Jazz roughs up your soul. It reaches down inside of you and gives it a good shake. Like a chuckle pattern a laugh; jazz gives music some texture.
Some people say that jazz was an improvisation on European classical music, riffed on by the black slaves on American plantations. I would say that’s like relating your personality to your great uncle’s. Classical music draws lines, tries to make sense of it all. Jazz doesn’t try to mess with that.
Robby’s Diary, in Retrospect
I was born in 1971, a hair too late for the “true” civil rights movement but hungry for another one. My mother tells me I used to be unafraid to yell at strangers if they gave us a look or skipped in line. I was fire; a big ball of fire.
Which is why she’s particularly frustrated with the fact that now all I can seem to do is sleep into the late afternoon. To her credit, I also sleep through the nights. I tell her that my brain is just doing some growing up. She tells me my brain has clearly abandoned my cause.
I wasn’t ready for the rap movement either. My friends spent the good part of the day cutting classes and toasting each other with their rhymes, trying to outdo each other with the glare of pavement for an audience. I wasn’t angry enough for that. I wanted to play jazz.
John’s Diary, in Retrospect
“But the good part about, you know, life is for every negative, ignorant person you meet, you meet ten nice people.”
I was born in 1941, in the part of America that’s a third world country. I had mountains for a backyard but it wasn’t cause anyone in my family was rich. The mountains were coal mines. I used to stand outside, alone, when it was my turn to wash with the cloth my family shared and stare down at the black water in the tub, my feet apart on the dusty ground, firmly planted apart and think about getting over them someday.
The bus that finally helped me get over them saved my life, I think. The day I left for the city, my little brother came running up to me. He had our baby goat held awkwardly in his arms and he looked up at me with tears in his big, baby eyes and thrust the goat at me. So that’s how I left for the city, a rural boy with a goat in my arms.
It was 1960 when I got to New York. A big city like that could have really shut me up. But it was the first time in my life when I finally felt like I knew where to go.