Sonny Quotes in Sonny’s Blues
These boys, now, were living as we’d been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities.
I feel like a man who’s been trying to climb up out of some deep, real deep and funky hole and just saw the sun up there, outside. I got to get outside.
When I saw him many things I thought I had forgotten came flooding back to me. This was because I had begun, finally, to wonder about Sonny, about the life that Sonny lived inside.
Boys exactly like the boys we once had been found themselves smothering in these houses, came down into the streets for light and air and found themselves encircled by disaster. Some escaped the trap, most didn’t. Those who got out always left something of themselves behind.
The moment Sonny and I started into the house I had the feeling that I was simply bringing him back into the danger he had almost died trying to escape.
“I ain’t telling you all this,” she said, “to make you scared or bitter or to make you hate nobody. I’m telling you this because you got a brother. And the world ain’t changed.”
“You got to hold on to your brother,” she said, “and don’t let him fall, no matter what it looks like is happening to him and no matter how evil you gets with him. You going to be evil with him many a time. But don’t you forget what I told you, you hear?…You may not be able to stop nothing from happening. But you got to let him know you’s there.”
I had never thought about it before, had never been forced to, but I suppose I had always put jazz musicians in a class with what Daddy called “good-time people.”
“I can make a living at it. But what I don’t seem to be able to make you understand is that it’s the only thing I want to do.”
“Well, Sonny,” I said, gently, “you know people can’t always do exactly what they want to do—“
“No, I don’t know that,” said Sonny, surprising me. “I think people ought to do what they want to do, what else are they alive for?”
“Look, brother. I don’t want to stay in Harlem no more, I really don’t.” He was very earnest. He looked at me, then over towards the kitchen window. There was something in his eyes I’d never seen before, some thoughtfulness, some worry all his own. He rubbed the muscle of one arm. “It’s time I was getting out of here.”
I didn’t like the way he carried himself, loose and dreamlike all the time, and I didn’t like his friends, and his music seemed to be merely an excuse for the life he led. It sounded just that weird and disordered.
I think I may have written Sonny the very day that little Grace was buried. I was sitting in the living-room in the dark, by myself, and I suddenly thought of Sonny. My trouble made his real.
“When she was singing before,” said Sonny, abruptly, “her voice reminded me for a minute of what heroin feels like sometimes—when it’s in your veins. It makes you feel sort of warm and cool at the same time. And distant. And—and sure….It makes you feel—in control. Sometimes you’ve got to have that feeling.”
They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness, and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.