The Body Above Aristo’s Bar

September 11, 1994
Barga, Italy

One cold Tuesday evening, an old woman who lived in an apartment upstairs had died suddenly. So the mood in the bar was more mellow; an awkward but appropriate reverence hung in the air.

A few regulars kept thrusting the guitar at me anyway. Hoping to cut the somberness, I eventually gave in—strumming and softly singing a little rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It seemed like the right thing to do; I meant no disrespect.

As I moved into a second verse, Aristo began filling in some singing-horn solos: “Oh when the saints” … BOP bidoobity BOP” … “Go marching in” …BOOP bidoobity WAH!” Our new artist-friend Keane grabbed his drum and quietly joined in.

Aristo, meanwhile, began beating his bartop resolutely, as though he had no intention—despite his age—of accompanying his departing neighbor. Like a ramshackle N’Awlins trio, we played on as we watched three men march the body into darkness.

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