Twelve Appreciations ♫
Eleven Drinks and Rambling
(Way More Than) Ten Highlights
Nine Clips You Tubing
Eight Men A Milking
Seven Balls A-Bouncin' (ngs)
Six Rules Worth Knowing
Five Golden Rings
Three Saluki Tallies
Two Recurring Features
And a Doofus Dancing (hee, hee)
The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas, Volume II, has included a couple of posts that mirrored ones from last year’s G-mas. With 2009 on the heavy wane, I’ll add another – a new batch of the things I have appreciated and enjoyed over the past 365, as once again set to the backdrop of my favorite songs released this year.
[Last year I employed a cool, new website to enable you to hear the tunes with the click of a button. At least one of the bands I highlighted let it be known that doing so was a copyright violation, so to save G:TB’s legal counsel some trouble, I won’t do that again. Where available, I’ve linked the songs, but for most of them, if you want to hear them in toto, I’d go to blip.fm, enter them into the search bar, and listen. (Related true story: Toto’s “Rosanna” was written about Rosanna Arquette. Check it out.)]
It was a superb year in music, at least according to this guy. Seemed to start slowly, but by year’s end, I had a lot of trouble paring the list of my ’09 favorites down to fit on one CD. As always, please continue to share your own recommendations for new music in the comments of Gheorghe.
On a personal note, it was not such a superb year in my life. Without delving into too much Dear Diary detail, a good woman and I parted ways last winter, and nothing’s quite been the same in my life, for better or for worse. As more than one of you can attest to, such life-changing events leave a scar. As the parents among the G:TB family can attest to, preserving the peace in little ones’ lives is a daily battle. Put those elements together, and the quest for the elusive grail that’s known as “happiness” can be of Arthurian proportions. Fortunately, I have a mantra that appears before me on regular visits: “life would be better if we all took ourselves a little less seriously.” And I do. As such, it’s been easier to appreciate the good things in 2009 than ever before.
And away we go…
Madness, “That Close”
Cracker, “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey”
I love the Washington Redskins. I love the New York Mets. Both franchises seem to enjoy punishing me for such sentiments lately. Though the ‘Skins have been yanked off local TV (see the comments from the last post), I’ll find a way to give their ’09 campaign the Viking funeral it deserves. Bleakness abound in both of my favorite teams’ camps. But out of nowhere, the College of William & Mary in Virginia’s athletic programs have proven an unlikely salve to my ocular agony. First, the Tribe football team comes “that close” to moving to the I-AA championship, winning a lot of good ballgames along the way. Second, the men’s hoops program has risen from the asses and . . . well, I won’t count any chickens, but we’ve garnered more entertainment out of 11 games this season than in that many seasons during the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s the land of milk and honey when all was getting pretty sour in my world.
Similarly, just when I was lamenting the early-year dearth of top-shelf musical releases, out of absolutely nowhere came my two favorite albums of 2009. Cracker’s been one of my top bands for 15 years, and I’ve always dug what Madness did in the 80’s, but I have to say I didn’t see either of these coming. Start to finish great records, what little press both bands are getting for them has been high praise. Of note is that neither has an obvious single to point to as the best song, and the songs I selected, while my favorites, aren’t highlighted in any review I’ve read. Cracker is kick-ass guitar rock, Madness is hooky Brit-ska-pop. Just like you remember.
Gordon Gano & the Ryans, “Hired Gun”
We also got introduced to some new music by G:TB’s latest hired gun, the Z-man. Zoltron Zoltan, Esquire, joined the force this year and brought a deeper shade of soul to our airwaves. If nothing else, he helped us rewrite the Gheorghe record books for posts in one year. We also got some excellent commentary out of Dan, who stopped lurking and came out to play, Timmy Marls, the Wheelies, and a slew of other readers. To say we appreciate everyone playing along with our inanity is an understatement.
Grizzly Bear, “Two Weeks”
Two weeks is roughly what Rob and I ballparked for the shelf-life of first little blog concept, a baseball-themed endeavor called Misery Loves Company. After seven years, Rob is writing MLC’s obit today, as we ran our course and then some over there. It was a good run while it lasted, and more pertinently, our ability to actually see it through paved the way for Gheorghe: The Blog to get out of Rob’s head and into the ’sphere. RIP, MLC.
Elvis Perkins In Dearland, “Shampoo”
Here’s to technology bettering my listening pleasure. Yep, there are dozens of salutes to the decade’s electronic advances in your local ragsheets this week, but for me personally, it can be summed up succinctly by this song. I went to eMusic, where I have a monthly membership. The site recommended this artist based on my previous downloads. I snagged a few tunes based on reader reviews and ratings. I threw the iPod on shuffle, and out of 24,000, this one came up along the way. Played it again, and then again. One of my most listened tunes of the year, and no way does it reach me without Gates, Jobs, and their ilk working a lot harder than I do. Thanks.
The Avett Brothers, “Kick Drum Heart”
Wilco, “I'll Fight”
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, “Nikorette”
Ryan Bingham, “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So”
U2, “No Line On The Horizon”
I mentioned this one last year, and I’m glad to reiterate it: live music makes me happy. Seeing Wilco always brings it, but seeing them with Rob and other friends at Wolf Trap and having them unearth my favorite tune of theirs on a drunken Wednesday night? Yeah. Seeing the unheralded Ryan Bingham in a tiny bar? Seeing the Avett Brothers in a small local opera house?? Seeing U2 for the first time, and having general admission field passes? Seeing Devo?? It was all great. Social Distortion, Band of Horses, Drive-By Truckers, Indecision, Cracker, and everyone we saw at JazzFest. I don’t think I have anything on the docket yet for 2010, but in due time . . .
