Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Django Reinhardt, 1934-1935

Django Reinhardt - Django Reinhardt, 1934-1935

Brandon Russell - I'll be your resident music blogger on behalf of the Huntington Beach Public Library. When I'm not doing this, you can find me searching through the library's music catalogue or shelving books on the adult floors.

Django Reinhardt.

In celebration of it being lover’s day (I know, I’m a week late), this choice was a no brainer.

Django Rei... Who? Doesn’t he play for the Red Wings?

What are you first thoughts? Confusion? Nostalgia? Sadness?

Try bringing that name up to the MTV generation and I’m sure you’ll receive plenty of bewildered looks. Flash, excess, robotic regurgitation. That’s what we know and love today. Heck, I’m sure 90% of successful pop artists today wouldn’t know who you were talking about.

How about this: Django Reinhardt was responsible for inventing an entirely new jazz guitar technique that is now synonymous with French gypsy culture. Further, he did it with only three functioning fingers on his left hand (thumb, index, middle). By the way, he received first and second degree burns over half his body, paralyzing his right leg and injuring his hand. Doctors gave him no hope he would ever play again. I can't even play guitar with two healthy hands. But with much dedication and practice, Django relearned his craft and made it his own. That is passionate, unadulterated love of music. You can hear it, feel it in every song.

We should be so lucky that the library offers up an artist like Django Reinhardt. His music was solely responsible for getting him through World War II unscathed, that’s how endearing his gift was to nazi soldiers. You think Lady Gag would have survived being carried around in a plastic egg? I implore you, don’t let him and his music go unnoticed.

Am I coming on too strong? Forgive me.

Snap your fingers, tap your knee, swing your sweetheart. Pass the hours in a smoke filled dive somewhere off a hidden Paris street. Hemingway, anyone? I think I can picture Brett now.

Un cafe s’il vous plait.

See? Nostalgia. And I’ve never even been to France.

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