Well, Happy New Year to all! I can’t believe how quickly these years are going now.
It’s time once again to post my favorite songs from the past year. The list is very simple this time, comprised simply of songs that I enjoyed the most. Reviewing my choices, several things occur to me regarding what drew me in musically in 2014. First, I went for simplicity. There’s nothing particularly elaborate or proggish in the songs I present below. For me, 2014 was a year of change and complexity, full of new challenges and time-constraining obligations. My children are growing up quickly; I’m taking business classes while expanding my clinical reach at work; numerous friends and loved ones have undergone tremendous life changes, and several have passed on. From an emotional perspective, music was clearly more of a soother than a challenger for me in 2014. Second, my sons’ musical tastes have influenced what I’ve been listening to more than I’ve allowed myself to admit; to be true to the spirit of the list, there is some modern pop here to reflect that evolving piece of my life. Finally, 2014 was a year of looking back for me. Returning home for my high school reunion was a particularly poignant highlight of the year. No matter how hard I continue to push for the future, there is always a part of me that craves the ease and comfort of times and years now passed, so it is no surprise that nostalgia played a large role in my musical choices as well.
I hope you enjoy these selections. I’m looking forward to see what 2015 brings me musically and otherwise!
10. Lanterns — Birds of Tokyo. I love the ambience within this song about youth and purposeful defiance. No matter how many years I put behind me, I always remember the feeling in which “in darkness I leave for a place I’ve never seen; it’s been calling out to me; that is where I should be.”
9. Had to Hear — Real Estate. This is Nostalgia Central for me. It’s refreshing to hear new music that so sonically derives from many of my own musical influences. In Real Estate I hear whispers of many of the bands and artists I loved the most as a young man: Trash Can Sinatras, the Posies, Elliott Smith, the Railway Children. Close your eyes and let this song transport you to the late 80’s and early 90’s, when music and life were fresh and new.
8. Make Me Wanna — Thomas Rhett. Continuing the nostalgia theme, if this little nugget doesn’t embody the recent melding of country with mainstream music, I don’t know what does. I mean, there’s disco and soul in there! What?? It grooves, and it’s a blast. That is all. Enjoy.
7. Something New — Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso. OK, this one is the influence of my boys, who are all into EDM. I must admit I’ve fallen for this song, another anthem celebrating the new directions of the young. I think all of us, regardless of age, can learn and relearn a lesson from the idea that we can–and maybe should–belong to something new. It comforts me that my kids are moved by such proclamations of optimism and exhilaration.
6. We are Tonight — Billy Currington. This was my high school reunion celebration song. Every word is a reflection of my Kansas teenage years–except perhaps for the fact that we spent more time in open fields than on riverbanks. Even the geekiest of us felt like rock stars on Friday nights, and in our own ways, in our own cars, in our own circles, we ruled the world.
5. Morning — Beck. Sea Change was revelational to me when Beck released it in 2002, and I’ve waited a long time for a musical followup that captures the mournful melancholy of that album. Morning Phase is that followup, and it got a great many listens from me in 2014. It’s hard not to be moved by this beautiful song.
4. Prince Johnny — St. Vincent. Truthfully, I can’t quite put my finger on why I like this song so much. Maybe it’s the haunting, Radiohead-meets-Buggles synth-organ thing in the background. Or the strange, uninterpretable lyrics. Or the stark, hypnotic electronic beat. I dunno. But I can tell you that Annie Clark is a force to be reckoned with, and a blast to watch live.
3. Satellite — Randy Rogers Band. I love the plaintive imagery of this ballad. I connect quickly and easily with nocturnal theme, and not just because I practice sleep medicine: night-time was my favorite time as a child, and I spent many nights outside, looking up at the sky after the sun went home and the shadows faded, thinking, gazing, wondering, dreaming. Perhaps we all would be a little better off looking up more often, instead of staring down at our smartphones.
2. Mission Statement — “Weird Al” Yankovic. I know, right? I never would have predicted that a Weird Al song would have made one of my year-end lists, but I have to let you in on a secret, which is that I’ve always thought Weird Al is a flippin’ genius, and nowhere is his genius more evident than on this awesome, amazing, and oh-so-true song. I’m sure that taking M.B.A. classes has influenced my thinking here, but I think anyone in the business world can relate to how goofy and inane some of today’s “biz-speak” can be. This song captures all of that silliness brilliantly, and somehow without nearly the amount of cynicism that would have been present had I been tasked to write a song about the same topic. And all built on a platform of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Carry On,” no less! The video is quite something to watch as well. So go for it and click on this! All you need to know about business is contained herein.
1. Talladega — Eric Church. I love Church, man. He’s my man. He tells it as he sees it, audaciously, truthfully, on his own time, from his soul. This song is particularly rich in truth. I haven’t yet been to Talladega, but when I hear this song and think back to my own life’s experiences, I suddenly become that college student “before the real world started,” in an old van, driving south with my best friends through Oklahoma and Texas to get to South Padre Island and its brown sand, dinosaur t-shirts, Burger King Whoppers, and fishbowls. Like a storm, time rolls on, but I’m grateful for all the great memories I’ve built up so far, and I’m hopeful for more great ones to come. Here’s to 2015.
As always, there are a lot of runners up that didn’t quite make the list. Here are some of them:
All About That Bass — Kate Davis. Yes, I have to admit, I have a soft spot for this Meghan Trainor song, but I LOVE Kate Davis’ swing version. Seriously. Give it a listen.
Yeah — Joe Nichols.
Tidal Wave — Interpol.
Cop Car — Keith Urban. I know, I know, it’s such a goofy song. I can’t help it.
I’m in a Hurry — Alabama and Florida Georgia Line. I’m growing an aversion to bro-country, but this song is the truth.
Burnin’ It Down — Jason Aldean. How graphically can you describe it without really describing it?