• Flash Fiction

    The Horse Did Have a Name

    \’Sure you don\’t want a ride?\’ We\’d been walking for weeks and he hadn\’t said a word until now. \’Nah, but thanks kindly.\’ I wanted a ride, but it just felt weird, especially since he\’d just started talking out of the blue like that. Maybe if he hadn\’t done that, I could have given it some thought. I might have asked for a ride, if he hadn\’t spoken. He looked at me out of the corner of his large right eye. The sun glinted off the brown iris, accusing me of not accepting the gesture. \’I mean, I wouldn\’t mind.…

  • Non-fiction

    Post-Proximal Woman

    In 2004, I was in the basement, working away on some music mix or other, putting song sets on floppy discs for later burning onto CDs, downloading from sources that will go unnamed here but that were sort of okay then. It was before we had a mad panic to move from that house, which was likely only standing thanks to walls filled with squirrel nests (and carcasses — yes, a few had died in there, likely babies who could not yet navigate the narrow beams and thus plummeted to untimely rodent deaths where we could not retrieve and mourn…

  • Non-fiction

    Rays

    I\’m still on my Pharoah Sanders kick. I\’d forgotten the forlorn wailing of his horn, the grounded flexibility of his Sun Ra Orchestra, his connectedness to Mother Africa and planet, moon, star that evidences in every note. I cried when I listened to \’Astral Traveling\’ the other day; the tendrils of sound touched my inside parts, drawing me to create a playlist of my favorites on Spotify. I now have 93 songs, 13 hours and 34 minutes of wailing horn on repeat play. The sound hugs my soul right now, bringing comfort that I didn\’t know I needed. And for…

  • Non-fiction

    Walk On to the New Frontier

    It was a morning for music in my head. I think I may have been delirious since I didn’t turn on my fan last night. I didn’t realize it until the room was starting to grow lighter that something was amiss. I had tossed and turned for a bit and after stickily making my way to the bathroom, came back to discover the fan button was firmly off. I flipped it on for a bit and stretched out for a few more minutes before starting the day, proper. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F766nMg5-IE&w=560&h=315] Dionne Warwick’s version of ‘Walk On By’ is so sunny,…

  • Non-fiction

    Must Be the Music: Day Eleven

    One thing that goes well with gospel music from the 1950s and 1960s is organ music. It is true: I am a fan of the pipe organ and take great pleasure in hearing one that is well-played, as they often are in churches. Robert Götzfried offers a photographic exploration of some (as it seems to me) modern pipe organs in his exhibit, titled simply as ‘Pipes’. I want to fly off to Germany and listen to them all, of course. As a kid, my Nana would go to Philadelphia at the holidays especially. We’d ride the bus, the El, and…

  • Non-fiction

    Must Be the Music: Day Ten

    Back when jazz was my second heartbeat, gospel was likely my first. My Nana, my dad’s mom, was my caregiver before I started school. She often sent me upstairs to put a stack of records on for her. She liked it when I made a mix (I guess I was destined to be in radio at some point). Rev. James Cleveland was a favorite of hers; she had several of his albums. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJL740aqP5Y&w=560&h=315] However, my favorite was Ms. Mahalia Jackson. She was a prolific singer; so many come to mind, but Didn’t it Rain was one we listened to…

  • Non-fiction

    Must Be the Music: Day Nine

    I mentioned Donald Fagen yesterday, which made me go back in time. Do you remember the library? I mean, when we had card catalogs and dusty books with moth-eaten pages and a section just for kids and storybook time and the library lady who wore her glasses on a chain and shushed everyone? The library where I grew up was my haven. it was a home away from home, where I gained an immunity to the smell of paper, the feel of decayed pages, and learned to dance to the sound of the machine they used to imprint a library…

  • Non-fiction

    Must Be the Music: Day Eight

    I think this will be the last hip-hop related post in the series. No promises, but that’s how it feels today. It seems the 1980s were quite the era for hip-hop from all over. It’s likely because that’s when television got in the mix with cable and MTV. However, I first saw the video for Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story’ on a little back-woods local channel, known for playing all sorts of things. It’s also the first place I saw Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Donald Fagen (yes, these are the links to those early videos I remember …).

  • Non-fiction

    Must Be the Music: Day Seven

    Speaking of hip-hop and DJ Premier, Gang Starr became a favorite along the way as well while I was at WRSU. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jseZP4K6rkg&w=560&h=315] It was an interesting time; there weren’t many DJs of color on air outside of weekend specialty programming, so most of the world music, hip-hop, jazz, and gospel went to those shows. I did a stint as music director and worked hard to change that. Since I got to open all the music when it came in, I put albums like Gang Starr’s in for regular rotation. It took time and conversation to convince the specialty show…

  • Non-fiction

    Must Be the Music: Day Six

    I mentioned discovering Wynton Marsalis’ other musically inclined relatives after digging into his discography. However, I came to know his brother Branford from a different path. The name Buckshot LeFonque goes back farther than the group B. Marsalis put together to Cannonball Adderly. However, as my love of hip-hop continued to fuel the vestiges of fire in my weary soul in 1994, this album was life. I cried (notice a theme over these days?) more than once as I sang along with songs like ‘Another Day’ and wanted to dash off and join the Panthers as I boiled over the…