,of course,about his addiction,but I didn't know about his manner of death 'till I Wiki'd him.
He never really did get out from under his habit.

Miss HP- There's a favorite Biblical quote of mine I try to apply to these kind of things:
'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers,for thereby some have entertained Angels unawares'..
Hebrews 13:2

sorry..I get all pensive and stuff, ;)

At 12:12 AM , Blogger more cowbell said...

Hey Sling, thanks for this one.

At 10:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh how interesting. It's a little bitty world.

At 11:21 AM , Blogger Sling said...

Cowbelle- You're quite welcome doll!

Citizen- It got even smaller in a sense.
Chet is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetary,in Inglewood,Cali.
..Both of my maternal grandparents,and an older brother are buried there as well.

At 8:12 PM , Blogger austexgrl said...

Whenever I hear the name Chet Baker, I first think of his wonderful voice, then his jazz..and finally his tragic death. Life is so short, too bad so many end it so quickly.

Thanks, dear sweet Sling.

At 4:01 PM , Blogger Sling said...

austexgrl- I guess I'll always have that picture of him shuffling along down the street in my head.'s how I first came to know him.

At 6:04 PM , Blogger Mom said...

The world lost a wonderful talent with his death. Sad

At 6:31 PM , Anonymous midwestcitymouse said...

remind us not to judge... but to see with our eye wide open and maybe thorugh someone elses eyes.. Thanks Sling

At 8:23 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Sling, thanks for the visit and comment - you may well be right!

At 6:49 AM , Blogger Lorraine said...


At 3:33 PM , Blogger Sling said...

rainey- Word!

At 12:10 AM , Blogger Middle Child said...

Some of the best get caught up...for some it is an escape from the insanity of if things were back to front...some of the birghtest and most thoughtful...and then some just get caught up for no reason... lovely music...sad stuff


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