The last several months of 2020 have been an amazing and unforgettable odyssey for me. Yes I said “amazing”. Even with a mysterious pandemic landing on the planet, numbers of meaningless and horrific deaths on the rise, protests and riots flooding the streets, airwaves and media platforms…I see trees of green.
Chaos without, yet peace within. How so? Well I marvel at the words of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World written by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele. Armstrong recorded this nostalgic tune (his last final chart hit) in 1967. Did you know the state of the world in 1967? We were in a cosmic uproar sinking in the quicksands of unrest stemming from the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the rise of feminism and other social and political changes spreading quickly across the globe. Red roses too. I see them bloom for me and for you. And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
How can Armstrong sing this song so gracefully, so eloquently, so convincingly, so unapologetically when it seemed our whole world was literally falling apart? Did he somehow look through a different pair of lenses or even acquired a set of new eyes to possibly see a glimmer of hope that an astigmatic world didn’t see? The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky. Are also on the faces of people passing by. Could he have heard a melody during one dark sacred night that the deafened world couldn’t hear? I hear babies cry. Would he be able to reach within and draw from wellsprings of his joy to share with a world that just wouldn’t be able to comprehend it? I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
Like Louis Armstrong I believe I see through a different set of eyes, I listen through a different set of ears, I feel with a different kind of heart. Eyes that are hopeful, ears that are discerning, a heart that is sensitive but fingers always pointing to a day that is brighter than yesterday or today. I honor Louis Armstrong. Alongside my mentor and friend Thomas J. Dawson, Jr., we have produced a musical tribute album to this jazz legend with the intent to capture and embody both Armstrong’s spirit and personality in each song.
The studio recording sessions for this project have been transforming. Thomas said he saw the spirit of Louis come upon me and take over when I was behind the microphone. When I heard the playback to the track, I was like wowwwww! I don’t even remember doing that part or saying this or singing it like that. I’ve been recording for over 26 years and it usually takes me two hours per song to get it the way I want it. Each of the ten different Louis tracks I recorded averaged right around 15 minutes. For me that was unheard of!
The spirit of a legend never dies. Thanks to Louis, even with the pandemic, the murders, the protests, the riots…I still see trees of green. It’s our desire that when you listen to the album, Honoring Louis Armstrong, that you listen with both your ears and your heart. While you’re listening, we want you to see the good in your life, home, community, nation and the world…even when it all may seem terrible at times. Intentionally seek to find out how you can make both your world and someone else’s world even a better place. Then I promise you’ll see trees of green too.
John Redmon is featured on the cover of the “IMAGINE” issue of JBCM Magazine. The print issue is distributed throughout Colorado Springs and Pueblo Colorado:
Learn more at John’s website.