Song for my Fathers

Song for my Fathers

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by Tom Sancton
     
 

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 Song for My Fathers is the story of a young white boy driven by a
consuming passion to learn the music and ways of a group of aging
black jazzmen in the twilight years of the segregation era.
Contemporaries of Louis Armstrong, most of them had played in local
obscurity until Preservation Hall launched a nationwide revival of
interest in

Overview

 Song for My Fathers is the story of a young white boy driven by a
consuming passion to learn the music and ways of a group of aging
black jazzmen in the twilight years of the segregation era.
Contemporaries of Louis Armstrong, most of them had played in local
obscurity until Preservation Hall launched a nationwide revival of
interest in traditional jazz. They called themselves “the mens.” And
they welcomed the young apprentice into their ranks.
   The boy was introduced into this remarkable fellowship by his
father, an eccentric Southern liberal and failed novelist whose powerful
articles on race had made him one of the most effective polemicists
of the early Civil Rights movement. Nurtured on his father’s belief in
racial equality, the aspiring clarinetist embraced the old musicians
with a boundless love and admiration. The narrative unfolds against
the vivid backdrop of New Orleans in the 1950s and ‘60s. But that
magical place is more than decor; it is perhaps the central player, for
this story could not have taken place in any other city in the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590513897
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
04/20/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
721,397
File size:
4 MB

Read an Excerpt

They buried Papa Celestin on a raw winter day. It was early in the morning
when the mourners started arriving at the funeral home on Louisiana Avenue.
By noon, five thousand people and two brass bands jammed the broad two-lane
thoroughfare outside, waiting to take the great trumpeter on his last ride. Two
dozen motorcycle cops revved their engines, preparing to escort the cortege—
and ready to deal with any violence if things got out of hand.
   Inside the crowded funeral parlor, black friends and relatives of the fallen
jazzman mingled with his many white admirers—among them, the mayor, a
congressman, prominent businessmen, lawyers, university professors, socialites,
writers, journalists. There were few places in New Orleans where the races could
gather under one roof in those Jim Crow days: segregation was the law of the
land in Louisiana. But they made an exception for Papa Celestin. Apart from
Louis Armstrong, perhaps, he was the closest thing to a local hero that the city
could claim. President Eisenhower had even honored him at the White House
and told him he was “a credit to his race.”
   I was five years old and knew nothing about Papa Celestin. But there I was in
the middle of the pressing crowd, bundled up against the December wind and
clutching my mother’s hand. Nearby, my father hovered protectively over my
sisters, Wendy, nine, and Beth, eight. Mother had questioned the wisdom of
bringing us here, but my father had insisted. “In New Orleans,” he said, “a jazz
funeral is a cultural event. These kids will be telling their grandchildren about
the day they buried the great Papa Celestin.”

Meet the Author

Tom Sancton graduated from Harvard in 1971 and attended Oxford as a
Rhodes scholar. He is a former senior editor for Time and a contributor to such
publications as Vanity Fair, Fortune, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal.
He coauthored the international best seller Death of a Princess: The
Investigation and authored the novel The Armageddon Project. A jazz performer
in his own right, Sancton has toured extensively in Europe and has recorded
more than a dozen albums, appearing alongside Woody Allen in the feature
film Wild Man Blues. In 2007, Sancton was named Andrew W. Mellon Professor in
the Humanities at Tulane University, where he continues to teach advanced
courses in creative writing.

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Song for my Fathers 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
NC_Cook More than 1 year ago
I grew up near New Orleans, so I already new a lot about the city. This book provides a unique view of the city that I hadn't thought of because I'm a good bit younger than the author. I love New Orleans and no other city in the US comes close to its musical heritage. This book is a fun read for anyone interested in N.O.