Upbeat

The peal of the brass instruments of a New Orleans marching band echoes in my mind, the melody line of the trumpet notes sometimes jagged, like a stifled sob, above the bass notes of the trombone – while a Sousaphone marks the slow rhythm.

The band plays the Gospel song, ‘Just a Closer Walk with Thee’, and it leads a funeral procession. Mrs Llew is watching the first episode of a TV series, called Treme, about New Orleans and its residents. But the music takes me back to Chelsea again, the Kings Road of 50 years ago. I have written before of my first encounter with her there, in the jazz club at the Six Bells, by Oakley Street, which runs down to the Thames.

The band does its best to perform a correct slow march but finds itself swaying to the beat, livening the rhythm. Lovers of this musical tradition will remember that at some point these funeral bands resorted to the life affirming, upbeat march ‘Didn’t he ramble’ …. The message being: ‘he’s gone but he lived – and how!’

There are many themes in this blog. I shall continue to explore them. But I trust they will all come together one day in a great resolution for all of us:

‘When my feeble life is o’er,/ Time for me will be no more;/ Guide me gently, safely o’er/ To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.’

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