Out In The Be-Bop 1930s Night-It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Ain’t Got That Swing- Benny Goodman At Carnegie Hall-1938- A CD Review
Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Benny Goodman his band performing, well, performing swing music, what else.
Benny Goodman At Carnegie Hall-1938, Benny Goodman and his 1938 version band, Columbia Records, Sony Music, 1999
“Did you hear it, did you hear? Benny Goodman and his band, the king of swing himself, is coming to the Olde Saco Ballroom next month for two nights only,” shouted Delores LeBlanc to Betty La Croix over the hum of the separating machine that she was tending at the MacAdams Textile Mill. The central building over on Main Street (really U.S. Route One but everybody calls it Main Street and calls it that even to strangers looking for directions to Kennebunkport or going north up Portland way) not the smaller complex by the Olde Saco River which is slated to be closed soon for lack of work.
Betty, too proud, too female acting like a female quiet proud, too proper French-Canadian Catholic female to act like some “wrong side of the tracks” girl proud, to yell back over the drone of her own tended machine, just gave a gleeful nod. Delores continues over the drumbeat, “Let’s get tickets right away for both shows because after his concert last year down in New York at that Carnegie Hall the place will be packed and we don’t want to miss the event of 1939 and maybe the whole century here in old musty, fussy nothing ever happens except the river flows by Olde Saco. Once again Betty nodded, although not gleefully this time. Not gleefully at all.
The cause of that non-glee is, well, not to leave you all mixed-up and guessing, boy trouble, really man trouble. It seems that Betty (although she is just too proper and too female, well you know the drill already so I won’t go on) had the previous night had her fifteenth, no sixteenth, fight and never make-up with Delores’ brother Jean. And whether the year was 1039, 1539, or like now, 1939, the issue, to put it delicately, was sex. Or rather why Betty wanted to wait all the way until marriage, and not before, no way not before, to give in to one Jean Claude LeBlanc. Yes, Betty was a mother-can-be-proud proper French-Canadian Catholic, although in the heat of the moment a couple of times down at the Squaw Rock “parking “ end of Olde Saco Beach, a spot chosen by the local younger set for its position far from parental and police eyes she almost succumbed to Jean’s urgings.
Needless to say All-American boy, really all All-American French-Canadian boy and former star of the Olde Saco High football team, the one that beat Auburn for the state title a couple of years back, Jean Claude LeBlanc, was all for “doing the do” right now as a test run for marriage, or so that is how he presented it to Betty last Saturday (and many a previous Saturday night) down in those dunes of Olde Saco Beach as they watched old Neptune do his ocean magic. And Jean almost made the sale that night, except by the time Betty decided yes, she wasn’t in the mood any longer. At least she didn’t use the headache excuse. Jesus.
And what does all this eternal young love squabbling, good-looking sexed-up guy charging forth, nice girl holding back for dear life, post-drugstore soda for two listening to the latest tunes or old Bijou movie date, ending the night down at some forlorn beach and endless possibilities have to do with Benny Goodman. Benny Goodman, king of swing-ness, the be-bop night, and the possibilities of seeing said king in person. Well where have you been? How do you thing our boy Jean, champion football mover and persona non grata for life within ten miles of Auburn but a little bashful in the sex department when he came right down to it, tried to get one Betty La Croix in the mood. Take one guess. No, I will give you a hint-think clarinet, a heavenly deep beat-pacing, fingers snapping, clarinet that sets those drums a rolling, those trumpets blowing to Gabriel’s heaven, and sets those sexy saxes on fire to blow the walls of Jericho down. A little Body And Soul or Swing Time In The Mountains. Maybe Blue Skies. Get it.
But back to Betty and Jean, and Betty’s dilemma. Back right away because after Delores and Betty finish their conversation, or rather Delores finishes here monologue, here comes Jean down the aisle to Betty’s machine. He nods to Delores, the appropriate publicly polite brotherly greeting, although at home in the LeBlanc household over on Fourteenth Street in the “Little Quebec " section of town there is a daily war going on, and has been since, well, since Delores found out that she, with just a few hours work in the family’s sole bathroom, could set the guys stirring. Maybe since about fourteen. And did so, did spend those girlish work hours, to Jean’s intense displeasure when he needed to attend to his own toilet for some hot date, or the last couple of years, for Betty.
Standing, a little sheepishly, but also with just that certain touch of fox that attracted Betty to him in the first place, Jean lays his great scheme on one Betty La Croix. He will spring for the tickets to both of Benny Goodman’s shows if she will just make up with him. She hesitates, thinking back to that last Saturday and how Benny and the gang, via Jean’s car radio, the ocean swells, and Buddha Swings, got her almost in the mood to “do the do.” Finally, Betty looked over at Delores and gave her that kind of “sorry I can’t go with you” look that Delores had learned to expect when Jean came anywhere with five feet of her. Delores, also thought, in her own publicly proper French-Canadian Catholic girl devilish thought, that Betty was not going to be able to withstand two nights of Benny swing, Jean ardor and Olde Saco ocean swell. But, damn, that’s her problem. Delores, never a social glum (at least since that fourteen and set guys stirring revelation) wondered to herself if that dreamy Jean Jacques La Croix (yes, Betty’s brother) was going? For him (with promise of be-bop Benny in the background) she might check those ocean swells out too.