Caught by the River

Jeb's Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 30th November 2016


Stream Of Life
Roland Alphonso


Cold this morning. The first really cold morning of the year. Grey and without edges; mist softened and damp. As I walk outside pheasants greet me, hoping for bird seed. Squirrels, intent on some private business, disappear. The trees are completely bare now, dark sticks against the grey. I walk slowly up our gravel lane, avoiding puddles and sheep muck. The air is just what I need; sharp and harsh and wakeful.

Last night I spoke to a friend in America who said: it’s going to be alright. The energy of a nation in free fall is better than the energy of a nation in endless stasis. This is the jump over the ledge, this, finally, for better or worse, is change.

I then dreamt about machines made of ice, half car and half boat, that floated around the place melting.

On my walk home I watch the sheep drift across the fields, grazing and not grazing. There are crows and magpies among them, pecking at the grass. A few drops of rain, a cutting breeze. I hurry home, light a fire and make tea.

Don Cherry, the great jazz trumpeter, once said: music should be familiar. It’s OK to retreat, every now and then, to the music of our youth. What’s wrong with that?

I bought Stream Of Life when I was 22. I’m now 55. That qualifies it to be The Music Of My Youth. When Roland Alphonso made the record he was 25 and looking back to the swing music of his youth. The Stream Of Life. A record so delicate, so fragile, so graceful, it seems to invent itself as it plays. So fresh, so familiar. So perfect.

Life goes on. Music goes on. Stupidity goes on. Hate goes on. Quietude goes on. Youth, friendship, desire, confusion, disappointment, fear, hope. It all goes on.

I play The Stream Of Life for the pheasants. For the sheep. For my friends in America. For my friends here. For all of us and them and what we are and what we might, one day, learn to be.


Jeb Loy Nichols

Jeb’s Jukebox archive