Sunshine On the Radio: Variations on a Theme with Ron Carter

I was about to drive home today in the oppressive heat of my adopted state and when I flipped on my car the radio was set to the local jazz station. This station plays mostly instrumental pieces, heavy on standards and classics with some great programs that highlight new jazz, Brazilian jazz etc. from time to time. So, I was a little surprised when the piece playing was just an upright bass.

Ron Carter stretches, rocks, rolls and massages out of “You Are my Only Sunshine” a timeless lesson in the relationship between a standard, a musician, and the audience. I can’t stop listening to or thinking about this number.

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Summertime, Brain Surgery and Mocking Mumford

I was going to write a response to my brother’s summertime post today–I love the way that he combines gratitude for the coming of summer with wistful nostalgia for the summertimes of youth that we can never regain (and that were sweeter than first kisses and first fruits). But, as is our custom now as brothers, I am more over-extended than ever. I have taken an editorial position at an academic journal; we are moving into a new house; oh, I still have two beautiful but insane children.

I used to listen to this album over and over again while mowing the lawn as a sixth grader. Then I would ride my bike around town just in case I might see one of (several girls) I had a crush on. How did I stay so chubby with so much activity?

I wanted to write a short post because I keep thinking about Mumford & Sons. Following my brother, I fear, my appreciation for the band has decreased with each listening of the last album. Yet, I cannot get away from the fact that my 3-year old daughter keeps asking for me to play “I Will Wait”. The song has grown old for me, but she asks for it by name and it breaks my heart to see the bliss in her face when she hears it.

So, I was thinking about Mumford & Sons this morning, then I saw that the bassist needed brain surgery. The evil part of me wanted to make some snide comment about this connected to the band’s music, but I thought the better of it. Life is too short as it is; it would be worse than churlish to delight in someone else’s pain and danger.

But I was also thinking about Mumford & Sons over the weekend after my good friend from college, Another J, let me know about this humorous video mocking the band:

Now, as I actually mentioned on twitter, I felt gratified because this video mentions some of the same themes I mentioned in an earlier post (especially regarding the lack of drummer and the movie O Brother Where Art Thou).  Humor, even though we often take it for granted, can often be so much more insightful and critical than the sharpest critique because it approaches a subject obliquely. This piece is especially good because it also creates a “Mumford Band”.

Now, this might be a little painful or annoying for the band–but one thing is universally true: if people are making fun of you, you’re doing something right.

What do you think, brother?