Tune In, Turn On and Crank It Up…

In the immortal words of “The Doobie Brothers”, Listen to the Music.  (Yes, for the younger readers, this was/is an actual band…quite good in the late 70’s-early 80’s).

Every year about this time I put out a list of my favorite songs from the previous year.  Unlike most other “lists”, this list is comprised on “my favorites”…not necessarily the best.  Just the ones that I favored the most.  Maybe it was the artist…perhaps the type of music…if I found that my feet were moving unexpectedly while listening to a song, that is also a good enough reason to make the list.

While I enjoy a wide variety of music, you will see I tend to lean in a couple of directions more frequently.  However, if you find yourself asking,”where the hell did he find that one?”, then I encourage you to give it an ear.  You might be surprised.  That is the beauty of music…it is surprising and can bring all sorts of people together.

Smiling.  Dancing.  Movin’ and Groovin’.  Happy.

If it can do all of those things…what is not to like about music?!?!?!  So let’s get to some music that made me smile and dance (when no one was looking) in 2012.

Weather in my Head, Donald Fagen  This ancient mariner from Steely Dan fame has probably had more fall out of his head than most…and he still has threatening weather conditions in his noggin.  In typical R&B smooth flowing sound and lyrics, Fagen asks “But tell me what’s to be done  Lord – ’bout the weather in my head” when talking about love, pain and Mr Gore.  I got a feeling that the weather in his head is better off staying there…we do not need another Sandy or Katrina out here.

I’m Shaking, Jack White   A lesser known “B” side single from this years release, “Blunderbuss” (which is filled with great tunes) this is “the” tune that gets my feet moving in all directions.  It is an vintage blues-rocking little jam that can change the mood of everyone in the room.  Referencing Bo Diddley, Elvis, Samson and Delilah and St. Vitus this jam will find you “shaking” for more.

Payphone, Maroon 5 (with Wiz Khalifa)  Okay, this is “Guilty Pleasure #1”.  No, this is not a bro-mance, but Adam Levine has recently put out some songs I enjoy…even if they are coated in a little sugar.  Listen to some of the lyrics and you can sense a little bit of sarcasm and irony in this saccharin sweet “love song”.  But I must admit, in a few years people will ask,”what is a payphone?”

Keep Your Eyes Open, NEEDTOBREATHE  “If you never leave home, never let go, you will never make it.”  Those words may sting a little for me personally, but they are very true and are very strong lyrics in this amazing song.  If this is one of the songs you are not familiar with, get with it!  It reminds us there are better things ahead for us…but we need to stay focused and keep our eyes open…eyes on the prize!

The Baddest Man Alive, Black Keys and RZA  What do you get when you cross a blues-rock duo from Akron, Ohio with the main man from The Wu-Tang Clan?  Yeah, that is bad.  These three come together and the result is gritty, bold and full of themselves…with lyrics like, “I could take the pitchfork from the devil, Keep a super suit like I’m incredible…I’d grab a crocodile by his tail”…wanna argue with them?  Nah, just listen and walk tall with confidence.

Little Talks, Of Monsters and Men  If you get a chance to see this group, don’t hesitate, do it.  They are riding the folksy indie music wave with a sound that actually sets them apart.  The group from Iceland has taken a tragic romance tale and added an upbeat folk rhythm that can reflect hope and love and leave a catchy tune running around in yur head all day.  Great song.  Even better group.  If you are not sure, check out the whole CD…they will become a favorite.

Somebody That I Used to Know, Gotye (feat Kimbra) Here is the song you hate to love…Guilty Pleasure #2.  As quickly as you fell in love with this “poppy” song that channeled Sting and Peter Gabriel, you got tired of it.  Go on, admit that when you were driving in your car and it was played, you belted out the refrain,”Somebody that I use to knooooow,” in your best/worse falsetto voice…until you came to a light and another car pulled along side you.  Then you stopped.  Don’t worry, that driver was doing the same thing…

This Head I Hold, Electric Guest  This young duo really knock it out with their first released single.  It is a catchy, happy go lucky, I don’t give a damn melody that will catch you moving your shoulders, feet and anything else that moves.  The funky sound with a retro vibe sets you free with lyrics like…”Sit back, don’t think”…so take their advice…Sit back…

Dixie Highway, Alan Jackson (feat Zac Brown)  A CW legend and a fellow Georgian, Zac Brown, take a nostalgic drive  down the Dixie Highway.  And if you are up to a fun rollicking trip, get on board.  I can’t remember such a fun trip since Willie took us on his bus with “on the road again”.    Dixie Highway…a sweeter place you’ll never find.

