Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 60

My Three Songs with Jonathan Dichter

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 60 – My Three Songs with Jonathan Dichter  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 60. This is the 50th in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest. Jon Dichter is a former neighbor of mine from Philadelphia. His family lived directly across the street from us and were instrumental (no pun intended) in developing my love of music. Jon is a multi-instramentalist, professional piano tuner, and incredible music teacher. We had a great time listening to and discussing three meaningful songs for him, including “I’m Five” by Danny Kaye!

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Three Songs

  1. I’m Five – Danny Kaye (1958)
  2. Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney (1970)
  3. Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt (1937)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California, it's Aaron's Radio Show, with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 60. Welcome to My Three Songs where I play three special songs chosen by my guest, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today, my guest is Jonathan Dichter. By his own admission, John is a not-yet-famous musician, a concert piano tuner for the ridiculously famous ... and for everybody else who owns a piano, a music educator with Socratic intentions, a regular guy who marvels at the wisdom of nature, a father, a son, a brother and uncle, a lover, a friend, a past neighbor of the Gobler family and a perpetual student of the School of Beginner's Mind. Welcome to the show, Jon. How are you today?

Jon Dichter:

I'm feeling great, Aaron.

Aaron Gobler:

That's great. I want to thank you for taking the time to be on the show. I'm really, really delighted to have you as a guest. And I'm sure we're going to be sharing some great stories.

Jon Dichter:

I'm looking forward to this.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. So Jon, as you mentioned in your bio, you were one of my past neighbors from Philadelphia, and we grew up literally across the street from each other. And our parents were good friends. I'm especially delighted to have you as a guest because a significant part of my music-loving history is connected to your family. And I also have some stories about your siblings and your parents, and your dog too.

Jon Dichter:

Okay, let's go for it.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, so Jon, what inspired you to be a guest on the show?

Jon Dichter:

Well, um, you, number one, Aaron Gobler. And the fact that I was kind of perusing posts that you had made, and I knew of your show. But then when Christine Lavin came on, and I really admire her, I thought, wow, this is this is for real. He's interviewing a real musician who I, who I respect. Boy, I wonder if I could be on this show. And you were very, very happy to have me on. So here we are.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. It's like "Horton Hears a Who", right? All the people in Whoville are all saying "we're here, we're here" and then all of a sudden one voice breaks through.

Jon Dichter:

Or more like Horton Hears THE Who.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. (Laughter) Well, I'm so glad that, that that broke through and that you decided to be on because if I had to look back at my music history, and how I was introduced to music, or how I began listening to music, I would have to say it was through, primarily my mother, but she was also influenced by the Dichter family. And we had some music in our house that came from across the street, including one thing I recall was a reel-to-reel tape of Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles. And I don't know how it was transferred onto a reel-to-reel but my Dad had a Toshiba reel-to-reel recorder. And all I knew is when I was very little kid that we had this reel-to-reel tape of Magical Mystery Tour. I believe that's the album has "The Fool on the Hill". And so I just played that over and over again. And I did have a little radio station in my basement, in the basement that was wired directly up to a speaker in the kitchen. And, and I do remember just including that as one of the songs that I would play. And that's just one story of how music from the Dichter family influenced the Goblers and me. And just as a side note, you had your family had a dog named Woody, right? And named after, named after Woody Guthrie?

Jon Dichter:

Woody Guthrie, we were going to name the dog Arlo. And you know, because it was a golden retriever we knew he was a golden retriever and we just thought Woody the golden retriever. Arlo didn't really fly, but Woody did. Not literally fly, but the name, the name stuck.

Aaron Gobler:

There was a firehouse, a volunteer firehouse...

Jon Dichter:

Oh wow.

Aaron Gobler:

I don't know about three blocks away or something and whenever the fire siren will go off--

Jon Dichter:

Wait, can I can I continue? I know where you're going with this. But I haven't had this thought for about 40 years. But yeah, you you just brought this memory back and into my consciousness. The fire, that firehouse was on Manoa Road. The alarm would go off and Woody would sing. I guess that was the beginning of my music career. My dog taught me how to sing.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, in perfect harmony with the volunteer fire siren that would emanate from the firehouse.

Jon Dichter:

You're right. Yeah, yeah. Fascinating. Yeah.

