Rhapsody in Blue

On August 15th, 2008, I sat at one of the back tables at Whiskey Thieves on Geary with Keenan and Lisa celebrating my very last night in San Francisco. A few beers and a Maker's rocks in, I had a question for Keenan.

"Hey, Keen? You know that song, that super deco-Americana song that they always play in airplane commercials? What is that called? You now, the super Gershwin sounding one."

He barely hesitated.

"That is Gershwin. That's Rhapsody in Blue."

"No, no. No not Rhapsody, I mean the airplane commercial one, not the bank commercial one. I mean, it might be Gershwin, but that's not Rhapsody. You know the one I mean?"

"Yeah Mirans, I swear. That is Rhapsody."

"No, not that New York one, this is slower; it ends with that building timpany, a percussive...piano maybe? Brass, on the last note. You know? It's slower."

Then he laughed out loud.

"Mirans, that is how Rhapsody ends. That is Rhapsody in Blue."

I thought about it, and I couldn't piece out any specific movements in my head, but I thought about it from that crazy-amazing clarinet intro to...oh snap. That timpani, piano, brass outro. He was right. Sure as shit. But it was so weird, I had had that question in my head for months; why hadn't I put it together sooner? I used to play Rhapsody, so why couldn't I remember it?

"Oh, that is Rhapsody. Don't you think somebody should mash that up with Apache? That would be amazing."

Then he laughed out loud again, and if I remember correctly, told me someone had already done it.

I spent the weekend indoors with the afore mentioned "Very Young New Yorker", and he showed me a video of himself playing this song on the piano. Before he showed it to me, he told me I might be surprised.

"Why would I be surprised?"

"Because I think I'm better than you think I am."

"That implies that you think I don't think you're good. You told me you are and I believe you, I have no reason to be surprised."

"I think you'll be surprised."

I. Totally. Fucking. Was.

Why? Because this baby-faced kid from Queens can play the fucking piano like a grizzled North Beach jazz pianist and a classically trained Upper East Side socialite all rolled into one. I watched him play New York, and it was still in my head when I walked cross-town today when going from my train to work. And that walk! It was unseasonably, possibly unreasonably beautiful out today, and New York looked just like all of those mid-century cartoon versions of New York that are scored to, yes, Rhapsody in Blue.

This is part one.

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