happy new day.

by dr j

2015 sounds like the beginning by James Maskalyk on Mixcloud

i’ll keep this short, as it has been a long night in the ER. how many vodka sodas can a teenager drink on new year’s? i don’t have an exact answer, but not as many as he thinks he can.

the hospital is a living thing, i can tell you that, and the ER is its mouth. it eats sick people, or spits them out. i saw a man sleeping outside, shivering from the cold, a woman with a broken hip, one who was losing her baby. i ate my dinner listening to a neurosurgery resident discuss with his staff doctor the list of patients he had seen in the evening. brainstem tumour. infected cervical spine. cancer breaking through a vertebrae.

this has been one big, bad ass year. there has been no other that presented the same challenges, not the way these ones rolled out. in many ways, it was the hardest in a long while, and at the same time, the most honest. i feel more ready than i ever have been for the intense work that stretches from it.

i wonder if that’s true of us together. my teacher, shinzen (may grace and good fortune bless him), has a theory about fermi’s paradox, why if we live in such an infinite universe, we have received no message from another intelligent civilization. we could be the first. we could be all alone. maybe a message, on its way to us for millennia, is still hurtling through cold space, or we received it before we could understand. there are others, but shinzen suggests that instead of looking to the stars, or to mars, for freedom, maybe consciousness develops to a stage where we realize every answer to any question that matters is embedded in us, every single secret. there are other civilizations, sure, and they have heard our signals or ones like it, and at first it excited them, and they hurried to respond, but as they heard more, realized that other places were also looking for peace while still fighting, love while hating, they slowly saw their own green place, the civilizations rising and falling beneath their feet, their children born again and again, and they knew that if they raced away towards other oceans they would just dirty them too, so they stopped building machines, and let their listening equipment rust and for the first time knew their home.

i’m fond of this theory. certainly, as good as any other. in some ways, I think we are on some kind of trajectory that may recognize that the answers we need are not how to get to Mars but how to live our small life more deeply as it is now.

grateful for all of you who have shared this rare time with me. you have filled my heart time and again.

here is some music for you. love. j.


try to make a mix every year, around this time, that shows my fondness for both music, and the album. nearly all of these are from bands who put out great records in 2015. it was one of the best years i can remember, and hard to choose only a few. and, as i intimate below, hard not to make every song on this record a courtney barrett one. love.

Solo – Max Richter – This guy is my favorite contemporary composer for two reasons. One, he makes really beautiful concept albums, like his latest, 8 hours long, that is designed to play out as we sleep, then welcome us to the world. Two, he is the only contemporary composer I know, while also making me feel I don’t need to look much farther.

Coco Blues – Mbongwana Star – I remember a friend of mine who worked in DRC, where MStar are from, telling me that when he went out to listen to music, the band just played the whole night, no stopping for applause, or to demarcate the end of a number. It was all one long song. I’ve wanted to go there since, and one day, I will. And until then, this.

Oulhin Asnin – Terakaft – Oulhin Asnin means, “My heart suffers”, and the desert blues of Mali have never been bluer, as all Libya’s guns worked their way into souks, then villages, into the desert where the Tuareg people have sang their songs for a thousand years.

Broken Necks – Eskimeaux – Pretty music from brooklyn wrapping its arms around you.

California – Grimes – She is officially le sheet. Produced this poperfect record, sang on it, did the art, finely tuned ear to the ground all the way through.

Brown Skin Girl – Leon Bridges – I listened to this record more than any other. I can’t understand why every band isn’t this band.

Dust Bunnies – Kurt Vile – to all those times you had a headache like a ShopVac coughing dust bunnies, and for those times you just wanted someone funny and smart to be singing to you.

Washed-up Rock Star Factory Blues – Corb Lund – Alright, I’m from Alberta, and you might think I’m choosing this song ’cause i like the plains or pretending i do, or dudes from there too, and in some ways you’re right, but in most ways your wrong. I’m choosing it ’cause when I was in Edmonton, this guy was the lead singer of the heaviest band around, called the Smalls. If you were on the verge of understanding what he was saying over the ratatatat of the drum and the heavy guitar, someone would put their boot in your eye and now he’s singing johnny paycheck and probably always was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFBA_Vn309I&list=PL1C8FEA6105D79FF6&index=2

An illustration of Loneliness – Courtney Barret – This is the record of the year. No shit. She is my new favorite band, and every song on her album rules. I don’t have much else to say.

La Loose – Waxahatchee – love and loss never sounded sweet as they do coming from alabama and just from the name, i think i’ll fish this river (then put em back)

River – Ibeyi – twin sisters, born in cuba, raised in france, singing in yoruba, a nigerian language. percussion is spare and crisp throughout, and you’re just like, “God sounds good” no comma.

Demon – Shamir – genderqueer future soul music from the heart of las vegas and why not.

Mmm – Harleigh Blu – how can a song that sounds so sweet be so so sad.

Want Something Done – Oddisee – I lament the loss of the boombap , not just because the vocal refrains these days are so lazy, but because there isn’t enough space to say anything much deeper than “uhhhh”. Anyway, this guy keeps it nice.

i – Kendrick Lamar – but no one nice than this guy.

Dub Storm – Fats Comet – second craziest song i heard.

Cruel Sport – Blank Mass – this is, actually, the craziest song i’ve ever heard. it is a long player, worth listening to in it’s entirety. i mean, if you’re a cyborg looking to have a good time.

Love – 77 Karat Gold – soul music from Tokyo, what in the 2015 more than that?