Sunday, February 7, 2010

Take the A

Little clip, under three minutes, on the BBC website:
It's the kind of "ain't-that-funny" thing that makes for newspaper column-fillers. Here, predictably, the Beeb does it to perfection.

The Eighth Avenue Subway, the A-C-E line, is one of the self-imposed tasks every tourist to New York undertakes, along with the Empire State and the Brooklyn Bridge. First timers inevitably get the express when they need the local. And why not? Take the rough with the very rough, even if it's only the well-worn section between Columbus Circle and Washington Square.

Would the train be so iconic without Billy Strayhorn's tune? Probably not. There's a decent history of the piece on wikipedia, allowing Malcolm to sit that one out.

Better still is Brooke Gladstone's NPR feature on Strayhorn:
Take the A Train ... became part of the national soundtrack, the sound of urbanity, of swing, Ellington's leitmotif.
So, as we force Malcolm back to his chores, back to the carpet-cleaning and furniture removal, let him relish the real thing. It works. It swings. It rocks. It doesn't matter if it's the trio:

Or the full shebang, with Ray Nance:

The Ella version is there, too (compiled by someone who knew more about music than the MTA: those locomotives are pretty heterodox):

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