Staring down the end of the year, I’m debating the deployment of one of several tried, perhaps tired, and true formats for this column; the Best Of list, the Recap, the Resolutions, the Remembrance, and so on.
I’ve decided that it’s going to be like a plate at Christmas dinner. A little bit of everything. A proper medley of topics and tallies.
Beginning with this column and any of the previous entries, I wish to say thank-you to any and all that have taken the time to read it. It is a pleasure to have a forum to express myself about something I have enjoyed my entire life- the art of music. I hope that you continue to read and continue to comment as you see fit. I will continue to try and make it worth your time.
Some random updates regarding past columns:
Vol. 1- The Rolling Stones are rumored possibly to launch a 50th anniversary tour in 2012. Meanwhile, record stores do whatever they can to survive, sadly, with one of Los Angeles’ most venerable vinyl shops , Music Man Murray, looking for a buyer. Hard to imagine, but the Stones may have a longer lifespan than the stores that carried their music for so many years.
Vol. 3- The Monkees had one of the summer’s most successful tours and are also rumored to perhaps hit the road again in the new year. Regardless, a Monkees-inspired musical, Monkee Business, will premiere in Great Britain this spring.
Vol. 4- Elvis Costello’s record label recently released a boxed set of his work with a retail price tag in excess of $200. This prompted the bespectacled Costello to urge his fans, via his website, to avoid its purchase until the cost comes down. The punk band Fugazi, long a champion of all-ages shows and $5 tickets, turned loose online 130 of a potential 800 concerts recorded during their heyday, available for download for $5 each or, and this is why their fans love them, for whatever the consumer wishes to pay. Phish, the road-warrior quartet of improvisational wizardry, also made available another live compilation free for download as part of their Live Bait series.
Vol. 5- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced their inductees for the Class of 2012. They are Guns N’ Roses, the Beastie Boys, Donovan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Laura Nyro and the Faces. Deserving? Does it matter?
The Grammy nominations were handed out a few weeks back and out of curiosity, I decided to see of the 100+ nominations, which albums I acquired this past year. The answer? One. It was a nomination for best reggae album, Ziggy Marley’s Wild and Free. One album out of hundreds. I’m not sure what this says. For starters, when I listen to the radio, I tune in to KUSC, a Los Angeles public station operated out of the University of Southern California that plays classical music exclusively. My wife and daughter do their best to keep me aware of the latest pop and alternative fare. Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, (that single and her album are multiple Grammy nominees) was on a loop at our house for a few weeks last spring. Beyond that, I’m somewhat oblivious. Maybe, as a music writer I shouldn’t be admitting that.
What I do notice is that during my above recap, other than Adele, not a single artist mentioned has a career shorter than 25 years, and that most peaked before the turn of the century.
I wonder if I even have an open mind or ears for what’s new in music. Usually something comes along that gets my attention, but there haven’t been many. Derek Trucks and M. Ward are two that have produced some incredible things lately, but after that, not much.
Do I need to forget my auld acquaintances, at least temporarily, and get with the times? A question for the new year.
Lastly, as with every year, the world loses some talented musicians. One I wish to note is Amy Winehouse, a brilliant young woman with endless ability and style, who lost her fight with alcohol and drug addiction. Even before her passing, her death was mentioned by many as ‘inevitable,’ due to the severity of her addictions. It came as no surprise to some when she succumbed. It’s an incredibly unfortunate comment on society when one’s preventable death at 27 can be seen as inevitable and without disbelief.
So many musicians have been lost to the demons of addiction. As I write this on a rainy Monday , I think of the Carpenters’ hit, Rainy Days and Mondays, and I think of another young woman lost too early to a different kind of addicted behavior.
In these cases it should be obvious to remember our auld acquaintances, honor their work, and hope that those at risk can get the help they need before it is too late.
Song of the Year- Midnight in Harlem The Tedeschi Trucks Band from their album Revelator
All the best in 2012.
Picture By Brian Gimmel