by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

The lyrics of “Some Other Time” have beguiled me for years. The melody is mesmerizing. Whenever I hear it, it instantly puts me in a state of reflective reverie and melancholy. I first listened to the song on a CD called “A Jazz Romance: A Night in With Verve” released January 1, 1998, Universal Studios Canada Ltd. The piece is beautifully performed by Diana Krall (vocal) and Mark Whitfield (guitar). To jazz enthusiasts these artists represent the top of their class. I have since discovered that the CD is a “must have” for the jazz aficionado.

In jazz, ballads have a way of separating the men from the boys and the women from the girls. They show what an improviser is made of emotionally. On ballads, technique for the sake of technique doesn’t cut it – you have to bring some genuine feeling and honest-to-God emotion to the table. And there is plenty of honest-to-God emotion on this four-CD, 57-track boxed set, which takes a long look at the ballad playing of artists who have recorded for Verve over the years. Spanning 1952-1996, A Jazz Romance: A Night in With Verve ranges from bop, swing, and cool jazz to post-bop, and the list of artists reads like a who’s who of jazz.

I regularly played this boxed set of jazz compositions when I lived in the Gale Subdivision on Laura Crescent in Almonte. It was a quintessential part of my once cherished evening drill: a roaring fireplace, comfortable green leather club chair, vodka martini, Jane Austen, hors d’oeuvres and my little French bulldog Monroe. As I liked to quip, I lit the fireplace then I got lit too. This particular performance of “Some Other Time” magically heightened the mirror image on the polished pine floors of the blazing flames in the Vermont casting. The sweet music and the toxic effect of the frozen martini mollified the calamities wrought by a day of practicing law. The dreamy, wistful lyrics soon recalled beloved people and fond memories, poignantly arresting my reading, sipping and nibbling. As a portrait it was an odd composition, me transfixed before the crackling fire, staring into space lost in contemplation, the fingers of my right hand glancing the stem of my glass melting the icy film.

As I listened today to the same performance in a similar state of suspension (though sans restorative) I reflected upon the significance of the lyrics. I believe it is important to detail that the title “Some Other Time” is actually elliptical; it forms but an abstruse part of the more complete sentiment, “Oh well, we’ll catch up some other time”. It embodies a mission not a mere dismissal. I’ve since learned that the song is grounded in a love affair:

Twenty-four hours can go so fast,
You look around, the day has passed.
When you’re in love,
Time is precious stuff
Even a lifetime isn’t enough.

For me the import of the words is, however, broad enough to embrace the affection and duty one has for family and friends in addition to one’s lover. It is a gentle reminder not so much that life is short but that there is no time like the present to catch up. If you keep going about your affairs and miss the opportunity to share with those who are closest to you, you’ll be the loser. The ballad also emphasizes that no matter how much time we spend with those dearest to us, it is never enough. While this proscription may seem an inescapable obstacle it nonetheless heartens me to presuppose that there’ll always be more to discover. It is a testament to the endless bounty of life and the danger in not pursuing it.

It hardly bears repeating that we allow ourselves to become preoccupied with things that ultimately don’t matter. This isn’t purely philosophic. We must straighten up and recall what counts. Certainly there are competing priorities but unless we establish rules – which include not putting things off for “some other time” – we’ll short-change ourselves and others as a result. Inherent in this commitment is the recognition that there is no “perfect time” for “some other time”.  If for example we recklessly persist in waiting until occasion, opportunity, serendipity or fortuity motivates us to catch up, we may well be looking at life in a rearview mirror. And don’t wait for the big things; it’s the inconsequential things that matter:

Didn’t get half my wishes,
Never have seen you dry the dishes.

Can’t satisfy my craving,
Never have watched you while you’re shaving.

Just when the fun’s beginning,
Comes the final-inning…

Oh, well, we’ll catch up
Some other time.

I have always maintained that love and friendship depend only upon the parties to the confederacy not the circumstances of the alliance. It may help to expand upon that seemingly axiomatic observation by reiterating the maxim, “If she knows why she loves him, she doesn’t!” It is the personalities that lend vibrancy and colour to meaningful relationships. In the general scheme of things our native instincts guide us where we should be and that normally means among our loved ones. Whenever for example I have succumbed to my elemental inclination to spend time with someone dear to me, I have never regretted it. The reward is invariably ten fold. Not to mention the soothing repercussion. It’s all part and parcel of the pragmatic adage, “First do what has to be done”. The rest will take care of itself.

Some Other Time

Where has the time all gone to
Haven’t done half the things we want to
Oh well, we’ll catch up some other time

This day was just a token
Too many words are still unspoken
Oh well, we’ll catch up some other time

Just when the fun is starting
Comes the time for parting
Let’s just be glad for what we had
And what’s to come

There’s so much more embracing
Still to be done but time is racing
Oh well, we’ll catch up some other time

Songwriters: Jule Styne / Sammy Cahn
Some Other Time lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC