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  • Chelsea Joy Arganbright

A Love Supreme | 25 Years Old | Melbourne, Australia

It's 1945, and a little African American girl from Philadelphia travels two decades into the future to see what life will bring for her generation. Filtering out from a nearby bookshop she hears the most beautiful jazz piece she's ever been blessed to witness, so she wanders inside to ask the shop owner what album he’s put on. It’s “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, he divulges, and explains that its melodies tell a story no book ever could, its origins illustrating a devastatingly raw account of the human soul in its breadth of joy and tragedy. She is in awe; John is her closest ally and friend back in 1945, and his destiny to create such a beautiful and haunting piece of music leads her to excitedly purchase the record for him so he may begin mastering the sumptuous sheets of sound he’s destined to create.


The girl journeys back to 1945 and presents John with his future masterpiece. John is curious and places the vintage disk in the wooden player and sets the needle down on the vinyl. As the frequencies begin, a strange subtle knowingness floods through him. However, as he listens deeper into the record, the little girl notices his brow furrow as he becomes lost in contemplation. John simply cannot fathom how he could ever elicit such a transcendental, rich soundscape. He is talented, yes, but the complexity and multifaceted layers are unknown to him. John picks up his sax and over the following weeks, laboriously works long into the night to master his future-piece, but no matter how much he practices he simply cannot replicate the audible dexterity and depth entrenched within each song. Out of sheer frustration, he puts the record away into a box and shoves it into his closet, assuring himself he will bring it out again at a later time.


Many years pass, the album is long forgotten at the back of his closet in that old box. These are harsh years for John. He falls into darkness; a painful heroin addiction, the loss of countless many close relationships through death, and burning bridges due to narcotics. Meanwhile, racial tension and social oppression proved a constant collective force into the 1950’s, a mighty personal and societal burden weighing heavily upon his shoulders. Through these tragedies, John’s soul is stripped bare of its lustre, however humility and a depth of raw humanity surreptitiously sprout within him like an oak seed.


After hard lessons, John finally cleans himself up from his addiction, meanwhile using his musical talent as a creative outlet for the racial persecution which runs deep through the African American veins of his generation. The screams from his sax embody the turmoil of society in all its sorrow and hope. John had to completely submerge into the pain of his journey to recognise the Supreme Love of life as it should be lived. He never even had to pull the record out of that old box again because he could only organically master his opus after sorrow had carved a hole in his heart large enough for joy, understanding and clarity to gradually fill it. He played and played, his song a spark that still alights within those who have the ability to deeply listen.


Written 12 January, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia


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