Monday, December 25, 2023

My Favorite Songs of 2023

Merry Christmas everyone! As this is the last Monday Monday Music™ blog of the year, I want to thank all my loyal readers for tuning in every week to read and listen to a brand new playlist of music every week!

2023 marks the third straight year that I have published a blog every Monday for a 52 week calendar year. This year may have been a little skimpy on the word count for a typical week as I have taken on more duties with D&D Learning Spaces™ as their Learning Environment Designer. 

I just want to give a quick shout out to my boss Dean Smith and his wonderful staff for making this a very rewarding year from a work perspective. After all these years, I still have the drive to design K-12 learning spaces with schools and Dean has given me the opportunity to express my creativity with educators while working with an exceptional group of furniture and technology collaborators. I am so blessed and thankful for this opportunity! 

This year with the full-time work gig kicking in, I started writing many a blog post on a Saturday or Sunday morning (like this one), but stayed true to the music playlists as they typically take several weeks to put together. My Favorite Songs of 2023 is a compilation of my favs taken from 11 months of my #NewMusicMondays playlists. I'm so thankful for the Monday Monday Music listeners who have taken the time to actually go through or even skip through a playlist that I have created. This year, I feature mostly songs from 16 new albums worth listening to.

This year, I added 60 Years of Music to cover the 1960's and the best decade of music ever produced in my opinion. Then, I continue 50 Years of Music to cover the 1970's, and #NewMusicMondays to keep you exploring new songs from young and older artists. A special hats off to The Rolling Stones for making an album in 2023 (Hackney Diamonds) of all new songs. 

Music is art and like all art we each have our own tastes. I don't expect everyone to like my typical mix of rock 'n' roll and Americana (or what we used to call Folk music). I do think that in every playlist I create, there is at least one or a couple of songs that make it to your heart. It may be an old tune from the last century, or it may be a new tune you discover today in the playlist. In any event, music is powerful. It's something that we take with us whether you are listening to a digital device or playing a song in our head. 

I also want to take a moment to thank my wife, Mary Kit and our blended-family for just being the wonderful people they are. All of us are busy, but I appreciate that we all work together to keep it all together for the combined five children, their spouses and our nine grandchildren. I think that the grandkids think that Yellow Submarine is my favorite song of all-time, and I'll will keep that going as long as they believe in Santa Claus. Someday, we'll have the talk about Penny Lane

This past week, Mary Kit and I took our three grandsons, Cole, Brendan and Drew to the Corvette Diner that has all the walls filled with paintings of the rock 'n' roll stars from the 50's and 60's. We had a great discussion of band members now dead or still alive. The conversation centered on two large paintings near us of The Rolling Stones and The Who. Now this got a bit tricky with Brian Jones and Keith Moon and our nine-year twins, as I kept it general. But, the boys just couldn't understand how adult Brian Jones could have drowned alone in his own swimming pool? I moved on to the painting of The Supremes. Anyway, there was a live DJ there and he played upon my request, Jumping Jack Flash and I Can See For Miles. He said, "These songs go out to the Wagner boys who are coming for my job!" I was born in a crossfire hurricane...            

As I say at the end of most of my posts, "Enjoy the playlist my friends." And... if I don't know you personally, but you've found your way here and listened to a song or two here, you're certainly a friend of mine!

Merry Christmas and let's all just practice a little more kindness in 2024, it can change everything.

Now here's a great little mix of album-oriented favs from 2023. Enjoy the playlist my friends!

And hey, let's not let the dust settle quite yet on my Christmas Mix 2023. 
It will make for great background music throughout this merry day!

Monday, December 18, 2023

My Favorite Songs of 1973

Fifty Years of Music. 1973 was a great year musically and personally. Fifty years ago, I was spending the first Christmas with my new girlfriend, Mary Kit and so the songs of that year have that special place in time in my heart.

