Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the modern speakeasy for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Bring your own beverage. As always, we’re still workshopping the slogan.
A quick reminder that BCB After Dark is the afterparty for everyone. We’d like those of you awake in the middle of the night Chicago time to get the party started, but we’d love for the rest of you to join in as the day goes on.
Last Wednesday/Thursday I asked you to give Cubs manager David Ross a grade. With an overwhelming 75 percent of the vote, you said that Ross has earned a solid “B” so far. Twelve percent would give him an “A,” so a whopping 87 percent of you think Ross is doing a good job. With those kinds of numbers, he would have won Dancing With The Stars.
Also last time I talked about the French film Elevator to the Gallows and its soundtrack by Miles Davis. Al tells me that little diversion about film and jazz was really popular and that I should try to do that some more. So this is me trying.
I listen to jazz nearly every day. I usually put it on while I’m making dinner and then while I eat it. Sometimes I’ll listen to something else and sometimes I’ll get takeout, but even on those days I will often listen to the SiriusXM Real Jazz channel either in the car or as I wind down for bed. Often I’ll have jazz playing in the background as I write, but there’s a college basketball game on at my place at the moment. (And more on that later.)
Having said that, I think there are few people who listen to as much jazz as I do who know less about jazz than I do. Not only am I not one of those people who can name who the sidemen were at famous recording sessions in the late-1940s, I am not even someone who can name twenty 21st-century contemporary jazz artists off the top of my head. I’ve been listening to jazz since the nineties but other than watching a few documentaries and reading a few articles here and there, I really haven’t been a student of the art form. So take anything that I say about it as coming from just a fan and not anyone who really knows much about what he’s talking about.
I may talk more about why I started listening to jazz in the future, but I will share one insight that I have into the genre. I think one of the reasons that jazz can be so intimidating is that a lot of it is self-referential. Some of the greatest pieces of jazz gain their strength by re-interpreting already existing songs. Traditionally, these songs came from “The Great American Songbook” that came from Hollywood, Broadway or Tin Pan Alley. In other words, the popular music of the first half of the 20th Century. But it’s sometimes hard to understand what the artist is trying to do if you’re not already familiar with the Gershwins or Rogers and Hammerstein, let alone the more forgotten composers. It’s a little like trying to follow a conversation on the internet that is mostly conducted through memes that you don’t get.
Luckily, modern jazz musicians have been interpreting more modern music this century, particularly the rock music that I grew up with. Guitarist Charlie Hunter is one of those musicians, and in 2001 he did a version of one of my favorite songs of the 1980s, Roxy Music’s “More Than This.” Feeling he needed a vocalist on the track, Hunter brought in a then-unknown pianist/singer named Norah Jones. Of course, Jones would become a big star in just about a year’s time, but here you can hear her just before she got famous.
I really like this version. Do I like it better than the Roxy Music original? Oh, heck no. As I said, the original is one of my favorite songs of the eighties. But I think Hunter and Jones do a terrific job giving the song a different spin. (And yes, I’m familiar with the 10,000 Maniacs version which isn’t bad either.)
I’ll try to share some thoughts on classic Hollywood next time. I’ve already mentioned that in the absence of baseball and of writing for this site, I spent a lot of last year watching old movies. But if there were other sports on, would I have been watching those sports instead? Maybe!
Everyone reading this is a baseball fan. In fact, baseball is the favorite sport of everyone reading this. You may think you like a different sport better, but I’m here to tell you that baseball is your favorite sport and you’ll come to realize I’m right eventually.
But, what if you couldn’t watch baseball? What would you do? Sure, you’d probably watch several different sports to kill the time, but let’s just say you have to pick just one to watch until baseball returns. Which one would you pick and why? Pay very close attention. This could be very important next year.
I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I’ve become a big soccer fan over the past decade. You may not agree with that, but one thing soccer has going for it is that there is pretty much always a game on somewhere, any time of the year. I suppose that’s getting to be true of other sports like basketball (and baseball, actually) as well, but soccer is the one that’s really everywhere and any time.
But maybe you’d watch a different sport. Tell us what your second-favorite sport is and why. What do you do when there is no baseball game on? Again, this could be important for 2021.
What sport would you watch if there was no baseball and you had to pick only one?
This poll is closed
Motor Sports (NASCAR, Indy, F1, etc.)
Olympic Sports (please specify in comments)
Other (leave in comments)
Staring out the window and waiting until Spring
Share your reasons in the comments if you wish. BCB After Dark will return Wednesday night/Thursday morning.