Levon Helm, “Growin' Trade”
It's my thought that Levon is telling us what ever became of Virgil Caine with this track off his fantastic new record. The song tells the story of a farmer who’s had to adjust to these tough times by growing the Teej Tobacco. I heartily endorse Levon Helm’s new stuff, and I heartily enjoy the other stuff, and whatever you do to get you through these days and nights and put a smile on your face.
Neko Case, “Red Tide”
M. Ward, “Never Had Nobody Like You”
Ladies, we still greatly appreciate your presence here. Official G:TB Sweetheart Shlara, KQ, Sammy, guys posing as their girlfriends/wives, and any other female who invades our Zeke Mowatt locker room here. (Especially you lurking ladies afraid to make your presence felt . . . and you know who you are.) Stick around, won’t you?
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, “Cool Yourself”
I appreciate that not every person who went to William & Mary is a total wiener. Thriller dances, he-she HC queen, and dweeby photos notwithstanding.
Greasetruck, “The Bear”
Ned Henry, “20”
Random Idiots, “Dear Ozzy (Thanks for Nothing)”
I'm really impressed by the continued creativity of my friends. Dave churned out his aural madness once again – topping out with “The Bear,” one of my favorite songs by anyone all year. My high school friend Ned put out a song based on last year’s 20-year reunion; it mentioned my receding hairline and my drinking problem, and I still really dig it. And the Idiots’ latest anthem . . . which, as I reflect, has the same characteristics as baseball and myself in the way Mark insulted us, but one which amuses me nonetheless. I have a picture in my dining room that Rob painted this year. And I have a blog to read every day where friends of mine contribute their time and effort voluntarily without any sort of compensation beyond mutual enjoyment. Pretty cool.
Dave Matthews Band, “Funny the Way It Is”
The Lord works in mysterious ways, so they say. Along the road of this somewhat trying year, whenever I even came close to feeling sorry for myself, I got steady doses of what real life pain really is – not mine, but my friends’. If the big picture ever clouded, if I ever dared to bemoan the pecuniary problems, living conditions, or missing my little ones that my actions had caused, within a very short time I’d hear about people I care about going through much more grueling stuff. Like fathers coming home from the doc with grave news, or parents passing in the night, or children with real problems. The stuff of adult tears. Lost jobs with no prospects. Moving out of residences, not by choice. Real life leaving a mark. And while I won’t dismiss my struggles lightly, I know them to be transitory in nature, and I have been steadily reminded what very good friends are around every corner (or in the corner bar). So I don't get to be bummed out for very long, ever. Funny the way it is.
Animal Collective, “My Girls”
Last year I referenced my two daughters, if only to mention how I wouldn’t discuss them in this forum. I’ll go contrary this year – but keep it uncharacteristically brief. I appreciate my two little angels in a way I don’t disclose often enough. There is nothing in this world that comes close to motivating me like they do, and I expect that will be the case for all my days. Here’s hoping you all have someone or something to bring the joy like that, and if you don’t yet, get on about finding it. Okay . . . enough sappiness, and back to your regularly scheduled dipshittery (one of my favorite new G:TB expressions; thank you, Rob).
[I also really, really love pints of Guinness, Tortuga’s Lie, Jameson on the rocks, old episodes of “Cheers,” baseball, 70’s Bush, old clips of Dr. J, Dale’s in the can, Sandra Bullock in the can, rampant juvenilia, a noontime buzz, and good rock ‘n’ roll. Those things may be more appropriate to appreciate here.]
Heartless Bastards, “The Mountain”
7 Worlds Collide, “Too Blue”
I very much appreciate – in advance – the Gheorghe: The Blog Summit of 2010. It’s on. I’ll be your cruise director, and I’ll be in touch. Get fired up. And once again let me give kudos and thanks to the merry band of assclowns that makes up the G:TB roster. 394 posts is nothing to sneeze at, however you populate them; the amusingly asinine ramblings that comprise our last 365 days, though, will keep us coming back for more. Keep it up, lads . . . using whatever pills you need to do so.
The National, “So Far Around the Bend”
White Rabbits, “Percussion Gun”
Bloodkin, “A Place to Crash”
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, “Sunstroke”
The xx, “Crystalised”
Tina Dico, “No Time to Sleep”
Pearl Jam, “Got Some”
These songs didn’t fit into my 12 appreciations, but they’re good. Enough said.
Favorite albums: Cracker (Sunrise in the Land of Milk & Honey), Madness (The Liberty of Norton Folgate), The Avett Brothers (I and Love and You – which was very good, but which I didn’t enjoy as much as Emotionalism, or as much as the mainstream critics praised it), Levon Helm (Electric Dirt), Neko Case (Middle Cyclone), Random Idiots (VH-1’s Behind the Music video), U2 (No Line on the Horizon), Nirvana (Live at Reading), the compilation Dark Was the Night.
Well, that finishes off 2009 for me. Here’s to a fantastic 2010 just a matter of hours away. Cheers, and to all a good night.