Aw, Man, Acker


Acker Bilk has died. I actually didn’t know he was still alive until I saw the article on BBC News. Honestly, I didn’t really know much other than he was a clarinet player.

I don’t know quite how I got it, but I used to have a CD of Acker Bilt’s greatest hits or something along those lines. (Why is it that some of my favorite collections seem to have been one-offs, without the same versions still available? Or not available in mp3?) I don’t know when I got it, either, but I know that it accompanied me on many cross-country drives, and since those were generally two-way affairs, there’s something in this music like coming home. There was something soothing but not sleepy about the music, something that was full of nostalgia, that felt like it should come out of my granddad’s stereo, which tended to play a mix of standards and Dixieland.

And sure, the music major side of me could analyze all of this, but sometimes, art is about emotion. I think the best art–music, books, paintings, dance–enthralls in ways that make us forget the technical aspects and let us experience a different way of being. Of being in the story. Of your heart swelling. Of the sublime.

Maybe this isn’t your thing, but if you want to listen a bit, check out a couple of my favorites (because, oh dear, I did not know about all the cheesy instrumentals of adult-radio pop music, just the expressive oldies but goodies):


And one I’d never heard, but that made me laugh:

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