She'll Grow Back: Happy Birthday Louis Armstrong!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Louis Armstrong!

Louis Armstrong would be 107 today.

Here it is -- the first time I've posted twice in a single day. But it's Satchmo's birthday, and I have a lot of things I want to say about the best Louis Armstrong file on my hard drive. (This recording courtesy of my excellent brother, who also took that Mike Doughty picture from a few days ago.)

This is a 1970 recording of "What A Wonderful World," featuring Oliver Nelson's orchestra and a bittersweet spoken intro. Two years after his original version was a major UK hit, Louis went into a studio and laid down this record, clarifying the song as hopeful rather than triumphant.

The spoken intro is so sad, yet so hopeful. It speaks to the heartbroken youths of 1970, and to the adults who had always liked Louis Armstrong. It speaks to the hopes Louis (and the songwriters) had for humanity during what seemed to be one of its deepest crises. It speaks to all of us who get depressed with how wonderful the world is definitely not, and then Louis starts singing, and all that pain is somehow lessened. This recording is musically more upbeat than the original version, which can be a little jarring, but hang in there.

I have other versions of this song laying around in various places, but none of them can hold a candle to Pops here.

Happy birthday, Satch.


CD said...

Good Lord and Butter, man, i go away for one weekend and all hell breaks loose 'round these parts. Who's heading up the posse to find our illustrious blogger?

Mark H. Besotted said...

Still here, just no energy.

I should be back up to speed by Saturday. I haven't done anything this week since I'm dangerously close to filling up my allotted disk space, and I don't wanna take files down until I have them hosted somewhere else (like in a zip file, for example).

Stay tuned.

(this comment tagged with "Craven Apologies")


CD said...

As long as we can send the search party home now, it's all good.

vilstef said...

Have you ever seen Ken Burns' Jazz Documentaries? In one of them, there is a piece of film done about 1969 or 70 with Louis ill and looking every bit his age. He's talking about what music means to him and he sings his theme song Sleepytime Down South acappella, and the years fall away! He is revitalized if only for a moment by the music. One of the most magical things I've ever seen!

Mark H. Besotted said...

I haven't see the doc, but I've got the box set. That sounds really really interesting -- thanks for the head's up!