Friday, January 30, 2015

Fourth Annual Jaybee-bies:Or, Up Yours 2014

How Many Times Do I Have to Explain Something Just Because It Makes No Sense?:

I’m looking back on my own personal musical year, which is what I got to hear in 2014, as opposed to what may have come out in 2014. What do I care about stuff I haven’t heard yet? I’ll get to that in my own good time.

It’s kind of sad to no longer be so in sync with current music but that’s a young person’s game. We just don’t all sing together anymore.

But no matter old the music I got in 2014 was, it was all new to me. So, my musical year is unique. As is yours. How about yours, anyway?

2014 Resolution Fails:

Sad to day, I’m doing no better with my resolutions.

No CDs? - I’m lucky if I can’t keep it down to half of what I get.

More Music from the Current Year? - Only one. Beck. I’m just too damn cautious. I need a little more Nutboy in me.

More Music Books? I did great, I think. Now I just have to read them.

Less Music? - I failed utterly, and so have officially given up. That’s just the way it is now. What, with gift cards and $5 amazon mp3s, what’s a guy to do?

Weird Fears:

And as I get more and more music, one of my great fears rears its head again. It goes like this:

For each record I get, I give that much less attention to all the rest of the music I already have and all the other other potential music out there waiting for me. Does the existence of all this great music actually end up cheapening it?

I have to resign myself to the fact that there are musicians out there right now who are making great music that I may not ever hear. I also have to get it into my head that Great Music is not a finite resource. Every day there’s more and more, but that doesn’t make any of it less great.

It speaks to my prejudice that what is valuable must also be rare.  I’m working on it.

How About a Resolution to Get to the F*cking Point?:

The end of the year was dominated by Harry Nilsson.and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. You heard me. 

Harry shows up a number of times on the songs and album lists below. BJM’s record is a compilation of their work from the mid-ninties on, and in need of a whole explanation in and of itself, so I won’t even try here.

But in the spirit of brevity - as in I couldn’t wait for this year to be over - I’ll cut to the chase.


Each year brings hundreds of new songs, and if you rate them in iTunes like I do, you’d be awash in three star songs. Those are the ones that are perfectly fine and pass the time pleasantly enough without distracting you in a very negative (or positive way). I heard hundreds of these in 2014. You probably did, too.

The four star songs really get your attention, though. They’re superior to the\others either in melody, lyrics, execution or a combination of the above. And the best albums of the year are filled with them:

There are some of my faves:
and "Rowboat" - Beck which is not even on Morning Phase (Stereopathic Soul Manure, if you gotta know, and I do)

And then there are those rare songs that are so striking that they just stop you in your tracks. These are the ones that have a hold on you and always will.  They tend to end up on future top 100 Whatevers lists, if you know what I mean.

Like, “1941”, “Daddy’s Song” and “I Said Goodbye to Me” all, astonishingly enough, by Harry Nilsson. These three songs take the qualities I described above but in addition hit a depth of feeling I rarely hear these days and with a brevity that makes them all that more remarkable.  Don’t let that sweet melody or peppy rhythm fool you. They’re all devastating. All written over 40 years ago.


Let’s just call this Revenge of the Puppies, shall we?

  1. Morning Phase - Beck - Pretty isn’t enough. You have to love her/him/it, too.
  2. Stardust - Willie Nelson - Freshness, consistency, and from an unexpected source..
  3. Vehicle - The Clean - Those chiming guitars!
  4. Aerial Ballet - Nilsson. Often brilliant songwriting and singing.
  5. Aerial Pandemonium Ballet - Nilsson - Almost as often brilliant songwriting and singing
  6. Same Trailer, Different Park - Kacey Musgraves - Country music redeemed via voice and words.
  7. Before Hollywood - Go Betweens - Raw talent beginning to coalesce into brilliance.
  8. There’s Nothing Wrong With Love - Built to Spill - Rough, noisy but full of feeling  

Most Plays:

Morning Phase - 41 Plays
There’s an aspect of this I must relate. We’ve got a small house. The computer (where I take the play count from) is in the middle of everything, and since I’m not big on headphones, what gets played here gets heard by everyone. And when you impose something on everyone, they better like it, too. So not only is this something that I like. It’s something everyone here likes.

Artist of the Year:

Harry Nilsson.
I always thought that Harry was a bit overrated. He peaked “early” with Nilsson Schmilsson, etc. But then there was the wonderful The Point. Harry and Son of Schmilsson were pretty damned good, too. But now that I’ve delved a bit more deeply I can see that Harry - despite some bad habits that probably sabotaged his career - was everything people said he was, and more. RIP Harry!

And 2014 Overall? Maybe Even Suckier Than 2013:

A couple of people who are very close to me got very sick in 2014. They recovered, thank god, but it kind of colored the year.

And music? Very good, but not quite great. In a word. Frustrating. Even Nilsson, who could write such great songs, could also do too many covers, or attempt too many styles to make a truly great album.

Perhaps I expect too much. Music can’t fix life. Some events are just too big. And we had our share of them this year. You probably did, too.

So my only resolution this year will be to love music a little less, and life a little more.

It’s all we’ve got, after all.

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