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Jason Isbell's Advice For Staying Sane During A Pandemic

Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell

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: Jason Isbell

Where:Nashville, Tenn.

Recommendation: Happy People: A Year In The Taiga


I've found great comfort and entertainment in the Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov-directed documentary Happy People: A Year In The Taiga. The 2010 film documents the lives of fur trappers in the Bakhta village in Siberia.

I harbor no illusions about my ability to survive in these conditions; I'd be dead in a couple of days. They build their own cabins and traps, make their own skis and methodically schedule their daily work in a way that leaves no time for modern concerns. Even the snow dog seems blissfully exhausted. The Soviet Union assigned Gennady Soloviev and a partner 1500 square kilometers for fur trapping — then the USSR collapsed, his partner "didn't prove equal to the challenge" and Soloviev was left to fend for himself. He simply kept working.

Watching Soloviev go about the business of being human reminds me that the process of survival can sometimes be challenge enough.


The new album from Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, Reunions , is out May 15. Listen to his band's new song, "Only Children," on our New Music Friday playlist .

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