Considering that I've been thinking about nothing but music since I posted My Picks For The Best 15 Films of 2010 a week ago (partly due to the fact I've been writing this and partly because I went to see Ween in concert a few days ago, in a show some considered a "train wreck" and others, like myself, considered a bit bizarre but thoroughly entertaining), I guess it's finally time to get my Best Music picks of 2010 finished up.
Last week, in honor of Canada Day, I decided to whip off a list of The Top Ten Reasons We Here in The Great White North Should Be Both Proud and Ashamed of Being Canadian.
However, I soon realized that it wasn't something that could simply be whipped off in a few minutes, so I decided to take a few more days to think about it and here, finally, is my official list of the top ten things I love and hate about this country:
We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place,
'cause girl, there's a better life... for me and you
The Animals, "We Gotta Get out of This Place"
Don’t Mess With The Prairie Folk
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in recent days it’s that you should never mess with the prairie folk, not unless you're willing to face the dreaded Saskatuan sarcasm mechanism.
Here’s how it all went down:
This past week, after the main Neil Young fan site, Neil Young News/Thrasher’s Wheat, put up an excerpt from an old piece of mine called Talkin' Prairie Triangle of Inspiration (A.K.A. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Make Their Great Escape) a backlash of sorts occurred, one initiated and led by a few of those afore-mentioned good folk out on the prairie... and all of a sudden I found myself facing a barrage of bitter, angry, sarcasm. Yes, words of indignation were unceremoniously being spewed in my general direction. And I literally unleashed a monster.
Finally, more than two weeks into 2009, here they are: My Picks For The Best Music of 2008:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
1. Bob Dylan: "Tell Tale Signs"
Who would have thought that a collection of outtakes and alternate versions of previously released tracks from the years 1989-2006 would be this good and would sound so little like a compilation and so much like an incredibly coherent album? But it does. And it's not just good, it's the Best Album Of The Year... an album that just gets better and better with each listen. Proof to any doubters out there that Bob remains as relevant, essential and important as ever.
"So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear"
- Bob Dylan, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"
"Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while"
- Bob Dylan, "Visions Of Johanna"
Bob Dylan as one of the greatest singers ever? I know from many a heated discussion that this confuses, confounds and perplexes a lot of people. And even enrages a few others. But, as I've argued for years now, particularly in my earlier piece The BOB ON BOB Rave ("This Old Man"), there's just no denying the greatness of Dylan as a singer. That's right, contrary to popular perception, Bob is indeed one of the greatest singers of all time. And now I've got a major music magazine backing me up on this.
Here they are, finally, My Picks For The Best 15 Albums and 40 Songs of 2007. I'm not necessarily claiming these are "The Best" albums and songs of the past year since there were thousands of albums and tens of thousands of songs released over the year and I simply haven't heard them all. What I am claiming, however, is that the selections you'll find below are my favorite tunes and discs from the past 12 months - damn good music, all of it. Enjoy! And let me know anything I've missed.
"I'm listening to Neil Young, I gotta turn up the sound"
- Bob Dylan, "Highlands"
Bob Dylan on Neil Young:
"Neil is very sincere, if nothing else. He's sincere, and he's got a God-given talent, with that voice of his, and the melodic strain that runs through absolutely everything he does. He could be at his most thrashy, but it's still going to be elevated by some melody. Neil's the only one who does that. There's nobody in his category."
Tell it like it is Bob!
Talkin' Prairie Triangle of Inspiration (A.K.A. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Make Their Great Escape)
You've heard of the Bermuda Triangle, right? But have you ever heard of the Prairie Triangle of Inspiration? It's not a place where people get lost forever, like in that infamous triangle around Bermuda. No, it's a place that people get the hell out of as soon as possible... though not before becoming incredibly inspired and creative.
You've got to read this fantastic New Yorker Magazine article about Bob Dylan from the end of August entitled "BOB ON BOB". Written by Louis Menand, the article starts off as a review of "Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews", a book I just read earlier this summer, but it soon becomes much more than just a simple book review.
This past year has sure been a wonderful time to be a Neil Young fan.
The new album, "Living With War", was just released last month and it's great in all its raging - and rockin' - glory. However, I actually want to talk about an earlier period in Neil's career. Last summer and fall to be precise. That's when the country/folk album "Prairie Wind" was released and it's also when the movie "Neil Young: Heart Of Gold" was filmed.