Saturday, April 21, 2018

Returning with Bryn Fortey

By © Jorge Royan /, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Song Is...  returns with two poems by the jazz poet Bryn Fortey.  


Tucked away within my record collection
MIRAGE by Romano Mussolini
Billed as by his TRIO
Though six musicians took part
This was apparently his debut CD
Put out in 1974
I know very little about Il Duce’s youngest son
Straight after WW2 he’d called himself Still
When playing Italian jazz clubs
And waited some time before using his real name
How I acquired the record remains a mystery
Too much has happened in my life to remember
I definitely would not have bought it new
But maybe it was a Charity Shop purchase
Maybe it was something borrowed
But never returned
I myself lost records that way
I mainly write short stories now
And often like a musical background
MIRAGE is a favourite in that capacity
Romano himself plays an entertaining electric piano
And the unknown Italians with him
Are surprisingly good
It seems he was a private man
Who kept any political views to himself 
And would not openly discuss his father
Until writing two books quite late in his life
If Romano Mussolini hoped his music would speak for him
Then he succeeded with me

Bryn Fortey



It’s a game many play:
Picking the three pieces of music
To be played at your funeral
And if you’re anything like me
It’s an almost impossible task

The older I become
The fewer my potential mourners
Family, some neighbours, not many friends
They are mostly already dead themselves
Or too old and infirm, or too far away

Track 1, to stir the aching bones
Of those who do attend, will be:
Weather Bird by Louis Armstrong
A trumpet/piano duet with Earl Hines
Recorded in Chicago, December 5, 1928
This is Armstrong at the peak of his
Hot Fives and Sevens years
And if it doesn’t get you tapping your feet
Then you should be in the box alongside me

A female vocalist, I think, for Track 2
The incomparable Ella, Lady Day, quirky Nina?
But maybe I’ll let my libido push me past the limits
Of pure vocal perfection, and go for
After The Rain by Shirley Bassey
Written by Richard Hawley for her The Performance CD
After a career highlighted by big voiced ballads
This was quiet, laid back, reflective
And the 70+ Dame from Tiger Bay nailed it
My younger self fancied Miss Bassey like crazy
My older self is no less admiring 

I came to the music of Leonard Cohen late
But when I did he blew my socks off
Becoming such a favourite he gets the Track 3 spot with
Alexandra Leaving off his Ten New Songs CD
There are so many of his songs I could have chosen
But I think this one has such a beautiful melody

But maybe I will do it the David Bowie way
Body straight to the crematorium 
Without the trappings of a service, so no music either
I had better make up my mind soon though, I guess

Bryn Fortey  


Below is a picture of a funeral procession in the Philippines.

By moyerphotos - originally posted to Flickr as Philippines Funeral Procession, CC BY 2.0,

Let's listen to some of the music Bryn mentioned in his poems.

I'll start with the title cut from Romano Mussolini's Mirage:

This is his "Omaggio a Oscar Peterson":

Here comes Louis Armstrong's "Weather Bird."  It certainly does get my toes tapping.

Shirley Bassey performs "After the Rain":

I'll finish with Leonard Cohen's "Alexandra Leaving."  He is singing with Sharon Robinson.