George Winston: Thanksgiving

22 Nov

George Winston: December

George Winston’s 1982 Windham Hill album December. Thanksgiving, naturally, is the first track.

I’ve seen George Winston in concert several times, and each time he seemingly wore the same outfit: jeans, flannel shirt, unassuming demeanor.

So when Winston’s Facebook page linked last week to a live version of him performing his song Thanksgiving, appropriately enough, Winston’s outfit was no surprise: jeans and flannel shirt. I’m beginning to think it’s all he owns.

(Wikipedia cited a Dallas Morning News story from 1986 which said early audiences were so unused to Winston’s modest dress, they often thought he was coming to work on the piano rather than play it when he made his entrance.)

I once saw Winston at a very proper venue in Philadelphia, where the women wore evening gowns and many of the men formal wear. I dressed up, too, which meant my best pair of jeans. I felt a little self-conscious, afraid my Levis were soiling the seat, until Winston strode on stage attired in jeans and a flannel shirt.

I’m guessing Winston is thankful every Thanksgiving for at least one thing: he has a job which doesn’t require a dress code.

Winston said the song Thanksgiving (link below) gave him a “picture of Miles City and Billings,” from his native Montana. Having lived in five states, all of which went blue two weeks ago, unlike Montana, I wouldn’t know (I don’t think I’ve even flown over that part of flyover country). I’m guessing a lot of folks there wear jeans and flannel shirts.

I’m thankful, too, this Thanksgiving for all the usual reasons: family, friends, health, employment, security.

I’m also thankful to live in a time when music is so accessible and easy to explore, when you can hear of a new artist one moment, then find his bio and play his music the next, all on the same gadget.

I’m thankful for a year in which I’ve discovered new likes, like Uganda’s Samite, whom I listened to for the first time Wednesday, and become reacquainted with old ones, like the venerable Who.

I’m thankful for a year in which I traveled 10,000 miles from home to find a CD store where the employee had a limited grasp of English, but an expansive knowledge of jazz. I’m thankful to have made not one, but two pilgrimages to the Princeton (N.J.) Record Exchange, which is now, with the unfortunate passing a few years ago of Plastic Fantastic, officially my favorite shopping destination (equally thankful for the lunches afterward at Olive’s Deli).

And most of all I’m thankful for the musicians and the music they play, compose, record, whether it makes you want to jump up and sing along with a smile, like Ray Charles, or thrash and shriek like Pharaoh Sanders’ sax, or serene and contented, like George Winston’s Thanksgiving.

Like the Thanksgiving meal, it’s all good.

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