Update: this was published initially on 12/25/19, and I recognized, through doing a different “year in…” recap that I’d missed some stuff. I’ve added it. Hopefully y’all check back and find it.
Just in time for you to hopefully spend some of your holiday gift moneys on it, here’s my annual list. If you’re wondering where the 10 records that are on everyone else’s lists are (and my list isn’t devoid of that sort of thing), there were a bunch of records out this year that were objectively good to great, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy (my big playlist of noteworthy albums that were anything from recommendations to ubiquitous albums to “Hey, this act I’m familiar with released something” hovers around 72 hours long, and if you’re feelin’ frisky, it’s here), but these were the ones I had the best listening experiences with, and defaulted to listening to the most. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
In no particular order, beyond that the Karen O & Danger Mouse record was pretty much the soundtrack to my year, and that Julia Michaels’ “Happy” from “Inner Monologue Part 1” was my song of the year. (I loved both of Julia’s “Inner Monologue” records, but Part 1 got the edge from me over Part 2, if you’re curious.)
Pissgrave-Posthumous Humiliation (Content Warning: the album cover is REALLY fucking gross and violent. Like, seriously, y’all. It’s a great record, but holy fuck, that record cover is literally the worst. I can provide a Spotify link as well, because they didn’t use the uncensored cover for the album on Spotify, but there are “also by Pissgrave” links from the album page that also point at the really gross album cover now because they used it for their singles there, so yeah, you kinda have to commit here.)
When I was looking in my freezer just now, I saw a DiGiorno frozen pizza. (I do not receive any compensation from this brand or its subsidiaries. The brand name is relevant to the post. Stay with me here.)
My brain, I think because I’d just seen mention of this mash-up, immediately started making me sing, to the tune of Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”…
The DiGiorno pizza
The DiGiorno pizza
It’s not really pizza but it’s sorta like pizza
…and then I decided to go to bed, before I got any deeper into the lyrics.
The blue contacts weirded me out more than the de-aging technology did.
Yeah, I watched it. I had to. I’m from New Jersey originally, and I’ve been watching mob movies since well before I could understand them.
I don’t think that it was Goodfellas good, but 3 1/2 hours went by at a pretty decent pace. I enjoyed some of the performances quite a bit, especially Pesci, Pacino, and Lucy Gallina, who played young Peggy Sheeran. Kid had almost no lines, and she still stole every scene she was in. DeNiro, it’s weird. They didn’t have a lot in common, but when I watch present-day DeNiro, I just hear and see my father, so that’s kinda complicated, but he did what Robert DeNiro does.
It’s on Netflix as of 3 AM Eastern time, so if you’re a fan, you’re curious, and you have the time, give it a whirl.
I started out by putting it on after I heard the version of it on Ann Wilson’s new solo album (which wasn’t my cup of tea, though I love a good deal of Ann’s other work…hopefully she at least had fun recording it…).
Then, I started going back and forth between the album version and this single version, the one I’m most familiar with. The album version’s fine, but because the instrumental breaks are longer and arranged differently, you don’t get the guitar solo at the very end of the last verse, where it lands perfectly on the single. It shows up after an instrumental break on the album version, which I think was a well-meaning mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. It really triess to mute the urgency of the guitar solo (one that I’d argue is perhaps the most urgent guitar solo ever played; to my ears, it is the disturbingly beautiful sound of someone absolutely losing their shit…), and that’s just not a good plan. Contrary to popular opinion in all likelihood, I would quite strongly argue that the best part of the song isn’t that saxophone…it’s the guitar solo. It had to stand out in a song with that rather amazing sax line, amongst these terrific snapshots of life, and it sure as hell does. Hugh Burns turns an utterly legendary job on it. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s largely known as a session guitarist, but he’s one with 45 years of recording credits, playing on hundreds of records with everyone from Doris Day to George Michael (he’s done guitar work on two of the best known saxophone songs of all time, as he also played guitar on “Careless Whisper”) to (recent, scare the bejeezus out of people) Scott Walker, and, of course, with Gerry.
So, I settled in largely on the single version after a while. While I was listening, I did a bit of reading about Gerry Rafferty’s life (Hugh, I’d researched independently a few years ago), and a lot struck me. He was uncomfortable performing live, which is also something that pretty much derailed my own attempt at a musical career. He suffered from alcoholism just as I did (and do; I quit drinking two decades ago, but it’s always with me), only he wasn’t able to overcome it as successfully as I have to date (I’ve done well, but I’m learning to take nothing for granted). He kinda withdrew from a pretty loud public life, and on a much smaller scale, though I’m painfully aware that I’m typing this on a website that bears my name, I’ve rolled back my attempts at being “public” quite a bit in recent years, due to a developing antipathy toward fame. And then there was the train. He spoke of the Glasgow to London train being a fixture of his life and career during the recording of “City To City”, the album “Baker Street” is on, and in about a month and a half, I’ll be taking a ride on the 2018 version of that train, though it won’t be for business and, unless I end up getting a stronger-than-last-visit urge to see Danger Mouse’s pillar box (it’s possible, but it’s not written in ink on my itinerary, either), I won’t end up on Baker Street when I arrive in London. It’s weird that I’m hearing of this very different experience with that train and this song and its author than mine as I’m about to ride it. Mine’s going to be part of a honeymoon. Gerry’s experience seems to have been a lot of meetings with lawyers and music biz people (he dealt with some pretty serious legal problems after Stealer’s Wheel broke up, apparently because they signed on of those truly terrible recording contracts you hear so much about) and, eventually, when the lawsuits were done, riding it back and forth to record music. I’ll be thinking about Gerry on that train ride now, and I’ll try to make sure “City To City” is on my listening device of choice for it.
