David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Prejudice, Problem-Solving

From Bruce Anecdotes

Prejudice

• African-American blues musician Buddy Guy played with a white boy when he was a child, but eventually adults told the boys that they couldn’t play together because of their racial differences. This puzzled the boys because at night they could shine a flashlight through their hands and their hands looked the same. Mr. Guy says, “We didn’t have no lights or streetlights, so after it got dark, you could take a flashlight and shine it up to your hand and see red blood. Whether you were black or white, you could see that there. Me and him saw that, and I said, ‘Somebody’s lying.’ Underneath, we’re all the same.”

• While in New Brunswick, conductor Pierre Monteux stopped at a group of cabins where he wanted to stay the night. However, a woman in the office told him, “Sorry, I have nothing!” Just then, a young girl went to the woman and whispered to her, telling her who Mr. Monteux was. The woman then said, “Excuse me, sir, I did not know that you were Someone. I think that I can accommodate you.” Mr. Monteux bowed to the woman and said, “Madame, everyone is Someone. Au revoir.”

Problem-Solving

• Veteran singer-songwriter Jill Sobule keeps writing and singing, but record companies keep dying. What to do if you want to record a new album? She set up a Web site called <jillsnextrecord.com> and solicited donations from her fans so she could make her next album. She needed $75,000, and in less than two months, happily, she got $75,000. Of course, she worried that she would get much less: “It’s one of those things I was never quite sure if it was ever going to work, and so far it has. The initial fear is that it would just be my mother and some cousins donating, and it could’ve been humiliating.” To get the money, of course, she offered incentives. In the words of music writer Greg Kot: “$10 bought a free digital download of the album, $200 earned free admission to any Sobule show this year [2009], $500 ensured that the donor would be mentioned in a song at the end of the album, and $5,000 booked a Sobule concert in the donor’s living room.” Her idea worked, but it has a cost. The social networking she does takes time, and in a six-week period she wrote no songs. Still, she got her album recorded; it is titled California Years.

• Early in his career, tenor John L. Brecknock was determined to get himself out of his own jams — not always with good results. While singing a love duet on stage with Catherine Wilson, he had a mental blackout and could not remember the words. Ms. Wilson whispered the correct words to him, but he was so concentrating on getting himself out of the jam that he did not listen to her. She repeated the words, and this time he whispered back, “I know what I’m doing.” After a few more seconds, he remembered the words and recovered. In his autobiography, Scaling the High Cs, Mr. Brecknock writes, “… if I had allowed myself to be guided by someone who knew better, the situation could have been resolved within a couple of bars of music, rather than a couple of pages — and without making the conductor pull his hair out in the pit.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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