We are already winding down the second week of 2013, but indulge me please in a last goodbye for 2012.
I don’t pretend to believe you’ve been anxiously awaiting my opinion on the music that accompanied our calendars. However, I wanted to take a moment to document some of the many songs and artists who contributed to my life’s soundtrack, circa 2012.
There is something you should know about this list. I challenged myself with a brain exercise. Rather than simply putting together the usual “Top 10” list or some other numerical countdown, I opted to create a different version of this year-end tradition. Thus, my 2012 list is an alphabetical arrangement of 27 songs with each song representing one letter of the alphabet (A-Z) and a bonus song to represent those tunes with a title beginning with a number or symbol. As an added challenge, I limited myself to one song per artist on the list. Why? I have no idea, but it proved to be a fun experiment and it made my brain want to write. So, since one of my goals this year is to increase the frequency and consistency of the writing I do “for fun” (such as this blog), I think the challenge was worth it.
It was fun to go back through all my various online playlists and my personal CD collection to track down a pool of candidates in order to narrow the list down to fit the rules. For the record, letters like Q, X and Z were surprisingly easy. It was the more commonly found song title letters such as I, L and S that proved far more difficult when narrowing down a final choice.
You may find a few songs from the music media’s best of the year lists on here, but it’s just as likely you won’t. These songs represent the music and artists who moved me specifically. Your favorite music critic’s mileage may vary.
With the notable exception of one song, the final songs selected for this list were from releases in 2011 or 2012. The one exception was a 52-year-old song from 1960. However, all of the songs were notable to me either personally or pop culture in general in 2012.
It was interesting to see which genres eventually made the cut. To my personal surprise, there was only one Top 40 country song on the list and no bluegrass. In other years of my life, those genres might have dominated. This year’s list is a mish-mash of styles from bubblegum pop, electric blues, Latin jazz, Americana, world beat, rockabilly, French pop, and more. Next year’s list might have a different flavor altogether. That’s part of the fun of exploring music.
So, without further ado, here’s part one of my A-to-Z listing of selected favorite songs from my personal 2012 soundtrack. I try to include a brief description of why the song/artist made my list. As a bonus, I’m including a link to a Spotify playlist with all 27 songs. I hope the list is at least as enjoyable for you to listen to as it was for me to create.
A – Ain’t Messin’ Around – Gary Clark, Jr.
I’ll admit I first became of aware of Gary Clark’s music through its use in television commercials. Actually, I’ve discovered quite a bit of good music lately by firing up the Shazam app during commercials. I’ve seen a fair number of music reviews calling Clark the next Jimi or Stevie Ray. I don’t know if there’s any validity in that, but I think he makes an excellent next Gary Clark, Jr. His music sets the tone for a great and raucous evening of electric blues-tinged partying. All in all that’s not a bad way to start a playlist like this either.
B – Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – P!nk
As this and other songs will attest, I have a historic weak spot for female-led pop music. And while I recognize I’m not her primary target market, I’ve been rocking out for more than a decade to P!nk’s brand of anthems, dance music and pop music. Her new album in 2012, The Truth About Love, did not disappoint me. Side confession: P!nk was one of the very first celebrities I started following in my early days on Twitter.
C – Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
I’m not going to apologize, even as my wife rolls her eyes each time I turn up the volume when the song appears on the air or online. This much parodied (my favorite is Cookie Monster’s version) pop hit added a lot of sunshine to my summer.
D – Dead Still Dance – ALO
Unlike Carly Rae’s song, this is one where my bride agreed with me each time I reached for the volume knob. When possible, you’d find one of us even reaching to hit the “repeat” button as we wore this tune out during the summer of 2012 as part of our road trip mix. While we were late in the game in discovering ALO, we enjoyed finding a “new to us” voice in music that fit in with the Grateful Dead, Phish and Widespread Panic vibes of our younger days.
E – Easy to Be Your Lover – Tea Leaf Green
By coincidence, this is the second jam band in a row on the list. Tea Leaf Green was also a “new to me” discovery this year. As I thought I might have lost interest in the jam band scene altogether, it was nice to discover new voices such as ALO and Tea Leaf Green. This song always put me in a 1970s nostalgia mood.
F – Freaks for the Festival – Tribecastan
Is it jazz? World music? A sly practical joke? All I know is that Tribecastan’s album New Deli was on my playlists a lot this year. The fusion of so many musical styles was just great fun, often humorous and delightfully anarchic.
G – Ghosts – The Head and the Heart
One day we’ll all be ghosts tripping around in someone else’s home. I loved this song with its oddly happy tune about the frustration of extended adolescence and starting life on your own away from your roots. And for all the labels of Americana, folk rock, etc. that were being tossed around for this band, there is also something in here that is Beatles-esque. That jangly piano and harmonies take me back to the iconic White Album.
H – He Gets Me High – Dum Dum Girls
Yes, for a guy like me who loves to listen to 60s girl groups, 70s punks like the Raincoats and the Go-Gos from my own youth in the 80s, The Dum Dum Girls are the perfect addition to my musical library. This songs 1960’s lo-fi feel was perfection for me.
I – If I Wanted Someone – Dawes
In truth, there were many possible songs from Dawes I wanted to include on this list, most notably “A Little Bit of Everything.” However, as I watched my wife dancing to this song and singing along as I stood in line for drinks at the Gentlemen of the Road festival, it skyrocketed to the top of my list of personal favorite musical moments of 2012.
This covers A through I. Part 2 will feature my 2012 selections to represent J-R.
You can listen to the complete 27 song playlist of 2012 A2Z on Spotify.