Aaron Gobler:

Perfect harmony. And just as an aside, I have a relative who's like a genealogist. And she believes that I'm related to Arlo Guthrie.

Jon Dichter:

Huh. How's that... how does that work?

Aaron Gobler:

Well, so Woody Guthrie, I believe, had three different wives over his life. And one of them...

Jon Dichter:

Let me take a guess, Marjorie?

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I believe it's Marjorie. And well that's Arlo's mom. So I believe through her that I'm related to him. So I just throw that in there. So there's some connection there that Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie and your dog.

Jon Dichter:

Two degrees of separation.

Aaron Gobler:

Exactly, through a dog. And then I wanted to also mention that your your older sister, Barbara, taught me how to tie my shoes. I was eight years old, which is rather late to learn how to tie your shoes. And perhaps my parents had failed at it. But she had some magic way to teach me and after she showed me I was I never had to, like NOT know how to tie my shoes.

Jon Dichter:

Well, she's still tying shoes to this day.

Aaron Gobler:

Good, okay.

Jon Dichter:

She's alive and well and tying her shoes.

Aaron Gobler:

Yes. Hopefully she'll hear this this interview. And she will maybe remember, remember that maybe that was a poignant thing for her to, to teach an eight year-old how to tie their shoes.

Jon Dichter:

Well, I like how you're tying this all into the show. That's wonderful.

Aaron Gobler:

So that's, so those are just some of the stories. So John, before we get started with your song list, there's a question I ask every guest and that is, how does music fit into your life? Like is it in the foreground or the background of each day? But I'm gonna guess for you, it's always in the foreground. Can you give me an idea of the average week or month for you in regards to your piano tuning, performing and teaching?

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, so it really depends on the season. Things are going to start picking up in the fall, in the summer things a little slower. Every pandemic that comes along things slow down a little. This one in particular, the one in 1918, you know, things things were slow as well, but this one really was a real kicker. But things are coming back for musicians through the pandemic. My partner in rhyme and my lover through time Daphne, the beautiful holistic integrative doctor turned music producer and engineer, we set up a home studio to continue our one people band project, which features members from Paul Simon's band, Jamie Haddad and Biodun Kuti and Bakithi Kumalo and even members from Lady Smith Black Mambazo. Okay, Joe Laurie from Sting's band, and also Eric Wertham from Adele's music director and piano player, and Eric Bazilian from The Hooters and we just continued our body of music to, you know, bring to the world, the joys of music and the message of being kind to people through music, and we're very excited about its release.

Aaron Gobler:

That's marvelous. And what about your piano tuning work?

Jon Dichter:

The tuning subsided during the pandemic as well, and it started picking up when a company, Cunningham Piano Company called me to kind of get back into the game of tuning, and things started picking up and then there were concerts again, so a typical week or day, in terms of music and tuning, I would say that I'm always thinking about music, but in terms of economics, maybe about one-half tuning, and then the

Aaron Gobler:

What exactly are you teaching? other half, one-quarter, one-quarter teaching, and writing music or performing music. And sometimes that shifts where it's half music, but I'm always thinking about music. I'm always writing music, I'm always thinking about a piece and anything from Bach "Prelude" to Gypsy Swing things, compositions I'll be recording this Sunday as early as Sunday to a gig that I have this weekend. So something's always in my mind. Things I'm thinking for my students, what they want to do. So I always have to be a couple steps ahead of my great great, great students. So I have a lot of work to do. You know, is it Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing" solo. Yeah, I better get that down before Thursday, because Andrew is going to kick my butt, that sort of thing.

Jon Dichter:

I teach primarily guitar, some piano some voice some musicianship. And I would say that I look at myself more as a coach than a teacher. Even though I get paid as a teacher. I'm affiliated with some other schools in the Lower Merion area. So because of the access of music through YouTube and streaming kids can really, really teach themselves these days. But what they really need as a coach someone to say, yeah, there's, there's 20 versions of Vasa Dorado but listen to a version done by Schmitt, you know, and, and so so they can really gauge for themselves what they want to do and it gives me a kind of a track, I get into their track of what they're doing. And we kind of read each other's minds in terms of where they're going musically. And my best students are my best teachers for myself, by the way.

