Paul E. Anna: High Points
September 15, 2011
Originally sung with feeling by Billie Holliday in 1947 (with accompaniment by the immortal Louis Armstrong) and then covered a thousand times and more by countless others, the tune “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” is the song that most elegantly describes the pain of one who longs to be home.
The lyric, credited to the songwriters Louis Alter and Eddie Delange, cries: “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans/And miss her each night and day/I know I’m not wrong because the feeling’s getting stronger the longer I stay away.”
As I heard the tune this week on a late New York Wednesday night (performed by Harry Connick Jr.), I suddenly had this strong longing to be back in my hometown. Not New Orleans, but Aspen, Colo.
September is the time of year when many of us locals head far afield looking for new tastes, new experiences and new things. It is almost a ritual for us to be headed someplace else to get a dose of sun or culture or just a change of scenery before the long winter sets in. After all, we just finished the long summer so we feel like if we don’t get out amongst it, then we will be missing out on something. It is a trait of the mountain dweller who feels like a drop in altitude and a change in attitude are among life’s necessities.
In fact, wanderlust is like a virus that spreads throughout Aspen at this time of year. Assuming the planes are flying (a big assumption right about now!!), the seats are filled with familiar faces that are getting out town – off to Hawaii, Berlin, Bermuda, or some place else that is just…just…someplace else.
But I wager that many feel like me when they are on the road. No matter how special or exotic the locale may be, they see something, smell something, or in my case, hear something, that reminds them of home and, if only for a minute, makes them long to be back in the Rockies.
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And that is only natural. After all, home for us who are lucky enough to live here is one of the best places on earth. The sights, the smells, the sounds of living up here where the air is clear and the pace, if we allow it to be, is slow, are all tough to top. It is a perfect place to be and while I am on the road this week I will continue to hum the tune with apologies to Louis and Billie and Harry, all natives of the Big Easy,
“Do You Know what it means to miss the Aspen Trees/And miss them more each night and day/I know I’m not wrong because the feeling’s getting stronger the longer I stay away.”
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