james weldon johnson


Another busy day yesterday. I did manage to choose anthems for the choir through Palm Sunday and get them in the folders for last night’s rehearsal. I also put in time on my new composition tentatively called “Breath Dance.” Since the performance at which this piece  might be played is early in February (I think it’s Feb 2), there is a good chance I won’t  have it done.

Today, I need to recuperate a little bit. But I have Friday and Saturday free to finish it or at least have a version of it ready for the performers to have in their hands by this weekend.

My copy of the Library of America’s volume of selected James Weldon Johnson arrived in the mail yesterday along with a box of music. I only had about an hour and half between prepping for last night’s rehearsal and the rehearsal itself. I spent that time happily looking over my new book and music.

I am interested in James Weldon Johnson largely because I have recently realized that my love of Negro Spirituals is a subset of my love of poetry as much as music. This morning I was reading in my new book and realized that one of the selections was Johnson’s introduction to the Second Book of American Negro Spirituals.

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I own both books bound in one volume. I pulled it out and continued reading but in the introduction to the first book. Although it’s not clearly attributed I believe it is also by Johnson. He points the reader to is in his introduction to the second book.

He is writing in the 20s and his prose is dated but I find it lovely. I am aware that the author is a poet of some considerable ability when I read “[T]he Spirituals were literally forged of sorrow in the heat of religious fervor.”

Johnson brings me closer to Christianity by his emphasis on to what he calls “a reversion to the simple principles of primitive, communal Christianity.”

I struggle with the idea of belief. I recently told my shrink that poetry does for me what religion seems to do for some people But I do not struggle with what Johnson calls its Cardinal virtues: “—patience—forbearance—love—faith—and hope”  nor with the beauty of Johnson’s poetry or the poetry of the American Negro Spiritual.

It is one of the ironies of my life that I continue to circle back round to Christianity, this time via my love of non academic music of all sorts. Many of these draw from the well of Negro Spirituals without which there would be no blues, no jazz, no rock, no hip hop and on and on.

My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror

James Risen was interviewed in a recent On the Media Podcast, A Journalist of Consequence. This is the article they mention and this is the book.

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Rush Limbaugh: The Media Are What They Accuse Trump of Being… Totally Unfit | Video | RealClearPolitics

I don’t get exposed to Rush Limbaugh much. I bookmarked this article to read since I’m pretty sure it’s full of shit but Limgaugh has helped us get to the terrible place we now are at in the USA so I want to understand as much as I can about those I vehemently disagree with.

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

I basically think this study is full of holes. One of the holes is that I would consider myself someone who plays a bit of both Jazz and Classical music as well as other styles . There were only thirty pianist in the study. Is that even a statistical sample?

Donald Trump’s first year made me rethink my American government class

A year later the USA has lost its way to the point that we are witnessing the erosion of the possibility of the dream of democracy. This article is written by a teacher of a government class at Rutgers.



tmi from Jupe


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So taking time off yesterday didn’t work out so well. I practiced organ in the morning, so it would be free if Peter Sykes and Greg Crowell dropped by in the afternoon so Sykes could see it. After that I dropped in on my Mom at the hospital. She was not a happy camper. She was ready to go home.

Her room was under a C diff quarantine so I had to gown up and put on gloves to enter. She was barely coherent. I checked with the nurse about taking my tablet in to Mom’s room to show her pics. They said I could if I swabbed it down afterwards. They agreed I could clean the screen myself after I got home.

So I showed Mom some videos of Lucy and pictures of Alex. She seemed interested and a smile played on her lips. As I was leaving, one of the nurses said that crankiness could be a sign she was feeling better. Nurses know shit, that’s for sure.

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I came home and had lunch. I was working up the ambition to go and exercise since I was feeling exhausted anyway and have had to skip exercising for a while due to a full schedule of stuff, when the hospital called and said that Mom was being released and when would I like to pick her up.

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Actually the release person was very weird on the phone. First she talked like they would take Mom home if I wasn’t going to. Then when I said I was going to get clothes for mom, the person on the phone said she could wear her nightgown and they could put a nurse scrub bottom on her to get her home. I told her it was a bit cold for that. We set a 4:30 PM release time. That would give me time to go exercise, go get Mom’s clothes and arrive at the hospital with the car.

This is what I did. The ride from the hospital to the nursing home reminded me of another ride I took with Mom. The one where she was delirious about Dad and kept telling me to stop the  car so she could get out and I could go on with Dad.

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She didn’t want the car stopped yesterday, but she did say that she should just  come home with me. After all, she continued, she no longer had a room at the nursing home. I tried to reason with her, but all she did was get quiet.

I got her to her room. But the attendant said that there was no nurse on the premises at the moment. She also said that it would be best if I went to Meijer and filled the prescriptions the hospital sent home with Mom. This is not the way her meds are handled. But the delay of getting them through the usual channels would be a couple of days.

So I took my little body over to Meijer. They still had Mom in the system at the pharmacy there. I’m not sure that mattered, but by 6:30 I had the meds and what I could remember from the list of stuff on the fridge at home that I needed from Meijer.

I’m hoping today will be a bit more like a day off.

NYTimes: The Poet of Light

This review inspired me to re-visit the poetry of Richard Wilbur.