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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Free Download The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel Ebook. Hardcover: 512 pages. Publisher: Harper (November 10, 2015) Language: English. Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel. Mitch Albom The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto Direct Download: 20151113-mitchal.mp3 Author, journalist, screenwriter, and broadcasting personality Mitch Albom is best known for the phenomenon that is Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time.

Mitch Albom creates a magical world through his love of music in this remarkable new novel about the power of talent to change our lives
This is the epic story of Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings
Frankie, born in a burning church, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, until war rips his life apart. At nine years old, he is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings. His amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, with his stunning playing and singing talent affecting numerous stars (Duke Ellington, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley) until, as if predestined, he becomes a pop star himself.
He makes records. He is adored. But Frankie Presto’s gift is also his burden, as he realizes the power of the strings his teacher gave him, and how, through his music, he can actually affect people’s lives. At the height of his popularity, tortured by his biggest mistake, he vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, having finally healed his heart, does Frankie reappearjust before his spectacular death—to change one last life. With the Spirit of Music as our guide, we glimpse into the lives that were changed by one man whose strings could touch the music—and the magic—in each of us.

Frankie Presto Songs

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“Hey, man,” a female voice said, “take it easy.”
He turned to see an attractive, dark-­haired woman sitting inside a purple van. She wore a sleeveless orange top and denim shorts and her skin was tan and her toenails were painted different colors. She made him think about Aurora. Where had he last seen Aurora? The eggs. He had to take her the eggs. If you love me, you’ll get me breakfast.
“What’s your name?” the woman asked.
“Frankie.”
“Come here, Frankie . . .” she said.
20
1946
* * *
“COME HERE, FRANCISCO,” DJANGO YELLED. “THEY ARRIVE!”
Frankie ran back toward the Frenchman, who was wearing a red ascot and a blue sports coat as he stood by a gate at the railway station called Grand Central in New York City. Frankie had been jumping between the streams of sunlight cascading through the upper windows of the terminal. He had never seen walls so high. Frankie’s world, until he was nine, began and ended in the streets of Villareal. It expanded on the docks of Southampton. But it exploded upon landing in America. Everything he saw was bigger and grander than what he’d seen before. The cars. The buildings. The bags ­people carried. The hats they wore.
“Look, Francisco. Is him, no?”
From the waves of commuters, Frankie saw two strangers approaching, one a tall, striking man with a thin mustache, his hair slicked back. Frankie had seen his face on a record album. It was like seeing paper come to life.
“Monsieur Django, I presume?” Duke Ellington said, offering his hand.
“Monsieur Duke, pleasure great is.”
Frankie was dumbstruck. He remembered the night El Maestro made him play Duke Ellington’s record over and over until he said they could keep the phonograph.
Django touched Frankie’s shoulder and mumbled “chavo” (the gypsy word for “boy”), then rambled in his Spanish-­French mix. Frankie spat back the words in English.
“Mr. Django says he is very excited and honored to meet you and to perform with your orchestra,” Frankie said. “Also, he would like to hear Dizzy Gillespie play somewhere.”
“And you, young squire?” Duke Ellington asked, smiling.
“Huh?”
“Are you his son?’
“No. I am . . .” Frankie didn’t know what he was. “I am his talker.”
“Very well, talker. Tell him we leave for Cleveland in an hour.”
Frankie did as asked, although he didn’t know the word for Cleveland so he just said “Cleveland.” The man with Duke Ellington said, “I can carry Mr. Reinhardt’s guitar.”
“That’s mine,” Frankie said.
“Where is Mr. Reinhardt’s?”
“He didn’t bring one.”
“He didn’t bring a guitar?”
Frankie translated. Django looked embarrassed, almost angry. He rattled off a stream of words.
“He says he thought someone here would give him one.”
On the train to Cleveland, Frankie was too excited to sit still. He now wore a new coat that Django had purchased at a store in the train station. And he was traveling with musicians! He marveled at their luggage on the platform—trumpets, drums, an upright bass. Some opened their cases and tooted a few notes for him.
