Little Jimmy looking big
Uh, did I mention that, a couple weeks ago, Little Jimmy Scott came into the jazz room at Amoeba Music Hollywood? I used up a whole box of tissue, my mind was so blown – and I’m not easily star-struck. Most of the people I’d like to meet are dead (a quality I admire in a person). Never have I been as giddy and star-struck as I was at meeting Jimmy Scott. I cried. I actually cried! Like I was a seventeen-year-old girl at a Beatles concert in ’64. Okay, I didn’t grab the sides of my face and scream – not externally, anyway.
He was sweet like an angel descending on the city for a day to offer a glimpse of light unsoiled by our planet’s spiritual smog. His voice was unmistakable, his smile generous, and he patiently listened to all our gushing with the grace you’d expect from your favorite Kindergarten teacher. The fact that he was wheelchair-bound only enhanced the sense that he was visiting royalty, forever receiving people at his throne.
Poor health has made his already diminutive body more frail, and the stiffness in his hands made for an other-worldly contrast to his skin, which was soft and warm like a newborn infant.
He was flanked by a small film crew from Germany who were shooting a documentary on the making of his next album which, they reported, would be of the blues genre. They were excited that, in the employees of Amoeba, they finally found some young people who not only knew who Jimmy Scott was, but were fans. One of them bullied my fellow co-worker, Lucas, and I into being interviewed for their documentary, despite my emphatic explanation that I was too shy for interviews and anyway, English was my sixteenth language. (I acquiesced after they called my bluff and offered to allow me to answer questions in my native Ket.)
I don’t remember much of what Lucas and I said, but it was something along the lines of, “Boo boo gah gah I like orange,” – something to that effect.
Many of you hipsters will recognize Jimmy Scott’s voice as the “woman who sings ‘Sycamore Trees’ on the soundtrack for the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.”
Thinking that Jimmy’s voice belongs to a woman is a common mistake. The unique and marvelous timbre of his pipes is in part due to his being born with Kallmann syndrome. The other reason is that God kissed him with magic when he was a baby. I forget the scientific term for that.
Jimmy’s story is noteworthy (no pun intended). I recommend seeing the 2002 documentary Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew. [This link will lead you to an interview with Jimmy conducted by NPR recorded to promote the film. It's a swell listen on its own.] Beyond that, do try listening to his music. It’s like a luxurious bubble-bath for your soul, any time.