LIFE: Goodbye, Armstrong

Life: Every party must come to an end

Photo: Every party must come to an end, and when it does, there are kisses and promises and waves goodbye. Pictured is legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong as he waves goodbye to his fans and calls it a night

PART I: LOUIS ARMSTRONG

He was born poor, and died rich, and never hurt anyone along the way.

Duke Ellington

Louis Armstrong, the legendary trumpeter, came to prominence in the 1920s and throughout his 50-year long musical career delivered us tons of great performances through songs such as “Hello, Dolly!”, “What A Wonderful World”, “When You’re Smiling”, “St. Louis Blues” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

Armstrong, renowned for his charismatic stage presence and for his deep and distinctive gravelly voice, had an influence that extended well beyond jazz music, and by the twilight of his career, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.

Armstrong was one of the first truly popular Afro-American entertainers to “cross over”, in an America that was, at the time, severely racially divided.

While he rarely publicly politicized his race, often to the dismay of fellow African-Americans, he was privately a strong supporter of the Civil Rights movement in America.

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When “What A Wonderful World” was written, it was intended as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate of everyday life in the United States.

The song also has a hopeful, optimistic tone with regard to the future, with reference to babies being born into the world and having much to look forward to.

It was not initially a hit in the United States, where it sold fewer than 1,000 copies because the head of ABC Records didn’t like the song and therefore did not promote it.

The song gradually grew to become something of a standard, and reached a new level of popularity. Today, it’s one of those songs that everybody has heard.

Some of you young folks been saying to me, “Hey Pops, what you mean ‘What a wonderful world’?

How about all them wars all over the place? You call them wonderful?

And how about hunger and pollution? That ain’t so wonderful either.”

Well how about listening to ol’ Pops for a minute. Seems to me, it aint the world that’s so bad but what we’re doin’ to it.

And all I’m saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love baby, love. That’s the secret, yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we’d solve lots more problems. And then this world would be better.
That’s what ol’ Pops keeps saying.”

 

– Louis Armstrong

 

 

 

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