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Entry date: 2-14-2024 – Happy Valentine’s Day – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Ah, St. Valentine. Hello again, old friend. As I have mentioned before, this was a big day in my life for a number of years. It was a holiday that my mom and aunt loved to celebrate in the old Easy Street days and if you care to venture back to two years ago, I shared an embarrassing story about one of those parties.

 

It occurs to me that I left Phoenix on Valentine’s Day in 1991 to move to Berkeley. Steve and I drove all night and got to Berkeley early on the morning of 2/15/91. We had a grand time until he left to come back to Phoenix. I remember hoping he would just stay. My roommate might not have dug that, but I would have.

 

We were reminiscing about that trip/move the other day. It took me back.

 

A few days after Steve left, Redd Kross and Screaming Trees played at the Bear’s Lair on the UC Berkeley campus. That was an amazing show. I spent most of it by myself. My new roommate was socializing and such and I wanted to soak in my new environs. Good stuff, too. It was a fun, yet lonely night.

 

Sometimes it is good to feel lonely, but not on this particular day.

 

*****

 

Cocaine Baby got in a fight yesterday. He’s really on a roll. It was with another boy from class and now I have an upset parent as her child will not be allowed to take part in the party today. Apparently, he lied to her about what happened.

 

The joy of being overworked and underpaid.

 

Other than that, though, my kids are writing some fiction this week and I’m loving it. I think teaching writing/English is maybe the way to go for me in the future. I enjoy it a ton and I wonder why I haven’t really considered it more seriously before. I guess I needed to learn a few things.

 

*****

 

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and everyone feels loved. So many people don’t know this feeling anymore.

 

*****

 

Some music, you have to be in the mood for. The record I will discuss today is one of those records, but even then, I can usually get in the mood for it if I put it on. Others, not so much. Having said that, I think almost everyone I have played this record for has ended up really liking it.

 

I really like sharing Let’s Get Lost: The Best of Chet Baker Sings with people. It kind of seems like one of the best and most sincere choices I could make for a Valentine’s Day post. It is a truly romantic record.

 

Chet Baker’s voice is probably not for everyone. I probably would not have dug this record in high school, for example, but I like to think I would have recognized his talent even then. I was a bit older when I got turned on to this disc. I only have it on CD as the vinyl goes for a pretty penny on Discogs.com. Currently the least expensive one is about $77.

 

Just listening to these tracks give you an insight into how tragic the man’s life was while he was alive. I have learned a little about him over the years based on my love for this record. As I think about it, I have probably avoided going any deeper because of what I know about his struggles with addiction. I saw too many people go through similar things up close to vicariously do it again listening to his tunes.

 

I truly love the rendition of “My Funny Valentine” on here. It’s probably the reason why I know it is the perfect record for today. Baker’s voice drips with the sadness that can only come from lost love during this performance. Russ Freeman’s piano just drips with melancholy, too. Damn, it’s so good.

 

When I listen to this record, I just want to hold my wife close to me. Someday, I will surprise her with a candlelit dinner in Maine and we will slow dance while listening to Baker singing over these excellent arrangements.

 

There is a fair amount of his trumpet playing in the 20 tracks, as well. Some of the songs swing a little bit, too. “I Get Along Without You Very Well” is one that comes to mind. With a voice as smooth as Baker’s, it must have been really fun to play these songs in the studio.

 

“Daybreak” is another one that shines (pun intended). Baker starts off with some cool trumpet that sounds like it could have easily been played on a street corner in New Orleans. It’s a bit more upbeat than most of the tracks, too, so it stands out a bit.

 

Looking at the number of plays this record has on Spotify, it seems it is not a secret. I guess I like to think that only a select few know of its goodness to look a little cooler, maybe, when I share it with others. That’s terrible. I’m mentally slapping my own hand right now and grooving to “Just Friends.”

 

I’m a big fan of the version of “Let’s Get Lost” on this one. It’s a great song, with or without vocals, but I dig what Baker did with it. The trumpet is super hopeful and Bob Neel’s drums are terrific here. Actually, it’s hard to just single him out because Freeman is killing it on the piano and Carson Smith’s bass work is pretty damn impeccable, too.

 

I guess you have to give it up for West Coast jazz. I used to think it was just a thing in the Tom Hanks’ movie, That Thing You Do!, but apparently there was quite the scene back in the day. For some reason, I think of jazz as a New York or New Orleans thing.

 

It occurs to me as I get deeper in this record that the front half is very mellow and subdued, for the most part, and comes off as terrifically romantic. As it progresses, though, and gets into the tracks in the teens, it’s pretty darn lively. Baker’s vocal styling bring things down a little on certain songs as it’s seemingly impossible for him to sound excited about things, but it still works.

 

Happy Valentine’s to you lovers out there.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.





Have a cowboy Valentine!

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Your posts make me so glad I don't teach anymore.

Screaming Trees, that takes me back!

Digging your music pick for the post. Another good read.

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