“What do you play?” Frankie asked a group of men.
“Saxophone,” they answered.
“You all play the same instrument?”
“Tenor.”
“Alto.”
“Baritone.”
Frankie was awestruck. The musicians even let Frankie hold different horns, gold-­colored, silver-colored, a long trombone with a valve that slid back and forth. He felt as if someone had opened a treasure chest. Best of all, he’d been given the tour schedule, and on it Frankie read the word Detroit. That was the city! The one on the piece of cloth that he kept in his guitar case! He would find his aunt and she would help him return to Spain and Papa and El Maestro.
He was back on his path.
Frankie allowed himself a giddy feeling that he had not experienced since Villareal, a tickle in his stomach that made him anxious for the next day. He was given a lower berth in the sleeping car but as he stood beside a heavyset trumpeter, Frankie blurted out, “Can I have the top one?”
“Hell, yeah,” the man said. “I don’t need to do no climbing.”
Frankie scrambled up and bounced on the mattress. He put his hands behind his head. The train jerked forward and began to rumble, and he heard the scattered laughter of the musicians and someone humming a song. He liked the camaraderie of these men, who were more like boys than the men in Spain. They even had childish names, like “Cat” and “Taft” and “Shorty.” Lying in his bunk, Frankie smiled.
He had joined another band, this one without even playing.
That night, Django came back to see Frankie’s accommodations. The musicians were dressing for bed, and Django noticed they all wore boxy underpants with colorful floral patterns.
“Que están usando?” he said, laughing.
“He wants to know what you are wearing,” Frankie said.
The men seemed surprised.
“Ain’t he ever seen nice skivvies before?”
“You are crazy,” Django blurted out.
“He says you are crazy.”
“We heard.”
“We ain’t the ones with a pint-­size translator.”
“Go tell it to Duke.”
Frankie followed Django to the compartment he shared with Mr. Ellington. When they entered, the bandleader was also undressing. Django was shocked to see his undergarments were even gaudier, with hearts and flowers in a colorful pattern.
“Is something wrong?” Duke asked.
“Non, non,” Django said.
He leaned over to Frankie and said in whispered Spanish, “Chavo, this is a strange country.”
21
1969
* * *
“YOU GONNA COOK THOSE EGGS?” SAID THE WOMAN IN THE VAN. She wore blue eyeshadow, her lips were glossed and three necklaces draped around her neck.
“Cook them?” Frankie looked at the carton. “Yes.”
“Where?”
He pointed in the direction of the music—­or what he thought was the direction of the music.
“Back there.”
“Where are you from?”
“Me?”
“Yeah, handsome.” She smiled. “You.”
Normally when someone asked this, Frankie said California. This time he said, “Spain.”
“Far out,” the woman cooed. “You came to hear music?”
“To play it.”
“Onstage?”
“Yes.”
“You’re a long way from the stage.”
“I have these eggs.”
“You said that—­”
“For breakfast.”
“Are you really from Spain?”
“Sí.”
“You’re funny.”
He felt his knees wobble. He steadied himself against the van door.
“Why don’t you come in?”
“Where?”
“Next to me.”
Frankie stepped inside. He would only stay a minute, he told himself.
“How did you get here?” she asked.
“I walked from the store.”
“No,” she laughed. “You said you’re from Spain. How’d you get here?” She spread her arms. “America.”
Frankie dropped his head against a large embroidered pillow. He watched her roll a cigarette.
“With a band,” he said.
22
1946
* * *
THE ELLINGTON BAND TOURED FOR THREE MONTHS. During that time, Frankie saw his first cow (out the train
window), his first hand-­dipped ice-­cream cone, and his first American movie theater. He continued to learn the gypsy guitar techniques from Django—­and perfect the Spanish-­French language they forged together. He also learned that Django’s baby was named Jimmy and that he died after living only a few weeks and that Django chose Bach and Handel and Mozart to be played at the funeral mass, and that the little boy was buried in a French cemetery. It was the second time he had heard about a proper burial (Aurora York had told him of the first), and he thought about seeing where his mama was buried when they got to Detroit.
