music clip of the day


Sunday, September 14th

His music, which I’ve been listening to for over forty years, never grows old. If anything, the opposite is true. Year after year, it gets stronger, deeper, fresher.

Blind Willie Johnson, “Trouble Will Soon Be Over” (with Willie B. Harris), 1929



reading table

I love the past tense, but you can’t live there.

—John Koethe, “Stele” (fragment; ROTC Kills, 2012)

Saturday, September 13th

David T. Little (1978-), Haunt of Last Nightfall; Third Coast Percussion, live



musical thoughts

It’s not hard to imagine a world where the kinds of music could be counted. Maybe there’d be 49, or 94, or 949. Thank God, or whatever, we don’t live there.

Friday, September 12th

sounds of Chicago

Robbie Fulks, “Let’s Kill Saturday Night” (R. Fulks), live, Norway (Bergen), 2013


Here’s another take—his 1998 recording.

Thursday, September 11th

William Basinski, “Disintegration Loop 1.1,” 2001



reading table

Photograph from September 11
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012; MCOTD Hall-of-Famer; translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak)

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Wednesday, September 10th

Following up on Friday’s post, here are a couple more early favorites.


October 15, 2009

How to be both solid and fluid, both fat and delicate. How to make the beat breathe. These are things that, as a child, Philly Joe Jones began to learn while dancing—tap-dancing. Just watch the way Thelonious Monk, listening to this solo, rocks back and forth (1:25-1:50), as if he’s about to break into a little dance himself.

Philly Joe Jones, live (with Thelonious Monk), 1959


October 3, 2009

Here are two New Orleans drummers who embrace the Muhammad Ali aesthetic: float like a butterfly (0:56-1:58, etc.), sting like a bee (1:59, etc.).

Dwayne Williams (bass drum) and Jason Slack (snare), live (before a gig), Hudson, New York, 2007


Tuesday, September 9th

What to make of this?

Why make anything of it?

Why not let it make something of you?

John Cage (1912-1992), Music for Amplified Toy Pianos (1960); Pestova/Meyer Piano Duo, live (recording session), Luxembourg, 2012



reading table

Falling blossoms.
Blossoms in bloom are also
falling blossoms.

—Ryokan (1758-1831; translated from Japanese by Kazuaki Tanahashi)

Monday, September 8th


One-word review: Wow!

Matthew Shipp (piano), live (music starts at 5:00), Chicago, 8/27/14

Sunday, September 7th

back to church

Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church Hymn Choir (Rock Hill, S.C.),”I Got Shoes,” live, McConnells, S.C. (Mt. Do-Well Missionary Baptist Church), 2001



musical thoughts

Mission: To transmit the tenderness of the human spirit through the disciplined action of a human body.

—pianist Marilyn Nonken (featured yesterday, heard last night in Chicago)

Saturday, September 6th

tonight in Chicago

She’ll be performing at Constellation.

Morton Feldman (1926-1987), Triadic Memories (excerpt)
Marilyn Nonken (piano), 2004



reading table

John Koethe (1945-), “A Private Singularity” (Poetry, 9/14)

I used to like being young, and I still do,
Because I think I still am. There are physical
Objections to that thought, and yet what
Fascinates me now is how obsessed I was at thirty-five
With feeling older than I was: it seemed so smart
And worldly, so fastidiously knowing to dwell so much
On time — on what it gives, what it destroys, on how it feels.
And now it’s here and doesn’t feel like anything at all:
A little warm perhaps, a little cool, but mostly waiting on my
Life to fill it up, and meanwhile living in the light and listening
To the music floating through my living room each night.
It’s something you can only recognize in retrospect, long after
Everything that used to fill those years has disappeared
And they’ve become regrets and images, leaving you alone
In a perpetual present, in a nondescript small room where it began.
You find it in yourself: the ways that led inexorably from
Home to here are simply stories now, leading nowhere anymore;
The wilderness they led through is the space behind a door
Through which a sentence flows, following a map in the heart.
Along the way the self that you were born with turns into
The self that you created, but they come together at the end,
United in the memory where time began: the tinkling of a bell
On a garden gate in Combray, or the clang of a driven nail
In a Los Angeles backyard, or a pure, angelic clang in Nova Scotia —
Whatever age restores. It isn’t the generalizations that I loved
At thirty-five that move me now, but particular moments
When my life comes into focus, and the feeling of the years
Between them comes alive. Time stops, and then resumes its story,
Like a train to Balbec or a steamer to Brazil. We moved to San Diego,
Then I headed east, then settled in the middle of the country
Where I’ve waited now for almost forty years, going through the
Motions of the moments as they pass from now to nothing,
Reading by their light. I don’t know why I’m reading them again —
Elizabeth Bishop, Proust. The stories you remember feel like mirrors,
And rereading them like leafing through your life at a certain age,
As though the years were pages. I keep living in the light
Under the door, waiting on those vague sensations floating in
And out of consciousness like odors, like the smell of sperm and lilacs.
In the afternoon I bicycle to a park that overlooks Lake Michigan,
Linger on a bench and read Contre Sainte-Beuve and Time Reborn,
A physics book that argues time is real. And that’s my life —
It isn’t much, and yet it hangs together: its obsessions dovetail
With each other, as the private world of my experience takes its place
Within a natural order that absorbs it, but for a while lets it live.
It feels like such a miracle, this life: it promises everything,
And even keeps its promise when you’ve grown too old to care.
It seems unremarkable at first, and then as time goes by it
Starts to seem unreal, a figment of the years inside a universe
That flows around them and dissolves them in the end,
But meanwhile lets you linger in a universe of one —
A village on a summer afternoon, a garden after dark,
A small backyard beneath a boring California sky.
I said I still felt young, and so I am, yet what that means
Eludes me. Maybe it’s the feeling of the presence
Of the past, or of its disappearance, or both of them at once —
A long estrangement and a private singularity, intact
Within a tinkling bell, an iron nail, a pure, angelic clang —
The echo of a clear, metallic sound from childhood,
Where time began: “Oh, beautiful sound, strike again!”

Friday, September 5th

Today, MCOTD‘s fifth anniversary, we revisit a few early favorites.


September 5, 2009

One left Cuba after the revolution, the other stayed. Here they play together: pianists—father and son—Bebo (1918-2013) and Chucho (1941-) Valdes.



September 11, 2009

If spirit could be sold, New Orleans would be rich.

Rebirth Brass Band, live, New Orleans, 2009


September 23, 2009

May, 2012

Nobel-Prize-winning economist devises a way to turn faces—images of them, that is—into marketable commodities: the more expressive the face, the greater the value.

March, 2013

Haiti is named one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Arcade Fire, “Haiti”


Without music where would we be?


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