Oliver Whitehead, the Canadian musician who has composed over half the songs on my new CD, is off to Paris in May. "A week in Paris" he quotes "will ease the bite of it". He refers, I'm sure, to the coldest bloody winter we have had here since records began.
The quote,however, is from a wonderful and sophisticated song called Lush Life, written by a very young Billy Strayhorn, right hand man to Duke Ellington. Strayhorn was in his late teens, for god's sake, when he wrote these lyrics, lyrics that a mature Noel Coward would be proud of. It contains internal rhymes such as 'relaxes' and 'axis', 'awful' and 'trough full'; repeated important words, like 'life' and 'again', persuading the listener to a world weary state along with the singer. I mean, "Twelve o'clock tales". I would kill to write a line like that. He was SEVENTEEN!
This song has always put me in my Paris frame of mind, especially as I would use the line for myself while working there in 1970. Affinity was hired to play for several weeks downstairs at a nightclub called the Bilboquet. Ignorant at the time, I have since found out that jazz greats such as Billie Holiday (be still my heart) and Miles Davies, played upstairs. And Duke Ellington. Maybe with Billie Strayhorn. A week in Paris?