In 1935, Cole Porter wrote a song called “Begin the Beguine.” It was not very popular, even with Josephine Baker dancing to it in the 1936 Ziegfield Follies. Around this same time, Artie Shaw and his band were struggling along, trying to find their groove among the many popular big bands crowding dance halls and radio air waves. Shaw and his band decided to record their version of Porter’s song; RCA Victor wasn’t as sure about it as Shaw, so they put it on the “B” side of the band’s recording of “Indian Love Call.”
Artie Shaw persisted and “Begin the Beguine” eventually sky-rocketed he and his band to fame. The song’s sound became synonymous with the “Swing” era.
Listen for yourself. It’s no “Indian Love Call.”
Since Shaw made “Begin the Beguine” popular, it has been performed and recorded by a “Who’s Who” of artists and achieved a musical critical mass. Cole Porter and Artie Shaw were both musical innovators of their time, dedicated to a musical vision. I can listen to “Begin the Beguine” over and over and over and never get tired of it. Never.
What was the point of this long, swingin’ segue?
Oh! The song was on the radio when I got home from taking a walk around town last night, that’s all. When I heard the familiar introduction, the sharp horn toots and the smooth clarinet twirls, I thought to myself “Begin the Beguine. I love that song. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about beginnings.”
Like any novice writer, I put the song title into a search engine and read a little bit about Cole Porter and Artie Shaw. Surprised, too, that someone as talented as Artie Shaw was ever floundering around, trying to find a groove for his band. I could identify with uncertainty and a certain “groovelessness.”
I finally made up my mind, though, and I decided to buy a house. It’s a big house with a big yard, big enough for most of my gardening visions.
As is my blogging habit, I’ll probably write a few more stories about how I reached my decision, rich with long dark walks, uncertainty, and stops at old Slovak gravestones.
No burning bushes, though. Just pineapples.