The Next Evening - 9/29/91-
Obit of Miles by Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones, beat poet)
Someone called me and said you died, Miles. Yeh, that cold. Here in North America, with all the other bullshit we put up with. You know. I know you know. Knew. And still know, where ever you is.
I'm one of your children, actually, for all the smoke and ignorant mimmyjimmies...you know/ I can say that. I was one of your children/ you got a buncha children man, more than you probably dug on the serious side. Not innocent ass fans. But the school of the world you created from inside the world's head. You gotta buncha children brother.
I still am. Will be. In some important ways. For instance, I will never take no shit. Unless they are something I can feel. Like Aretha said. Something I can feel. You were that. I could feel you, I could be you when I was a little boy, up the street with the trumpet bag. I wanted to be in that music, I wanted to be that hip, that out, that whatever it was I felt you were. I wanted to be that. All my life.
What it was, was the place and the time. But it was you describing it with your feeling. For me that place was Newark, where we grew, and then here you come so hip. I could dig that I needed to be that, but more, I knew, I was that. I was with you in that fingering, that slick turn and hang of the whole self and horn. And the sound. I had never been in that place, there wasn't no such place in Newark, before.
I mean I never thought of the shit you made me think with GODCHILD.
I never thought of nothing before like VENUS De MILO. There was nothing in my life like that before you brother. And then the persona, what it all spelled. Yeh, I wanted to look like that. That green shirt and rolled up sleeves. on Milestones. That cap and seersucker on DIG I always wanted to look like that. And be able to play GREEN DOLPHIN STREET or AUTUMN LEAVES or WALKIN or BLUE HAZE or ROUND BOUT MIDNIGHT, or yeh yeh yeh yeh hey, even the mammyjammin
SURREY WITH THE FRINGE ON TOP, as whatever he wanted, as tiny lyric, or cooler than thou, hot pointillist funkmares, cubist, expressionist, impressionist, inhabiting your being into a plane of omniscient downness (dig that!)
It was the self of us all the way without anything but our saying, our breath, night times, or walking where we was. We could be whole and separate from any dumb shit. We could be the masters, the artist, the diggenist knowers, the suave, the new, the masters.
This is what art doos. Your voice, that out sharp growl. That was how art should dig itself to be talking. SO WHAT is probably a prayer in the future.
I held my horn like that, and rolled my body like an ark of music, just looking at things. The cool placement of emotion. The information. I carried that consciously. No one could put me down, I was Miles child. His man. somehow. anyway.
And then each change, stage, was a path I would walk. When I heard you as a little boy. Then went to see you. You was me alright. You was one of the few I could let be me.
Now some motherfucker wannta tell me you outta here. No. No. Miles.
Why. You left. So right away I figure none of the shit still here is cool. But dig, Dizzy and Max is still here. So that's the pain. And I know I dig you. I know I carry DR. JACKLE in my speech. And GODCHILD and
MILES AHEAD and KINDA BLUE and even Porgy and Bess, somethin Gershwin couldn't do.
Cause no one was that tender, that touching the where touch could ultimately is.
They taking all the Giants. You. Trane. Duke. Monk. Billie. Your whole band is dead, man. Paul. Philly Joe. Cannonball. John. Red. Your whole band. and what does that do to us, but leave us on the shore watching the waves, and trying to write music from that regular funk. But what it says is that our youth is gone. That we are the adult. What that? That you have it in yr hand now, to do. That if it will go, this life, this memory and history, this desire for freedom and a world family. That's its on you.
Like I dug, when Philly Joe hatted up. On us. If we are the ones. It is to be, something other than the savages and bush mens. Then we got to. The giants. Our father's and mothers. Sassy split last year. Monk. Count. LTD. If it is to go then we are the goers. The comers. In that whole sound and thought. That life that makes the blues. That makes the dark hip, the roll and rumble. yeh. Then if, all that long two hundred centuries of slick, is to be on bein. Then we are the only carriers. I could dig the way you walked and held that horn. That gorgeous chilling sweet sound. That's the music you wanted playing when you was
coming in a joint or just lookin up at the sky w/ yr baby by yo side.
That mixture of America and Remerica and them Changes, them blue Africa magic chants. So I am a carrier. I got the stick. I ain't stopping. If you, whoever else you tapped, then them too.
Headline the Giants are murdered. Then we got it. All of those who finally must dig, dont say it brother, truthe and beauty. But who am I talkin to if you split, Miles, Man, and what the fuck is there to listen to.
Except you did leave jabillion ultra hip notes, 70 billion swift blue cool phrases. And how many millions of unheard dig'its, them nasty nasty silences right in the middle of the shit. Bee-bee beep beeppp., ba dee da dee da...
So what about it, like they say in the
tradition, what about it, is Miles and the, John, Duke, Monk, Sassy all, the
giants, does it mean our shit is over with? I know about the records and shit.
I'm not talking about that. Does it mean, with the crazies vampin and now even
some things look like regular niggers can break out with bushy tongues. Where
before with your cool Boplicity in our heads it was somehow not only soft yet
sharp yet gentle but like a weapon against such square shit as most of the rest
of America is. That all of you giant figures that we emulate and listen to and
hear and visualize night after night inside our heads, from the nightclubs, the
concert halls, the bars, the records, the tv. ... is this, your death, like some
hideous omen of our own demise, and I mean everbody here, not just niggers,
cause if we go, this whole playhouse go up in smoke.
No, I mean either this death is the beginning of death in cut time, or it means that one earth has turned and another begun. One age, one era, one being. Listening to you now, and knowing that whole of change you went through, from life to life, from music to music, from revelation to revelation, even evolution can be dissolution or devolution.
But you was Bop when you got here, flyin w/ the human headed soul Ba, Bird, the doped up revolutionary. Next, you was Cool. It was like your own creation yet, of course, very Presidential. Then you got with Philly and them for the harder Bop and then got Ball, the Dis Heah and Dat Dere of we funky story. Then you sic'ed the straight out vision monster on us 'Trane, in that perfect wonderful all time classical hydrogen bomb and switch blade band. Let us all always be able to hear STRAIGHT NO CHASER anytime we want to. I know the last few years I heard you and saw you dressed up all purple and shit, it did scare me. All that loud ass rock and roll I wasnt in to most of it, but look brother I heard TUTU and HUMAN NATURE and D TRAIN. I heard you one night behind the Apollo for Z, and you was bashin like the you we knew, when you used to stand coiled like a blue note and play everything the world meant, and be in charge of the shit too. I'll always remember you like that Miles, and yr million children will too. With that messed up poppa stoppa voice, i know you looken up right now and say (growl)