|Concert Performances: Raoul's Roadside Attraction, Portland, Maine|
[Leo plays "Oddball"]
[Leo plays "William Powell"]
Thank you. Well...I'm trying to look up right now. This part of the set was easy last night because nothing really worked, for a while. The box was screwed up and, so I had something to fiddle with, by way of introduction.
As you can tell by the quiet that suddenly descended in the room here, if I don't say something, that silence, which is sort of shared, turns into hostility in about two tunes then I'm out of here and I'm doomed, my career is over with. Nobody [can get away without speaking?]. It doesn't work that way, at least for me. Maybe Ihtzac Perlman [classical violinist] can get away with it but I can't, so I try to speak long before I feel like doing it because I know it's required.
So even though I never know what I am going to say, I prefer to take the risk. Well, it's not so much a risk as it is a certainty of saying absolutely nothing at all, because at least words are involved and some sentence semblance, some kind of hopeless syntax that turns into a less sort of doom than would happen if I didn't say anything. So, this is show business. I'm going to -- I'm not sure what that means.
What was I going to do? I have an urge to play something I probably really shouldn't play at this point in the set because it's so full of holes, but I'll do it. And we can all suffer through it, maybe. This is a tune that Joe Pass, after I was...I met Joe Pass, by the way. I played with him in Australia a couple months ago. It was a high point of my life and I played this tune for him -- it's a Carla Bley composition -- thinking he'd really love it, and when I was done with it he said, "Is there a melody in there? I have a hard time hearing [one]." At another point I played something else and he said, "Boy, you really went out on a limb there, didn't ya?" Well gee.
He smoked cigars and so I started smoking cigars thinking that it would improve my playing and improve his opinion of my playing. Which, I have to add, he actually likes, and whether he could hear a melody in this or not I do, so... It's called "Jesus Maria." Carla Bley hasn't recorded this, which leads me to think it's a trap, but maybe only people like Joe can tell.
[Leo plays "Jesus Maria"]
[Leo plays "Rings"]
There's so much optimism in that tune ["Rings"] it's very depressing to sing it. So much shameless glee. It was actually written for a wedding by Eddie Reeves and Alex Harvey.
Is that an aircraft spotter's guide? What is that?
A passport? Oh, a Raoul thing, OK.
With all those beers, they make so much money off you.
Oh, they don't make a fortune on beer. This is a -- I lie -- this is a song called -- well, it doesn't matter what it is called. In a way, it does matter, I should maybe say right now that I don't think anybody, myself included, ever writes a song for a reason. People don't die for a reason either, I think. Finally at the last minute it's just plain accident and they'd rather do something else. Tunes, you have to introduce them and frequently in things like interviews you're asked "What? Why do you..." so on and so forth. So you make stuff up.
What I do know about this tune is that I wrote it after, actually several years of wishing that I could write something that didn't happen in 4/4 time. When I write that's all I ever did and that's still largely what I do, it's largely what everybody does, and I finally gave up at trying to... I tried some 3/4 time, which is pretty hair-raising, that's waltz stuff. But this is in 12/8. If I'd known that at the time I would never have been able to finish it let alone conceive of it.
At least some of it is [in 12/8]. I know at one point it gets into [starts playing section from "Times Twelve"] "dos ee doe." Remember? How many people here had to dance in grade school? You were assigned a partner, never the partner you lusted after, but you were assigned a partner. And this happened to me in Cheyenne. We had to dance to something, I don't know what it's called, but it's "put your little foot right there" and you have this sort of stumbled step. I don't know why I'm telling you this, there's no reason whatsoever. I'm going to stop.
[Leo plays "Times Twelve"]
LEO: [While tuning]
I wasn't going to do this. The girl that I was supposed to, the girl that I did dance with, the reason that it's memorable to me, had just burned her hand on her father's cigarette lighter in the car dash. She'd been looking at it wondering what it did and sizzled her hand. So when I grabbed her hand, she reacted. I took it very personally.
One of my best friends at that time was a woman whose nickname was --- woman? She was about 10 or 11, she was older than I was, but 10 or 11, or 12. Her nickname was Max because her last name was Maxwell and we didn't waste a lot of metaphor on members of the opposite sex yet. She had three brothers, two of whom fell out of the same tree at the same time and broke the same arm. And what Max liked to do was strip for trains and we'd go down behind the BFW Hall in Cheyenne. Somebody knew when the trains were coming and she'd take off her clothes and leap out when the train came by. What was interesting is that me and the other guys around were still hiding back in the bushes. We didn't want to be seen, but we wanted to be there all the same.
Anyhow, I mentioned her in a special I did for PBS, and I got -- I hadn't seen her in I don't know how many years -- and I got a call from her. And I was thrilled, I really was. And the only think remarkable about the call was that we never mentioned the trains that she tried to stop I guess. I never figured out exactly what her thrill was.
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