Aaron Gobler:

And so the general age of the students is?

Jon Dichter:

I have an eight year-old student now who's a wonderful singer. I mean, she's, she's kind of a sponge, she's great. And my oldest student, he's retired radiologist, and he's probably pushing... he's in his late 70s right now. And his mother was a concert pianist. And he insisted on taking piano lessons with me. And I, I'm not a concert pianist, so he's learning music for more more of a theoretical perspective, which, which is great, which is my wheelhouse.

Aaron Gobler:

And you said the word musicianship. That's something you teach. Can you define that?

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, I mean, you know, you remember 11th grade, you remember the SATs? Ooh, the SATs Scholastic Aptitude Test? Well, yeah. You know, for me, the SATs are style, attitude, and technique. You know, the "T" part is technique that scales and arpeggios and theory and everything that is the language of music. The "S" style is really you know, from Rock-and-Roll to Blues to Jazz ... really subcategories. What kind of Blues is a Country Blues? Is it City Blues, you know, it's more like Blind Lemon Jefferson, or Eric Clapton Blues? And an attitude is really something you cannot teach. And that is a certain je ne sais quoi, that thing where, you know, someone says, Man, I gotta learn this song, or, Hey, this song makes me feel like this. And you kind of reinforce that. That's great. Go for it. And so that's it. Musicianship for me is the SATs style, attitude and technique.

Aaron Gobler:

That's great. I like the way you framed that. One of the first things that jumped out to me seeing you on Facebook over these years is the tuning that you've done the piano tuning done for famous people, can you just give me a quick story about like, either the like, the first time you were asked to do this for somebody famous, or one of the most poignant or significant times that you did this?

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, well, um, recently, you know, was connected with Live Nation. And Live Nation is an organization

Aaron Gobler:

Wow. And people don't think about that they that puts on major concerts all throughout the country, I got what they say I got the call. And in the Philadelphia area, I started tuning for very, very big names. Once that happened, it was like a snowball effect. And I liked it. It kind of brought me out of homes, out of the shop, where I was doing a lot of rebuilding. At one point in my life, I was rebuilding pianos. And then then I got into general tuning. But then I morphed into becoming a concert tuner which for 30 some years I had not even thought about doing it. It's like someone else does think about maybe someone picking up their guitar ready to that type of work. It wasn't a lofty dream, like someday I'm going to tune for Bruce Springsteen. It just one day, I got the call. And then from there was The Eagles. And from there, it was Jack Johnson. And like, on and on, and on and on. It was like, Oh, holy, this is this is really a lot of fun. I get to talk to these people. And they need me as much as I need them. Stevie Wonder, I mean, just wonderful people. And they're just people. They're just musicians who want their instruments in the best shape they can. They can be. The play it and they see them tuning it you know, before they're Pope, you know, Aretha Franklin playing for the Pope, that sort of thing. It's just a divine thing. Is this what what is happening? What is happening, Jon? I think that the novelty about to play it, but you don't see a piano. You know, you don't kind of wore off, like at first, like, wow, look what I'm doing? Now it's, it's like, just shut up and do your job. Because there's really no, no room for slack. There's no room for getting a 98, you have to be 100 every time you know, like, one little one little nuance of a string is off. Like when I tuned for Chick Corea oh my god, it started raining and it was outside and he heard it. And he kept playing that one note that one note that one note that one note. And I'm thinking, Oh, he doesn't hear that. And I'm thinking, of course he does, he's Chick Corea. And the next day, my dad calling up and calling me up saying if you're in trouble, I can help you out. The Inquirer had talked about this concert. How because of the rain the note, there was a note that went out of tune and I'm thinking oh my God, my career is over and then it said, But then the tuner came to save the day. But it did not mention my name but nevertheless, it was a really really great feeling. It was a tough it was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Yeah. see Billy Joel open up his piano and tune it before he's ready to play it.

Jon Dichter:

No, it a behind-the-scenes type of activity and large venues there are guitar techs as well. So there's always even though the musician is tuning their guitar, there's someone who hands them a tuned the guitar pretty much.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Sometimes it's just a good way of segueing between songs as they sit there and mess with the keys on is that what you call? What do you call the the knobs on a?

Jon Dichter:

The tuning, the tuning machines?

