Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Autumn Leaves

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song: “Autumn Leaves” sung by Nat King Cole:

September has come and gone and we are deep in the heart of my favorite season, autumn. Autumn is the season where the colors of the trees spring to red and orange and a golden yellow. It’s the season when things get a bit chillier. Even here in Florida. It is the harvest season when all the work has paid off, when the crops come in. It’s the season when the squirrels prepare for the coming winter. It’s the season when the birds fly away, headed on their southbound journey. It’s the season of family gatherings for the feasts of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.

Soon it will be winter and the cold and the snow will come. But then there’s spring on the horizon. But for the moment autumn is here and she’s wearing her luscious colors.

If ever there was a song that captures a season, it’s “Autumn Leaves”. “Autumn Leaves” is one those perfect songs. And what great voices to sing it, the voices of Nat King Cole and Yves Montand.

And here’s the original version by the great French actor Yves Montand;

And what a great instrumental it makes:

Roger Williams’ version.

Any way you look at it, it’s a great piece of music for a wonderful season.

 

Near 500 words: Fishing

Once a week, on Sundays, Doc went fishing. It was his retreat. A place where he went to rest up for the coming week and the stubbed toes and the aches and pains of the people in the town.

Beside the river there was one particular tree. It wasn’t a large tree. It was bent just like he was. Under its branches, he sat there for hours, throwing out fishing line after fishing line, not catching anything but enjoying the peace and quiet.

The tree had a gift for listening. Other trees listened but this one listened with an understanding heart. How could he tell? Doc just knew.

Over the years he’d been sitting under that tree. He kept reminding himself to go to the library and look the tree up in an encyclopedia. But this or that or the other got in the way of his remembering to do just that. On his way to the library, Mrs. Rosen might stop him and tell him about her new ache. Or Danny Porter showed him the place he skinned his leg.

By the time he got to his office and dropped off his fishing gear, he’d forgotten the question. And it didn’t come to him until the next time he sat under the tree.

Some might have named the tree. Doc didn’t. Seemed Tree was its name, and Tree was what Doc called it. So he gave up trying to figure out anything about Tree. The solitude with only Tree for a companion was a comfort to him.

Ten years earlier, Doc had lost his wife to cancer. Under Tree, he felt her presence often. He began to suspect Tree was his wife come back to him. So he began to call Tree by his wife’s name, Cassie. After all, Tree was thin and tall like Cassie.

One Sunday, he sat under Cassie’s branches feeling the warmth of her love pouring down on him. The water covered his bare feet, washing away the dirt from his walk and cooling him from the heat of the summer sun.

“You know, Cassie, I used to think I was Huckleberry Finn. When I was a kid.”

A fish jumped in the water downstream a bit.

“All the other boys played baseball. I went fishing.”

A breeze touched his face like a soft kiss from Cassie.

“I never was much for sports.”

A bird, possibly a robin, sang, disturbing the quiet. Doc didn’t mind. The birds kept him company with their songs unlike the noise he heard people play on their radios and their music players.

“You know, Cassie, I’ve about decided that I don’t like people much. I thought I did but they’ve become such trouble. All their aches and pains but not serious.”

Cassie listened and the river listened and the birds listened.

“The serious ones do trouble me. Like Ellen Gable’s cancer.”

The birds stopped their singing.

“She’s in such pain. Such pain.”

Doc pulled in his fishing line. He usually didn’t catch anything. He never went fishing to catch anything. The few times a fish bit his hook he released the fish and returned it to its home with a bon voyage.

Doc choked out his next words. “Like yours, Cassie. Like yours.”

He stood up and threw the line back into the water. It made its splash.

Then Doc cheered up and said, “Henry Stanton’s foot has healed. The poultice you recommended last time I was here did the trick. I would have never thought of that.”

He looked up at the sky and the sun’s colors filled it with a new sunset. He admired it for a few minutes, then drew in his fishing line. He packed up his fishing gear. He leaned over and kissed the bark of the tree.

“Thanks, Cassie,” he said and headed back to town.

