Lush Life, Straight Life and Powerhouse Stories
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It is clear that jazz culture and its literature connect is in various ways. I will look at the elements of life on the road as portrayed in "Lush life" by McClusky, in "straight life" by Matthews, and in "powerhouse" by Eudora Welty. And in so doing conclude on how these three works shape my understanding of the meaning of the "road".
The short story "Lush Life," by John McCluskey is about the life of a band. They experience this fun life on the road making stops at all different capitals to play for people their music. This is the first aspect of “life on the road” shown. The focus is put on two characters that is the master of horns, Billy and the leader of the band, Earl. As they are drive from city to city they compose new songs. It was Earl who initiates the beats and contemplating new songs, and as he is thinks McCluskey forms an idea in his head of the rhythm he is making. He says the lady in his mind strode faster, movement around her increased, the streets were filled with traffic and jarring sounds. He thought of the sounds to be trumpets. Tenor saxophones and Trombones playing in the lowermost octave declared their potentials.
Life on the road is also exemplified in these musician's lives, whereby, they discover the music first then generate the rhythms of an individual. What's exceptional about this is that when majority of people see an individual they think of the beat they are creating or the background music. The same woman is exemplified for his song-making for she would comeback, certainly, to traffic through another song, taking on a different rhythm. At the end of the story, the aspect of life on the road is seen as Earl makes a description of how their music has impacted the lives of the people they have met on the road. He says makes people give up secrets by helping them open up. You can lend it to unfamiliar person, and they show gratitude for it (pg 571). Therefore, the music’s rhythm has a positive effect on the people, in mind and body. It compels people to feel comfortable and open up letting things out through body emotions or words.
Eudora Welty in Powerhouse talks of Powerhouse being on tour from the city. He is thought to be a musician due to the fact that when he thinks of the phrases to call himself he thinks of “Powerhouse and His Keyboard”—“Powerhouse and His Tasmanians”. Another aspect of life on the road is the aspect of uniqueness whereby powerhouse is portrayed as being unique. There is no one in the world like him. It is almost impossible to tell that he is African American. It says ha appears more fanatic, Peruvian, Babylonian, Jewish, monkey, Asiatic. Another aspect of life on the road portrayed is that of racism. Whereby there’s some racism experienced as performers go from town to town. According to powerhouse, it is impossible to believe his decent especially when he begins his performance. He says that African American performers or those of a darker color are thought to be more flamboyant and also scary in their performances.
In “straight life" by Matthews an aspect of life on the road exemplified, is when he talks about the performances they did in Dallas at the State Fair for some black Dance. During this period there was a certain black cat in a flamboyant white suit at the Palm Baech dancing to their rhythm. Another aspect of Life on the road portrayed is racism. He says Coleman Hawkins was of the opinion that he had been born on a boat in no man’s land. However the reason for saying this was of the embarrassment he felt between being American at heart and the way black musicians were treated by musicians. He asked himself every morning where he was, but slowly learned to know by looking at the sky. Another aspect of life on the road portrayed is food and sleeping areas. The food is the same all along the road. You were lucky if you had a bed. Some nights they just pulled the bus off the road like a docked boat.
In conclusion, my understanding of the meaning of the "road" is that the road is on us and we are on the road. It is easier to feel you were born on the road.