Aaron Gobler:

Tuning machines?

Jon Dichter:

Or tuners? Yeah, they're not they're not really tuning there. Right. Right. There's stalling for time. The piano, the guitars are already tuned for them. You're so used to playing in so many clubs early in their career. They're tuning it and it doesn't need it. That's right.

Aaron Gobler:

Right. Right. Right. I hear you. That's great. I'm eager for us to listen to the songs together So Jon, let's jump into your list of songs. The songs you and to discuss the significance of each of the songs with you. chose were "I'm Five" by Danny Kaye from 1958, "Maybe I'm So let's jump into your first song, "I'm Five" by Danny Kaye. Amazed" by Paul McCartney from 1970 and "Minor Swing" by Django Reinhardt from 1937.

Aaron Gobler.:

Jon, I vaguely remember hearing this song when I was younger. And I certainly remember other Danny Kaye songs like "Inchworm". And, and he was he was such a talented entertainer. What inspired you to include this song on your list?

Jon Dichter:

Okay, so the album is called "Mommy, Give Me a Drink of Water". And it came out the year I was born in 1958. And I first heard it in 1963 when I was five. So I thought and I'm looking at the album right now. He actually didn't write the music. It was Milton Shafer, who wrote the lyrics and music and orchestration was by Gordon Jenkins. And I'll get to that in a second. But I thought at five, this was sort of my blueprint for my life. The songs were brilliant, he sang them beautifully. The orchestration was just, I didn't even know what orchestration was. But when I was hearing all these instruments and the modulations, I thought, this is the best thing I've ever heard. I guess this is my DNA, I guess this is like, who I am. And every single song, there's a song here called "Crazy Barbara". And my sister's name is Barbara. So I thought that this album was, you know, in kind of a self-referential way, I thought this was actually some some divine gift that was bestowed upon me. And then, you know, I listened to it over and over again. And I just have to finish the story here. And then the album was gone. And for 30 years, I didn't know where this album was. And it turns out that it was in the Gobler house. You had the album in your collection. And I think it was your mom, I think Mina said, you know, because I was living on Dorset Lane at the time, I think we have something of yours. And when I looked at it, I'm thinking it's not something of me, it IS me. You have my DNA. And I was happy to see it again. I was reunited with a voice from the ether, you know, Danny Kaye.

Aaron Gobler:

That's marvelous.

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, true story.

Aaron Gobler:

And so it's now in your possession and it's not going to leave your possession.

Jon Dichter:

I'm holding it now.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay.

Jon Dichter:

I'm never gonna let it go.

Aaron Gobler:

Carry it around with you. That's a wonderful story that I'm sorry, in retrospect that you had to live so many years without it.

Jon Dichter:

You know, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And with music, the great thing about it is it always comes around again, if it hits you on a certain level. It never goes away. You know, it's, you know, people's with, with people with Alzheimer's disease, they remember how to play a piece of music they played 80 years ago. I mean, it's just remarkable that what the memory, you know, strengths that music has, it's a beautiful thing.

Aaron Gobler:

It is. Yeah, it is pretty incredible how, how our brains can recall that so easily.

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, yeah.

Aaron Gobler:

For all those years. Yeah.

Jon Dichter:

By the way, the orchestration was done by Gordon Jenkins. And I was so fascinated by it, a couple years ago I, I tried to get in touch with him. And it turns out that he passed away. But I was in touch with his son, who was a sports, a sports writer in California. And we had we had a wonderful email exchange about his father. So that was, that was great. Milton Schaefer just passed away, and I regret not being in touch with him. He's the lyricist in music to this album of Danny Kaye.

Aaron Gobler:

So everybody, pretty much the key people in this recording have all passed on. But you can still put that on the record player as you experience it again.

Jon Dichter:

Yeah. Gordon Jenkins did a lot of orchestration for for Frank Sinatra. He was Sinatra's favorite orchestrator.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, thank you for for that story. And, and that little walk down memory lane there. I am delighted that you have that. I think maybe one of those glass album frame things that you you know, put it on your study there. So the Goblers can't take it.

