Ain’t That A Bitch
Yoga Sutra 2.15: A wise one sees even pleasure as painful.
“I’m famous? Ain’t that a bitch.”-Thelonious Monk
The monk quote is from the first part of the documentary below.
Musically, I’ve attained insight in to Monk a number of ways; learning complete compositions, transcribing solos…but, I think the most success I’ve had in this is taking little snippets, phrases and licks, analyzing them and working out variations. If you look too close at the entirety, you can tend to lose the point.
I’ve resisted, until early this morning, watching this doc because of that perceived logic. The movie reflects the music in that you could drop in at any point and gain some insight because, Monk had unique, probably often misunderstood, very real insight.
There’s a spot where he’s playing on “‘Round Midnight”, smoking a cigarette, sweating steadily and he reaches in to his pocket, pulls out a handkerchief, puts the smoke in an ashtray and wipes the sweat from his cheek. All through it, he plays phrases around his peripheral action. The little tasks at hand become part of the performance and imrov composition. You would never know if you were listening without seeing.
I’ve heard that phrase “Ain’t that a bitch” (technically a question I suppose but, always seems more like a statement) used in two sorts of context.
One, in response to a negative development…
“I got fired from my job.”
Ain’t that a bitch…
And also, when the circumstance would generally be thought of as a positive…
“The promoter said he’s going to cover everyone’s bar tab.”
Ain’t that a bitch.
The second example, part of a dialog I had with a veteran bluesman after a gig at a 4 star resort, shows an interesting level of awareness.