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Curated listening opportunities

Inspiring, Hopeful Music

These are strange and dark times. All around the world, folks are hunkered down, hiding from the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to hear some positive news, something in which to believe. Jamie Ryan Downey, who lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, came to Radio Nouspace via American Dust. Turns out he is a musician, plays guitar, and interested in the sounds heard here. We invited him to curate some inspiring, hopeful music, sounds that would give us a sense of well being. He did, and it is a great collection. Enjoy this special listening opportunity of inspiring, hopeful music, curated by Jamie Ryan Downey.


Inspiring listening while hunkered down is a challenge these days, but here's a a cut called "Requiem for a Fox" from the 2003 album Like Hearts Swelling by Polmo Polpo, a musician from Toronto. His real name is Sandro Perri. He plays multiple instruments and has quite a following as a contemporary composer. Listen for the ring tones and detuned filters that mark his earlier work. And at the end, enjoy the slide guitar solo. I saw him perform in Christ Church, here in Hamilton, as well as in the living room of a house that used to host a lot of underground shows. I think it might be just right to get us started.

If you liked that cut, you can listen to the entire album on Youtube and/or Bandcamp.

Okay, next, I think, if you don't mind, some of my own music. This is "Raise the Djed." I made some DIY modifications to my guitar to produce the sitar sounds. The band is called No Shoes & One Sock. We recorded this live at Christ Church, during the This Ain't Hollywood "420 Fundraiser," 20 May 2012. This is the same church where Polpo performed, here in Hamilton.

No Shoes & One Sock played Christ Church twice. Here is a bit recorded during the Hamilton Art Crawl, 11 October 2013.

Pretty much all of the "released" material from the No Shoes One Sock project is available on Bandcamp.

Regarding hopeful music. I can't help but think of this one, "Built Then Burnt [Hurrah! Hurrah!]" by Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. It's part of a four-song suite on the first side of the album Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward (Constellation CST018, 2001). Listen here on YouTube. Listen to the entire album Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward on YouTube.

The lyrics are compelling as well . . .
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Dear Enemies and Friends!
Why are we all so alone here?
All we need is a little more hope, a little more joy
All we need is a little more light, a little less weight, a little more freedom
If we were an army, and if we believed that we were an army
And we believed
That everyone was scared
Like little lost children in their grown up clothes and poses
So we ended up alone here
Floating through long wasted days
Or great tribulations
While everything felt wrong

Good words
Strong words
Words that could've moved mountains
Words that no one ever said
We were all waiting to hear those words
And no one ever said them
And the tactics never hatched.
And the plans were never mapped.
And we all learned not to believe.
And strange lonesome monsters loafed through the hills
wondering why
And it is best to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever wonder why

So tangle; Oh tangle us up in bright red ribbons!
Let's have a parade
It's been so long since we had a parade
So let's have a parade
Let's invite all our friends
And all our friends' friends
Let's promenade down the boulevards
With terrific pride
And light in our eyes
Twelve feet tall and staggering!
Sick with joy
With the angels there
And light in our eyes
Brothers and Sisters
Hope still waits in the wings
Like a bitter spinster
And shivering
Waiting to build her glorious fires.
I's because of our plans man;
Our beautiful ridiculous plans!
Let's launch them like careening jetplanes!
Let's crash all our planes in the river!
Let's build strange and radiant machines
At this Jericho waiting to fall

Silver Mt. Zion is a side project by members of a legendary Canadian experimental music collective called Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Listen to their "The Dead Flag Blues" on YouTube.

I'll end with "Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet." This is probably the most hauntingly beautiful song ever recorded. It's a 1971 composition by Gavin Bryars, made on a loop of an unknown homeless man singing a stanza of this religious song. It was recorded for a film about street life around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo, in London. It wasn't used in the film, and given to Bryars. He added the orchestrated accompaniment. Things like this need to get heard more. I listen and want to weep for the beauty of it. While listening you can learn more about the very interesting story behind this recording at the Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet Wikipedia page.

This is the original 25-minute version. There's a 60-minute version, and a 70-minute CD version with Tom Waits.