The angel in the snow

The angel looked around him and saw nothing but snow and leafless trees. She pulled her wings around her to keep warm. The snow was up to her ankles. It was a good thing she had worn her angel boots. In the distance, she saw what she was looking for. The child she had come to rescue. Slowly her feet moved step by step through the snow. She would have hurried but the snow held her. The girl must be freezing in this winterscape.

It seemed like it was a long time before the angel reached the girl. It wasn’t. But, when you are trying to hurry to save a child, it can be. The girl was lying in the snow and turning blue. That was not good. She was starting to fall asleep.

The angel picked the child up and held her in her arms. She wrapped her wings around the two of them. The child was still breathing but just barely. And her heart rate was slow.

Harriet was the angel’s name. She had performed rescue missions before. This one seemed to be different. Earlier she received her orders, and they said ASAP. That meant this one was special. Usually Harriet moved fast but this time she had moved lickety-split.

Slowly the child was warming up. Her eyes opened, and she smiled. “Mommy,” she said.

Harriet let her go with the illusion. It was best. This meant the child was not afraid. If Harriet decided to destroy her illusion, the little girl might start struggling and that was not good. “Yes, child,” Harriet said. “We’ll be okay. You can go back to sleep.”

The child snuggled up next to Harriet’s breasts. “Mommy,” she said. “Your heart is not beating.”

“It is. It’s just not loud like yours.”

The snow was getting deeper. It was up to Harriet’s knees. She would have flown, but in this cold weather, the wings would have frozen. It would take Harriet weeks to thaw them out. So slowly she trudged through the snow toward the building in the distance.

The child’s body was warm against Harriet. The blue had disappeared from her cheeks.

Harriet was starting to feel the cold at her back. With the wings wrapped around the child, her back was not as protected as it would have been otherwise. In her mind’s eye, she saw the future. Actually she saw two futures. One she was taking off without the child and heading to a warm climate. As soon as the wings reached the heavens, they would keep their warmth.

In the other future, her feet slowly made it to the building, getting slower and slower with each step. She reached the house and managed to pry the door open. Then she pushed the child inside. A woman took the child, and Harriet’s body froze.

That night a comet crossed the sky, a star died, and the sky cried with the sadness of the loss of another angel. It would take ten thousand years for Harriet’s replacement to come into being.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Joni Mitchell

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the amazing Joni Mitchell:

You can tell the quality of a musician by the quality of the musicians who back them up. Joni Mitchell performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl in September 1979. And she was backed up by some of the best jazz musicians of the time. There’s Pat Metheny on lead guitar; Jaco Pastorius, bass; Don Alias,drums, percussion; Lyle Mays, piano and synthesizer); and Michael Brecker on saxophones. All playing a live version of “Free Man in Paris.” If I had known nothing about Joni, I would have been impressed with that lineup.

But I had watched Joni’s career over the years. She just got better and better. In the 1960s, she had broken through with her first five albums that included “Both Sides Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Woodstock” and “Big Yellow Taxi.” But it was her 1974 album “Court and Spark” that caught my fancy. There wasn’t a bad song on the album.

It was the early seventies. The time of the singer-songwriter. Even more so, it seemed to be the time of the women. There was Carl King with her “Tapestry”. There was Carly Simon. There was Linda Ronstadt. And there was Joni Mitchell.

There was Joni Mitchell. What a talent. She’s been called the female Bob Dylan. Maybe we would be calling Dylan the male Joni Mitchell if Joni had been first. And like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, she is an artist with a restless spirit. Never satisfied to rest on their laurels. Always willing to take risks and walk out on that tightrope without a net. To me that is what a true artist does. Even when they fail, they don’t give up trying to let their art take them wherever.

Here’s the title and opening song of “Court and Spark“:

Starting out as a folk singer and composer, she honed her skills until songs like this. Her performance of “Songs to Aging Children” from her album “Clouds”. This is where I first discovered Joni as she sang it in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” in 1969.

Following her muse, she found her way into jazz on albums like “Hejira,” “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter” and “Mingus.” And she has continued to give us gems like her version of Bob Nolan’s “Cool Water” with Willy Nelson on her “Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm” album.