Home > 1, Music > Book. 2 Scott it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good and..

Book. 2 Scott it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good and..

Book. 2 Scott it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good and
Book. 1 Favorite Singers and Rockaway Days

 I’ve been working on sets and tunes most of the day and decided to design sets in different genres. I love to sing and the song is the thing. Who cares which genre it is? The criteria for these songs is “Do you like to sing it”?There are so many beautiful songs that I like to sing. I guess I ought to accept and confess that I like beautiful songs and I like to sing them. Not only, but also.

In 1964, on my first day in New York City, I went up to Doc Pomus’s room at the Forrest Hotel on 49th Street and Broadway, to sing for him. In the conversation that occurred immediately after I had sung, and he had announced to me that “he was going to sign me,” Doc said “Scottie, it’s gonna be rough, you sing too good.” That is most certainly still among the very nicest things any one has ever said to me…

It meant that my efforts to beat back my shyness, sharpen my ear, master dynamics, phrase the phrasing, control my emotions and gather, focus and direct these elements towards producing a vocal sound that accurately expressed the depth of my feelings, had been realized. I could have stood up right then and there, shaken his hand, left the room and gone back to the islands, because I had been successful at doing what I had hoped with all my heart and soul to someday be able to do. Sing how I felt, sing what I was feeling.

However, I didn’t go back home because there were two more very important aspects of my intention that had not yet been realized. People, specifically you, had not yet received what I was sending, so the circuit was not yet complete, and, my family was depending on me to bring home at least a calabash full of cash… The welfare (social services) had taken my little brothers Larry and Lonnie. They were in foster care hoping and waiting for me to get them out, Mud was on her way to becoming a homeless alcoholic woman in Miami, my dear fadder dear was living in a skeeter riven rust bucket semi-collapsed trailer at the concentric center of swamp central hell in Dipso Swampo, La Florida. My beautiful big sister Gale was traveling the country is a grass skirt as a Hawaiian Dancer. Aka Lelanie, aka Edie Isle, and I of course, before sailing two Thousand miles as a bilge rat on a woodchip with a name, had most recently been residing in the bushes on the airport runway side of “Sarah Hill” down in the Bongo Isles.

And therein lay the root of my soul splitting conflict for the next forty seven years. “Art or commerce” (which meant to me, “to be an honest or a dis-honest artist” “to be real or be phony” “to maintain your integrity or lose your soul” “to hold the line at any costs or sell out.” I chose to hold the line, because I believed that it really mattered. I thought that if I were sincere in my art, we would be alright materially, as a just and fair by-product of a cosmic karmic preference for truth and justice and the Amer-artisti-can way.

However, while I am a “true believer” the “possibility” has become a possibility that possibility is indifferent to our subjective anthromorphic projections about justice, artistic compromise, and all that…further, I realize more completely than ever, that it’s the artist (her or him self) that gets to decide how they wish to express themselves, certainly not the self appointed experts who earn their attention by sitting on the sidelines being cruely (though sometimes cleverly) critical of artists and their efforts.

Still, whatever the cosmic yin yan, I love to sing and the song is still not completed, the circuit is still not satisfied until the song is received by you…until you hear it. SoI’m a singing, I’m a sending….

Book. 1 Favorite Singers and Rockaway Days

 

People ask me from time to time who my favorite singers are or were, they expect a fairly simple and direct answer. Generally, I shift the subject away to something easy like the recipe for Kalaloo or Quantum Physics, but we have a moment here in which I can try to answer what I view as a relatively complicated but fair musical question, somewhat seriously. My early musical exposure was across the board, so naturally my musical influences are across the board.