Here's a few personal opinions from the featured albums above.
  • No sophomore slump with the Eagles, as their second album is their best.
  • Stevie Wonder takes it to a whole other level. Stevie opens my ears to R&B and I start to expand my musical tastes. 
  • Paul Simon makes an album for the ages. My personal favorite from his great body of work.
  • With this album, The Who cement the bronze metal just behind The Rolling Stones silver, and then there is The Beatles, at the top of the platform.
  • Two albums by Elton John and Fleetwood Mac with song after song included here. I miss Christine.
  • Jackson Browne is becoming a legend, but just wait for the one next year.
  • Neil Young is drifting here, but I still want to believe.
  • Dave Mason finally gets a little solo attention, and I'm including almost every song from the album.
  • The Faces make a better album than The Stones in 1973. 
  • Seals and Crofts make their last great album, and I played that thing to death in my bedroom.
  • Pink Floyd actually made some good songs that I listened to in 1973. Then, classic rock stations killed the song, Money as it goes into the category of "songs ruined by radio."
  • Harry Nilsson can do it all. I miss Harry, I wonder if only...
  • Bonnie Raitt is quietly picking up steam.
  • Mary Kit gets me listening to David Bowie, but years later I realize his early sound is the rock 'n' roll greatness of Mick Ronson. How could Bowie let him go?
  • Bob Dylan makes a wonderful soundtrack and song that is one of my favorites of all-time.
  • Two albums by Paul McCarthy and one by John Lennon without much mention here. 
  • Tom Waits, what an incredible debut album. The songwriting and simple performance knocks me out 50 years down the road. I was so out to lunch and completely missed this one as an 18 year old. 
  • Love the acoustic arrangements as Led Zeppelin builds even a wider spectrum of fans.
  • Joe Walsh. Always a great song or two on every album he made. Enough to fill arenas for years and years, and that's just the solo part of his career.
  • Loggins and Messina sing Lahaina, and I cry listening to it 50 years later watching the town burn down in 2023.
  • Steely Dan is just killing it by 1973, with more to come. Anybody remember Skunk Baxter? He's still alive by the way. Steely Dan always had great songs performed by some of the best players in the world.
  • George Harrison makes a solid album. I know it's not necessary to root for George Harrison, but I always wanted him to do well after the Beatles. I missed George this week listening to the Traveling Wilburys CD in the car.
  • Mark Twain and John Prine, now that's a couple centuries of Americana all spun in the wonderful writing of these two giants. I miss John Prine. Dear Abby, Dear Abby...

Enjoy my 1973 playlist compiled from all my #FiftyYearsInMusic blogs this year. There are lots of deep cuts here my friends.

p.s. Don't forget my Christmas Mix 2023, I've added a few more videos!

Monday, December 11, 2023

My Favorite Songs of 1963

60 Years of Music. 1963 is the year before the rock 'n' roll "British Invasion" and "Beatlemania" coming to America. However, The Beach Boys have already established their own Los Angeles beachhead and Bob Dylan emerges on the folk scene in New York City as both take the country by storm. We're at the dawn of the monster years of rock 'n' roll and my generation is ready for the ride, even if many of us are not quite old enough to know it yet. 

These are the years where artists and bands were often required by their record companies to put out two albums a year plus be on a regular schedule to produce hit singles for the Billboard charts. In 1963, The Beatles and Beach Boys each put out two albums and a series of singles that will influence a whole new generation of kids playing musical instruments. The musical output will be astonishing, enough so that for me making 60 years of music playlists in the months and years ahead will be child's play. 

So, strap on those metal roller skates and turn on the transistor radios as the boomer generation will take on the establishment and put the suits, haters, and bible thumpers on notice, let's get the counter-culture party started!

1963 in Music and World Events (from Wikipedia)

Notable Bands Formed in 1963
  • The Kinks
  • Manfred Mann
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • The Spencer Davis Group
  • Neil Young & The Squires
  • The Yardbirds

Enjoy the 1963 Playlist my friends!

Monday, December 04, 2023

Christmas Mix 2023

  Christmas Mix

2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022 • 2023

My kind of people are kind people
My kind of people are kind 
If you got a good heart
That’s a good start
If you want to be a friend of mine
Rich or broke, drink or smoke, to me it’s all Pepsi/Coke
Whatever floats your boat is fine 
My kind of people are kind people
My kind of people are kind
Maia Sharp, Kind

We live in complicated times in 2023. Lots of hatred going around this country and world to make us look in the rear view mirror and see authoritarians wanting to pull up next to us at the crossroads, again.

