Tis the last weekly songlist of 2012. I’ve listed 500 different spotify tracks, over the 25 weeks I’ve been writing these posts, covering a pretty wide swath across my range of preferred music styles and genres. There are songs in these lists in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and a few other languages, and this list has a couple non-English tunes too. This week’s list has a few more songs that talk of change, traveling and memories, themes that sit well at the end of December. There will be one more list coming this weekend, and a few more posts besides, but 2013 is edging in sneakily and will be here in just a few days. Are we ready? (Actually I am dreading January and February, not because they’ll be in the new year, but rather because in Colorado it gets disgustingly cold over those months, every year. Those days when -7F is the high mid-day, it’s too cold and time to move to a warmer part of the planet.)
1. “Walk the Dinosaur”- Was (Not Was) (What Up, Dog?): I always think of those late nights I spent as a kid on New Years Eve, taping my favorites from the annual Top 100 MTV Video Countdown. Apparently Was (Not Was) existed for 13 years and released several albums, but all I know of them is this one song. Even my mom liked this song, and at a time when she and I disagreed about most things.
2. “On Aimerait Bien- En Duo Avec Duriand”- Guillaume Cantillon (Des Ballons Rouges): I’ll need to brush up on my French, no doubt, with how little this talented singer updates his English-language social media sites. Still, his album remains among my favorite new finds this year. If/when I find out he is releasing new music, no doubt you’ll hear about it plenty on my social media sites. I just wish my French was up to par- sending fanmail in English to a guy in France who sings entirely in French would be ok, if I had not happened across his music while looking for French stuff to practice with for a French class. Yes, I really ought to be using French with Mr. Cantillon, but maybe a bit of review would be in order first?
3. “Thankful”- Josh Groban (Noel): Noel is a Christmas album as the title suggests, but this song for me is one that belongs to New Years Eve as well, and pretty much any time. New Years Eve is a time for me to take stock of the past 12 months, and while I can always find dozens or hundreds of disappointments and failures to dwell on any year, there are also just as many good things every year. Especially as someone with a mood disorder, it behooves me to consciously focus on the good things at this time of year and to recognize what I have, not what I wish I had.
4. “Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)”- Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine): This is one of the songs that reached out and grabbed my attention when I was listening to a randomly sorted mix of potentially interesting stuff I found on spotify. If the reviews on amazon are any indication, there may be other songs off of this album, a multi-artist tribute album of songwriter John Prine’s songs. John Prine, by the way, is currently in Hawaii, ‘on tour’. Yes, I know, touring is work, but touring in Hawaii in December seems like a bit of a hybrid between work and a nice winter holiday.
5. “Pencil Full of Lead”- Paolo Nutini (Sunny Side Up ): One of the first songs I heard of Paolo Nutini, back when I was poking around youtube listening to stuff Keith Harkin had ‘liked’. And, yes, btw, if you Dear Reader happen to be one of the musicians I follow on twitter, have friended on facebook, etc., I do indeed pay attention when you post stuff about other musicians and bands. I try not to be creepy about it- I don’t actually know all the musicians I follow online, after all- but every so often I do find stuff I really like through these sorts of ‘recommendations’. I have no idea if my including their songs on my playlists does them any good whatsoever, but you really never know, right?
6. “Snow”- Maximillian Hecker (Lady Sleep): A track that captures in music the images and sensations of a snowstorm. It was indeed snowing when I started putting this list together, and this was the perfect soundtrack to the snow falling silently outside my window in the window-lit night. I hate snow. But, it was pretty.
7. “Patterns”- Simon & Garfunkel (The Columbia Studio Recordings (1964-1970)): I think this one made the cut this week just for the verse about the rat. I find that Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly remind me a lot of Simon & Garfunkel, and I can imagine what Neil and Ryan would look like when singing this song, especially the bits about the rat. As a song about the patterns our lives take, it also seems like a good song for a playlist at the tail end of the year.
8. “On My Way”- SHEL (SHEL): I may chicken out on seeing these lovely ladies this week- It’s freezing cold, and icy, my throat hurts, and I really don’t relish the thought of walking the 2 miles or so, alone in the dark on New Years Eve, to get home afterward. For those less cowardly or who simply have less watertight excuses to bail, SHEL is playing a show at the Aggie in Fort Collins on New Years Eve, joined for the evening by Elephant Revival, who I’ve had on several playlists. It should be an amazing show, but the advantage to these being local bands is that I can enjoy them next year when I feel better and when it is less icy. By then I may also be less annoyed at my poor pink camera, which did its valiant best to take the photos I wanted all year, but had such trouble keeping up at Hodi’s at the last show I saw.
9. “A Chatrion’ Og (Young Catherine)”- Julie Fowlis ( Uam ): One of my favorite songs off this excellent Scottish folk album. Singing along with songs in languages we don’t know is always interesting, if not always successful, but I always get the impression listening to Julie Fowlis that if I sang along with her enough I might actually learn some Scottish Gaelic. Her songs always sound contemporary and polished, something not all folk music achieves.
10. “Amarillo Sky”- Jason Aldean (Jason Aldean) : He looks so young on the cover of this album! This song was one of the ones that began my descent into Country music. The music video is cool, it’s a great song, and its a song about spaces and people like what surrounded me in the summers when I worked at a big summer camp out in Eastern Colorado.
