I STILL HATE JAZZ, BUT MEL TORME CHANGED MY LIFE


“Don’t let this miracle melt away”  by Mel Tormé

My partner in adventure, Judy, dragging me to the precipice

We went snowtubing Friday night though every ounce of my body didn’t want to go.  I had been sick, I feared injuring my shoulder more, and it was too much effort to coordinate finding the six people we could bring on the one Groupon pass that was set to expire that night.  If I did go, I preferred not to tube myself; I anticipated hanging in the lounge with a hot chocolate.

I’d told Leisa the gig was off before she headed to school and I headed back to bed.  Then the chant I personally crafted broke through the haze only a miserable head cold can bring even while my eyeballs threatened to shoot themselves out of my head and across the hardwood floor with every pulsing beat.  “Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé.”  I took a shower at 11:30 am.  Felt a little better.  Only one friend (Judy, my partner in adventures for decades) had been available to go.  I postponed canceling on her and took an aspirin.  “Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé”.  I’d never been snowtubing at an official snowtube park, and my husband who was working had in fact paid for this opportunity, and it’s not our nature to waste money.  “Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé.”

“You Better Love Me While You May”  by Mel Tormé  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHRS7Q6Ymhg

So how did the Velvet Fog break through my flu fog?  In 1999, Mel Tormé came to perform at the Collins Center for Performing Arts in Andover, MA.  He is my mother’s favorite and could be seen so close to my home in North Andover.  I bought tickets and brought her.  (This was pretty “big” of me because I don’t like jazz, and I especially hate the jazz that takes a song you’d really like to hear and makes it recognizable for such a brief amount of time, that it just succeeds in letting you know what you’re missing.)  During the show he said he felt a little under the weather, but performed like a trooper.  A star trooper.  Just a wonderful voice that even I appreciated, despite the “doobie doos”.  After the show, my mother wanted to check out his tour bus with a goal of meeting him.  I, a self-proclaimed chicken, rule follower, shy person, couldn’t muster the nerve to go, and we left.  A few short weeks later, he died.  My mother’s only chance to realize her dream was gone, and I ruined it.

Lisa, Karen, and me in Kauai 2005

That sort of thing sticks with a girl and since that time, I’ve vowed that if I ever get a chance of a lifetime either for myself or someone I am with, I will take it.  “Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé”.  This vow steeled me to announce I was going to Hawaii when a dear friend offered me a free trip, with only a couple of days notice though I had less vacation time available than the trip would cover.  Do you know my first inclination was to say I couldn’t go, because of work?

It emboldened me to be a pushy stage aunt, when I found a way to get my nieces a meeting with Selena Gomez.  I told them the Mel Tormé story before crashing the event when I technically only had a ticket for each of them, but we wormed our way up front and fanagled an extra photo-op with her directly when the body guards said “no way”.  Selena by the way, is the most lovely gracious lady.

Selena and the girls 2010

Finally faced with the comfortable choice of hanging on the couch with tea, or pushing myself and turning a bad day into a party, I jumped into action.  Cleaned the house, pounced on Leisa when she got off the bus to call a few friends and called some of my own.  I put Leisa on cookies-from-scratch duty, we had to serve guests something and I hadn’t any time to shop. Ultimately eight of us, including Leisa, my nieces and one of their friends, and four adults made it to Amesbury Sports Park, hours later than expected, and stayed til close.  We laughed, froze our butts off, and I nearly crashed through the end enclosure when my heel dragging failed to slow my high velocity.  I have enough rubber worn off my boots to prove I was trying to stop, desperately.

And when James shouted “YOLO” before crashing a private party in the lodge for a dance with my nieces, I asked what he meant.  YOLO is “You Only Live Once”, their version of “Mel Tormé”, and while I hope in the future it inspires them to do more than ask a random girl for a French fry or attach themselves to another group‘s tube caravan, those are great starts.  YOLO, Mel Tormé, YOLO.

Chillin' w/ my girls 2012

©2012 by Alison Colby Campbell

11 responses to “I STILL HATE JAZZ, BUT MEL TORME CHANGED MY LIFE

  1. Great stroy, Alison, and an excellent guiding principle. But hating jazz is like hating oxygen. Good jazz, anyway. Send me your address in email, and I’ll send you something that might change your mind about jazz!

  2. Casey, so many people have tried…and I actually believe the smartest people love jazz and I should try again just to give the impression of being smart, but it never works. I will however send you my address under separate cover, it could be a chance of a lifetime, again! And for the record, I am very partial to oxygen.

  3. Great story Alison ! But lets face it you are a music snob I laid out some of the best Jazz today for you and If I remember right to quote you ” it puts me to sleep “. 😀

    • Not a snob Bob, I continue to try to “get” it and just don’t. I wish I did, I think it’s something lacking in me that likes more order than jazz offers, and the fact taht people don’t ever play it the same way twice is not a plus in my nice little ordered world.

  4. I’m not a huge Mel Torme fan either, but he was hilarious on his cameos on Night Court, and it’s cool his ghost continues to encourage spontaneity.

    Notwithstanding your summary dis of Bob’s favorite music, there’s a gazillion styles of jazz; Thelonious Monk isn’t Miles Davis isn’t Lyle Mays. Nobody likes them all. Why not start slow, say Dave Brubeck? Very comfortable like an old pair of jeans. Otherwise I’d recommend “Kind of Blue” as easily the most seminal album of the 20th century, but I’m afraid their groundbreaking use of polyrhythms and modal improvisation would just put you to sleep.

  5. Respectfully, I think the idea of sending jazz to someone been exposed to it numerous times and does not like it, with the hopes of “converting” them is a little presumptuous. However, in the spirit of “going along to get along”, let me say the following:

    I hate money. I especially hate it in large bills. 🙂

  6. Erik, I listened and was mildly entertained for a while but when I saw Stomp banging and clapping and stomping to create their own percussion, I was more impressed. So what makes that jazz when stomp is not,

  7. Loved your life lesson here. So true!
    I was wondering if you only hate “real jazz,” or also blues or “lite jazz?” Real jazz is such a cacophony of sound. But I love that mellow, saxy jazz. I also enjoy scatting and blues. Is the whole genre “out” for you?

    • I love the blues….have albums and collections of the stuff, it’s just that stuff that sounds like it’s being weird just to be weird. I don’t like that jazz stuff like Kenny G too monotonous for me which is funny cuz I hate the stuff that mixes it up too much, Do you remember the old jazz station in Boston at all (you may have been living in MA at the time, that put me to sleep too….too many soft saxaphones. I also am not a great fan of snare drums too chinese restaurant lounge-ish for me.

  8. Pingback: Super Moonstruck | Brain4rent's Blog

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