Tag Archives: dizzy gillespie

Election Special: The Blues House

17 Aug

Which is not at all the same as the House of Blues. No, the Blues House is what the White House would have been if John Birks Gillespie had been elected back in 1964, when he ran for the office. John Birks Gillespie, of course, was better known as Dizzy. He was from Cheraw, South Carolina, and was one of the finest trumpeters and most important jazz musicians of the 20th Century.

His Presidential run was at one and the same time not entirely serious and completely and utterly serious. A certain amount irony was involved, which is perhaps why the lyrics to the theme song were set to “Salt Peanuts” – a tune Diz would one day perform in the White House with President Jimmy Carter.

He developed a standard stump speech which eventually made its way into his autobiography, To Be or Not to Bop (Doubleday 1979 pp. 457-458). It’s full of jazz references that will be obscure to those who don’t know the music, and various contemporary references are likely to be lost as well. Though I never heard Gillespie give this speech, I’ve heard him speak on several musical occasions and his comic timing is superb. That is utterly lost in this transcription, though those familiar with his vocal patterns can – in some small measure – supply them as they read his words. Here they are.

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When I am elected President of the United States, my first executive order will be to change the name of the White House! To the Blues House.

Income tax must be abolished, and we plan to legalize ‘numbers’ – you know, the same way they brought jazz into the concert halls and made it respectable. We refuse to be influenced by the warnings of one NAACP official who claims that making this particular aspect of big business legal would upset the nation’s economy disastrously. Continue reading