"Consider this my yearly reminder we could all be something bigger." --The Hold Steady
"Those of us up here realize that without those of you out there we wouldn't be up here." --Richie Havens, at Rhythm and Brews last night
South--"Better Things" (mp3)
Although we don't have any particular milestone to celebrate (# of posts, existence of blog, etc.) the end of the year gives us pause, just like anyone else. It is a reminder to us that we started from nothing on a whim and are still here and appreciate the support that we have received from those of you who comment and those of you who don't. Sometimes, we expect to be shut down any day, based on the blog climate out there and the shifting rules for the sharing of music. Sometimes, we see this as an ongoing entity that will one day allow Billy to have a full-time job.
I love the end of each year, being the big fan that I am of lists, and especially "best of" lists. I love to see what other people, often people that I respect, think were some of the best cultural moments of the year. Agree or disagree, it's meaningful to me to know what the world out there was thinking.
Coming up this week will be our own "best of"s. That doesn't mean that we will in any way offer you our own favorites that mirror national or blogging trends. Even Billy is too old and idiosyncratic for that, and me, well...............
Each year, it is probably important that we leave with at least one big insight, one "ah ha" moment that justifies the 31, 536,000 seconds we spent living the last year. Here's mine (not that it's all that important): it is no longer possible for me to keep up with all of the music I am being exposed to. I suppose it is indicative of the information explosion, but the music that comes to me through Itunes, Internet, blogs, downloads, burns from friends, popular culture and whatever else is out there is far too much for me to appreciate. Probably, I should have realized this at that point several years ago when I couldn't get all of my cds and their cases together for a union of holy matrimony. But even back then, at least the music was all in one room, all in one house. Now, it's out and about in so many different places and spaces that when I recently looked at my Itunes "Purchased" list, I noticed at least two full cds--Phish's Billy Breathes and Fionn Regan's The End of History--that I've never even listened to. I look foward to that.
Only God knows what is on my Ipod. Any time it plays on "shuffle," I invariably end up picking it up a few times to see who is singing. There was a time, back in the 60's and early 70's, when it was all pretty easy. First, if it wasn't on the top 40, then I didn't even know it existed, and then, if it didn't make the expanded playlist of FM radio, at least I knew it was out there and could track it down if I so desired. Now, I carry all of that plus new bands at every level and it's more than I have time to listen to.
All of which is perhaps a long-winded way of saying that our "best of" lists, like everyone else's, will be about as eclectic as they come. It would be easy to list Vampire Weekend, Of Montreal, Fleet Foxes and some of the other high profile "indie" bands that are making the rounds, but the fact is that there is so much stuff out there that the game has changed. There may have been a time when you looked to a "best of" list for verification of your own good taste. No longer. Now, and this is a lot more rewarding, you look to "best of" lists to see what other people like that you haven't heard of.
So let us know what you think of our choices and don't be discouraged, as one friend was earlier this week, if you look at either of our lists and hardly know any of the songs or bands. It's yet another chance to expand your palette. Not that you'll have time to listen to any of it once you own it.
"Better Things" comes from South's 2008 release, You Are Here, available at Itunes.