The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind
- Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"
When it comes to naming all-time favorite Bob Dylan songs, I have dozens.
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.
In this season of giving - with just days to go before X'mas - I think it's about time I shared two of my all-time favorite holiday songs with all of you.
The first one is, simply put, My Favorite X'mas Song of All-Time.
Over the years I've written about many of my favorite songs, mainly in year-end pieces such as My Picks For The Best 15 Albums and 40 Songs of 2007, The Best 20 Albums and 50 Songs of 2008: Dylan Tops Both Lists, The Top 15 Albums and 25 Songs of 2009 and, most extensively of all, The Top Albums, Songs and Artists of the Decade. Then, of course, there was The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years.
However, starting from today, every now and then I'm simply going to throw out one of my favorite songs at you, all on its very own.
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:
All you music lovers out there who have yet to watch Elvis Costello's fantastic talk show, "Spectacle", have simply got to wake up and realize what you've been missing.
As I said in my earlier piece, Attention All Music Fans! The Best Talk Show Ever: "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...", there's never been a show quite like this one. It is - I repeat - the best talk show ever.
"Lily had two queens, she was hopin' for a third to match her pair"
- Bob Dylan, "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts"
Few things in life are quite as uplifting and inspiring as the onset of an early summer - a week of glorious, sunny, warm, summer-like days right in the middle of April. Well, at least for those of us living here in the rain forest known as British Columbia. However, one thing does come pretty close in the whole uplifting and inspiring department and that's receiving - for free, no less - a $175 Bob Dylan CD. Especially one as good as the third disc of Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Rare and Unreleased 1999-2006.
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.