(Graphic: Adrianna Dufay/TueNight)
Man, it has been a shitty year. From the music world alone, we lost Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones. We lost our chance at electing the first woman president of the United States. And, everyday, we get to watch our buffoon of a President Elect attempt to distract us from his disastrous cabinet appointments with the Twitter stream of a toddler. Good times! Still, throughout this terrible year, many wonderful things did bring us joy. We asked several TueNight contributors to write in with their toasts to some of their favorite moments of the year.
2016 has been marred by loss and violence constant enough to numb. So I’ve found it helpful to cling to art, and especially to music, as a salve. Released days after a disastrous and surreal presidential election, A Tribe Called Quest’s final album WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE THANK U 4 YOUR SERVICE is potent and prescient, calling out for justice and healing in these raw times. Phife Dawg, who died suddenly in 2016 along with musical luminaries Prince, Bowie and Leonard Cohen, is now shrouded in the musical amber of a time and place, singing about violence, hopelessness and anxiety.
The song “Melatonin” particularly resonates because of my own response to world events: sleeplessness. Melatonin has become necessary for this racing mind.
On a more positive note, this album reminds me of all of their older albums, where ATCQ’s brand of hip hop was about partying and dancing and their lyrics were hopeful and clever and silly and fun. Some of the songs on this recent album take me right back to the early- and mid-1990s, which, to me, was such an inclusive, positive period. The America I wake up semi-exhausted in today is a different place than the world of my early 20s. I am older, with more to worry about for myself, my family and my country, but listening to ATCQ on Apple Music in the car or alone in my closet getting dressed, I do feel inspired and motivated to dance and think and most importantly act in this new world. We gotta get it together for brothers, for sisters.
We’ve got to get our shit together
It’s time to go left and not right
Gotta get it together forever
Gotta get it together for brothers
Gotta get it together for sisters
Cheers to the legacy of music that Prince Nelson Rodgers left behind. The untimely death of the politically and socially conscious producer, instrumentalist, ballader, rocker, hip hopper, producer, movie star, ladies man and all over sexy motherfucker whom the color purple was evidently created for (hence that hue of rain) made it possible for the average person to finally listen to the multiple tiers of messages in his music. Here’s to Prince’s bold embrace of spirituality and sexual security and the mystifying, magical, transcendent and eclectic innovative style that not only ensured he was one of the best-selling artists of our times but also ensured all that he was at peace when finally beckoned to meet his maker.
Here’s a toast to Target for reaffirming their inclusive policy on bathrooms. Target is being boycotted by conservative Christian groups for this policy. Since I already love shopping at Target, now I can feel even warmer inside about spending money there — and telling relatives to buy my kids’ holiday and birthday gifts there and not at Amazon (which does business with Trump along with other nasty things).
As a mom who wants to keep others safe, to be able to travel and encourage her children to do the same without fear of this terrible disease, I offer a toast to the determined scientists who are working tirelessly to make Ebola history. The news from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was so bleak: the Ebola virus’s devastation seemed endless. Then, when cases were reported here in the U.S., the nightmare felt unstoppable. When the news came this spring that a vaccine was in tests, it was a welcome infusion of hope.
Cheers to computer programmers Margaret H. Hamilton and Grace Hopper for receiving 2016 Presidential Medals of Freedom. Hamilton’s code helped take humans to the moon and was released on GitHub this year. Hopper created the first computer compiler and the COBOL programming language. Her legacy lives on in the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, the world’s largest conference for women in computing.