The Butlers

It has been almost 50 years since those heady nights of jazz in Paris. Barney and Barbara Butler came back to the United States eventually. They filled their house with art from all over the world to go with their art by Lobo Nocho.

Nowadays, they live in one of those retirement villages where Barney says, "The average age is deceased." They use their health insurance ID cards almost as much as their passports. But they still have an ear for good music and keep the radio tuned to an all jazz station. They can identify a song or a singer almost from the first note out of the radio.

The right song on the radio might get you a story. For example, if they hear Nat King Cole's version of “Lush Life,” Barbara might point out how Cole changed Billy Strayhorn's lyric, “The girls I knew had sad and sullen gray faces, with distingué traces” to one about “distant gray faces.” And about how Linda Ronstadt recorded it with the same incorrect lyric later. “Billy Strayhorn was a very learned and witty man,” Barbara might say. “They called him the black Noel Coward. His lyric was distingué, not distant gray.”

The two of them might prompt each other a bit as they listen to the music, just to jog the memory. “Listen, Barney, there's that singer you like. What's her name? Oh, right. Sarah Vaughan.”

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