“Body and Soul” is a 1930’s jazz standard by Heyman, Sour, Eyton and Green. The music is stunningly beautiful to me, and the lyrics create one of the few pining love songs that I really enjoy. And though I am not a woman who likes to sit and remember, this is a song that tugs hard on memories in a way I enjoy.
“My heart is sad and lonely,” is where the lyrics kick off and it gets deeper and more painful from there. This week I feel that. My heart is sad and lonely. Again. As usual.
And again, as usual, I wonder what to do about it.
I don’t have any new answers this time around, so I have found myself, uncomfortably, trying to feel which of my old answers are true. No verdicts yet. I suspect I’ll be hearing the cases for some time. One of which is this song.
Childhood memories aren’t my warm fuzzy go to, but recalling small ensemble rehearsals in my high school band room can make me glow. One chord of this song can take me right there. I can see the page in my fake book and remember: how I could feel the presence of the jazz ensemble around me, even in silence, without seeing them; how the choral director would jam on the piano when he (thought he) had the rehearsal room to myself; that I once called up a boy and sang “Lush Life” to him. Then the poetry makes me wonder why it’s such a struggle for me to imagine one human meaning all the glorious, aching weight of this song to me. How am I not convinced that’s what I want? Why isn’t all the falling-apart world talking about other choices?
I have never performed “Body and Soul.” Lots of reasons. But when I first met the song, on the way to Boplicity in the fake book, I was intimidated by the chord changes and the key. Yet, as in life, the elements that make the music uncomfortable or challenging to play are the same elements that give it depth and power. I could play it now –I sing it often– not because I’m so much more talented, but because I’m less self-conscious, more forgiving of my mistakes, and I’m more practised.
Perhaps I like this song because of all the lessons it has for me: meeting the hard thing half way – get better at it, and better at accepting that it’s difficult. Pin your heart to your sleeve, the ache and the bleeding are part of the journey. And at the end of the song, there’s a resolution, but no promise of a happy ending.