We have all pondered the question, “If you were to be stranded on a dessert island, what would you take?”
I guess my all time favorite album would have to be Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue” recorded in 1959 in New York City. It is the album that got me through a lot of strange nights in the early and late 60’s. Besides Miles on trumpet, it featured John Coltrane, “Cannonball” Adderly (who was “bigger” than Tran at the time), Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, James Cobb and Wynton Kelly. I played it so much that I knew every nuance. It had a beat that resonated within me…a bass line that was almost like me walking down the street feeling good. With earphones on I could almost feel the spit hit the trumpet as the notes were played.
Miles always had a way of getting the best people to play with him on his albums. He was the “master” and they were the disciples, getting ready to bust out on their own. To have played on one of Miles’ albums was a sure bet if you didn’t blow it by being a junkie or soemthing like that.
I have made the statement many times over the years that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. What I have taken this to mean is that all gifting comes from God. He created us and gave us gifts. Once they are given, He doesn’t go back on us or take them away. Whether or not we give God the glory…that’s another story. Miles gift was given by God. I never saw anywhere in print that Miles ever acknowledged where his gift to play the turmpet came from. I can enjoy the gifting he received because within what he created was a Godly seed.
Another album I wouldn’t mind being stranded with would be Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”.
This is an album that almost defines the artistic melancholy prevalent in so much of what came out of the sixties. I guess that is why I like it som much. She creates movies in my head with her words.
Joni, like Leonard Cohen, is a Canadian. She moved to America when she married Chuck Mitchell and hung out in and around Detroit, Michigan, where Chuck was from. He was a balladeer….singing songs written by Bertolt Bretch and Flanders and Swan…..he even did a great version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mister Bo Jangles”.
The ladies liked him. He played the coffe house circuit, which at the time was very big around college towns.
We had one in my town of Port Huron (60 miles north of Detroit) called the Cellar. It had been operated under several names, Someplace Else, The Undesrground and so forth.
One weekend, Chuck and Joni were scheduled to play. Mind you, this was before Joni became almost a household name.
I was in town after school and eating dinner at a little restaurant next to where I worked as a parking lot attendant. I knew the guy who ran the Cellar and saw him sitting at a table with a handsome couple. It turned out to be Chuck and Joni Mitchell who had just arrived in town for their gig that evening. My friend introduced me to them and I can remember falling head over heels for Joni who had this great big smile.
Needless to say, I went to every performance that weekend not knowing what was to happen in the following weeks.
It was 1968 and Judy Collins, a noted folk singer, had just recorded Joni’s song “Both Sides Now” and was getting national attention with it. I think it went to the top of the pop charts. There was a story about it in Newsweek magazine and everything and that signaled the end of Joni Mitchell ever coming back to Port Huron and working the coffee house circuit. She was supposed to play with Chuck in Detroit at a club called The Spot later that month. We went down only to find that her and Chuck were separated (soon to divorce) and she wouldn’t be playing with him anymore.
What that has to do with the album “Blue” you will have to figure out. Somehow it all runs together for me. It is a part of who I am and a part of the ride I have been on.
I still get chills when I listen to some of Joni’s early work, even though I don’t think she ever gave God the glory for her gift. She influenced a whole generation of musicians (Crosby, Stills and Nash and the like).
I guess that 15 minute meeting in 1968 influenced my life as well.