Our Daily Breather: Don Bryant Recommends Playing Some Old Favorites

Jun 1, 2020
Originally published on June 1, 2020 10:34 am

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Don Bryant

Where: Memphis, Tenn.

Recommendation: Picking up an instrument and playing your favorite songs


I've got this big piano sitting up here, and a lot of free time. I've been working at it for a long, long time, but not taking the proper time to really get down or being taught by anybody. I would hear some things that people were playing, and sometimes they would bring a melody to my mind, and even though I didn't know how to play the piano, I could sit down and chord a melody out that fit the idea of the song that I heard.

A lot of the old songs that I have done come to mind. Now, I have the time to sit down at the piano and chord them out and play. I like to go back and pick up songs that I used to do a long time ago and haven't really thought of [since]. Sometimes they'll just pop up in your mind and I catch myself walking around the house just singing these old songs. When I hear them, it brings back better times when some beautiful things were going on. I sit down at the piano sometimes and just hum out different songs that go way back, all the way back to a man named Johnnie Ray, who had a song "Cry," which was one of my favorite songs that I used to do. That was one of the first songs that I did publicly at a concert.

"You'll Never Walk Alone," I used to sing that song myself when it first came out. I used to walk around humming that to myself, to make me feel better. That's how I feel: Songs should have some kind of effect or some kind of memory that people can look back and concentrate on.

When I looked at what was going around in the world, ideas would come to try to make that situation a little better, or something that I could convey to someone else to make the situation a little better. "Fill This World With Love" was "Everybody's got a reason for being here / Sometimes it's hard to find / You may be doing all the right things, but doing them at the wrong time." The main part is: Let's fill this world with love. —as told to NPR Music's Jon Lewis


Don Bryant's album You Make Me Feel is out June 19 on Fat Possum.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
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