06 August 2009
Billy and The Bunnyfoot
Now as I tell this story, you need to remember several things. One, I was about seven. Two, I had just awakened in the back seat of a car parked outside of a Phoenix, AZ nightclub in 1953. Yes I know you wouldn't do this to a child now ... altogether now, "More innocent age". Three, I have no idea why I took it into my head to leave the car and go into the nightclub instead of just rolling over and going back to sleep, except that by this time I had figured out that where my parents were, there was bound to be music and music was already the joy of my life.
Even then, children were not taken into nightclubs even though virtually every town of any size had them. In the 1950s, these clubs were everywhere and they all had small tables with white table cloths and candles modeled after similar clubs in New York and Hollywood. The ladies in their full skirts. The gentleman recently out of uniforms and into suits. The entertainers backed by small combos instead of the big bands of the 1940s.
So there I was in the doorway, staring at the grownups and thoroughly enjoying my bunnyfeet pajamas as the Maitre'd raced up only paces ahead of my mother who hoisted me up and was about to walk out. What I didn't know is that only minutes before she had been singing with the gentleman up on the stage who beckoned her and the miscreant in her arms. (Have I mentioned that mama could really, really sing?) This is one of those "If I knew then what I know now" moments, because he took the little bunnyfoot and placed her on his lap. Why didn't anyone take a picture? Why ... moan moan.
As far as I know, this was the first time I heard this song. You Tube forbids imbedding, so please do click on the link to hear absolute greatness singing what has become one of my all time favorite songs as well as the many other recordings. The first time I heard it was as a duet. To this day, I don't know why this man was in Phoenix. I don't know why he was singing with mama. I don't know why his big band wasn't there, but only a small group. All I know, is that Hoagy Carmichael was a songwriting genius and another genius, Billy Eckstine, took his creation that night, put his arm around me, and he and mama sang "Stardust" to the bunnyfoot.