The most recent New York Times Magazine had a short feature on John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” web series, making the observation that it could only have existed in that pre-George Floyd moment when it seemed that COVID-19 was our primary concern. The piece, by Alex Norcia, states:
It was a well-intended distraction, but it was, as with so much else, insufficient to the circumstances. When civil unrest is worsening, it’s difficult not to become keenly aware of when, and how often, we’re choosing to soothe ourselves and bury our heads in the sand.
That’s how I’ve felt about my music show (with its common tagline “designed to chill you out…”) these past weeks, and why it’s taken me so long to produce June’s episode. Silly as it may be to expend much mental and emotional energy on something heard by so few, the notion of rounding up another hour of elegant pop music felt irresponsible and dishonest to the moment. Music’s central to how I think, feel and express myself, and what I need to express right now is the frustration, weariness, outrage, sadness and occasional hope that it’s possible to cycle through on a daily basis.
So I’m afraid that this edition of Gray Days and Gold is somewhat ‘off-brand,’ from a whisper to a scream. You won’t hear my voice in this episode, because I have nothing useful to add; the songs speak with more power and authority than I do—as does the fact that we’ve been here time and again, and have the songs to prove it.
If your listening habits call for more balm squad than Bomb Squad, that’s cool; I certainly won’t fault you for giving this one a pass. Perhaps July’s show will be closer to its usual self. All I know is that I had to get this episode out of my system.
You can listen via the embedded player just below in this post—if you don’t see it, try turning off your ad-blocker then reloading the page—or on the Mixcloud website, via the Mixcloud mobile app, on your Sonos system, etc.
For those who prefer Spotify, there’s an iteration of this episode’s playlist here (minus all my deft segues, of course).
- Algiers, “Can the Sub_Bass Speak?” (2019) • BUY
- Kamasi Washington, “Provocation” (2020) • BUY
- Timmy Thomas, “Why Can’t We Live Together” (1972) • BUY
- Stevie Wonder, “Big Brother” (1972) • BUY
- Kendrick Lamar feat. U2, “XXX” (2017) • BUY
- Michael Kiwanuka, “Hero” (2019) • BUY
- Solange feat. Lil Wayne, “Mad” (2016) • BUY
- Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment feat. Jamila Woods, “Questions” (2015) • BUY
- Michael Hedges, “Theme from Hatari!” (1996) • BUY
- Cassandra Wilson, “Strange Fruit” (2015) • BUY
- A Tribe Called Quest, “The Killing Season” (2016) • BUY
- Jamila Woods feat. Noname, “VRY BLK / Popsicle (Interlude)” (2016) • BUY
- Brittany Howard, “Goat Head” (2019) • BUY
- Curtis Mayfield, “Cannot Find a Way” (1974) • BUY
- Cleo Sol, “Her Light” (2020) • BUY
- Fishbone, “Change” (1988) • BUY
Take care, err on the side of compassion, and fight the powers that be.