He also learned that Django was ready to cancel what would prove to be his only trip to America—­until Frankie had agreed to go. The idea of traveling with a boy made the journey after his son’s death more bearable. I can see all futures, the ones my talents will make and the ones they will turn away from (just as I can hear all melodies on a keyboard, those played and those yet unplayed) and I can tell you had Frankie not been there, Django would never have experienced America, or the way it influenced his life and art.
This is why Frankie’s bottom string turned blue when they met.
But we will return to that. First, the opening night. When they reached Cleveland, Django was forced to buy a new guitar for the concert, which made him furious. “This is travesty,” he told Frankie as he tuned the new instrument. “Why they not have a guitar for me? A Selmer, as I love? I am Django. They should give me a guitar of gold.”
“You can play mine,” Frankie said.
“Yes?”
He put down the new one and took the instrument from Frankie. After plucking a few notes, he stopped.
“Is perfect. Did you tune already?”
“Yes, sir.”
Django studied Frankie. “I will play your guitar tonight and show them who I am. But I will give it back and you must never let it go. Never sell it. Never lose it. Never give it to someone and hope it returns. Don’t let go of your music, chavo. Or you will let go of yourself.”
“Yes, Mr. Django.”
That night, from the wings of the stage at the Cleveland Music Hall, Frankie experienced something that would stay with him forever. The first blasts from an orchestra. The syncopated punches of a horn section. The elegant twirling of clarinets and saxophones. The dragging power of trombones and basses. Even the look of the band—­the uniformity of them all, handsomely dressed in dark tuxedos—­made an impression. And the crowd! Nearly two thousand ­people! Their roaring ovation was a response Frankie never imagined. It jolted into him, spreading through his bloodstream. He did not understand the physics of applause, but he knew, from that moment, that he wanted to hear it for himself one day.
Django did not come out until the end, and was accompanied only by Duke Ellington on the piano and a bass player who tried to follow. There had been almost no rehearsal. But someone once said of Reinhardt, “He is music made man,” and I accept the compliment. He was one of my prizes. His playing that night, on Frankie’s well-­traveled guitar, was so remarkably original, even the band members were yelling, “Go to it, Master! Go to it!” He did four songs, each one making a bigger impression than the one before.
The next morning, in the hotel, Django asked Frankie to find a newspaper and read him anything that was written about him. Frankie turned the pages until he saw a headline: FRENCH GUITAR ARTIST STEALS DUKE’S CONCERT.
“Hmph,” Django said, sipping his coffee. “As it should be.”
Their time together was so eventful and so fast, that years later, it would feel to Frankie more like a dream than a memory. But one night in the city of Chicago, Frankie watched the band setting up, and noticed the bass drum featured a drawing from the RCA Victor record label—­a dog staring into a gramophone.
Frankie’s stomach went weak. He thought of the hairless dog and the phonograph in El Maestro’s flat. He thought of all the parts of his life he had left behind. He was suddenly and profoundly sad. This trip was exciting, but he was still a child, and all children eventually want to go home.
When the tour reached Detroit, he set out to do it.
23
1969
* * *
THE WOMAN IN THE VAN RAN HER TONGUE OVER HER TEETH.
“That is such a mind-­blowing story,” she said. “You just traveled all over when you were a kid? With Duke Ellington?”
“Yeah.”
“So cool.” She dragged on her rolled cigarette then handed it to him. She leaned over his legs.
“I want to see this guitar.”
She undid the clasps and opened the case.
“Careful,” Frankie mumbled.
“Why careful?”
“It does strange things.”
“Like what?”
“Magic. Stuff like that.”
She grinned.
“You’re funny.”
