It's been a pretty lousy decade in many ways (think George W. Bush, etc.), but, when it comes to music at least, it's been a great ten years.
From Bob Dylan's continued renaissance, to the emergence of Jack White as one of music's most inspired artists, to the revolutionary new sounds being created by the likes of M.I.A., to the hip hop genius of Jay-Z and Kanye West, it's sure been an exciting time to be a music fan.
So here they are, my picks for the best music of the last ten years:
What's with the whole "Top 10" thing anyway? What are we, pre-school kids counting on our fingers? Why not a Top 15? Because that's what I'm offering up here: My 15 favorite albums of the past year.
Even though, overall, 2009 wasn't the greatest year for music, there were still some terrific albums released.
Terrific albums, yes, BUT, unless I missed them, no classics. I mean, where was this year's Kala, or Modern Times, or Elephant, or East Nashville Skyline, or Is This It, or Late Registration, or Stankonia, or Heartbreaker, or Love and Theft, or Tell Tale Signs. If an all-time classic album was out there this year I'm pretty sure I didn't hear it.
That said, the year did produce some pretty damn great music. And so here, in no particular order, are MY PICKS FOR THE TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2009:
These are better days baby
These are better days it's true
These are better days
Better days are shining through
- Bruce Springsteen, "Better Days"
I witnessed the most incredible thing yesterday while watching the Super Bowl. And, no, I'm not talking about that fantastic 12-minute tour-de-force of a performance by The Boss at halftime (now that was a halftime show!!).
Nor am I talking about the game itself, which turned out to be pretty damn good.
In the room where fortune falls
On a day when chance is all
In the dark of this exile
I felt the grace of your smile
Honey you're my lucky day
- Bruce Springsteen, "My Lucky Day"
Lucky day indeed. Yesterday marked not only the release of Bruce Springsteen's new album, Working On A Dream, but also the release of Woody Allen's wonderful Vicky Cristina Barcelona on DVD. And it sure made for one heck of a terrific day for all us fans of great music and film.
As for the Bruce album, after six good listens I can now say with quite some certainty that Working On A Dream is one of his greatest albums of the past two decades, if not his whole career.
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.
"Two faces have I
One that laughs one that cries
One says hello one says goodbye
One does things I don't understand
Makes me feel like half a man"
- Bruce Springsteen, "Two Faces"
Regardless of what Barack Obama may have said four years ago in that famous speech of his at the 2004 Democratic Convention, there definitely are two Americas - two diametrically opposed Americas. And I'm not just talking about Republicans and Democrats here, though that division largely mirrors the real divide.
I just got back a little earlier tonight from seeing "Into The Wild" at the theater and man was it ever good!! I mean, what a fantastic piece of filmmaking, what an incredible performance and what an amazing film in every sense. I absolutely loved it!
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.
1 Most Favorite and Hilarious Christopher Guest Film:
1. Best In Show
2 Favorite Michael Ondaatje Books:
1. The English Patient
2. In The Skin of A Lion
3 Greatest Angry Bob Dylan Songs:
1. Idiot Wind
2. Positively 4th Street
4 Favorite Woody Allen Movies (in no particular order):
- Crimes and Misdemeanors
- Hannah and Her Sisters
- Annie Hall
Yesterday, I went out and bought the new Bruce Springsteen album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions", and now, after 4 or 5 listens all the way through, I have to report - though I could have reported the same thing after just one listen - that this is a fantastic album!! If, for you, it's all about Britney, Ashlee Simpson, N Sync and their like then you might as well stop reading right here, but if you're into real music then it's time to pay attention. You've already read the rave review from Rolling Stone magazine that I sent out yesterday, but here's a quick little rave of my own: