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Feb92022

The Smokler 50 (2021): My Annual Playlist of New Music

 

Every year since 2012, I have put together a playlist of 50 songs from the 600-800 new songs I discover each calendar year. The songs don’t have to be new (as in released that year), just new to me (as in I had never heard them before this year). Ordinarily these are on Spotify but no thank you to that.

I started doing this because I would fall in love with an artist, a few weeks would pass and I would forget their name. Literally. As though we had never met. The playlist gives me a facimile of everyone I met and fell in love with, musically, that year.


The name The Smokler 50 is dumb. And I have not come up with something better yet.


I usually tell anyone who dives in if you have three new discoveries, I’ve done my job. And immediately skip anything that isn’t working for you.

Enjoy.


Sep222021

Listening to Every Song I Own: Songs #1843 — #2000 (of 12,218)

The latest update to my bewildering project to listen to all 12, 218 songs in my iTunes library straight through, no skipping (called Abba Zappa Zoo, thank you to my old friend Mike Gluck for the name) takes us from…

“Domino” by Van Morrison (Song #1843)

to

“The Dreamer” by Anderson.Paak (Song #2000)

The Math:

Songs: 167

Completion Percentage: 15.1% – 16.4%

Cold Facts:

Feb62020

Listening to all of RUSH’s Albums to Honor Neil Peart: 2112

"2112" -- Rush

So I am listening to all of Rush’s albums in order to honor the life and work of their drummer and lyricist Neil Peart who died on Jan 7th at age 67.

Next Up:

Album Name: 2112

Released: April 1976

Rush’s forth studio album 2112 is a gloriously silly space opera that somehow manages to justify its excesses. Unlike its predecessor Caress of Steel its 973 minute opening takes us briskly into the rest of the album AND stands on its own instead of collapsing in on its own weight. Even though it’s hard to look at in plainly in retrospect (its the band’s breakthrough record and arguably them at their best. It’s human nature to muddle the two).

For the record, it is not my favorite incarnation of Rush and not why I signed on 35 years ago. I was barely in a full set of clothes in 1976 and my earliest memories of the band are when they’d left this stuff far behind. Still, I admire their nerve here as a young band and how well these epic pieces hold up live if not in fashion but in repeat performance.

Best drumming: That overture is mostly keyboard -driven but the drums sure buttress it nicely

Best lyrics:

Though it is simply about drug culture, “A Passage to Bangkok” paints a coked-out tableau with great wit and punnery.

“Our first stop is in Bogota
To check Colombian fields
The natives smile and pass along
A sample of their yield
Sweet Jamaican pipe dreams
Golden Acapulco nights
Then Morocco, and the East
Fly by morning light

 

Jan122020

My Annual Playlist of Songs I Heard for the First Time That Year: AKA The Smokler 50 (2019)

Welcome to my 8th annual playlist of songs I heard for the first time that year. It includes songs that are brand new to 2019, a few, but mostly those I found on my explorations of music across time, genre and medium

I cut things off on Dec. 31 with 905 songs discovered via streaming playlists, terrestrial and satellite radio, personal recommendations, research into artists I only know so well and regular visits to record stores. The total 905 is about 60 more than my usual average of 825-850 new songs per annum. I’m pegging that to the documentary film I made this year about the comeback of vinyl records which meant turning the usual stream of new music discovery into a geyser.

From there I chose 50 I feel like I could listen to endlessly without getting bored but that also remind me of my coordinates in the galaxy of music that year. I also keep an eye on diversity as you finding something new (to you) is half the point: Even if that year meant 79% listening to say celtic punk rock, that’ll still only be say 15% of the playlist.

If you listen and say “How all over the place!” or “I discovered 3 new bands! Hosannah!” I’ve done my job. If you listen and say “wow, you must really like Artist X or Genre Y” I haven’t.

Enjoy! And if you would, tell me what you find.

 

Jan12020

My New Year’s Day Prayer: Ring out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light:

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

 

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

 

Ring out the grief that saps the mind

For those that here we see no more;

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.

 

Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.

 

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times;

Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes

But ring the fuller minstrel in.

 

Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.

 

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.

 

Ring in the valiant man and free,   

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the year that is to be.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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