music clip of the day


Tag: John Berryman

Sunday, September 11th


Quartet of unidentified incarcerated men at Cummins State Farm (now Cummins Unit), Gould, Arkansas, recorded by John A. Lomax on May 21, 1939, under the auspices of the Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress. Photo of baptism at Cummins, 1953, from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture.”—Alan Lomax Archive, YouTube



reading table

Bats have no bankers and they do not drink
and cannot be arrested and pay no tax
and, in general, bats have it made.

—John Berryman (1914-1972, MCOTD Hall of Fame), from Dream Song #63

Wednesday, October 24th

like nobody else

This world is not my home . . .

—Sun Ra (1914-1993)

Sun Ra Arkestra (SR [keyboards, vocals], John Gilmore [tenor saxophone, clarinet, vocals], et al.), live, Spain (San Sebastian), 1985








reading table

Appalled: by all the dead: Henry brooded.

—John Berryman (1914-1972 [MCOTD Hall of Fame]), from Dream Song 21

Sunday, December 10th


The Pure Heart Travelers, “I Like to Talk About Jesus,” live, Detroit, 7/12/17




reading table: variations on a theme

History is approaching a speechless end,
As Henry Adams said. Adams was right.

—John Berryman (1914-1972, MCOTD Hall of Fame), “The Moon and the Night and the Men,” excerpt


Never has human extinction seemed so richly merited . . .

—A.O. Scott, New York Times, 12/10/17

Tuesday, August 30th

MCOTD Hall of Fame

Today drummer Hamid Drake (1955-) enters the MCOTD Hall of Fame, joining saxophonists Von Freeman and Henry Threadgill; trumpeter Lester Bowie; gospel singer Dorothy Love Coates; composer Morton Feldman; poets John Berryman, William Bronk, and Wislawa Szymborska; and photographer Helen Levitt. Whatever the situation, he adds oxygen.

DKV Trio (HD, drums; Kent Kessler, bass; Ken Vandermark, baritone saxophone), live, Chicago, 2010

Saturday, July 18th

Here’s more of drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and reed player Ken Vandermark—this time together.

Live, Romania (Oradea), 2012



reading table

These Songs are not meant to be understood, you understand. / They are only meant to terrify & comfort.

—John Berryman (1914-1972, MCOTD Hall of Fame), Dream Song 366


random sights

last night
Columbus Park, Chicago

FullSizeRender (12)

Thursday, July 16th

In the right hands, a drum kit can be a kinetic orchestra.

Paal Nilssen-Love, live, Norway (Høvikodden), 2010



reading table

The jane is zoned!

—John Berryman (1914-1972, MCOTD Hall of Fame), Dream Song 2

Saturday, January 31st

only rock ‘n’ roll

The Avantist, “Ramses,” live (studio performance), Hickory Hills, Ill., 2014



reading table

I am obliged to perform in complete darkness
operations of great delicacy
on my self.

—John Berryman (1914-1972, MCOTD Hall of Fame), Dream Song 67

Tuesday, April 8th


Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), “Stake,” live, Chicago, 2009



reading table

Dream Song 1
By John Berryman (1914-1972)

Huffy Henry hid  the day,
unappeasable Henry sulked.
I see his point,—a trying to put things over.
It was the thought that they thought
they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
But he should have come out and talked.

All the world like a woolen lover
once did seem on Henry’s side.
Then came a departure.
Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
I don’t see how Henry, pried
open for all the world to see, survived.

What he has now to say is a long
wonder the world can bear & be.
Once in a sycamore I was glad
all at the top, and I sang.
Hard on the land wears the strong sea
and empty grows every bed.

Thursday, August 8th

There are all kinds of blues, too.

Joe McPhee Survival Unit 3 (JM, alto saxophone; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Michael Zerang, drums), live, London, 2010



reading table

Dream Song 40
By John Berryman (1914-1972)

I’m scared a lonely. Never see my son,
easy be not to see anyone,
combers out to sea
know they’re goin somewhere but not me.
Got a little poison, got a little gun,
I’m scared a lonely.

I’m scared a only one thing, which is me,
from othering I don’t take nothin, see,
for any hound dog’s sake.
But this is where I livin, where I rake
my leaves and cop my promise, this’ where we
cry oursel’s awake.

Wishin was dyin but I gotta make
it all this way to that bed on these feet
where peoples said to meet.
Maybe but even if I see my son
forever never, get back on the take,
free, black & forty-one.

Back in the ’70s, when I was in college, I heard John Berryman read his poetry, an experience that opened my ears and mind in all kinds of ways. He moved so swiftly, and gracefully, from one register to another, leaping back and forth between high and low as if nothing could be more natural. Today he joins a select group—tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, trumpeter Lester Bowie, singer Dorothy Love Coates, poets Wislawa Szymborska and William Bronk—in the MCOTD Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, 11/30/11

lunch yesterday

Could Van Morrison ever have imagined, in 1969, while recording Moondance, that “Into the Mystic” would serve, in 2011, as aural accompaniment for Wendy’s Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt?



reading table

John Berryman, “Dream Song 14,” Ireland (Dublin), 1967

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

More? Here. And here. And here.

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