I don’t know Jessie Ware. She is one of those singers who has a beautiful singing voice which totally masks the fact that her speaking voice has a hugely pronounced British accent (have you heard Adele speak?). Ware’s speaking voice sounds a bit like Tracey Ullman, which I find charming.
She sings three songs. They feature her and an electric guitar (played by Joe Newman) and they are soulful and pretty. On the first song “Say You Love Me,” she is accompanied by her opening act Jesse Boykins III (meaning that this post features a Jess, a Jessie and a Jesse).
The other two songs are “Wildest Moments” and “Champagne Kisses.”
The blurb says that her shows are usually pretty big nightclub dramatic events (which is hard to imagine given how sweet she is). I can see her really belting out these songs. She sounds very good in this subdued setting, although it’s not my kind of music at all.
You can watch Jesse and Jessie here.
[READ: April 13, 2015] “To the Corner”
I didn’t really enjoy the other two items in this month’s Harper’s and I was a little disappointed with the way this story started out. Interestingly, I checked and I didn’t like the way the last story of Walter’s that I wrote about started either.
This story starts with a bunch of kids–shirtless, pants hanging low, standing on a street corner. They are being tough, watching as the girl from their bus walks by. And I just thought–yawn.
But after a few paragraphs, the perspective shifts to an old man who is watching the kids. The man has lived in this house for nigh on fifty years. He has been through boom and bust and bust and bust. His siblings have all moved away and their houses are worth a fortune, but he remained, and his neighborhood has gotten worse. He looks at the boys and their whole attitude offends him. He, Leonard, worked hard all of his life: Korea, G.I. Bill, Junior College, marriage, kids. And his kids are successes (even the one who listens to right-wing talk radio). But look at these layabouts.
When his wife died last year, things changed for him. He is on his own. His kids think he should move into an assisted living facility (his right-wing son even sent him a gun to protect him from the local kids: “just a a.22 in case those gangbangers give you trouble.”
But the kids haven’t given him trouble exactly. One of them–he’s not with the boys on the corner right now, even helped to mow his lawn one summer–but where has he that boy gone now? He looks at his things and his wife’s things and he just feels that his life is over. As the scene jumps back to the boys, the latches on the gun case glint in the sun.
We cut back to the boys and this time we learn more about them. Two of them are in honors class. They are all pretty funny, and they enjoy teasing each other. Aside from little case of disobedience none of them are really that bad. And then they see another boy come up on his bike. This boy’s nickname is Blight (the origin of his name is very funny).
We learn a lot about Blight–his utterly dysfunctional family and the new foster family he lives with. He’s in a new school (a better school) and his new set up is pretty good, although he misses hanging with his friends. The whole scene is very funny and enjoyable even if a little melancholy. And then Leonard starts heading across the street with a bag.
It’s hard to say anything about the ending with out giving the next bit away. I won’t spoil the story but I will reveal a tone (highlight the line to read it) Spoiler: I won’t actually give way the ending, but I will say that not only wasn’t it what I assumed (and feared) but it was actually very funny. And the whole ending was really very cool. When he recognizes Blight, it’s a very sweet moment.
I really enjoyed this story and it salvaged the July issue for me as well.