A Little Bird Told Me

Charlie “Bird” Parker, the legendary jazz saxophonist and bebop giant, famously said, “If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn”. Assuming that’s true, I could play a hell of a song right now about modeling for art classes. I have no clue what a song like that would sound like, but it would be authentic that’s for sure! Indeed, I have lived it.

Whew, I’m tired. I worked all week, Saturday and Sunday, and today. Now I’m home and ready to do absolutely nothing but relax. In 1946, Bird suffered a nervous breakdown in a hotel in Los Angeles. He had been drinking heavily, caused a disturbance in the hotel lobby, and accidentally set his mattress on fire, allegedly caused by an errant cigarette. Parker was arrested and committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital where he received six months of treatment for heroin and alcohol abuse. The stay at Camarillo proved to be a successful one. Bird got clean and sober, played with the hospital band, slept, relaxed, and even tended to the vegetable garden on the facility grounds which he enjoyed a great deal.

Parker knew that his confinement at Camarillo was one of the best things to happen to him. He left the hospital with a feeling of renewal, rejuvenation, and a new lease on life. Before he returned to New York, Parker wrote a song in honor of his recovery called Relaxin’ at Camarillo. And why not? Bird himself had “lived it”, so it came out of his horn. And what a surprisingly upbeat, optimistic little tune it is. Charlie Parker may be one of the few addicts in history to have actually LIKED rehab! This is Music Monday:

Fortunately, my need for relaxation is not due to addiction or substance abuse. Mine is just a plain old fatigue and a sore body. Still, listening to Bird’s version will do just fine. Catch you later, friends 🙂

19 thoughts on “A Little Bird Told Me

  1. Eric Clayton says:

    >I could play a hell of a song right now about modeling for art classes.
    The obvious one is “The night has a thousand eyes”

  2. Andrew says:

    I have actually modeled at Camarillo State Mental Hospital… sort of. Tucked away behind the farms and lemon groves in Ventura county, the site of the former Camarillo State Mental Hospital is now the campus of California State University Channel Islands. (I don’t know why they call it CSU Channel Islands. The campus is on the mainland.)

  3. Dave Rudin says:

    Sounds like you need to look at and listen to some art rather than be part of it (for a little while, anyway).

    Speaking of looking, any plans for the Renaissance Portrait at the Met???

    • artmodel says:


      I got your email thanks. All my friends are very interested in the Renaissance Portrait show. I don’t have plans yet, but I am going to be right up there in that neighborhood over the next few days. Will write to you soon.


  4. Songs like this make me realize I should listen to more jazz…

  5. Jennifer says:

    Certainly more cheerful than Amy Winehouse’s rehab song …

    Hope you will get the R&R you need, ready to return to the next round of modelling 🙂

    • artmodel says:


      Yes, quite a contrast between the two rehabbers and their respective songs!

      My rest period was brief but effective. The next round of modeling begins today.

      Thanks for commenting!


  6. Fred says:

    Charlie Parker had a remarkable ability to convey joy and freedom in his music, even when his life was hard.

    As for songs about art modeling, “Sunday in the Park with George” has at least one, and there’s a 1950’s Martin and Lewis musical called “Artists and Models”, though I haven’t seen it.

  7. Fred says:

    And come to think of it, David Byrne wrote a song called “Totally Nude” and another one called “Buck Naked”!

  8. Eric Clayton says:

    Don’t forget “If you could see me now”Not to hijack the thread but lets turn it around. How about an artists song? I thought of a quote from Casablanca “Heres looking at you,kid”. Turns out it has been made into a song.

    • artmodel says:

      You’re on a roll!

      I also thought of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take my Eyes Off of You” and that dumb song from the 80s “Somebody’s Watching Me”. I believe a guy named Rockwell was the one-hit-wonder responsible for that one.


  9. violinhunter says:

    I would not say it’s necessary to live it, not at all – some people can be very sensitive to tragedy and every emotion which humanity is capable of. Prokofiev, for instance. Wagner, too. Mozart. Verdi. Puccini.

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