In My Head

From With Billie, by Julia Blackburn (2005), in relation to Bobby Henderson (1910-1969), a pianist who accompanied and was an early fiancé of singer Billie Holiday (1915-1959). Considered to be the successor to Fats Waller (1904-1943):

Away from the night-life of work, Bobby Henderson lived quietly with his mother on 109th Street, just across from Mayor La Guardia. He spent a lot of time alone, walking the streets of New York with a bottle of wine in his pocket to keep him company. He said that was the only way he could think about what he called the “process” of his life and could listen to the stream of music playing inside his head. “I had a habit of walking…I know every path in Central Park: I know every path in every park in New York City. I’m one of the few people that walked from the Battery to the Bronx, from the Hudson River to the East River–you hear what I say? Through Chinatown. I don’t think there’s a street in New York I haven’t walked on. It’s a bit city, but since I was a kid I knew it. And thank God I could always hear some music when I was walking, whether a jukebox was playing or not, I was hearing sounds…”

Bobby Henderson went home and, before falling into bed, he emptied the money from his pockets onto the kitchen dresser. His mother woke up and looked at “all those twisted-up twenty-dollar bills, ten-dollar bills, five-dollar bills, two-dollar bills, one-dollar bills and she let out a yell. “What’s the matter, Mom? House on fire?” he said, and explained that he had not stolen the money and she could go right out and get herself some new dresses.

Later that same day he took ten of his own dollars and bought a bottle of dry white wine. Then he walked to the boating lake in Central Park and hired a boat and rowed out as far as he could go. He sat there quietly for a long time, thinking about this sudden change in his fortunes and the new direction his life was taking.


About brucelarochelle
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