Going Home, Leonard Cohen  This septagenarian doesn’t so much as sing this song, but whispers it breathlessly into the air.  You might expect to see him in a cathedral or a poetry recital.  But with this song, our sage Leonard tells us of God calling him home…”a home without sorrow…without burden…without the costume that I wore”.  I find the irony in “God calling him home” becuase I have thought that if God’s voice did not sound like Johnny Cash…it must sound like Leonard Cohen. Going Home is a heartfelt song that takes you to “where it is better than before”.

93 Million Miles, Jason Mraz  One of the great things about music, is it can bring us together.  My family enjoys music.  We each have our preferences and we know the other’s preferences.  We also share new music with each other.  This is a song that Tyler and Jen shared with me, for a possible inclusion into the family video.  And I am glad they did.  Enjoyable and endearing, this gentle song reminds all of us that no matter where you are on this earth, you can always come home…Are you listening boys?

Drunk On You, Luke Bryan  One of Country Music’s young gunslingers and fastest rising stars, “pours a little Crown in a Dixie cup “ and suddenly you have one of summers biggest hits.   You have to admit, when you hear him sing “Girl you make my speakers go boom boom / Dancin’ on the tailgate in the full moon / That kinda thing makes a man go mmm hmmm / You’re lookin’ so good in what’s left of those blue jeans”, images flash in your head from a time a short while ago…and suddenly you are there again…boom boom.

Mercy, Dave Mathews Band  This song will remind you why you fell in love with the music of DMB in the first place.  Acoustic guitar, infectious melody, and a rhythm that is smooth and as familiar as the voice.  The voice actually seems a little harsh and breathy at times, but I think it is intentional as the song finishes strong and is voice is clear.  Well played Dave, and as you say in the song…”Mercy will we overcome this, Oh we come too far to turn it around”…so have you Dave, so have you.

Hit Me Like A Bomb, Third Day  I have liked this group of Christians playing Christian music as if they were a rock band, for several years.  But now they have partnered with a producer who has worked with Pearl Jam and Bruce Sprinsteen, and they have re-imaged their sound without sacrificing their music or their message.  Relevant topics on change in difficult times, this song hit me “like a bomb”, and I hope has the same effect on you.

Sweet Nothing, Calvin Harris (feat Florence Welch)  Harris has made quite the name for himself collaborating with some of todays hit makers and putting out electro sounds of familiar songs.  This time it is the fiery red head who fronts “The Machine”, Florence Welch.  Take her flare and lyrics, combined with Harris’ hypnotizing beats and you get a real crowd pleaser that helps you dance the night away.

A Heart Like Mine, Dwight Yoakam  A few years have passed since his last hit, but channelling the Bakersfield sound on this cut makes the wait worth it.  Yoakam enlists Beck to help polish the guitar twang and rockabilly sound…and he hits the mark.  Yoakam might be wearing a cowboy hat, but you won’t find a “red solo cup” here…look for rock and roll and attitude.

It was a good year for music and those of us who enjoy it.  A few more songs for your consideration:

Madness, Muse;  Ain’t Messin’ Around, Gary Clark Jr.;  You Can’t Fail Me Now, Bonnie Raitt;  Live and Die, Avett Brothers;  Hold On, Alabama Shakes

Good songs…all of them.  At least I think so.

My blog page is entitled, “Pull Up a Chair”.  Well forget about that now.

Get up offa that thing”, as James Brown used to say, and enjoy some music.

Enjoy life.  Enjoy each other. Enjoy these gifts we are given!  I am!!!

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