115. “Django Reinhardt was here!”

The episode:The Deadly Mantis,” ep. 804

The riff: Exclaimed by Crow as some military men investigate a strange three-pronged furrow in the snow that we, the audience, know was made by the claws of a giant, deadly mantis.

The explanation: This is a bit of an obscure musical joke, if I understand it correctly. First, I’ll explain that Django Reinhardt was a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist active mostly in Paris in the 1930s. His “Hot Club of France” jazz group is one of the most imitated in history, and he brought many elements of folk music and especially gypsy music into jazz for the first time. The provenance of this riff, though, refers to Reinhardt’s hand, which was crippled in a fire as a teenager. To the end of his life, he only had full control of three fingers, which made his solos all the more amazing and groundbreaking. So basically, the SOL crew is saying a three-fingered hand made this mark in the snow, if I don’t miss my guess.

Novelty factor: This is one I actually knew off the bat, as a folk music geek. Django Reinhardt’s music was a direct inspiration on some of my favorite artists in the world of progressive bluegrass, such as David Grisman.

His fingers look okay to me, but I'm not a doctor.

His fingers look okay to me, but I’m not a doctor.


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