2018 was an incredible year for music and I’ll post a list of songs sooner than later. Both live performances I experienced and records from both new discoveries and favorite singer/songwriters of the past. One supergroup in particular stands out of course. I imagine if they had put out more than the six amazing songs they did, I think they would’ve secured the top spot, but I went with my gut instinct for #1 record of the year. Let’s face it… any of my top ten could be #1.
What made Jeff Tweedy smile after signing my book was when I told him that I constantly find his music inspiring and that I’m a musician mostly because of Wilco. He said, “Aw thanks man, I really appreciate hearing that. For me the best reason to make music is that it inspires others to make music.” I almost teared up hearing that, trembled and replied with something like, “Well it does for me, every time.” We ended on a nice “Thanks, Jim” and I walked away.
This is admittedly, a silly ridiculous arbitrary list that is subject to change by the millisecond. I hadn’t written much in awhile, but going to the Pitchfork festival made me realize that my love of film is matched with my love of music. I get a sense of euphoria from both, but there is truly something magical about putting together playlists for a road trip, seeing a favorite songwriter perform live, or any number of moments that are cemented thanks to music. So I decided to update (after all I just turned 40) my lists of favorites, starting with this list of 101 favorite songs, which doesn’t even begin to include at least 500 more that I love every bit as much as these!
When I think of some of my favorite singer/songwriters such as Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, or Kurt Cobain, my initial reaction to their sudden departure was “How could they self-destruct when they not only have that level of talent but a following and a steady income?” But that is reductive thinking when it comes to the complexities of mental illness, something that I’ve always struggled with too. My favorite songwriters would write music for those who not only felt emotional extremities but fell deep inside of them to the point of losing all sense of self. I think that’s why musicians love the art of songwriting. It confronts the emotion while trying to make sense out of it. One of my favorite things about great songs is the way they give you enough details to get the story but leave out enough to create space for you to make it your own.
One of my favorite theaters, no, one of my favorite businesses ever, has been officially torn down. But the many memories and photographs remain. There is one very old one from 17 years ago that sums up my love of going to the movies, and it was taken in The Town Theater back in the year 2000. Here are my thoughts on a legendary landmark that changed my life forever.
Lots of people write a piece about the year that was. What it meant to them, what they hope for in 2018. I've struggled with writing in general because it always feels self-indulgent. Even writing with good intentions can be misinterpreted. All I know is that this was a year of tremendous change and peaceful transition. That's not to say that there isn't some form of chaos knocking at the backdoor, because there always is. The world may in fact end at given moment, but we still awake to our morning coffee in hopes that it won't.
I’ve been wondering how to approach a review of THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. As usual, my attempts to construct a more critical conventional view seemed challenging. As of late, there is something that won’t let me get to the point of actively hating something the way I’ve seen other writers do. Obviously, I am not writing about our current administration, nor do I have any desire to tear down THE LAST JEDI because the former is a hideous mess and the latter is just simply a good escapist experience in my opinion. I am writing about a movie that I feel has a lot of nuance.
Sometime in early November of 1997, my close friend and I went to see a movie at a suburban multiplex. It was one I worked at briefly, as a matter of fact. I worked there for three months, sweeping up popcorn and cleaning up people's garbage. I don't remember all the movies that were playing at the time, but I can still hear R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" playing in a loop as the closing credits of SPACE JAM let out. Then the following year, I tried a number of new jobs. I worked briefly at a grocery store, for my dad's telephone company, and even endured a week of telemarketing. However, I wound up going back to a job I wish I hadn't left in the first place and would eventually find myself staying at for a couple more years: Box Office Video. I began writing reviews and handing them out to customers.
It felt like listening to passionate friends defend and think deeply about cinema and to lose that weekly interaction is a sad realization. But I stopped podcasting at Episode 122 of my own show, so the sheer fact that the Cinecast ran a decade with 500 episodes stored in a cloud, is a marvel. It’s hard to pinpoint specific favorite moments, but obviously, I can’t help but mention the end-of-year reviews that I had the pleasure of showing up for these past couple of years. Start there, and I’m positive you can hear the joy in my voice throughout, simply due to the fact that I got to appear on one of my favorite podcasts.
It's been such a hard time for so many. A triggering time. A devastating time. A time for reflection and a time for rage at everything that has come to light. I can certainly look at the bright side in saying that, well, at least none of the victims have to hide in the shadows anymore. They have an outlet, they have a voice, they have the ability to share their story in hopes of a positive outcome. The wounds will never fully heal, the scars remain, but at least the truth no longer has to reside in the mind. Together as human beings, we can acknowledge the pain that we’re experiencing. To ensure the victims that they are not alone, and to ensure that future generations of men no longer repeat the vicious cycle of displays of power and poisonous intent.