The Fireside – Lady Sings the Blues

I almost didn’t come out tonight. It was a little later than I would have liked, at the end of a busy day. I stood in the kitchen and looked out at the fire pit, considering my options. Everyday is a busy day, so that isn’t much of an excuse. I could sit on the couch and stare blankly at the interwebz for the next hour or so. Maybe watch something on tv. But frankly, none of that seemed particularly appealing. I considered the effort required to start a fire. It seemed relatively minimal. Put wood in pit, apply fire. And then chill. Easy enough. I picked up the Bose Mini Sound Dock, a sweater and stepped out the back door.

When I got to the shed, I was met with the fact that I was perilously low on kindling wood. Drag. I again considered my options. That was when I spied my Ontario SP50 woods knife, used for splitting small logs, carefully sheathed and hanging on its assigned hook. I picked up a few small pieces that I knew would split easily, and got to work.

And now, staring at my carefully constructed log cabin of crackling fire, I’m pretty pleased with my choices. The last time I sat out by the fire I had a devil of a time picking the music. That night, as I struggled to find the perfect music to back my evening fire, the fire itself struggled to stay alight. Tonight is different. With the fire contentedly crackling away, Billie Holiday sings the blues.

I’ve loved Billie’s voice for as long as I’ve loved jazz. There have been so many tremendously talented female jazz singers, but Billie stands out in a class all her own. An effortless voice, as smooth as velvet, singing of heartbreak, love lost, or perhaps better days. The easy tone of her voice a gentle contradiction to the tough as nails woman underneath.

Generally speaking I don’t have a lot of jazz singers in my collection, but I make room for a few notable exceptions. Billie Holiday is at the top of that list. After so much time away from her music, I find myself again drawn in to these sounds from long ago that conjure up images of bands playing smoky jazz clubs filled with people dressed in their best, eagerly listening to the songs they love. Perhaps not a simpler time, just a different one. I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era.

As much as I was initially hesitant to come out tonight, I’m not ready to go in. Almost as though it is reading my mind, the fire is hanging on as well. The last logs catch in an effort to stay alive, not quite ready to give up. I appreciate the effort, but the hour is getting late, and the new day is coming soon. Much in the way that I never regret putting on one of Billie’s records, I never regret making time to come out and sit by the fire.

Embraceable You comes through the speakers as the fire slowly peters out. One of my favorites. The remaining blue flames peeking out from between the smoldering embers tell me it’s time to turn in. Tomorrow will be another busy day. Time to put a quiet end to this one.

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