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scene. Young never seemed urgent and could run longer and farther behind the beat than any musician who could also swing, which he never failed to do. There was something piss-elegant and offhand about his style, and because he had about him none of the will and ambition of the pioneer, his contribution to jazz history and influence are still underestimated. Armstrong and Parker are like forces of nature; Young seems like a force of emotional life, poised between the relentlessness of nature and the decisions of civilization. He played with an unmatched tenderness, as if suffering and pleasure were impossible without each other, and why not? A master of mixed feelings, perhaps a slave to them, he mediated beautifully between Holiday's more melodramatic swings from giddiness to pain, and when they worked together in the late thirties, they were continually finishing each other's musical sentences. This time through the lyrics, Young is rushing ahead and Holiday lagging behind. It's one of his most liquid passages, and can foster the illusion that music just poured from Young like water from a glass. His solos are studded with oddly accurate silences, often at the beginning of a phrase. It's as if the listener came into a sentence halfway through. By the end it would be complete and full of feeling. For the length of time it takes Holiday to sing the eight lines of threadbare lyrics again and for Young to play along, all those usual sUences in his solos have been filled by Holiday singing. At times, she's singing and he's playing, bofh, like intertwined vines. No wonder people think it's sexy; it is. But it's sexy like the patter of Nick and Nora Charles. Their music is more than anything about the pleasure of playing together, of sharing a skill. Think what it must have felt like to be Holiday. Not only can she sing but she is given the best possible musicians to work with, and the languid guy in slippers is as close to a soul-mate, musically, as she'll ever be likely to find. Together they define pleasure in the best possible way, by living it. A. P. AND E. D. / Charles Wright MERLE TRAVIS'S "I Am a Pilgrim" from the late forties (first recorded by him in 1946), country gospel, white soul, was my introduction to one branch of the subgenre of music I heard constantly on the radio in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina in the 1940s and early 1950s. God-haunted, salvation-minded and evan266 ยท The Missouri Review gelical, the storyline seldom varied: change your life or heaven won't be your home. My initial interest came from the orchestration, the instruments, the rhythm, the "song" itself. The lyric, the human theme, remained the same, whether it was a coal-mining song, love song, wandering song, or gospel song: death, loss, resurrection, salvation, leaving, leaving: an ultimate inability to cope with life, a life we all lived, unavoidably, in this world. "Dark As a Dungeon," "Let's AU Go Down to the River," "Dust on the Bible" .... WCKY, Cincinnati 1, Ohio was the power station in my area, the late-night music brought in with a Zenith Trans-Oceanic portable radio. This was the gene-pool I later drew from in the more fleshed-out articulation of The Carter Family, one of the two seminal acts in the history of country music. They came from outside Gate City, Virginia, in the Clinch Mountains, across the Holston River from my hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee. They had finished performing when I became aware of them on records, but their mountain origins, their insistent reference to these origins in their songs, the ballad and hymn meters that A. P. Carter consistently wrote his gospel songs in, the song lyrics themselves, traditional and oddly surreal at the same time, drew me easily into the intimate circle their music projected: one of interiors, the point of view of someone watching, from inside, the world go on outside, and always aspiring to something beyond that world that waited as surely as sunrise. And written as though the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 166-168
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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