Here’s a marvelous clip of Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong duetting on “Rockin’ Chair” from the late forties. Bob Dylan once said that Jack Teagarden had a voice like a comfy old leather shoe. He does sound great; but, of course, it’s Louis who’s incomparably brilliant: hilarious, moving, sad, happy – flashing from tone to tone on a dime.
In the universe of metaphor, rockin’ chair = death – presumably because death brings peace. In other words, this song embodies two friends confronting death – not through some existential crisis, but simply by joking, teasing, speaking honestly, offering the betrayed world a toast and a shared drink. I think of all my friends, all the times we’ve chuckled, played the straight man to the other, unbosomed, drank, and listened to jazz – what better way is there of confronting the ol’ rockin’ chair?