“I’m not.”
“I think you are.”
Frankie looked at his hand. It seemed huge. The smoke left him blinking. The woman slid closer.
“Take one of these.”
“What is it?”
“A Lemmon. Don’t you like Lemmons?”
She put a small green pill in his mouth, then swallowed one herself. She curled up against him.
“What’s with the eggs?”
“My wife. They’re for my wife. I have a wife. We’re having a baby.”
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know . . .”
“You don’t know?”
“At the stage.”
She smiled.
“Then she’s not here, is she?”
She put her face close to his.
“What happened next?”
“Next?”
“The story. After you left the band?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Try.”
Frankie closed his eyes.
“It was cold.”
24
1946
* * *
IT WAS COLD. SNOW WAS FALLING.Frankie tugged on the wool jacket Django had bought him and adjusted his thighs on the concrete stoop. At this point, he had been in America for October, November, and part of December. He didn’t know how ­people lived in such weather. Once again, for the thousandth time, he opened his guitar case and took out the piece of cloth with an address written in Baffa’s handwriting, the address of his sister: 467 Claret Street, Detroit, Michigan.
Frankie had already knocked, many times. No one had answered. He’d been waiting on the steps most of the afternoon. Django had offered to come with him, but Frankie, quite bold in his independence by this point, told the guitarist his aunt would likely want to hear all about Baffa, so he would be there for a while. And she would probably want him to live with her until she could get him back to Spain.
“If this is so, you must come to say good-­bye, chavo,” Django said. “We leave tomorrow, yes?”
“Okay,” Frankie said.
He tugged on his coat. The small brick house resembled others on the block; each had a short, straight driveway, like frets lining a guitar neck, with parked cars collecting snow. Big cars. Long cars. It seemed to Frankie that everyone in America had a vehicle, unlike Villareal, where ­people still used carts and horses.
Frankie closed his eyes and pictured Baffa’s house on Calvario Street, sitting in the garden, listening to the radio, the hairless dog by his side. He remembered those days as warm and sweet.
“Are you lost, son?”
Frankie opened his eyes. A mailman with a blue uniform and a large leather bag was in front of him. Snowflakes dotted the brim of his cap.
“No, sir.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m waiting.”
“In the snow?”
“Yes.”
“Who for?”
&
nbsp; “My aunt.”
Frankie held out the piece of cloth.
“Well, you got the right house. She’s your aunt, huh?”
“Yes, sir.”
“How’d you get here?”
“Mr. Django paid a car.”
“You mean a taxi?”
“I think so.”
“Does she know you’re coming?”
“I’m late.”
“Were you supposed to be here this morning?”
Frankie shifted on the concrete. “Later than that.”
The man pressed his lips together, considering the boy in front of him. He handed over several envelopes.
“Want to give them their mail?”
Frankie took the letters.
“Stay warm,” the man said. “They should be home from work any minute.”
Who was “they”? Frankie thought. He watched the man finish his route, stopping at every house, until he couldn’t see him anymore. It grew dark. Frankie wondered if he’d have to sleep here.
Just then, a pale green Chevrolet turned down the street with its headlights on. As it slowed, Frankie’s heart sped up.
Stop here, he willed it silently. Stop here. Stop here.
It stopped. Frankie rose. He did not truly understand the purpose of an “aunt,” having never had one before. But since the moment he’d read El Maestro’s note in the hull of that ship, he had been waiting to meet her, hoping she would fix things, get him back home, reunite him with his original band.
What he saw changed all that.
What he saw was the car doors open and a man step out of one side and a plump woman with light hair step out of the other. Frankie had seen her face before, countless times, in a photograph with her arm around Baffa—­a photograph he’d kept under his pillow. A chill ran through his young body and a cymbal crashed inside his head. He dropped the letters, leaped from the stoop, and as the woman’s mouth fell open in confusion, he ran across the snow-­dusted grass with his arms held high, screaming, “Mama!”