11. “Storm Comin'”- The Wailin’ Jennys (Bright Morning Stars): The Wailin’ Jennys are becoming one of my established favorite bands, as my playlists I’m sure reflect. This one is a nicely ominous bluesy tune, a harbinger of coming change and unknown outcomes, which seemed appropriate for the new year. They haven’t announced their dates and locations yet, but it looks as if these ladies may be touring next year.
12. “I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out”- Stan Kenton & His Orchestra (100 Vocal & Jazz Classics- Vol.17 (1947-1949)): This is a jazz classic that really ought to be covered a lot more at live jazz/blues shows around here.
13. “Tell Me On A Sunday”- Michael Ball (Centre Stage): A long long time ago, I had a cassette tape with this song on it, sung by a woman with a richer, decidedly alto voice. At least as of tonight, it seems that the version I remember is not available on spotify, and I have no idea who the singer was. But, Michael Ball sings this one very well, so he’ll do in place of the singer I wanted, I suppose. Having been broken up with once inn a park, on a nice warm Sunday, I’m not sure it was any better than any of the other break-ups I’ve experienced, but who knows- maybe that one would have been truly devastating on any other day and in a less pleasant setting. At least no one yet has felt it necessary to run away by airplane to break off a romance with me, nor have any of them called at 3am from friends’ apartments to dump me.
14. “Babylon”- David Gray (Draw the Line) : It is tough for most artists to get their audiences to sing along on cue. Some people, Freddie Mercury, for example, trained their audiences to sing, and thus got pretty decent results. Most shows I’ve been to, though, had very spotty participation. So, the fact that this version of David Gray’s hit tune includes the audience singing through the entire chorus, in tune and with decent diction, is very impressive. I was thinking the first time this song came on this year that it would be a great song for Keith Harkin to cover, so I was tickled to hear when watching one of the Celtic Thunder Q&A videos that he does know this song. maybe if we’re lucky he’ll do us a cover of it whenever he manages to do a solo show in Colorado.
15. “Far Away”- Patrick Dethlefs (Fall & Rise ): I only met Patrick briefly this year, and haven’t listened to his music nearly as much as it warrants. Every time one of his songs comes on, I am reminded that I really like his songs, but then there are always so many other songs and singers. But, hopefully in 2013 I can keep this talented singer-songwriter more in my blog’s focus. This is one of the songs I particularly liked at his show here in Fort Collins this fall.
16. “Years May Come, Years May Go”- Irish Rovers (Years May Come, Years May Go) : A perfect anthem for the end of the year. “Years may come (many years are still ahead,
Years may go (Many years have passed).
Some go fast (they belong to yesterday),
Some go slow (still the memories last).
Some are good (couldn’t stop the laughter flowing),
Some are bad (couldn’t stop the tears).
For each one (thank the Lord that we have been),
Just be glad (together through the years).”
17. “I Go Back”- Kenny Chesney(Greatest Hits II ) : This is what songlists are about, at least partly- the memories that we link to our songs. A particular song from Rascal Flatts takes me back to Edmonds, WA, heading down to the beach with my roommates. Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Snake” takes me back to my childhood, dancing around and playing ‘superstar pop singer’ with my sisters in the basement den. Most of our songs are ‘just music’, but some of them absorb bits of our lives that we get back just a little when we hear those songs again.
18. “Your Long Journey”- Alison Krauss, Robert Plant (Raising Sand) : A song about partings, really about losing a loved one to death. The shootings at malls and schools that have made the news, and the ongoing violence in Syria, the escalating violence just recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and so many other newsflash highlights this year make this song particularly fitting, though we humans seem pretty good at hurting and slaughtering each other every year, really.
19. “Suantrai Seoithin Seotho”- Shauna Mullin (Wishing Tree) : Yep, this is it. This is the lullaby I fell in love with a couple years ago. For whatever reason when I was searching for the three words that make up this track title, this track didn’t pop to the top of my search results, but at least I finally noticed it this week in among the other music I’ve cached away to listen to ‘sometime soon’. It is a song sung by a mother or father to their baby, asking the baby to not run away with the fairies that are calling outside. I always imagine this song as one sung by a mother huddled inside one of those old rough stone huts that still dot the Irish countryside, rocking the baby by the light of a smoky smelly fire as the wind whips about outside, sounding like otherworldly voices seeking to steal the precious baby should the mother turn away just long enough. The tune, btw, also has lyrics that tell of a man rocking the cradle of his much younger wife’s baby, a child he must know is not his, while the wife is out frolicking with younger suitors elsewhere.
20. “The Longest Time”- Billy Joel (The Essential Billy Joel) : I thought about ending this last weekly playlist of 2012 with “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, especially after Ben Kelly did his not-so-smooth Derry City version of that song at the Walled City Records show last week. But, there will, I hope, be other years, and perhaps next year I’ll be more in the mood for that one. This year this song captures better the raw average of my moods over the past 12 months. Even taking June into account, it’s been a pretty decent year. some bad things happened, but loots of good things happened too. And, I actually met all of Celtic Thunder, including the fellow who in June was lying comatose in a Northern Ireland hospital. So, yeah, next year may be crazy, especially as I have to stop playing grad student and see what I can do towards building a career for myself next year. But, so far, I am optimistic that 2013 will be pretty cool.