Tuesday, November 27, 2007
My Two Ellas
My love for standards was ignited by Ella Fitzgerald. When I first sought out music to call my own, I gravitated to the singer-songwriters. In my youthful self-righteousness I declared them the avatars of emotional sincerity and depth. You want phony? Then try my father’s music. Sinatra, Dean Martin, all those Vegas types. YECCCH!
I bought my first Fitzgerald songbook my junior year in college. I was astounded at the beauty of the lyrics of Rodgers and Hart, and in Ella’s interpretation of them. Now, all these years later, I have a dog named after her.
Like Ella Fitzgerald, this dog is graceful. You should hear her rhythmic clitter-clatter as she glides across our wood floors! I’ve read that Fitzgerald had a little-girl quality about her and here, too, my dog connects with the legend. She is so bright and enthusiastic—Ella is always looking to play.
I won’t discuss scat, because that connection should be apparent.
Let’s see—how else are these two Ellas alike? Well, the singer was a lonely woman—married only once, and that for a short time. (I think this longing really gives her singing much of its power.) One only has to release my Ella from her crate to appreciate how lonely she gets.
The main thing these two Ellas share is the ability to touch my heart. I love both of them deeply. Ella Fitzgerald was the First Lady of Song and my Ella—well, she’ll be my top dog and First Canine Lady for years hence.
You can’t take that away from me!
My heartfelt thanks go out to Julie Zickefoose, a woman with a key eye for beauty in the natural and musical world, and her very own musical, stuffed babeh-killing terrier.