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The Business of 'Trane

Gordon Marshall By

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Carlos Santana turned me on to him

in an article in Guitar Player magazine

I read at the Hingham library,

at 14: spiritual center

of his Baja brain,

and mine now,

for 35 years,

in Boston, in the rain

after a storm...

the storm—it lasted years,

years when I couldn't listen to the fellow,

so powerful his song,

so powerful the memories of loss

and pain, in those early years

I first discovered him

in the basement of the Hingham library:

they had a holding of maybe 20

of his records,

spanning his career;

I chose Sun Ship,

posthumous release

with a colorful photo of him

proudly playing his soprano saxophone

point blank

the year is what struck me: '67

the year that rock had blown,

summer of love and all that;

I figured maybe 'Trane

had absorbed a bit

of the psychedelic sounds

bouncing around, from San Francisco

to Abbey Road:

I listened—or tried to

"gobbledy gook—gobbledy gook..."

is all I heard, up and down

his saxophone—too much

I figured this was a late-career mistake

like so many artists make,

and tried again, with Coltrane

Plays the Blues, Atlantic,

'59, eight years earlier

this was more to my taste

the longing and the dark modal

sweetness, the heavy blues

beat, smooth as a walk

down the street,

or a night in my shady bedroom

with a woman I might meet...

it kept itself in my memory

like a lamp lit up all night,

while I slept;

and when I awoke from my Coltrane slumber

30 years later,

it is still my favorite Coltrane disc,

topping my desert island picks

on my personal profile

online, where I write my columns

and interviews and concert reviews,

for three years now,

back in the business of 'Trane.

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