Jon Dichter:

One of ours, again, it's yours. You know, I've internalized this, okay. Like Danny Kaye, by the way, Danny Kaye could not read or write a note of music, but he can he could conduct an orchestra because of his memory. He was a genius. absolute genius. Yeah.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Yeah. Really, really remarkable, man. Yeah. So Jon, the next song on your list is "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney. So let's give that a listen. And we'll talk about it on the other side.

Aaron Gobler.:

So Jon, who's this Paul McCartney I keep hearing about?

Jon Dichter:

Well, you know, prior to the group Wings, this guy was in a band. (Laughter) But you know, this is all Paul, a lot of people don't know this. That song, he's playing every instrument. Every instrument. He's playing the drums, he's playing the bass, he's playing several guitars, he's playing several keyboards. He's singing, of course. He wrote it. He engineered it on a four-track, I believe. I mean, it's just a work of art. I noticed I didn't include The Beatles, because every single Beatles song, you know, I could talk about it could be a whole radio show about each Beatle song. But this one kind of epitomizes Paul, it really just puts him kind of heads above all the Beatles. Not to say that he was the best. I'm just saying that he really had it together on so many levels, many, many, many levels.

Aaron Gobler:

I saw the "Get Back" documentary, and totally eye-opening in terms of lots of misconceptions or preconceptions I had about The Beatles. And it just struck me about how he really was I see the glue to the band.

Jon Dichter:

He was the leader. Every band needs a leader. Paul was the leader.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Yeah, I'm just thinking through my life prior to seeing that documentary. I just saw him and Lennon as kind of this power team. But through that, it seemed like he was the one who, who just was the calmer voice and the more chill, you know, but yeah, he was the leader. I guess if you look at it that way.

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, their personalities were so different. John and Paul, I mean, John was was, you know, almost like a revolutionary. Paul was like, let's please the people, and like that it can't be more extreme. While they're in the early Beatles stage, they respect each other very, very much. Their personalities started to kind of to kind of separate as they got older, but they were kind of united in the fact that they, they both had lost their moms when they were young. And that was one of the like an impetus for them to be together and to write these beautiful songs. They understood what loss of love was, they were just very, very different personalities. And it got ugly at some points. This album, "McCartney", where "Maybe I'm Amazed" this feature actually was released before "Let It Be". And that really caused a rift. You know, it was like the Beatles weren't even broken up. But he comes out with this. This album that just to a Beatles fans is arguably one of the best but it's not a Beatles album. It's Paul McCartney songs, Paul McCartney album.

Aaron Gobler:

And the fact that it was such a powerhouse of an album and like this performance in the song and such, I guess can make you feel like maybe The Beatles could just be Paul McCartney.

Jon Dichter:

Well, that was the beauty of The Beatles. They in the beginning they appeared as one, like The Rolling Stones called them the "four-headed monster". I think that was the Rolling Stones referred to them because wherever they went, they went together, but they were not as they got older. And by the way, this song came out he Paul was only 28 years old. This was 1970 so he was still really young, but they had 12 years, 12 or 13 years of working on their craft before this, so by the time they're 28, it's like, Hey, I got this down. I got this formula down.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that's pretty incredible for that age. So, but McCartney is still around, as long as you believe that he is actually Paul McCartney, and not Billy Shears, or some other imposter. You know, right?

Jon Dichter:

Well, if he's Billy Shears, Billy Shears is pretty talented. I don't care what he calls himself. That's a tough song to sing because he hits a high F that ... like no male, unless they're a castrati can hit and he hit it. I mean, he's just like, way above the stratosphere and he nails it. And it's like, you can't do it. You just like a normal person cannot sing that. It's just like, forget about it.

Aaron Gobler:

That's, that's one of the fascinating things about the non-musician listening to music is that, I guess it could be with any particular art, when someone can do it really, really well, we don't, as a layperson, really grasp the artistry, right? I saw Eric Clapton in concert at The Spectrum. And it's the first time I've actually heard an instrument sing like a person. And he makes it look so so easy. But he is was just a virtuoso at it. But it just makes it looks like it's effortless.

