Farewell, Charlie

On Wednesday nights for several years I had a date with a man I’d never met.  His name was Charlie McIntosh, and he had never heard of me.

When I discovered our public radio station, it didn’t take me long to discover Swing charlieChronicles, the radio hour that Mr. McIntosh hosted.  Each Wednesday night at 9 p.m. the listener entered a world that was seventy to eighty years in the past, as Charlie highlighted a week from what he called “the Golden Age of Swing” – usually in the 30’s or 40’s – and played hits from the Billboard charts of that week.  He also featured different artists – playing a set of three or four songs from Artie Shaw, for instance, or perhaps the Dorsey Brothers, or maybe a lesser known jazz musician.  The music, brought to us courtesy of Charlie’s vast, very vast, record collection, was adorned with the scratches and pops that accompany old record albums, and sprinkled generously in between with historical data about the week which was being featured.

Most Wednesday nights, from the time my husband and I married until we had our second child, I would retire to bed early with a book and listen to Charlie’s show on the radio, as his friendly, affable voice announced the next set of songs from Red Norvo or Louis Armstrong, or gave a quick description of some news on FDR or the war from that week in history.

But after our second child came free time grew short and sometimes I didn’t get to keep my date with Charlie.  Toward the end of last year it became a rare thing, and recently I decided that it was important that I try to reclaim my Wednesday night engagement, but when I tuned in, Charlie wasn’t there.  When I tried again the next week, it was the same thing, and when I reluctantly checked the internet, my fears were confirmed.  Charlie McIntosh passed away last year.

When I look for information on him, there is not much to be found beyond that which is contained in his obituary – a brief chronology of schooling and work for IBM in New York City, before retiring and devoting himself to his passion, which was jazz music.  He left behind a wife and does not seem to have had children.

I have found a single picture of Charlie, and I share it with you here.  This is Charlie McIntosh, the man who taught me all about jazz.  I was always meant to be a jazz lover, I just needed a teacher.  Farewell, Charlie.  The Wednesday night lineup will simply never be the same.

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About Joyce

40-year-old university advisor, 10-years married with two small children, trying to do it all and have it all and still manage the occasional social interaction through the wonderful world of blogging.
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10 Responses to Farewell, Charlie

  1. Nice post and tribute. It really is something – these bonds we can form with someone we don’t actually know or who knows us. I’m sure Charlie would be thrilled by the impact he had upon you.

    • Joyce says:

      I wish I could have found a recording of his voice to go with it, but all his shows have been scrubbed from the website. Amazingly, he produced the show himself locally, as a volunteer. But the quality was so superb that you would think it was in syndication. I’m really going to miss this guy.

  2. Zanni Arnot says:

    What a beautiful tribute Joyce. I am sure he would have love to have known how he touched your life so. x

  3. You are truly one of a kind Joyce….an old soul. I often feel like we are kindred spirits and this is one of those posts that solidifies that even more. Even though I didn’t listen to Charlie or radio for that matter. We both have such an appreciation for the past and what we can learn from it. Charlie has such a kind face and I can only imagine what his radio voice sounded like!

    • Joyce says:

      Aw, thanks mother! I think we are kindred spirits too. I wish we lived closer…we would totally hang out!

      Charlie had a really sweet and friendly voice. He sounded like a kindly great-uncle. If I can ever find a clip of his show, I’ll post it.

  4. Valerie says:

    Aww, I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like his radio program was a wonderful way to spend a Wed night!

    • Joyce says:

      It was my own little time for myself…I think it’s important to claim something as your own when you spend much of your day taking care of others. Charlie was phenomenal. He taught me so much.

  5. very nice tribute. I like your old soul. You like really great things. I wish I could have heard him after reading your post.

    • Joyce says:

      I looked high and low for a clip of his show to put on my blog, but alas, could not find one anywhere. I really miss hearing him. Our public radio station paid a wonderful tribute by replaying his old shows in that time slot for several months, but then they had to move on. They still include jazz programming in that slot, but it simply does not have the personal touch that his show had.

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