Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Billie, Studs, Nelson

"Billie's voice was shot, though the gardenia in her hair was as fresh as usual. Ben Webster, for so long big man on tenor, was backing her. He was having it rough, too. Yet they transcended. There were perhaps 15, 20 patrons in the house. At most. Awful sad. Still, when Lady sang "Fine and Mellow", you felt that way. And when she went into "Willow, Weep for Me", you wept. You looked about and saw that the few other customers were also crying in their beer and shot glasses. Nor were they that drunk. Something was still there, that something that distinguishes an artist from a performer: the revealing of self. Here I be. Not for long, but here I be. In sensing her mortality, we sensed our own."

-Studs Terkel, from a foreword to Algren's "Man With The Golden Arm"

So the great listener is going to be speaking at the Printer Row's Book Fair this year. By the time I got around to looking online for a ticket, they were all gone. In fact, out of all the ticketed events, his was the only one that was sold out. Studs, if you're listening...send me a ticket. I want to commune with you for a few minutes even if it is in the midst of a crowd.

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