Monday, October 3, 2016

But Beautiful: Geoff Dyer

I fell in love with Geoff Dyer's writing recently, reading his book about jazz But Beautiful, a series of fictionalized vignettes about some of jazz's tragic heroes. I've underlined a good majority of this book - it is so sensitively written and so very beautiful.

One of my favorite passages about Chet Baker:

Chet put nothing of himself into his music and that's what lent his playing its pathos. The music he played felt abandoned by him. He played the old ballads and standards with a long series of caresses that led nowhere and subsided into nothing. 

That was how he had always played and always would.  Every time he played a note he waved it goodbye. Sometimes he didn't even wave. These old songs, they were used to being loved and wanted by the people who played them; musicians hugged them and made them feel brand-new, fresh.  Chet left a song feeling bereft.  When he played it the song needed comforting: it wasn't his playing that was packed with feeing, it was the song itself, feeling hurt. You felt each note trying to stay with him a little longer, pleading with him. 

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