Monday, October 25, 2010

JDIZZY's 365 # 170: Maple Leaf Rag

Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin (1899)

We are going back today, aren't we friends and neighbors? Not only is this song one of my perennial favorites, but it is also probably the most important piece on the 365. Without "Maple Leaf Rag", there is no dixieland, no jazz, no popular music as we know it. It still digs a hole in your ear after all these years, making you go around humming it for the rest of the day. It is the joy of melody, the joy of abandonment, and the joy of its composer, who thankfully "recorded" piano rolls so that we can hear it as he played it. He makes it sound easy, which any piano player will tell you it is not. Neither was his life. Scott Joplin died of dementia brought on by syphilis in a mental institution in 1917, and was buried in an unmarked grave that didn't receive a marker until 1974. In his 49 short years, he became the king of ragtime, wrote a magnificent opera and left us with multiple pieces of music that puts him on par with any modern composer of the 20th century. Let us never forget that without Mr. Joplin, the world would be a very square place.

Keith, bring it back to prog for me!!!

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