 I will talk about male singers first, the females will follow anon…

My first favorite singer was one of the greatest master phrasers of all, and the little one’sdelight, Jimmy Durante. I loved him and what a lesson in phraseing he is. “Ink..ka..dink..ka..dink..” Then came Gene Autry, he had a warm, really reassuring quality to his singing that seemed completely effortless. He, is who I was going to be when I grew up, (if not Johnny Appleseed.) A little later came Johnny Ray, I loved his quasi-hysterical presentation, his wonderful phrasing and the powerful emotion in his voice. I loved his songs too, especially “Cry” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried” they captured some of each of the worlds that I was bridging at the time A child’s anthromorphic cartoon world and heartbreak. Clearly a guy that spoke (or sang) for me. (incidently, I think one could argue successfully that Johnny Ray (like Johnny Ace and believe it or not Frankie Laine before the “Wild Goose Goes” and “Rawhide” stuff) was a Rock and Roll Singer, but that’s another story.)

I loved the warm full reassurance of “Nat King Cole” the Popular singer, (although I was already familiar with the “Nat Cole Trio” from my Mother’s Jazz records,) the expanded arrangements and back ground singers of his hit records, like “Answer Me My Love” “Mona Lisa” and “Nature Boy” were just beautiful and inspirational to me.

I was familiar with Billy Eckstein and Al Hibbler from Mud’s records but the Billy Eckstein vibrato seemed too wobbly for me and Al Hibbler was maybe too romantically adult. So the other on my list of favorites from that time is Anthony Bennideto. What a beautiful singer. We were some how connected to him through “Johnny The Greek” a dear friend of both Mud’s and Frankie’s who had a little Greek restaurant and Hotel in Rockaway, New York.

Just before Mud and Aunt Lea moved to the islands we were living on beach 16th street in Rockaway Park, Just in from the boardwalk and the sand. I have a number of interesting memories from that time, but a big one was a hit record (by Nat King Cole) called “Calypso Blues” (Sittin’ by de ocean oh how I feel so bad, ain’t got the money to take me back to Trinidad, Wa oh oh wa oh oh wa oh wa oh oh oh wa ay) Spoke (or should I say sang) my language right off the bat. It’s interesting how things work out…

There are a number of Calypso Singers that had a direct Influence as well. Among them are Lord Melody,The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchner, and Yes Harry Belafonte, he sang beautifully Lord Burgess was the writer of many of Harry’s songs and he certanly was an influence as well. Lucho Gatica, The Trio Los Panchos and Ishmael Rivera were also quite influential. I loved the anonymous Jibarito singers and will try to honor them always.  

Another powerful Rockaway image is of a freighter, washed ashore after a tremendous Gale. There it was, “shipwrecked” completely aground, rusty and wind blown, tilted on its side but gigantically romantic, especially for a lad of four, born with a head full of wild imaginings.

A third is walking along the Boardwalk in the fall with a little friend and his father. The father pointing to a hotel and saying “that’s where the Jews stay, they have/keep snakes on the floor in the lobby” When I asked why? He said “I don’t know, It’s because they like to do that, because that’s the way they are” That didn’t feel right to me, it felt like the kind of thing that you call “A big fat stinkin’ lie” but why would someone’s father tell us little kids to believe a big fat stinkin’ lie like that? That didn’t make any sense to me. When I told my Mother what he had said, she confirmed that it was a big fat stinkin’ lie.

Mud arranged that I never saw them again or I might have asked him (in my naïve way) why he would make up a big fat mean stinkin’ lie, and tell us sweet little kids a big fat stinkin’ lie like that.

 There are a few other Rockaway memories that I suspect were powerful in shaping my alter ego “Sad Glad Lad”,

One is of a beautiful little girl named Maria a little dark haired dark eyed Borinquenia, who lived in the apartment building back to back with our pad, she went to the same nursery school as Gale and I did, we rode there together every morning, in an honest to God cream colored woody .(it was the best car ever, the texture and smell of the leather interior the warming heater the sound and power of the engine, the shussh shussh of the windshield wipers)
We were little little kids, in this wonderful woody with this kindly gentleman of color, safe and sound, and secure. The next thing we know, no Maria.

This beautiful angel girl, my special “friend” was no more. She had choked on a little rubber “jacks” ball and died. To this day, I still can’t believe it… Continued…

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: