Trivial Grumbles #2
September 26, 2007
A commenter on one of David Rochester’s posts asked if he had considered whether or not he is an alien (because his reactions to life are so different from many other people.) I commented that the issue comes up frequently in discussions with my wife.
For example, she generally does not subscribe the “more is better” attitude so typical of American life. The “voluntary simplicity” movement is rather fashionable in certain quarters; my wife was volunteering to be simple before most of these faddish people were ostentatiously driving around in their new Prius hybrid cars.
When we first bought a CD player (at a very agreeable but very yuppie stereo dealer) the pleasant sales person offered her a player that holds multiple CDs. My wife was (politely) outraged and disgusted. “Why would anyone want to put more than one CD in a player?” she asked me when we got home, with a CD player that held one CD. “Am I going to listen to five CDs, all day? Do I know in advance exactly which five CDs I am going to want to listen to over the coming week?” she went on as she warmed to her theme.
(As I’ve mentioned, my wife’s improvises diatribes on a theme of discontent like jazz musician Miles Davis’ improvised riffs on jazz themes in his classic Kind of Blue jazz album.)
Unfortunately, the evil electricity demons murdered her simple CD player, and when we went to replace it, the stereo salesman informed her it was no longer possible to buy a player that only held one CD. We took home a five-CD player. With not entirely good grace she used it for several years.
Recently, the CD player committed suicide. My wife often listens to books on tape from the library, only now, they are books on CD. (My wife begins her riff with a complaint about CDs compared to tapes.) The CD player refused to open the CD door. (Now the CD is overdue at the library. The CD player has made my wife, a person who would no more keep a library item overdue then she would run over a child’s toy left in the street, a scofflaw.) My wife called the service department of the stereo store. They informed her it would cost more to repair CD player than to replace it. (Miles Davis was a gifted jazz musician with a notably bad temper
From his Playboy Interview:
Playboy: Linked with your musical renown is your reputation for bad temper and rudeness to your audiences. Would you comment?
Davis: Why is it that people just have to have so much to say about me? It bugs me because I’m not that important. Some critic that didn’t have nothing else to do started this crap about I don’t announce numbers, I don’t look at the audience, I don’t bow or talk to people, I walk off the stage, and all that.
Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.
The reason I don’t announce numbers is because it’s not until the last instant I decide what’s maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don’t recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?
Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it’s somebody else’s turn to solo, I ain’t going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain’t no model, and I don’t sing or dance, and I damn sure ain’t no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they’re doing. But if I don’t want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it’s the next turn for my horn.
Then they claim I ignore the audience while I’m playing. Man, when I’m working, I know the people are out there. But when I’m playing, I’m worrying about making my horn sound right.
And they bitch that I won’t talk to people when we go off after a set. That’s a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything’s going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don’t want to talk. When I’m working I’m concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch’s heart, they wouldn’t want me to talk.
The words are not exactly the same, and the topic is not exactly the same, but the music is similar to my wife on the theme of the multiple CD player, as she describes the irritating noises it made as it rotated the five platters before it would get around to playing the one CD she had put it in …
The stereo dealer told my wife they are once again selling single disc CD players. She bought one and brought it home. We set it up and played her “Gold Watch and Chain” CD.
However, the old, broken CD player is still holding the library CD captive.
“I can probably take it to a little fix-it shop I know” and get them to open the door without charging as much,” I helpfully said.
“Never mind,” she said darkly. “They told me it’s worthless. I will take great pleasure in smashing my way into the *@!# CD player to remove the library disk.”
As far as I know, Miles Davis never smashed a trumpet. But there’s always the famous British rock band, The Who:
In September 1964, at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone, England, Pete Townshend smashed his first guitar. Playing on a high stage, Townshend’s physical style of performance resulted in him accidentally breaking off the head of his guitar when it collided with the ceiling. Angered by snickers from the audience, he proceeded to smash the instrument to pieces on the stage. He then picked up a Rickenbacker twelve-string guitar and continued the concert. A large crowd attended their next concert, but Townshend declined to smash another guitar. Instead, Keith Moon wrecked his drumkit. Instrument destruction became a staple of The Who’s live shows for the next several years. The incident at the Railway Tavern is one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll”.