Jon Dichter:

Yeah, I mean, in the late 60s, there were billboards in England that said, "Clapton is God". And he was only he was in his 20s. So it's the amount, you know, it's obviously it's the natural talent that they have. But the work, the work ethic is so not even understood, people sometimes have an image of a musician. Oh, you know, they have that laid back lifestyle, and they, you know, it's so easy for them. Are you kidding me, like a real musician, like the amount of a talent and the work, because if you're talented, and you just go by that, someone's gonna come along and take it away, and then they're gonna be on the top. So if you're talented, it's hard. You know?

Aaron Gobler:

You really have to just admire just all that, like you're saying all that hard work built on top of their base skill. Is there anything else you want to add?

Jon Dichter:

So in the very early 60s, before The Beatles came on to the Ed Sullivan Show, I heard of a phenomenon called the "British invasion". And I thought literally, it was an invasion, a war, because I had seen my two older sisters. And they, the way they reacted to The Beatles, was like mass hysteria. And I witnessed this as a little kid as a five year old. There's a number again, five. So I witnessed this British Invasion that was about to happen when they appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, in 1964. I remember being in front of the television set, with my parents and my sisters about see the show, and blocking the TV, because I didn't want this invasion to affect my sisters in a way that somehow this energy would infect young teenage girls as my sisters were, and spawn a whole generation of hysteric people. That's what I thought the British Invasion was like just, and it was in a way, but I wanted to stop that. So I actually got in front of the TV. And as soon as I heard the first note of "Twists and Shout", I believe, I just I was infected myself. It was like, oh, it's all over. I love this stuff. And then I became a fan. And what I hear after the show, thousands and thousands and thousands of bands were formed the next day all throughout the world.

Aaron Gobler:

Incredible. Yeah. Oh, that's a great story. I'd never actually thought about someone taking it literally, a five year-old easily, right, takes a lot of things literally.

Jon Dichter:

Yeah. Yeah, that's what I did.

Aaron Gobler:

That's a great story. Thank you. Thanks. Jon,

Aaron Gobler.:

Jon, thanks so much for sharing this song. I the last on your list is "Minor Swing" by Django Reinhardt and it's featuring Stéphane Grappelli, and the Quintet of really got a kick out of it. I'm not well learned on 1930s music the Hot Club of France. you know, this tune will include some virtuoso guitar and other stringed instrument playing. I'm eager to know what inspired you to include this song on your list?

Jon Dichter:

Django Reinhardt was he was kind of a genius, freak of nature. Really. I mean, you know, it starts with the liner notes. I'll just read this. It's amazing. "On January 23, 1910, a boy was born to a family of nomadic gypsies camped in a field outside the village of (unintelligible) in Belgium. By the time of his death 42 years later, that boy Jean Reinhardt had become the world famous Django, the greatest of jazz guitarists, loved and respected by musicians and music lovers of all ages, and all tastes." Now, Django Reinhardt, by the time he was 18 years-old, was a pretty, pretty known guitarist, and pretty well well respected in France, actually the outside of the outskirts of Paris, where the Gypsy caravans would set and he was married at the time. And actually, his wife had a child. And he was coming home to his encampment. And he is, he lit up, he lit a candle. And the whole a caravan went up in a mass blaze because his wife, her job was to make celluloid flowers for funerals and weddings. And he was clutching a blanket or something. And the pinky and the ring finger were fused together to his hand. So what you're hearing is the world's greatest guitar player, arguably the world's greatest guitar player ever, with only two fingers on his left hand, including his thumb. So right there, it's a remarkable story. But the music that he invented, I would say, is just going on and on and on and loved by by many.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, that's quite a story. So are you saying that his guitar playing is even more... is it more fun, it's more, it's even more fantastic because of his impediment, or impairment?

Jon Dichter:

Well, what happened was, he had to relearn the instrument, I wouldn't say a blessing in disguise, but he had to relearn the guitar only using two fingers. So he had to develop an incredible speed. That was in some ways faster than someone using all five fingers or all four finger, arguably four fingers on the left hand. So he had to do it. And it took them a little bit of time. I know he was in the hospital for a while. They were gonna, the doctors were going to amputate his leg from the fire. And his Gypsy family just kidnapped him and took him out of the hospital. And the rest is history. He went on to record extensively. He toured but not that much. He was in France, mostly. And during the war, he lost touch with Stéphane Grappelli, his his compatriot on violin. And because the communication was the way it was back in '42, they couldn't find each other. And so they were playing throughout the war separately. And then they found each other and started recording again after the war.

