I am going to become a recluse. I can feel it coming on. Under the new austerity program, I have to diminish my participation in 2 of my favorite activities: cocktail sipping & shopping, & I look so damn feeble, I figure… why not just stay home? I think I am going to spend the summer at Post Apocalyptic Bohemia, receiving only the occasional guest, although I would love for any of you stop by for a glass of wine or a libation in the garden.
On the positive side, I am taking on the monumental project of dealing with my CD collection. The husband recently moved an extraordinary piece- a 15 foot long merchant's table with 20 drawers, European pine from the early 19th century, from the den to his studio. This major piece of furniture has long been the home to my music collection. I have decided that since I deal with mostly downloads in the new century, I would move the CDs into storage in my dressing room & free up the many drawers for his art supplies & found objects.
I like to look at each CD & think about why it is the collection & what it means to me, why the artists matters, & what moved me about the music in the first place... or else it goes.
Today is the birthday of a wonderful artist from my collection that was famous for being a bit of a recluse & guarding her privacy. I saw her perform at NYC's Danny’s Skylight Lounge, a number of times in the mid-1970s, at the very apex of her talent.
Singer, pianist & songwriter with an independent spirit, Blossom Dearie had a career that blurred the line between jazz & cabaret. An interpretive minimalist with caviar taste in songs, she rarely raised her sly voice, & she confided song lyrics in a playful style with layers of insinuation. But, just under her fey mask was a needling wit. It brought a breezy sophistication to all of her songs. If you listen closely, you can hear the caustic contempt she brings to her signature song- I’m Hip by Portland’s very own- Dave Frishberg. Mr. Frishberg wrote another of her classics- Peel Me a Grape.
All 6 of her albums on Verve- Blossom Dearie (1956), Give Him the Ooh-La-La (1957), Once Upon a Summertime (1958), Sings Comden & Green (1959), My Gentleman Friend (1959) & Soubrette Sings Broadway Hit Songs(1960) are cult classics. Check out the Vereve remix albums with the Brazylian Girls remix Blossom Dearie - doing Just One of Those Things. The last song Ms. Dearie recorded was -It’s All Right to Be Afraid, a comforting ballad dedicated to the victims & survivors of 9/11.
The jazz pixie with a little girl voice with a bit squeakiness & pageboy haircut was a fixture in New York for decades, she died in 2009 in her Greenwich Village apartment of 50 years. She was 84 years old.