Fantastic piece by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on the power and necessity of live music in our lives. With an added Springsteen story to boot! Great read!
So here we are again at the end of another year. While I have not been very active in the blogosphere this year, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to music and taking notes! So, just under the wire, here are my favorites of 2019.
10. Vampire Weekend – This Life
The type of song that can make you feel like the suns shining and the bird are singing, even if you’re in the middle of a cold foggy rainstorm.
9. Nilufer Yanya – In Your Head
Heard this song on a new music playlist and it grabbed me from the first riff. Can’t really tell what’s going on in her head, but the song kicks ass.
8. Bruce Springsteen – Stones
It took me a while to warm up to Bruce’s latest release, Western Stars, as it was so different from what I would have expected. But its filled with gorgeous melodies and grand arrangements, and as we have come to expect from Bruce, brilliant characters. This was one of my favorites from it.
7. Amanda Palmer – The Ride
A perfect song for a Sunday morning – a tour de force performance that tells you everything you need to know about this ride called life. Favorite lyric:
Everyone’s trying to stay on the side where the water’s just boiling more slowly
Frogs in a pot, well that’s one thing I’ve got
At least some of the frogs in here know me
6. Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas
This out of the blue paring between Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers is the perfect example of a collaboration that you hope isn’t just a one off.
5. Leonard Cohen – Happens to the Heart
I didn’t get into Leonard Cohen til towards the end of his life. After his death, went back and listened to his catalog and wished I had paid more attention earlier. This posthumous release is one last gift from this master songwriter.
4. The Beths – You Wouldn’t Like Me
I raved about this song back in Feburary, and the feeling never faded. A great song from a great album which hits one of my wheelhouses – guitar power pop with a female singer. And for some reason, the Southern Hemisphere (in this case New Zealand) seems to have more than its fair share.
3. Martha – Love Keeps Kicking
One of my favorite guitar riffs of the year from England’s punk pop masters Martha. And the video is a hoot to boot!
2. Alex Lahey – Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
You know what I said a bit earlier about guitar pop, female singer, and the Southern Hemisphere? Exhibit B from Australia. I could put this song on an extended replay loop and not get tired of it.
1. Little Steven – Superfly Terraplane
It was a great year for one of my favorite artists. Springsteen’s extended break from E St. Bnd projects has allowed many of the band members the opportunity to pursue their own projects, and Little Steven has taken full advantage. Releasing his first album of all new material in decades, he also toured extensively with the Disciples of Soul and continued to kill it live – definitely one of my concert highlights this year.
If I was king of the universe, this song would be a massive #1 hit worldwide. Alas, I’m not but its still my song of the year.
Wishing everyone worldwide a Happy New Year! Looking forward to more great music discovery in 2020!
Absolutely captures that summer party feel. Not the highest quality audio/video clip but one that I think best captures the pure energy and joy of this song in concert.
another gem from the new album, one of my favorites
Release number three from Bruce’s upcoming album. Might be my favorite one so far.
First 2 songs off of Bruce’s upcoming solo album are pretty much unlike anything he’s ever done and this one, like the first single, get better with each listen. Bruce‘s Roy Orbison fascination is on full display in this song.
Classic Springsteen song but with a twist. Video below is from last night’s Little Steven Summer of Sorcery tour stop in Asbury Park, NJ, when during the encore, who should come out on stage but…. Amazing how that happens!
Sadly, I was not there, this is pulled off YouTube. I love though how the song kicks in right at the moment when Bruce comes out. Also love the classic Bruce/Steve back and forth at the end!
From 1982’s classic Nebraska, probably the most “upbeat” song on the album. There’s a bootleg album out there called Nebraska Live where Bruce in introducing this song, tells a hilarious story about having to go to traffic court and after listening the guy in front of him plead his case for why he was doing 60mph on a residential street (he was drunk and thought it was the highway!) and then its Bruce’s turn, he says “well, Judge…” and then rips into a great version of the song. Anyway, I digress. I used to love to blast this song on my car stereo on those nighttime commutes between DC and Philly.
Christmas songs – there are as much a part of the holidays as all the other traditions – at least in our house. Start with the canon of songs, perhaps a couple dozen or so? This leads to endless variations on the same songs, some of which are horrendous, most just shrug your shoulders eh?, and few good ones. Of course, I realize that what fits in that last category varies widely – as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. Here are some of my favorites.
Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland
From the very first A Very Special Christmas benefit album from 1987 – I really love Annie Lennox’s vocals on this track, and very Eurythmics take on this classic
Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Sixty years old this year, this song by Johnny Marks (who also wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) has always seemed a modern addition to the canon (even though it is 60 years old, when rock was in its infancy). Brenda Lee was 13 years old when she recorded it.
Chet Atkins, Jingle Bell Rock
Originally recorded in 1957 by Bobby Helms, this instrumental version by Chet Atkins was first released in 1961. Somehow hearing the song without the lyrics and just Atkins playing makes it a better song imho.
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time is Here
I could pick any song off this album, the soundtrack to the 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas shows with a real message, and an thoroughly original set of songs that worked perfectly.
Pretenders – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Another choice from A Very Special Christmas, Chrissie Hynde’s vocal take on this 1944 classic of the canon makes this song one of my favorites.
Bruce Springsteen and the E. St. Band – Santa Claus is Coming to Town
If you know me, or have followed this blog for any length of time, this isn’t a surprise – how could I include a list of favorite Christmas songs without including Bruce’s version of this classic! – of course I am biased, but I think this is one of those rare occasions where the cover version meets or exceeds the original! Just love this version!
Anyway, again, very best wishes to everyone for a joyous holiday season!
Take it away Bruce!