Friday, April 26, 2024

the last book I ever read (Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong, excerpt five)

from Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong:

The funerals in New Orleans are sad until the body is finally lowered into the grave and the Reverend says, “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” After the brother was six feet under ground the bad would strike up one of those good old tunes like Didn’t He Ramble, and all the people would leave their worried behind. Particularly when King Oliver blew that last chorus in high register.

Once the band starts, everybody starts swaying from one side of the street to the other, especially those who drop in and follow the ones who have been to the funeral. These people are known as “the second line” and they may be anyone passing along the street who wants to hear the music. The spirit hits them and they follow along to see what’s happening. Some follow only a few blocks, but others follow the band until the whole affair is over.

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