This Christmas season I suggest Americans watch World War II movies. Maybe we need the constant reminder that democracy is not to be taken for granted. 

I guess as a white male, I've never really used the term, "my people" in any context that I can remember. When I first heard Maia Sharp's song, Kind it really spoke to me. We can pick sides on all kinds of issues and events, but maybe for those people who pick kindness as their only rule, well then peace and democracy will follow. Just maybe, complex problems require simple actions.

This holiday season and going into next year, I'm thinking I need to feel, think and demonstrate kindness to others. And, if you want to hang with me, I guess we can say together, "Our kind of people are kind."

Happy Christmas my friends and enjoy this new alternative mix of December songs over the next several weeks!

Monday, November 27, 2023

New Music and Documentary Monday • September - November, 2023

Boy, a day late and a dollar short here. I might be slippin' in my diligence to bring you the latest Americana and rock 'n' roll but what's a couple of months when my grandchildren look at this someday and think... we'll he'd been slippin' for years.

As usual, I don't have much to say about all the good new music here other than letting the shifting and sorting of putting together a respectable playlist represent the heavy-lifting in the last quarter of 2023. The Americana genre dominates my new music selections as that's were the talent lies these day. Yep, you're still waiting for the ghost of _____________ (fill in the blank) to turn up in a youthful form and spark the great rock 'n' roll revival of 2025. 

Now before you get to the playlist, here's a list of recent documentaries that I have watched and highly recommend as you plant yourself into some soft seating during the holidays. Speaking of which, don't miss my annual Christmas Mix 2023 next week, followed in the weeks ahead by My Favorite Songs of 1963, 1973, and 2023 to take us to the end of the year.

  • The Stones and Brian Jones  (Just released in theaters and rent on Amazon Prime $7.99) - Featuring candid interviews with the Rolling Stones and never-before-seen footage, this captivating documentary explores how Brian Jones, the genius founder of the greatest rock band in the world, was left behind in the shadows of history.

  • Born In Chicago (Amazon Prime)  - In 1960, a group of white teenage Chicago musicians traveled to the city's southside music clubs to learn the blues from the original masters. This is their story.

  • Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free - The Making of Wildflowers (Amazon Prime) - In 2020, a collection of 16mm film was discovered of Tom Petty, capturing a prolific songwriting streak from 1993-95 making the album Wildflowers with producer Rick Rubin. Known for being reclusive about his personal life & creative process. The award winning & critically acclaimed, Somewhere You Feel Free is a candid & musically rich look into the legendary artist's creative genius.

  • David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (HBO) - Gymnast David Holmes played Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in the Harry Potter films until a tragic on-set accident left him paralyzed. With his life turned upside down, David's extraordinary spirit of resilience becomes a source of strength and inspiration to everyone around him. Featuring intimate interviews with David, Daniel Radcliffe, friends, family, and colleagues, David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived reflects on living with adversity, forging a new identity, and the bonds that bind us together and lift us up.

  • Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (HBO) - From stand-up to acting to writing and directing, Albert Brooks has been a major force in American comedy since the late 1960s. With testimonials from comedians, friends, family, and Brooks himself, Albert Brooks: Defending My Life explores the origins and evolution of Brooks’ career, the impetus for his creativity, and his enduring impact on comedy.

  • Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School (HBO) - This heartfelt documentary follows a unique music program at Hill-Freedman World Academy that teaches students to write, compose, produce, and perform original songs. Together with local musicians, they create an album that captures the challenging times they’re living in and the joy that music brings. Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School explores the transformative power of music and how arts education can be a source of hope and healing.

  • and coming in December - The Immediate Family - The Immediate Family is a unique group of iconic musicians who have played together for decades but never as their own band. Known for their long, illustrious careers backing up such Hall-of-Fame artists such as James Taylor, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bassist Leland Sklar have come together, along with guitarist Steve Postell, to perform their own songs as The Immediate Family, a band that can legitimately be called a supergroup.

Enjoy the Playlist my friends!