I’m so tired, I’m satired. So how about we let me be a goody goofy two-shoed beatnik beat poet for one week and one week only? Instead of a two-bit armpit of a funny cynic satirist git with an axe to grind on his writing shift. Everything must go for at least a little while so let’s let it, why don’t we? Some of you may not know, but I’m a trombonist by trade. I’m a creative type typecast in boots too big to fill — they’re daddy’s rubbers and I’m swimming in ‘em. A never-ending slide. A new side of myself to be implicated and explored. A side story, a backstory, the backside of a slide story.
What was it my father always told me obstinately? Soft articulation by morning, trombonist’s mourning. Hard articulation by night, lover’s delight. I do believe I wish my wife told me that. I’m a softy, what can I say? As hard as it pains me, I go soft in the paint. What was it my good ol’ teacher told me about my slide technique? My hand was too jerky! Teach sent me a video of JJ Johnson. Look at that wrist, look at that ease, listen to that sound. The trombone moaning glorious bebop as JJ smoothly slides his perfectly oiled slide. A glorious ringing if I’ve ever heard it. There’s me, however, jerking all over the place with my shot wrist. No ease from point A to B. I would be lying to say I had no envy. He with the know to and can do that I’d like to have to play that sexy, sexy bebop music. Wooing and moaning with the plunger clasped on the bell. I do believe I wish my wife compared my performing to JJ’s.
If I had a nickel for every time I overshot the sixth position way down there by the spit valve, I could buy a number of nickel’s worth of gloves or mitts — my trombone’s getting moldy! It’s not even an oldy, I just have unkempt hands, and my fingers, sheesh they’re oily! Better to overshoot than not even shoot at all, am I right? My sheet music may as well be blank! Sometimes cracking under pressure, breaking the flow, ending the ecstasy. All to the bemusement of my fellow musicians. Garbling the trigger low D, sounding like a jerk, finishing my performance and leaving so soon are we? I was embarrassed, what can I say, what can I play that’s easier? Easier on the nerves. It’s completely out of my depth, my league, everything. I do believe I wish my wife was bemused at this one.
I harken back to my early days. I had a long primer with a eupho and tuba before graduating and ingratiating with the full-length trombone. Talk about high-risk, high-reward! Back on the old eupho there were three finger options. That’s it! Three fingers. Satisfying, simple, valve work, pipe work. Now, with the trombone and the old slide, I could be anywhere and nowhere at the same time. And talk about an old slide too. A rusty finger valve elicits that same pitch, but with a crusty old slide you’ve got nowhere to go. So many possibilities, but you just can’t reach the good spot. I remember the maintenance man at the music shop telling me to keep it cleaned regularly. Not even to look impressive but for the thing’s darn longevity. Now, here I am, wasted, twisted, green and molding, red rot, eyes bloodshot. I stayed up late just trying to make anything happen. Squeaking and squealing, breathing and hyperventilating myself into oblivion. Talk about risk and reward, hell hath no wfury like a failed session with a darn broke thing like that. I do believe I wish my wife told me like the maintenance man did.
That’s enough of that now. Once it’s all spilled out like I’ve done, there’s not much more to harp on about tromboning for. Just gotta go sit and be happy I get to at all, some aren’t so lucky. Back to being a crank for me, you’re probably all tired of this hanky-panky goof-washing gab.