Daily Maverick team
The songs, books and series that helped us get through an awful year
Relax, tune in and sing along...
On our playlist
Midnight Blue by Kenny Burrell and Moanin’ by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. These YouTubers digitise old jazz LPs. It comes with the original cover art so it looks great if you put it on your TV. It’s a lot like the experience of an LP without the hassle. It becomes an event. Your TV gets hijacked and turns into a beautiful album cover. Some of them are even signed by the artists – (Bernard Kotze).
Of course, it has to be Jerusalema by Master KG, featuring Nomcebo!
Haji Mohamed Dawjee
The catalog of Moondog aka The Viking of 6th Avenue – it’s messy and real and surreal all at the same time and I became obsessed with his life and mind and story after I read an article in the New Yorker.
At Least for Now by Benjamin Clementine. Clementine’s lyricism and depth really spoke to me at a time of loss.
The discography of the Hot 8 Brass Band. There aren’t a lot of albums but, damn, they’re fun.
And I got a lot of work done listening to Kyle Shepherd Trio’s album, Dream State, especially the tracks Xamissa and The Painter.
I Cried for You by Katie Melua; I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin; So Much Trouble in the World by Bob Marley; Trickle Down by Fat Freddy’s Drop; A Luta Continua by Miriam Makeba and The Final Countdown by Europe.
Danheim, Heilung, Wardruna. These three Viking folk metal groups have given me 2020’s Norse equivalent of Enya. It’s like karma for your soul, if your soul wanted to go drink ale with the chosen in Valhalla, slay giants and trek up to the healing mountain.
Run the Jewels has been my go to during lockdown-enforced home workout sessions. Nobody Speak also has a fantastic music video.
Pale Blue Eyes by The Velvet Underground
Pauli van Wyk
In lockdown I discovered Tinsley Ellis, Champion Jack Dupree and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
For the whole year, I’ve had Bruce Springsteen’s 2019 album Western Stars on repeat. I found its gentleness deeply soothing.
The A Star Is Born album
Days Like This by Dermot Kennedy.
The podcasts to download now
Score – The Podcast
In-depth interviews with big film composers. A little niche perhaps, and straight-forward, but solid quality and entertaining/informative interviews.
The great thing about podcasts is that they are perfect for niches. If you like something weird passionately, odds are there will be a podcast about it. It may vary in quality but it allows you to connect with a community that loves your crazy interests as much as you do. Those are always the most fun podcasts to listen to.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger. So beautifully produced and interestingly told. Also Modern Love, which is a set of often surprising micro love stories; and This American Life is a weekly teach-in on how to tell stories.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee (producer of Daily Maverick‘s podcast, Don’t Shoot the Messenger)
Obviously catch up on Don’t Shoot the Messenger, but I’m biased. And literally any true crime or cold case podcasts. A current fav is Female Criminals. It’s just pure escapism and doesn’t make me feel like a podcast is work, to be fair.
In case you missed the first few recommendations… Again and again! Don’t Shoot the Messenger – from the pro team, to recap on the year’s big issues.
My Dad Wrote a Porno
If you’re planning long drives these holidays and you don’t have kids in the car, this podcast will leave you rolling with laughter and in complete tears. One intrepid son discovered his salesman father wrote a pornographic novel. It goes about as well as you’d expect.
You’ll laugh, but you’ll also learn something. Jeff Cannata and Anthony Carboni are a hilarious comedic duo, but they discuss real phenomena in the world that warrant attention. Bird pranks, dog buttons, the life of lab mice, Zeptoseconds. They cover it all.
Daily Maverick’s ‘Don’t Shoot The Messenger’, because it was ranked by Apple as one of the year’s biggest new shows! (Rebecca Davis)
The Dropout. ABC’s investigative take on the rise and fall of Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes.
On our bookshelf
A History of the World by Andrew Marr
Honestly the only book I’ve read this year and I haven’t even finished it. I’ve really enjoyed the parts I have read though.
I read a great deal but the book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has stayed with me for the richness of the characters and the sketch of place. I know I was late to it, but the year gave me an opportunity to read books I’d been piling up.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee
Alain de Botton’s School of Life. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. The Brain: The story of you by David Eagleman. Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag. Sontag: Her life and work by Benjamin Moser.
All these books and many more were read or re-read for research purposes but I highly recommend reading them if you haven’t already because they all have one thing in common: harking back to a time of true storytelling, raw emotion, factual information, empathy and personhood.
