The Story Is Told
Eddie, Bix and Proust
French novelist Marcel Proust
Guitar player Eddie Condon recalls:
'As I packed up to leave Lake Delavan a new idea nudged me. The college kids I had met during the summer were like me, but they had a different manner. "Who is Proust?" I asked Wop (Waller) one day. "What does he play?" Wop said. That was it. Education was something you couldn't see but it was there, like being able to throw a curve. I decided to get some for myself. It doesn't come in bottles, so it can't do me any harm ....'
'..... Bix came to town that spring. He left the Wolverines when they went on the road ... Bix stayed at the Rienzi hotel, down the street from the Rendezvous. Often he came to the Allerton House and played the grand piano ...
My school books stayed on the table, unopened. One day Bix saw them. "What are these?" he asked. I explained that I was getting an education. He looked perplexed. "What are you going to do with it?" he said. "If you can't read music why do you want to read books?"
'He sat down at the piano. "By the way," I said, "who is Proust?" He hit a chord, listened to it, and then said, casually, "A French writer who lived in a cork-lined room. His stuff is no good in translation."
I leaned over the piano. "How the hell did you find that out?" I demanded. He gave me the seven veils look. "I get around," he said.'
From We Called It Music by Eddie Condon
Listen to Bix on cornet and piano here with The Wolverines in 1924 playing Big Boy.