Berklee College of Music

Real Book Coffee Stains

dsc_8395(Opposite) How High the Moon – Morgan Lewis

Ah, The Real Book. Get yours here. My first Real Book, bought in 1979, was stolen. This is my second, bought in 1980. The name is a bit of musician’s irony. Not a fake book, man. It’s the REAL book.  Illegal, at the time. You had to buy it on the street in front of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now I believe you can buy them inside the school bookstore. Times change. So has the price.

The pages are almost card-stock sturdy. The coffee stains are well earned. Either from caffeinated frustration or long evenings of joyous study and relaxation with a hot cup of decaf. So an explanation of the word ‘opposite’ in the captions for those who might need one, is that the coffee cup was set down on the song pages I wasn’t, at the time, working on or playing through. So the sheet music photo accompanied by the caption, Naima – John Coltrane, for example, is NOT Naima but from the song My Ship. Anyway. And where the word doesn’t appear it’s because the coffee stain is on the page of the song I was working on, for example, Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn.

Anyway. For an actual musical example of me noodling through one of these Real Book tunes on the guitar I’m offering a cassette recorded version of Naima that I did sitting on my couch… now about 20 years ago, down at the bottom. (Naima (opposite) is the last photo.) There probably isn’t a book I’ve gotten more out of than the Real Book. It’s not much, but this is my way of saying thanks.

dsc_8392Space Circus (Part 1) – Chick Corea


(Opposite) Yesterdays – Jerome Kern


Lush Life – Billy Strayhorn


(Opposite) My Funny Valentine – Rodgers/Hart


What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life – Michel Legrand


So What – Miles Davis


(Opposite) Isn’t it Romantic? – Rodgers/Hart


West Coast Blues – Wes Montgomery


(Opposite) Naima – John Coltrane

Naima – Donald Barnat (guitar)