Non-fiction: For the Record by Anton Harber. It is hard to put down this riveting and revealing book – which is an account by an investigative journalist who turns his muckraking eye to home turf, ethics and the media during a time of State Capture in SA. It should be compulsory reading for all journalists and journalism students. But it is also relevant to the general public, and very readable too.
Novel: Atonement by Ian McEwan – I finally got to read this book, and it did not disappoint; a good option for a lockdown read.
Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller
A quick read for poolside literature. Fuller is a dry, witty writer who has refined dark humour to a honed point. In this book she reflects on her father’s life as a banana farmer in Zambia and Zimbabwe. You can read this in one or two sittings.
Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
This one you cannot read in one or two sittings. It’s a 14-book series and is incredibly dense. That said, patient readers are rewarded with a fantasy world rich in history and an array of characters I’ve never experienced in the genre before. If War & Peace went to Middle Earth, you’d have the Wheel of Time.
There’s also a series coming out based on the books, so those of you who enjoyed Game of Thrones may want to get a head start on this, so you can sound cool in front of your friends later on.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” The inimitable Joan Didion carries one through heartbreak and the loss of someone dearly loved. This year, more than ever, the words resonate across many levels of how life changes with the blink of an eye and the aftermath of grief and surviving it.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle. If you have ever struggled with low self-esteem, insecurities or difficulty in trusting and believing in yourself, this book will change your life. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read each page and gasping in disbelief that someone else could describe emotions I have felt with such understanding. Doyle’s account of her struggle with anxiety and unhealthy coping mechanisms is raw, honest, real and… untamed.
Pauli van Wyk
Dirty Tobacco by Telita Snyckers
Evan Ratliff’s investigative journalism book about a South African criminal, Paul le Roux – The Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.
Patric Tariq Mellet – The Lie of 1652: Decolonised History of Land.
I am now busy with my first fiction in a while, Deon Meyer’s Donkerdrif. Cannot. Put. It. Down.
My stand-out read this year was Kiley Reid’s Such A Fun Age. The most skillful skewering of white liberals I’ve ever encountered – I was cringing in self-recognition.
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Erin Meyer and Reed Hastings. Innovative companies are built on foundations of a culture of excellence and customer focus. This book shares the surprising strategies Hastings employs to get the best out of the best.
Arrested Development – in relation to US politics in 2020.
Without Netflix, I am not sure how we would have got through lockdown. It kept us informed (excellent documentaries on the histories of pandemics and quick takes on Covid) and entertained (Narcos, Queen Sono, Kings of Jo’Burg).
Schitt’s Creek – it was the antidote to 2020. Slapstick, warm, crazy, social and not something I would usually watch.
If there is a set of documentaries that really resonated, it was Ava DuVernay’s majestic 13th and When They See Us. The former brilliantly linked slavery to incarceration and the Black Lives Matter movement. The latter is likely to become an epochal film (or series) about the American civil rights movement.
Then Michelle Obama’s Becoming, the film about the tour of her book of the same name, was an insider perspective of this phenomenal woman. The three together made black lives matter.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee
Mrs America. Simply because I think it was a reminder of how feminism hasn’t actually come as far as we think it has.
Surfing doccies, to keep a balance and perspective. Unnur by Chris Burkard (Iceland) – a gentle, feel-good surf film with a difference (it has a meaningful narrative).
Adapt? by Kyle Buthman (US, a dystopian takeout during Covid, a 3 min shortie).
Bruce Gold: The Last of the Great Surfing Hippies – (rewatched this during lockdown, to make me smile).
Chernobyl comes to mind. That, and for the complete opposite, Totoro 1 is a wonderful escape from the reality of our year.
This year we binged the big trilogies: The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, The Matrix. That last series probably has the greatest bearing on 2020.
Pauli van Wyk
Not much of a TV-watcher, but do enjoy Netflix series Dirty Money – investigative journalists looking at corporate crimes. Right up my alley!
Diana Neille and Richard Poplak’s Influence is the best documentary I’ve seen in a long time.
The trashy but riveting Netflix reality show Love Is Blind, which came out in February, and which featured strangers getting to know each other from within individual ‘pods’ they couldn’t leave. Talk about foreshadowing.
The Queen’s Gambit. Trauma, setbacks, talent, teamwork and unexpected wins. DM/ML
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