28 December 2012

You’re a tough old gal, but a dog is just a pal, And believe me, my dear, I’m not complaining….

So I'm just going to say it: 2012 was a shitty year for me - both personally and professionally. I am so glad to see this year come to an end. Though to be honest, I'm not sure I have the faith right now to believe that the New Year will be any better. I thought that same thing at the end of 2011 (which wasn’t entirely all bad) and where did it get me? A worse year. I'm trying, but it's just not there for me right now. To be clear 2000 & 2001 were THE worst I've ever experienced - this wasn't nearly as bad - and believe me - I do have a fair measure of perspective. As I watch my neighbours suffer the loss of their children and teachers a few miles away I'm reminded that life can always be much worse and, in fact, it is right now for twenty-seven families. Not a day goes by where there isn't some story that brings the degree of separation ever closer; thus serving as a reminder to love the people we love with all we have and to not hold back, or waste time – just in case....So much has already been written about Newtown that I will spare you any more of my thoughts and feelings - but I do want to say one thing: civilians don't need automatic, military grade weapons. If you have any doubt about that come for a visit. I dare you to look in the eye of one of these families and tell them to their face that you support the NRA 100%. I'm guessing you'll get a swift kick, a punch in the eye, and then get run out of our state. As well you should.

Aside from this recent madness it's also been a tough year for a number of people that I love and care for who have lost family members or otherwise had a difficult time of it. Whether it was loss, underemployment, financial stress, or a rough break-up I have to say I know very few people for whom 2012 was a good year. Hell - for most people I know it wasn't even a decent year. Maybe I know the 'wrong' people - or maybe it was just something in the water. I don't understand it but I hope it gets better for all of us and that time will heal. When I am going through a hard time there is a sense of powerlessness watching people I love experiencing rough days. It's almost as if when I'm feeling good I have more strength to be there for others - I feel like I have more to give to them. Basically, I don't like this feeling of powerless one bit. I like being that person that my people can come to and lean on. I don't know that I've done a good job of that this year, though.

Despite my current feelings of failure, throughout my life I have been blessed with some tools that have helped me navigate the highs and lows, the hills and valleys, the roller coaster of life, however you put it - these things have helped me to not entirely loose my shit. No matter how long this current valley seems to be at least I have running (I got up to 7.3 miles a day this month), the outdoors (kayaking, hiking, camping) and music to clear my head and balance my brain - writing, playing and listening. While I didn't have a ton of disposable income this year to be buying a lot of new music I did have Spotify, fellow music lovers, and the most awesome WFUV (90.7 for you locals to NYC or wfuv.org if you live elsewhere) to at least expand my horizons and open my ears.

Since I always do an end-of-year posting of favourites - albeit past years were full of much less bitching - here are some videos that I hope you will check out.

I started with Aimee Mann…good lord! I’ve been a fan since ‘Til Tuesday and if anyone gets better with the years and is as fine as aged whiskey - it’s her! This video of “Labrador” (one of my favourite songs from her new CD, Charmer, and today’s title quote) is a send-up of “Voices Carry” which, for shits and giggles, I included below for a fun comparison. By the way – if you ever have a chance to see her live…run don’t walk! No matter how many times I see her it’s never enough and it’s always a different show! One more thing…hands down she’s one of my favourite musicians I’ve had the pleasure of meeting…super nice and as cool as she appears!

What can I say? Dave Matthews Band just always finds a way to get to me. Maybe it’s his jazz influenced notes, the timing of this song, or maybe he’s got the key to my inner thoughts - but more than likely he’s just a damn good songwriter! Another long-time favourite band of mine this year’s latest release, Away From The World, does not disappoint! The live tracks on this CD are particularly hot as is this tune “If Only”; a sultry, sexy number that in some ways says it all! Also, this video was shot at one of my all-time favourite venues - The Hollywood Bowl - save for Tanglewood you don't get much better than this for a place to hear music and feel the nature surrounding you.

As always I end with Vince Gill's song "What You Give Away" - a humble reminder of all that surrounds us and all that we should strive to be. Call it my religion, my edict, or just wise words to live by. Whatever you call it – just listen….

Some other people whose music I’ve enjoyed this year (but whose videos I’m not posting): James Taylor, Sharon Van Etten, Passenger, Beth Orton, Dawes, Rodriguez, Brandi Carlile, Bonnie Raitt, The Avett Brothers, Glen Hansard, The Tallest Man On Earth, Shawn Colvin and on…..

No matter what you listen to, here's hoping 2013 is a better year and that peace will prevail – both inner and outer. Since I was raised by eternal optimists no doubt it will…and no doubt my existential malaise will wane and be replaced by optimism – it’s how my Mama would want it and I always try to do right by her….

Thanks for tuning in...Until next time...CHEERS and Happy New Year!