A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
I know I am an old geezer and haven’t really kept up with the latest trends in music (or much else now that I think about it) but back in the early days of civilization (the 40s and 50s) the lyrics of our songs were so important – so much so that we could live our lives just by following the words sung by Sinatra or Como. I was going to say ‘crooned’ but I think Crosby was the crooner.
Granted not all the music of our time could set you on a path to romantic bliss. Whispering ‘Yes, we have no bananas’ in your true love’s ear in the back seat of a ‘47 Monarch Coupe would hardly set her heart ablaze. She would probably get the sudden urge to go to the corner drug store for a split. (There were no Dairy Queens back then – at least not up here in the boondocks.)
Music has a way of taking you back decades just by popping into your head while you are driving, walking, or talking to the police officer who is questioning why you were swerving all over the 400 singing the lyrics of the Beer Barrel Polka at the top of your lungs.
There was wonderful music back then and maybe the odd one even now, but the new stuff won’t last. Well maybe Celine’s My Heart Will Go On and On and On and… but not too many more. But not all of the old standards were written for us romantics, some were written for, and likely by, drunks. A case in point is Sinatra’s, One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).
Most of us will remember this one. Frank has just been dumped. We don’t know why. I suspect it has something to do with him losing his hair. I guess that’s a little unfair since I’m sure some men who have lost their hair have gone on to lead fairly normal lives – not many, but some. So what does Frank do? He goes into Joe’s bar at a quarter to three in the flipping morning. We learned later that Joe is anxious to close but Frank has a story he feels Joe ought to know. Just why Joe should be remotely interested in the demise of Frank’s latest relationship we don’t know. Frank was married four times, you know, and dated at least five other ladies, but never married. Why they all broke it off I suspect was the hair business.
There’s no one else in the place so poor Joe has to set ‘em up, which is fine because that was his job, but then he has to listen to Frank’s tale of woe. Why bartenders get stuck listening to this crap I have no idea but I guess it’s there in the Bartenders Code of Ethics. I used to tell my tragedies to Bob Morris at the Legion but Bob hadn’t read the Code so he just turned off the lights, locked the door and went home. The custodian let me out in the morning.
The problem with all this is that it was the end of a brief episode. Frank and this latest love had only been going out for a little while. (I suspect it ended the moment she ran her fingers through his hair and his wig came off in her hand.) So rather than just chalking it up as one more failure in a long list, he decided to tell the whole story to poor Joe who isn’t doing so well in the romance business himself since he doesn’t get home until 4:00 in the morning. His wife left him and found herself a boyfriend who doesn’t reek of booze and stale cigarette smoke.
Now we know this happened a long time ago since Joe put another nickel in the machine to play some music that was easy and sad. I was in a high-end restaurant once and a violinist came to the table. I thought he was going to play something romantic but he was trying to sell the violin. He hadn’t eaten for a week. I didn’t want to give him any money but I let him lick my plate. He changed his name to Andre Rieu shortly after that and then had me banned from all of his concerts. Now that’s gratitude for you.
Where was I? Oh yeah, for some reason Frank began bending Joe’s ear. Joe punched him in the nose, called the cops and to add insult to injury, stole his toupee.