Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona, 1989

Album cover for Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um

I lose sight of the two-lane mountain road on every westbound curve. The fire of the Arizona sunset is broken by trees but still blinding, relentless in its beauty and power. I drive too fast, taking corners like I was in my old Nissan Z instead of an overloaded Toyota pickup. I flirt with the gravel on the shoulder then hug the yellow line that protects me from oncoming trucks that never come.

Mingus Ah-Um tests my cheap speakers as “Boogie Stop Shuffle” goads me, faster and faster. I am invincible, immortal, indifferent. Every blind turn teases me as tree branches caress the car and my tires cry around curves.

I am alone. The life I knew for 19 years is behind me. On the other side of this forest is an opera singer I think I love and a city I think I want to live in. Tomorrow I will learn I’m wrong about both, and the repercussions will echo for years. Today, however, it is only me and the sun and the music and this winding forest road. I whip around corners toward the future with my life packed into cardboard boxes as Mingus urges me forward, faster, faster, always faster.

“Personal Stories” is a series of posts about artists, albums, concerts, and other experiences that permanently changed our relationships with music.

About Chuck

Chuck is a lifelong music lover. He spent his 20s working as a professional musician before discovering he enjoys listening to music more than playing it. He knows a little bit about most genres, though electronic dance music, rock, and hip-hop are his favorites. Eleven albums/shows that transformed how he sees and hears the world (in order he encountered them): Fleetwood Mac Rumours; Van Halen Fair Warning; The Cure Standing on a Beach; John Coltrane Crescent; De La Soul Three Feet High and Rising; Puccini La Boheme (de los Angeles, Bjorling, Beecham); Everything but the Girl Walking Wounded; Carl Cox, Twilo, NYC, May 2000; Godspeed You! Black Emperor Yanqui U.X.O.; Grateful Dead. Fillmore East, NYC, April 1971; Taylor Swift 1989.

2 thoughts on “Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona, 1989

  1. bobvinyl

    This is so far from my experience, but it speaks to me so clearly. It is Springsteen and Kerouac and maybe a bit of my own youthful dreams that not only remained unfulfilled, but unattempted.

  2. Chuck Post author

    Thank you. And it’s funny how life works. We took very different paths and attempted very different things, yet here we are, almost 20 years since that chance passing in a hallway where I overheard you making a comment about Meat Loaf. It makes me grateful for all the things I attempted to achieve but didn’t.


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