Sadness has descended on this office once again: Bobby Short, saloon singer extraordinaire, singer of saloon songs, saloon singer, the most high, is dead.
There is a peculiar annoyance that those who live in NYC and love NYC and those that love NYC who do not live in NYC can share intimately: the loathing of Woody Allen's particular version of the island of Manhattan. Mr. Short, of course, appears in a few occasions in WA’s version.
Nevertheless, if you ever had the chance to squat in that small room at The Carlyle during one of Mr. Short's performances, you would know that his presence, his manner, and his style were things grander than Woody's simple sentimentality.
I can imagine at least two types of obituaries: the one that reminds one of what has been lost, and the one that informs one of what one never knew. The obitiuaries that I read today reminded me only of what has been lost.
I can just now hear Mr. Short's sad soulful rendition of "Bye Bye Blackbird" - it is beautiful; it is one of the saddest songs that I know. Not quite so much like Nina Simone’s broken version. Nor quite like the Miles/Coltrane version, in its virtuosity. No, his offers a much more soulful sense of loss. His offers a sense of loss that is a sense that no one occasion is for the first nor the last time that one will feel a loss, that the sense of loss is ever present, that loss is ever happening; the sense of the lost ‘thing’ is a self-same sense of wondering what it is that has been lost – what was it and how was it lost at all?
Inconsolably, bye bye blackbird......