Category Archives: Great Artists

Mr. Bojangles

Jerry Jeff Walker, composer of this iconic song, died yesterday at the age of 78.

His Bojangles creation is timeless.

From a comment on YouTube: “Just imagine, a 3.24-minute song tells the story of a guy who is down and out in prison in New Orleans and meets a broken down old alcoholic who used to be a soft shoe dancer. He learns of his love for his dog and of his life. But in that horrible old jail cell, the singer learns Mr. Bojangles’ philosophy. He can laugh and dance in the face of all the sorrow and troubles in life. Right there in that old cell he jumps up and lands lightly on this feet, and that right there explains everything. Pardon me while I have a good cry for his life, for mine which is in its end phase, and for the amazing spirit of human beings who can look life and death in the face and still dance.”

May we all have a bit of Mr. Bojangles in us. Thank you, Jerry Jeff Walker.

Spem in Alium

Thanks to Amy Waldron (a classmate from KU) for pointing out this interview with Simon Carrington, featuring a discussion of Tallis’ “Spem in Alium.”

Simon tells the story of that 1997 tour to England.  I was on that tour, and sang bass in Choir Two.  That performance under the Salisbury spire will live with me to the grave.

And Simon tells of giving Nick Maurice a signed copy of the score.  Well, that was initially my doing.  We were singing an Evensong at Magdalen College, Oxford, and after lunch in Hall, we had some free time.  I trotted down to Blackwells to look for some Herbert Howells scores, and saw the Tallis score.  I bought two copies — one for me, and one to give to Nick.  The rest of the story is Simon’s to tell.  (I did purchase a bunch of HH scores too!)

We sang the Tallis at several venues:  in the chapel at Marlborough College, at Salisbury, at Magdalen College in the ante-chapel after Evensong, and I think at St. John’s Church in London.  My voice isn’t the same, but I’d love to sing this again one more time.

Here’s the video of the KU Chamber Choir singing the Tallis at Salisbury Cathedral. I am the fifth person from the right.

25 years ago

Twenty-five years ago today I flew home from my first-ever trip to England.  I’d been there with the Mixed Choir from Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City.  We were on tour singing from Edinburgh to London’s Westminster Abbey.

Reminiscences and from my journal:

Here’s some of that music that still sends me into tears:

And the entirety of that Vaughan Williams anthem, sung at the Abbey by their choir:

Watching this, I burst into tears at that climactic A5 from the boys, and that last chord, and the memory of such wonders as the gift of singing this feet from the grave of the composer, in the company of dear people from my home parish.

A photo from that last day at the Abbey, in the Abbey garden: