Russell Baker used to write essays fro the New York Times. This was a long time ago, but I remember looking forward to them every Sunday, where they appeared on the last page of the magazine. You might describe his style as bemused, sort of a thinking person's Andy Rooney. In one column I'll never forget, he took the common cold to a pixilated, almost magical place. He captured an elusive spaciness that may have been inspired by, at least in part, medication. I like to think his mild case of elevated consciousness was a consolation prize for feeling rheumy.
His reverie took him somewhere near the outer reaches of the galaxy, where he may or may not have seen Neil Degrasse Tyson sail by in his Ship of the Imagination. All of this to say that it's April and the mild cold I have is sadly lacking in whimsy. Just an endless drizzle outside my window while the nasal fountain flows prodigiously and the promise of cruelty, delivered by Shakespeare long ago, is fulfilled.
I won't take this lying down, not more than 20 hours a day, anyway — something must be done! Calling Count Basie and his magnificently uplifting arrangement of April in Paris. If you can't penetrate the funk induced by the common cold with this song, run, don't walk, to the nearest urgent care facility.
I first heard this song on the jukebox at Tony's in Walker's point. Tony was around when The Count was alive and swingin' and didn't mind at all when we came in after a rehearsal and hit that number repeatedly. (In later years, I'm sad to say, he was glued to Fox News.)
With it's repeated coda and ecstatic sense of moment, it is suitable for conquering April, or really, any month, and it's attendant problems. Written by Vernon Duke and E. Y. Harburg (the same Yip Harburg responsible for lyrics in The Wizard Of Oz), the April it evokes is definitely not the one we know here in Milwaukee. It's full on Gay Paree, viewed through the rosiest American lens available and swung like a nine-pound hammer by one of the greats of the jazz era.
Cold, you are banished... at least temporarily!