Aaron Gobler:

And the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Is that his own? Is that part of his own band, per se, or did he just perform with them?

Jon Dichter:

No, that's the name of the band, the name of the band is the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. That's what, there was no place called "The Hot Club". It was actually the name of the band. Okay, so it was five of them. Always three guitars, one violin and string bass. And the reason there were three guitars is because when Stephane Grappelli played the violin, he had two guitars behind him. And then Django said, Well, I want another guitar player. I want two guitars behind me when I solo. So he employed his brother. And there was always a second guitar player besides Django. So that's why it was a quintet. That's why it was a Quintet of the Hot Club of France.

Aaron Gobler:

And then how did you hear about all this?

Jon Dichter:

Well, when I was 20 years old, I befriended a luthier, guitar maker and banjo player named John Zeidler. We were good friends. And we played in a band together, we were playing bluegrass music, it's the music that I could identify with, I could play and John Zeidler was was a gifted luthier and, and musician. And he always had kind of a word to say to me, you know, like as, as the older you know, we're the same age but like he was always like, older than me, and many, many light years ahead. He would say, if you think you're such a hot guitar player try to play what Django is doing. And that's when my studies began. I heard Django Reinhardt play, and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to play guitar, and I wanted to do it professionally. And I knew if I had to do it, if I was going to do it, I had to study. And unfortunately, there was nobody in this area that played that way. There were people teaching jazz and technique and classical. And I studied with pretty much all of those guitar players in Philadelphia. I really wanted to get to the sounds myself. So I was very lucky later on in my career, to team up with people like Stephane Wrembel and Kruno Spisic and Alfonso Ponticelli, the top Gypsy style guitar players and I actually worked with all those guys accompanying them. And now I'm back in the saddle again, trying to get a band together with similar type of musicians.

Aaron Gobler:

So it really seems like this was a significant part of your music history.

Jon Dichter:

Very much so. Yeah. It was a turning, it was a turning point. It was a turning point from going, Hey, I'm going to play I'm going to strum a little guitar and play a little bit of music and, you know, sing in the clubs to Hey, there's a certain standard here that I have to go for. And it's pretty high. Am I gonna go for it? And it's like, how can I wake up every single morning and think anything but "I gotta get my act together".

Aaron Gobler:

Quite an inspiration. Is there anything else you'd like to share about that song?

Jon Dichter:

There's only three chords in the song. I mean, it's remarkable what can be done in the scheme of three chords, but then you think about the blues and it's only three chords. So for you budding singer songwriters out there who are writing complex things. My suggestion to you is to write a three chord song and your road to fame and glory is right around the corner. Simple is better.

Aaron Gobler:

Just do it do a good job of simple. It doesn't have to be a mediocre job of complex, right?

Jon Dichter:

You will do a great job simple.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, there you go. That's that's good advice. Right. Thank you. Jon, is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections like things you may have thought of while we were listening to the songs or answers to questions I didn't ask you?

Jon Dichter:

All I can say is that it was hard to narrow it down to these three songs. There's just there's just so many things out there that can be mentioned. I was thinking for you Aaron, you know you have a career in a spin off of this show, you can have you know songs from the early Bible called "My Three Psalms".

Aaron Gobler:

(Laughter) There you go. Maybe I'll pepper the lineup with something like that, for better or for verse. Well, I want to thank you again, Jon. I'm so delighted that we eventually got to talk on the show. And it was just wonderful going down memory lane. And you know, I know there's so many songs one can choose but these three songs and how you describe them and how important they were to your life. You know, that comes through. And so I do appreciate you making this list and taking the time today. I had a great time. I hope you enjoyed yourself, too.

Jon Dichter:

Aaron, I had a blast. And by the way "memory lane" was Dorset Lane. And it's great that our pasts have come together to this present right now and continue to listen to great music and continue with the show. The premise is wonderful. And I hope it grows to something greater and greater, greater. You've got a great idea.

Aaron Gobler:

Thank you so much.

Jon Dichter:

Okay, take care. Say hello to the family.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, and to my listeners. If you want to be part of the show. Start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot show and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing list so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's Radio Show on your favorite podcast service, but the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music. So until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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