My father, after repairing triple-load washers for twelve hours
on a Saturday, would put on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and call
me into the garage. "Hear this, slugger? One four five. That's
all there is. Sons o' bitches. . ." I never understood how any
man could be on his back for twelve hours and come home to
listen to Miles Davis for another three. We split Budweisers.
"So What" always on. I remember it that way. He sang the
words that Miles didn't need. I was ten, eleven. The sun still
out. Coltrane fading in after Miles' solo, then Miles gone.
Gone for most of the song. He's not allowed to come back
until the end. Those are the rules. That's the thing: my father
taught me this. The rhythm section the whole time keeping
time like running water. Brush stroke, snare off, over and
again. Coltrane catches the wind of the last phrase, echoes,
and goes off wherever it was he went off to: Paradise, fishing with
a cooler full, the driveway spotted with oil, the gear grease on
his glasses and collar, the grease in his hair glinting blue at his
wake, "So What" instead of a sermon.
:: Alexander Long, Light Here, Light There (2009)