One thinks of American popular music as a recent phenomena – that there were no major songwriters until Bob Dylan – or if one has a sense of 20th century history perhaps Gershwin, Porter – those stalwarts of the 20’s 30’s. In fact there were runaway successes before the invention of recorded music. Thanks to unenforced copyright laws these writers never become rich, merely famous, and by now mostly forgotten.
Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna!” was a wild-fire sheet music success in 1848. Perhaps you’ve heard of the song but not the composer. Amongst his amazing work is Camptown Races; Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair; Beautiful Dreamer. He was “the most famous songwriter of the nineteenth century.” He died penniless at the age of 37. 37!
In my early teens my Dad bought the family an electric organ on which I learned to play a few tunes including Beautiful Dreamer. Out of that memory I became a little obsessed with Foster’s work some decades ago because of my love of lost history. Yet finding collections of his work wasn’t easy. Even harder was to find a plain version: one with just voice & piano. I never did find that 😦
But I do have (as a stand alone) Thomas Hampson’s: American Dreamer: set to simple fiddle & guitar this is a folksy, warm recording, though Hampson’s voice is a little too professional for me. On an mp3 collection I have have the Robert Shaw Coral’s Foster Song Book – a little too reverential but sweet. In the same collection is Nelson Eddy: Sings Stephen Foster – this is a wow of a set by the stage & film star. Big voice, again, too professional mind you, but man, he tackles Foster full-force with an attention to accent that verges on verbal black-face, as many of the songs were written for minstrel shows.
What I’d really love to find someday is a set done by some untrained slightly tipsy, barroom, baritones & sopranos. These are songs that call for fun not for stuffy dusty classical treatment.
Also, in the name of fun, on this mp3 collection I’ve included lots of Fred Astaire: classic film singing; various versions of Hearts & Flowers – the sentimental cliche piece that shows up in silent movies; Romantic Waltzes: a compilation of sweetly sappy stuff like ‘When I Fall In Love’; Jonathan & Darlene Edwards: Greatest Hits – their merciless reconstruction destruction of things like April In Paris, I Am Woman make me cry with laughter. Check them out on YouTube you won’t be sorry. Finally some Peter Sellers – from his 4 cd box set A Celebration, I took his reconstructions of the Beatles – he does things to She Loves You that are wildly unexpected & worth tracking down.
They walked along to St. Hubert up to St.Catherine Street after the meal. The streets were active.
“Do people ever stop eating in this city?” Mike asked.
“But that is why they come here. To eat, to fill the soul with food and then with each other. A vacation for the senses.”
“A step out of their lives.”
His trips with Patrick rarely went beyond the hotel room they shared. Patrick had his movies to see, interviews to do, and parties. All within the sheltered arena of star power. He couldn’t remember enjoying this much of another city.
“You are thinking of your friend?”
“Yes. The one you have left?”
“Sort of. I might as well tell you about …”
“No … I do not need to know. Please. Let us live without a past for now. Tomorrow we might exchange photos.”
“Yes. That is what I like to call our past, the little glimpses we might share. Photos.”
“More like scar tissue.”
“Tut tut. Too much thinking.”
They approached a pair of empty ‘a louer’ shops. Robert pushed Mike into the open recess of the first. It was dark, damp.
“You must have me now.”
He kissed Mike. Pressed him hard against the wall. Mike pushed his hands under Robert’s shirt. The flesh was warm, sweaty. Robert’s hard bulge pushed into his. He worked one hand into Robert’s shorts and squeezed the slick head.
Robert undid his fly and the head came out into the night air. He urged Mike down. The ground was rough under Mike’s knees. Bits of broken glass and wet newspaper. People passed by.
Robert’s cock jammed into his mouth. Robert moaned as he fucked the cock in and out with short and then deeper thrusts. With each trust Mike found himself able take a bit more of the thick shaft. He wanted more of it each time, he wanted to slow Robert down so he could respond.
Robert leaned back, took his hand off Mike’s head.
“I am glad you shaved.”
Mike took that moment to tongue Robert’s cock. Robert gasped and pulled his cock out. Mike fought to get it back, but Robert held him off. Three thick blasts of come spattered out. Hot, gooey sperm that landed on Mike’s head. It tingled.
Robert’s cock softened instantly and he put it back in his pants and zipped. He wiped the sperm off Mike head with his T-shirt before he let Mike stand.
“This might help it grow back.”
They continued down the street.
“I am sorry but I couldn’t wait.”
“Neither could I. I’ve never done it in public. Almost came myself.”
“A dessert for me. Perhaps you might like to serve it.”
“Let me catch my breath.”
Mike wasn’t used to someone so eager for him, for sex with him. Sex with Patrick was energetic but they both knew when and what to expect from each other. This was something very new, different.
They stopped at the corner of Montcalm and St Catherine.
“Shall we stop for a coffee? Or perhaps a drink in one of the bars.”
“A beer would be perfect. And a pissoir.”
They found a table on the second floor back patio at La Boite de Village. Music from the dance floor seeped out but didn’t deafen. This was another thing Mike hadn’t done much on his travels. See local gay establishments. The music made him restless. He felt eyes on him and Robert. Was it so strange for a black man to be with his white lover? Or was strange for such a handsome man to be with such an unattractive one?
A waiter set a pitcher of draft and two tall glasses on the table.
“Mercie.” Robert tipped him and then pouredÛ a glass for each of them. “Sault.”
“A votre sante.”
“You have been here before?”
“A few times. It is a most sexy bar. Very popular with the locals as opposed to the tourists. If you don’t speak a little French you are cut dead. I have seen it happen.”
“Then you must get the best service.”
“Mike! Mike is that you? What the fuck! This is the last place I expected to run across you. When you weren’t at the … oh sorry. Thought you were on you own.”
“Patrick this is Robert Etang.”
“Most excellent. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Robert shook Patrick’s hand. “And this is …” he nodded to the man behind Patrick.
“Oh sorry. This is Jay,’ He put an arm around Jay and kissed him on the cheek. “Jay Fisher this is Mike Poole and Robert …”
“Hi. Some storm we had earlier.”
“Yes.” Mike looked from Robert to Patrick to Jay.
“We were lucky to be making love when it struck.” Robert smiled. “Even though we were dry we got wet.”
“I’m glad you are enjoying yourself Mike. I was afraid that after …”
“Patrick, life goes on.”
“As I can tell. Are staying till the end of the week?”
“That’s what I planned. Enjoying the films Jay?”
“The movie was fine.”
“We gotta run Mike. Another party to get to. Call me.”
They were gone as suddenly as they had arrived.
“Sorry about that.”
“This is the scar tissue you mentioned.”
“No scar tissue, thanks to you.”
“Ah the magic has begun. I knew it would.”
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HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam
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