Best of 2020 Part 1: The Year in Review
2020 was a learning experience! I think I can speak for everyone there. Before 2020 I never heard the phrase “flatten the curve”. I’ve worn a face mask before, but only in a hospital. Now I have a collection. My theory is that Neil Peart was the glue holding the universe together.
“And when the music stops, there’s only the sound of the rain…”
Neil’s death was the first shitty thing that happened this year. Losing the Professor. It certainly set the tone for a year a loss. A year that stole Eddie Van Halen, my uncle Don, and countless more. We grieve the losses of not just people, but also daily ways of life.
I naively hoped this pandemic would bring us all closer together. Instead it has divided us…some of us. Not all.
Community. My friend Aaron from the KeepsMeAlive is the champion of community, and this year we have seen the community come together like never before. It warms my heart to see the genuine care that you have for everyone. We all started just talking about music. Now it’s something so much deeper, as we are huddled in isolation, but never isolated.
2020 also taught me that there are good people out there that you can count on. They know who they are. I’ve had to lean on a lot of people. A few have had to lean on me. Point being — we’re still standing!
Going out less meant more time to focus on listening and writing. While the lists are still coming (stay tuned!), I can tell you that I both bought and reviewed more new releases in 2020, than any other year. I’m happier with my year-end list than ever before, and I’ve expanded it from a top five to a top ten…a Nigel Tufnel Top Ten, in fact!
This has been a musically rich year. There is usually one band, sometimes a handful, that defines my year. My band of the Year would have to be Loudness, even though they didn’t release anything new. So why “band of the year”? The reasons are entirely personal, as they should be. In early 2020, before Covid, I got really sick with a bad flu. (Or was it Covid, who the fuck knows?) As sometimes happens, music ran through my head when I was sick. That music was “Let It Go” by Loudness which led to some deep dives into their discography. In 2020 I bought and reviewed my first 10 Loudness albums, many from Japan, including a five disc box set. No band defined my 2020 like Loudness did and I’m glad I got into them when I did.
The road forked with Loudness. Not only did I explore their discography, but “Let It Go” then led to a left turn: a deep analysis of the year I first heard that song, 1986. A really key year in my life. I wrote a big “1986 Saga” and felt like I had exorcised some ghosts. Some of the most rewarding writing I’ve ever done in my life.
THE 1986 SAGA
- Part One: Juice Tin Saw Blades
- Part Two: Flag Boy
- Part Three: Just A Boy
- Part Four: Postcards From the Solo Summer of ’86
- Part Five: This is Me in Grade Nine
I didn’t stop there, and I dove into another year: 1991. It turns out people like reading personal history and how music ties into it.
Of course the virus and the lockdown also caused a different fork in the road, this one being the live streaming. That has been its own reward. So rewarding that they’ve earned their own lists this year, and I’ll present some for the best shows of the year in the coming days.
As bad as 2020 has been (undoubtedly the worst year in our collective lives), on a personal level it hasn’t been so bad. People being indoors has driven traffic on the site way up, and this has been our most successful year yet in terms of hits. But this has been earned: the writing and content on the site has improved with it. I’ve learned more about personal health and mental health this year and was somewhat more prepared when lockdown began. I hate to say it because it sounds like boasting, but as much as 2020 sucked, for me personally…I’ve had worse years.
I feel very fortunate that in 2020, we didn’t lose anyone in my family to Covid. Not to Covid. But I did lose people. Many of us did. And there is a long way to go before this is all over. So please, for me: be safe. Be smart. We have to beat this thing and protect those we love.
We can do this. In the memories of everyone we lost in 2020, please keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
REST IN PEACE
Clifford Michael Woodhouse
Eddie Van Halen
Tommy Lister, Jr.
Sir Sean Connery
Max Von Sydow
Justin Townes Earle
Don’t forget tonight’s live stream “Christmas Memories”! No bad, no ugly — just the good.