Just over a week ago, I finally saw in its entirety & on the big screen “New York, New York” (1977) as part of BAM’s Martin Scorsese/Raoul Walsh film series. Basically, I want to see any movie about or set in this big, juicy apple of a city, but didn’t expect to be so moved by this particular film, despite being a musician & wanting to see the “birth” of Kander & Ebb‘s theme “New York, New York.” Robert De Niro was terrific, Liza shone, the music swung. Loved it.
In the part of the story where their characters Francine (a singer) & Jimmy (a sax player) tour together with the Frankie Harte Orchestra, the band travels on a school bus. Scenes take place in the bus as they talk through the night, muse music, & try to catch some shut eye. I couldn’t help but think of my brother’s early days in the 1990s touring with the band he’s still in – they, too, traveled in an old school bus, & even took turns driving it in the beginning.
The movie scenes on the bus rolling through the night to the next town’s gig, & remembering my brother’s stories of his turns driving their bus seemed so… well, exciting & romantic. While I can’t imagine the fatigue & discomfort of not sleeping in a real bed night after night, the thought of movin’ on while doing what you love tugged at my imagination. My brother’s group eventually was able to hire professional tour buses lined with bunks, a back lounge room & drivers to take them to their next venue. It certainly wasn’t an easy life &, like the band in the movie, they sometimes played dumps, sometimes the big theaters. But what a lifestyle. What a life.
It was raining that Wednesday night after the movie & we left the theater & walked – then ran – for the car blocks away. I still had to stop & take pictures of the beautiful buildings & images along the wet, Fort Greene, Brooklyn streets.
Somebody loses, and somebody wins
One day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins
And world goes round and round…
Cut to 4 days later, last Sunday: founding member 30 years ago & frontman since of my brother’s band died unexpectedly, at 50 years old. They had recently returned from an amazing tour of Australia, followed by their first gigs ever in Japan. What milestones. They had seen & done so much, & were always planning more. The last time I saw them play & hung out with them afterwards at N.Y.C.’s Irving Plaza was probably one of the best shows & good times I can remember. They loved what they did. It showed.
Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn’t alter a thing
Take it from me, there’s still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a fall and a spring…
There’s a lot of ways we’re hard on ourselves when we feel we should, but don’t, set certain goals/resolutions, or don’t stick to the ones we do set. We each have our own life to live at our own pace, & the world spins & time passes despite what we do, or don’t. The past week+ though, experiencing & remembering these artists, scenes, music, drive, & this city altogether reminded me that all we have is the present. Now. That’s all there is. & wouldn’t it be great to be doing something we love… now?
(“But the World Goes Round” – Kander & Ebb, 1977)