As for why the song is resonating so strongly with me tonight (I listen to it regularly enough, but I don’t think I’ve ever done what I think was about 7 or 8 listens in a sitting as I typed this), I think it’s just a right place/right time thing. I’ve been aware of the song for basically all of its 40 years. I’d heard it on the radio from the beginning as a very young kid, but I first really spent time with it on a K-Tel compilation called Spotlight…
…which I either ended up with as a hand-me-down or an “I’ll make off with this thing that belongs to my sister” (hopefully not the latter, though it was unfortunately both common and condoned far too often by my family, and I carry some guilt for doing it). It was the last song on the record, and it just, even at a young age, felt like more serious music than the rest of what was on the record, and a lot of the rest of what I’d heard at that point in my life.
Since then, it’s been a song that’s kept coming back to me over and over again over the years, because it’s one of the best songs, and probably because it captures that feeling of tension bubbling under the surface until something finally gives so well. It’s extraordinary, and at the same time, it’s deeply relatable. Given how deeply I dive into certain subjects, particularly musical ones, and given how largely “Baker Street” looms in my life, I’m kinda surprised that I’ve never really done an especially deep dive of Gerry’s catalog or his life until tonight. (My intellectual curiosity is really strong at times, but it can be extremely uneven, and that’s troubling to think about, because I know that miss out on things by not distributing it evenly.) I mean, I’ve dabbled a little, and I was familiar with the broad strokes, but I’ve never been compelled to spend as much time as I have tonight on all of this. It could just be that I’ve been constantly planning things for about 4 years solid now, while I’ve been simultaneously feeling the passage of time rather strongly, just this never-ending stream of plans, some mine, some other people’s, that sometimes get achieved to some degree or another, but which never really feel finished, and yeah, that’s this song. That may have driven me to need to know a bunch more about it, and keep hearing it tonight while I looked into it.
Or it could just be that absolute fucking rager of a guitar solo.
Update: hearing the album version on the radio in Edinburgh finally made it click for me after all these years.
So every once in a while, I think about how, in fiction at least, people who are seniors in high school yell “SENIORS!!!!!!!!11111” a lot, as a way of celebrating the fact that they are, in fact, seniors in high school.
I don’t have many regrets about leaving high school before my second year of it would have normally ended, but the fact that I didn’t get to annoy people with that for an entire year is one of them.
Is it too late for me to walk around yelling “SENIORS!!!!!!!11111”? (Or, as I am in my 40s and not my 60s, am I too early?)
Did people actually do that when they were, in fact, seniors in high school, or is that a made up thing?
Did any of you do it?
If not, do any of you have remorse about not doing it?
This was me IRL when I realized exactly how easy it was to make decent potato salad, and that I’d been freed from the shackles of Corporate Potato Salad forever…
(Best experienced for these purposes from 2:23 on, as the link intended…)
I’d been meaning to post this basically since I thought of it, but life (and a flu that beat the flu shot and still hasn’t entirely quit, but is getting there) got in the way.
In other news…
I’ve been banging on the code behind the scenes here, so when I post, some of you may get emails that do not end up going to your spam folders or getting blocked outright. We’ll know when this post goes up if any of it works. Basically, if you’re on the mailing list and you actually get an email that isn’t in your Spam folder when it arrives, comment here, and I’ll know I done good. Actually, even if it does show up in Spam, useful information for me to have, so let me know on that as well if you can. Thanks in advance for that. I appreciate the work that the early adopters to the email subscription setup have done to help me kick the tires.
Watched all of The End Of The Fucking World, and then watched it again while I was super-sick so it was kinda hazy and weird and cold mediciney. Enjoyed the hell out of it both times. I’m not exactly new to the material, though…
I got the first 7 of these when I was in California in 2012, and ordered the rest from Chuck Forsman as they came out. Re-read them all recently, before watching the show, when a new printing of the collected edition came out (I missed the first printing of it). Really happy that he’s got a hit on his hands. If you liked TEOTFW, check out his other stuff, especially his recent I Am Not Okay With This, which is in the same vein.
I’ve also been playing a lot of Skyrim (a well-spent $5, in spite of its various problems), listening to as much music as I can (I’ve posted evidence of this recently, and I’ll be closing this post with just a bit more), trying to free myself from the shackles of Big Social now that I’ve beaten Corporate Potato Salad (I’ve spent a lot less time on the big two sites lately, thankfully), and just tryin’ to survive and stay entertained/distracted without being too numb or too disengaged from the world, or too consumed by the hyper-awareness that it’s burning (with little I can do as an individual right now to stop it from burning). Hopefully, I’m doing right by myself and others in the process.
I promised y’all more music to wrap up, and here’s my friend Andrew W.K. with that music. It’s called “Music Is Worth Living For”, and it’s the first single from his new album “You’re Not Alone”, which is due out March 2nd if memory serves.