Best of 2020 Part 1: The Year in Review

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

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.

Silver linings.

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

Donald Winter

Clifford Michael Woodhouse

Dorothea Daniels

Tina Schipper

Abigail Lobsinger

Neil Peart

Eddie Van Halen

Leslie West

Martin Birch

Steve Priest

Pete Way

K.T. Oslin

Jeremy Bulloch

David Prowse

Alex Trebek

John Prine

Charley Pride

Lee Kerslake

Gerry McGhee

Tommy Lister, Jr.

Ken Hensley

Jason Slater

Chuck Yeager

Fred Willard

Pat Patterson

Frankie Banali

Bob Kulick

Chadwick Boseman

Ben Bova

Johnny Nash

Spencer Davis

Sir Sean Connery

Kirk Douglas

Vera Lynn

Christopher Tolkien

Terry Jones

Reed Mullin

Freeman Dyson

James Lipton

McCoy Tyner

Max Von Sydow

Johnny Yune

Keith Olsen

Kenny Rogers

Joe Diffie

Bill Withers

Ellis Marsalis

Mort Drucker

Brian Dennehy

Little Richard

Betty Wright

Jerry Stiller

Astrid Kirchherr

Anthony James

Bonnie Pointer

Ian Holm

Joel Schumacher

Carl Reiner

Ennio Morricone

Grant Imahara

Regis Philbin

Peter Green

Wilford Brimley

Ben Cross

Justin Townes Earle

Helen Reddy

Mac Davis

James Randi

André Gagnon

Charlie Daniels

Chad Stuart


REMINDER!

Don’t forget tonight’s live stream “Christmas Memories”!  No bad, no ugly — just the good.

7:00 PM E.S.T.
Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain

 

 

 

 

 

24 comments

  1. I love that you focused on the positives that came from the pandemic, and that mentally, it wasn’t so bad! I’m glad your blog gained more readers during this time as well! Dick Van Dyke? Which one are you referring to? Because the actor Dick Van Dyke is still alive.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Futureson Kopp. Part future. All Kopp. He stops crime before it can happen, and he doesn’t need Tom Cruise and weird mutated human alien things to do it. Coming to a theater near you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Way to keep it positive despite the world turmoil. We lost a lot of musicians this year and a lot not (I forgot James Lipton passed away). My traffic took off this year too up until last week where it has since taken a dive (hoping it is just Christmas causing it). Can’t wait for your music list and see what you liked.

    Liked by 1 person

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