Selections of music listened to in 2020. One uptempo playlist, one down. Notes on tracks in no particular order.
These are also the last playlists from here (until the mind changes again). I don't listen to music this way anymore. So full works and a bit of biography from here on out. That and far, far less glib liner notes.
Free / Bipp / You Are The Generation That Bought Shoes & Got What You Deserved. Even pop might be at the end of its tether.
Breathless. Nick Cave lived in Berlin in the 80’s under the (false) impression that there was no heroin in the Cold War island. At some point in his career he just cracked his heart open and got it into his music.
The Boccherini. Light as air.
Men Called Uncle. Costello said he never once wrote a love song (read his biog this year and loved it). Bitter lemons this, but made bright by Steve Nieve’s keys. A song about predatory male behaviour avant la lettre.
The Procession of Celestial Beings. Hisaishi has written some of the finest music for Studio Ghibli’s animate films (masterpieces many). This is supposed to be music of the gods and spheres. It is!
Back, Baby. A Berliner. Pratt is one of the artists involved with Oda.co . Definitely google it — could be the future of music. Certainly in my future.
Sports Men. Japanese genius pop about the emptiness of fitness culture. As with Men Called Uncle, a song from the past that fits the present. Have we ever been so bored?
The Salley Gardens. Performed this one live in January. British folk music will recur 3 times, ending with sea shanties. Ur-texts, right up thru music hall, the Beatles, today.
Cortez Sail. Man, if you ever get to see Terry Allen. This from his profane radio opera about West Texas life. A genuine genius, tho I see I’ve used that word once already. I mean it here.
Sam Stone. We lost John Prine in 2020.
Leave the Capitol. We lost Mark E. Smith in 2020. The man had foresight: is there a less interesting place than the capitol these days?
Tammy. I found this in a beautiful film about childhood in Liverpool, warm, decreasingly poor, modern cracks in a Catholic life. From a Hollywood musical, this opened up the young boy’s world.
Double Dutch. McLaren was the impresario behind the Sex Pistols. He’s even less musically involved here. Doesn’t need to be as he’s just invented sampling.
Oh Yeah. Is this ironic? I take it at full sincerity. Lovely song.
Opening. Sondheim is obviously very intelligent (also, part psychopath). This one gets past his blood brain barrier. Not too many diminished, jagged chords here.
Make Me a Song. Find a groove, build a song.
Take My Hand, Precious Lord. I read 4 biographies on Elvis this year. The music really moved through him. He was very large hearted. When his mother passed away, he grabbed her little feet in the open casket and mourned that no one would “rub her little sooties” anymore.
Songs of the Highest Tower. Many bands have had successful careers sounding like other bands.
Requiem for the Static King. This got me through Lockdown 1.
The First Cut. Finer than its source.
Big City. Possible companion piece to Leave the Capitol. Spacemen 3/Spiritualized are big favs. I can’t get over how stupid the lyrics are here. You could sing them till time stops. “Big city, cool cool people.”
Other Side. Burnt a hole in my June. On near endless repeat.
The Mission. We lost Ennio Morricone in 2020.
Fallin’ Rain. Link Wray. America might be at low ebb, but we’ve still got it in our names alone. Link. Wray. Can’t think of other Native Americans in rock. Why?
Show You. Buckinham plays with himself. All the herkyjerk energy of Tusk, all their beautiful harmonies but in a quiet home studio. Love this.
Bertie. I believe this song is about how much she loves this person as a person. Can’t think of other songs like that. Why?
L’enfant. What they wanted Chariots of Fire to sounds like. (Got what they wanted.)
Say You Will. Gladdening.
Mama Laudaa. The virus broke out here thanks to the mindless apres ski culture of which this song is the shiningest example. An open invitation to slam Red Bull into the eye sockets. Ostensibly the main lyric is ‘Make it Louder! (Austrian, I am obliged to point out.)
Edition spéciale. French god. Dripping with cool and oil.
I Can’t. Felt should never have ended.
Dancing. Sparkly for something so fuzzy.
Leave Her Johnny. A very good version of a very good song. Impossibly, from the soundtrack to a videogame.
As I Roved Out. The band name, ugh. But I’ve passed weeks listening to nothing but The Voice Squad. Voice Squad, assemble!
Wenn ich Mir Was. Ein Alptraum erwartet.
Memo To My Son. This was cut from the album! Can you imagine the quality of the songs that remain?
These Old Bones. No finer singer. Ever. That chord? “Why that’s an old mountain chord. We call that the sorrow chord.”
Nine Inch Will Please a Lady. All the Jean Redpath is lovely.
Jamaica Farewell. Farewell 2020, farewell.