Henry Rollins: Miles Davis, Cool On A Postage Stamp
About halfway through June, I got a letter ... asking if I wanted to go to the Hollywood Bowl on the evening of June 27 for the unveiling of the Miles Davis postage stamp. ... I wrote back and said yes. I have been invited to a few Miles Davis events and appreciate the kindness of the Davis family very much. Days later, I got another letter asking if I would speak at the event. Hang out with a bunch of jazz fans and talk about Miles Davis? I'm in.
... In my opinion, music is humankind's greatest achievement. Furthermore, jazz is America's great gift to the world and a powerful proponent of civil rights in America. One of its most well-known examples is Miles Davis. If you take even the briefest glance at his catalog and listen to a small fraction of his prolific output, it is astonishing to the point of being unbelievable that one person was able to make that many changes in his artistic journey. If you think that the one thing that goes through these records from Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain (with Gil Evans), Miles Smiles, In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, On the Corner and the myriad albums between the aforementioned, the one constant is Miles Davis.
... The single word that embodies Miles Davis and his music is cool. He defines it. When you listen to his music, you're cool, too. Not as cool as Miles, but cooler than you were before you put the record on. And that's going to be the word coming out of people's mouths when they get a letter that has a Miles Davis stamp on it. They will not just say, "Oh, look, Miles Davis is on a postage stamp. They will stop, look again and say, "That is so cool."
Jazz music is as American as it gets and so is the U.S. Postal Service. A Miles Davis stamp is a perfect marriage of two great American institutions. A Miles stamp is great but is only the start. A few years from now, perhaps we can unveil a cool new addition on Mount Rushmore.
Read more from Henry Rollins' column in LA Weekly.
Pictured left to right: Henry Rollins, Vince Wilburn, Jr., Cheryl Davis and Erin Davis.
(Photo credit: Earl Gibson III)