Miles Davis Way

Like most big cities, New York has its share of honorary street names. More than it’s share, really. Our city council has re-named so many streets in tribute to famous figures that’s it’s hard to keep track of all of them.  The standard for street re-naming according to the council is “proposed honorees must be individuals who are deceased and of significant importance to New York City.”  The names range from local politicians to military figures to contributors to the arts, academia, sports and finance. The sheer number of them is a testament to the historical and cultural breadth of our throbbing, humming city and how many noteworthy individuals have lived here, worked here, created here, and found inspiration among its people and neighborhoods.

East 110th St is “Tito Puente Way”. West 145th is “A. Philip Randolph Boulevard”. Broadway between 51st and 52nd is “Al Jolson Way”. West 31st St is “Father Mychal F. Judge Street”, in honor of the Fire Department Chaplain who was killed during the 9-11 attacks while administering last rites. These are just a few examples of many. Last week, the city unveiled its newest street honorific; “Miles Davis Way” on 77th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. The jazz legend lived on the block for 25 years. It’s a cool honor for the man credited with the “birth of the cool”.

For Music Monday I’m posting a 1989 interview with Miles Davis from the 60 Minutes archives. Interviews with Miles Davis are quite rare, as he was not the most accessible or congenial fellow in the music business. However, I found this interview interesting in that you can see flashes of humor in Miles, and a sense that he’s putting us on a bit. And Harry Reasoner, in spite of some rather silly questions, deserves credit for getting the elusive Miles Davis to sit down for a face to face interview at all. They touch on race, music, art, women, and Miles’ past heroin addiction. Also, this isn’t the first time Miles Davis has been the subject of a Music Monday. Here’s my Museworthy post from March 2010 about Kind of Blue.

4 thoughts on “Miles Davis Way

  1. Bill says:

    A truly fascinating guy — proof positive that you can be a great artist even if you’re an extremely flawed human being. I always saw him as a kind of musical Picasso — in the forefront of all of the changes and movements in his art during some very turbulent times.

    It is hard for me to picture Davis growing up in East Saint Louis. I’ve spent some time in that area — my wife comes from Belleville and has family scattered throughout that region. East Saint Louis struck me as one tough area — the image of a middle class kid with a trumpet doesn’t seem like a good fit. Then again, maybe the city changed — or maybe I’m just over-generalizing — but it just always seemed odd.

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      Adapting to music trends, evolving, and staying relevant was Miles’ great gift. His influence will be felt for a long time. The respect he receives, particularly among musicians, is fully deserved.

      I know little about St. Louis and I’m sure you’re right about East St. Louis. It’s certainly possible that the city changed from the 20s and 30s when Miles grew up there in an upper middle class environment. His father was not only a well-off dentist but held property assets.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  2. Derek says:

    I have been a fan of his music I have seen him in 1977 while I was living in NY . He was one cool chap and very unique. I have never seen this interview. I don’t know much about the intrebiew but its ironic that he asked him rather insipid questions regarding his lifetsyle when he Mr. Reasoner also had dark demons as a heavy juicer himself . They both passed two years later.Davis was my age after having a stroke and Reasoner was at 68 when he had bad fall the alcohol did it .
    I thank you for sharing this piece on Miles. Greatly missed.

    • artmodel says:

      Derek,

      I agree that Harry Reasoner asked some insipid questions, like you said. He had a jazz legend before him and wasted time asking about his bank account. Is that interesting to anybody? And yes, Miles was dead within two years of this interview. He went too soon.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

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