Sunday, July 3, 2005

Louis Armstrong's advice

Louis Armstrong gave his birthday as July 4, 1900. As we now know, he was born on August 4, 1901. It doesn't matter. If anyone should have been born on July 4, it was Louis Armstrong. Here's some of his advice for younger generations:

My belief and satisfaction is that, as long as a person breathes, they still have a chance to exercise the talents they were born with. I speak of something which I know about and have been doing all of my life, and that's Music. And now that I am an elderly man I still feel the same about music and its creations. And at the age of "sixty-nine" I really don't feel that I am on my way out at all. Of course a person may do a little less -- but the foundation will always be there. . . .

On my sixty-ninth birthday, all of the kids in Corona [Queens, New York] where I live came in front of my house and wished me a Happy Birthday, which thrilled ol Satch. Saying carry on until you're a hundred years old. I have seen three generations come up in the block where I live. Many kids grew up, married, and brought their children to visit my wife Lucille and I. And those kids grew up -- Satchmo fans. Just want to say that music has no age. Most of your great composers -- musicians -- are elderly people, way up there in age -- they will live forever. There's no such thing as on the way out. As long as you are still doing something interesting and good. You are in business as long as you are breathing. "Yeah."
From "Goodbye to All of You," published in Esquire (December 1969), a feature in which twenty-five famous old people offered their advice to younger generations. Reprinted in Louis Armstrong in His Own Words, ed. Thomas Brothers (Oxford University Press, 1999).

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