Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jazz and Noir and Too Darn Hot

August came early this year, like nearly everything else.  Some like it hot, but not this hot.  There was nearly a week of record-breaking +100 temperatures, to be followed now by a week in the high nineties.  Too darn hot.

So that's what we're listening to:  Claire Martin's version of "Too Darn Hot."  Or Ella Fitzgerald's take on it.  We also like Jewell's up-tempo version, also jazzy, almost be-bop.

And other slow torch songs for sweltering nights ducking in and out of the blast.  The corn is high, but the grass is burning, the earth cracking, the garden forlorn and doomed.  You can't water it fast enough.  Creeks dry up and ponds recede.  Too early for this stuff.  Record hot and record itchy.  A seven-year itch?  No, a hundred-year itch.

If it is like this now, what are the dog days going to be like?

Jimmy Rodger's version of "The Long Hot Summer."  Julie London.  Diana Krall.  Etta James.  Peggy Lee.  Dinah Washington.  Tina Turner.  The late Donna Summer.  Hot, hot, hot, hot--stuh...ufff.  Hot, hot, hot, hot.

The only suitable entertainment is comedy or noir, one release or the other, take your pick.  Only jazz can express the full measure of this tension, this angst.

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen.  You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

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