|Sammy Davis, Jr.|
By this time in his life, Sammy was getting older, and was frail, and busy, and tired, yet he finally gave in and listened to a cassette recording of the tune after Paul begged him time and again. When the tune was over, Sammy had this to say:
"It's swinging, man, but think of how much more fun we could have had if I hadn't heard this tape."What was Sammy, in his wisdom, saying, ever so gently? Something like, "If I don't know how to sing 'Just Once In My Life' by now, then grits ain't groceries."
|Sammy Baker Davis, Jr.|
I bring this up because I just finished reading an excellent book, "Man In Profile," by Thomas Kunkel. It's about Joseph Mitchell, the great writer for The New Yorker who has been one of my favorite authors for years. He wrote about people who didn't get written about...saloon keepers, vagrants, fishermen, movie ticket ladies.
His writing style was, in a word, thorough. Mitchell came to New York from his native North Carolina and found work as a newspaper reporter in the heyday of that medium, and there was a lot to write about in the 1920s, and he batted out three or four stories per day back then.
When The New Yorker hired him to write Profiles - long biographical sketches - he slowed down the pace of his writing, and first spent long periods of time with the subject of his story, getting to know them, and then writing and re-writing and editing dozens of times. And this was in the days before the computer, so he typed and cut with scissors and pasted with glue and did so over and over before finally finishing. From three or four completed stories in a day, he was down to three or four per year. And then, after he wrote of how he was bamboozled by a man named Joe Gould, who claimed to have written a long and detailed history of our times, but who had, in fact, not written any such thing, Mitchell went behind a writer's block. That was 1964, and he still went to work every day until his death in 1996, and never finished another story. He typed and he thought and he planned new works, but nothing bore fruit.
|Joseph Mitchell at his favorite restaurant|