You're never more in the moment than when you're confronted with the stark realization that something is ending, and this song captures that feeling perfectly. A contemplative bass line, spectral organ, and driving percussion lead into the scratchy, soulful vocals of Malcolm Mooney, the American artist and traveler the German band met in Köln and whose often ad-libbed vocals appeared on the debut Can album. The mood of this song as a fascinating mix of melancholy and jubilant. Aother year is ending, the lights are about to be turned off and the curtain closed as we head into a new round of unknowns. This is an occasion of reflection and even some sorrow, but as the flute kicks in and the volume picks up, there is also a sense of celebration amid the decay. The lyrics speak for themselves (to the extent that they make sense at all) but for me the key word here is "another." Even in a year as monumental and cataclysmic as 2020, it's still just another year. But before it does end, we'll mark the occasion with music.
Thursday, December 31, 2020
I have a recurring idea in my head of what my funeral would be like. Instead of speeches or ceremony, it would just a gathering of friends and family in a casual party setting, with decent food, drink, and — most importantly — an immaculately curated playlist. The playlist would include all the tunes I most enjoyed throughout my life. People would be given a copy of the tracklist and encouraged to find their favorites. It would be like I was DJing from the great beyond.
But of course that's incredibly self-indulgent and ridiculous. Who you are in life is much more than, and largely separate from, what music you listen to. And yet so many times at the end of a long night I find myself on a walk, or in the garage, or the back patio, or, if I'm lucky, at a gathering of friends, cueing up a favorite track, wishing I could dissolve into the music and let it speak for me. My favorite songs — or new favorites I've never heard before but grip me instantly — express my own feelings, wishes, desires, hopes, and laments so much more eloquently than I ever could. Much more so than in writing. And yet the act of bringing language to music is an enjoyable pastime as well, especially when it serves to introduce someone to a new potentially favorite song.
Music is a common thread that runs through all of our lives. We may have the same favorite song, but for totally different reasons, like how we first heard it, where we were at the time, who we were with. So for fun this year I am setting out on a new project of going through a favorite personal song every day, not necessarily trying to curate a "best songs" list, just songs that made an impact, that are still stuck in my head years or decades after I first heard them, songs that shaped my life in one way or another and maybe shaped yours as well.
Thanks for reading and happy listening.
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