Commonplace Thought

Good Advice On Bedtime Stories:

"Atticus killed several birds with one stone when he read to his children, and would probably have caused a child psychologist considerable dismay: he read to Jem and Jean-Louise whatever he happened to be reading, and the children grew up possessed of an obscure erudition. They cut their back teeth on military history, Bills to Be Enacted into Laws, True Detective Mysteries,The Code of Alabama,the Bible, and Palgrave's Golden Treasury." – Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman


Currently Listening

Currently reading

Tiny in size but large in spirit and wit, Blossom Dearie’s voice was one of the eccentric pleasures of the cabaret scene in the seventies and eighties – though some of her best recordings date back still earlier – and now here all her essential records are put in one box!  Listening to her, over and over on these blessedly mild summer days in New York, one is put in mind of one more lost New York – the mid-seventies Manhattan of piano bars and cabaret, where songs like “Rhode Island Is Famous For You” and “Once Upon A Summertime”, as small and perfect as her voice, once seemed to be in place as permanent poems. (That much of her best work was either French in spirit – like “Once Upon..”, a Michel Legrand tune – or else actually sung in French, like “Tout Doucement” should not be allowed to alter the provincial pride of this judgment.)

While we’re speaking of small and perfect songs...I wish I had had space, in my recent piece on love songs, including Shakespeare’s, to mention a book about them that came out earlier this year from Oxford University Press: Dominic Symond’s “We’ll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers & Hart”.  Truly devoted to their early work, ending its investigation after their first sojourn to Hollywood, Symond’s book reminds us why, with all the great songs and great songwriters we have had, what Dick and Larry made together still, in its exquisite marriage of idiom, elegance, and bite, remains the very tippy-top of the tree.