Saturday, August 13, 2011

Music Parable # 3: Charles Mingus


Miles Davis, Max Roach and Charles Mingus are driving from New York to San Francisco in Roach’s new car. While Miles and Roach share a good rapport, both are annoyed by Mingus who talks a blue streak and continually accuses the two of being insufficiently responsive to the black rights movement. Because of Mingus’ large physical size and often terrifying temper (he is purported to have chased musicians around the studio with a fire axe, among other incidents) the other two humor Mingus. At one point Mingus poses the question:

“If you were to see an animal and you’re driving your new car, and the animal is in the street, would you swerve to keep from hitting him and crash your car, or would you try to stop or would you just hit it?

Roach responded, “Well, I’d hit the motherfucker, because what should I do, stop and get all fucked up if a car is behind me? Miles agreed with this logic.

Mingus angrily growled back, “See there, you got the same ideas that white people have; that’s just how a white man thinks. He would hit the poor animal, too, wouldn’t care if he killed him or not. Me? I would smash up my car before I would kill a little defenseless animal.”

Upon arriving in San Francisco, Roach and Davis thought that they were finally rid of Mingus, but Mingus needed to borrow the car. Roach leant it to him only to have a wheel sheered off by Mingus later that day. It transpired that, driving along, Mingus had swerved to miss a cat that had run into the road and had crashed into a fire hydrant.

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