During the first year of our dating relationship, my wife and I would sit outside a local coffee shop in her car and talk and stare at each other and talk some more. We began this little weekly tradition late in November of 1999. It was usually pretty late on a Thursday evening and the air was turning cold as the small town around us began to extinguish the lights of the day and turn in for the night. The car would be running, interior warm, and maybe on certain nights the wiper blades would stir awake every few minutes to clear fallen raindrops or a light scattering of graceful snowflakes; signs of winter returning.
The world was invisible to us in our small mobile bubble. Yet through our conversation, laughter, and dreaming, there was an outside voice that provided comfort and intermission when our words fell silent. This voice came from Phyllis Campbell, known affectionately as “Mama Jazz”. Phyllis passed away this past weekend at the age of 89.
Mama was a wealth of story and background information on the songs she played, but she was also a welcoming and warm presence on the radio. She wasn’t trying to push an agenda or sway public opinions, she wanted you and I to listen to good music and to learn about the amazing musicians that created it.
She lived a full, blessed life and she may have never realized the impact she had on so many hearts and ears; especially two teenagers falling in love while Mama spun the tunes that would become the soundtrack of those special hours.
We’ll miss you mama.
I caught a few minutes of an interview with Francis Ford Coppola at a film festival. During the Q&A portion of the interview, a young audience member asked Coppola what kind of advice he could give to an aspiring filmmaker. He said, and as usual I’m paraphrasing this horribly, “If you’re a man, get married.” He goes on to explain his advice, saying that he loved raising his kids and that they kept him grounded and focused on his work; held him accountable in his productivity.
As a creative individual, one could easily look at his or her family as a roadblock to creative independence and artistic output. But Coppola discovered that supporting a family and having them support him, inevitably bolstered the quality of his art and motivated him to continue his work.
It’s refreshing to hear this from someone in an industry such as film. So often we view the family of a brilliant, creative mind as a distraction from their work. But when we’re surrounded by those we love and love us, we can’t help but create beautiful art and in the end become better, well rounded people.