“Best of 2012”Posted: December 14, 2012
I didn’t listen to much new music this year. However, I did discover or rediscover plenty of great things to read, watch, and listen to.
Townes Van Zandt: I listened to High, Low, and In Between once a few years ago, but it didn’t interest me much. This year, however, I found myself listening to At My Window and The Nashville Sessions nearly as much as anything else. I still really can’t get into other similar artists (apart from Gram Parsons), though I’ve tried. I think what differentiates his music from so much of the country or folk music that I don’t like is the genuine sense of sincerity and humility that comes across in his work, along with a notable lack of nostalgia or over-sentimentality, for the most part. The Nashville Sessions is one of my desert-island albums. Each song is wonderful, and I hope others find this and listen to it sometime.
Fleetwood Mac: I’m pretty sure most of my friends consider this “Mom music.” There is nothing wrong with that! I’m not ashamed to admit that I listened to the greatest hits CD many, many times this year. There is also this song on Tusk that sounds like it could have been made by The Feelies (Thanks, Elsa).
Faust/Silver Apples/Soft Machine: I shouldn’t necessarily lump these bands together, but I like each of them for similar reasons. Sometime between listening to the Silver Apples and Townes I decided that I should learn to play the banjo. The Soft Machine is another one of those bands where so many “similar” artists are fairly uninteresting.
The dB’s: Stands for Decibels
Love Tractor: “Broke My Saw”
Alex Chilton: The 1970 Sessions
The Sunshine Fix: Age of the Sun
Virginia Woolf – The Waves. This is a really beautiful book that follows the lives of six friends through their thoughts and internal dialogue. They drift apart through life and interpret a shared reality through their own individual consciousnesses. There are points at which the thoughts of each are shared and seem to melt together, invoking the idea that the individuals in the book represent a whole. At times, I felt exhausted being inside the minds of these characters, but always felt compelled to read on.
William Gibson – Neuromancer, Burning Chrome. It’s interesting to listen to William Gibson talk about his inspiration for these books, and how he would walk by video arcades as they were first emerging and be struck by the sight of people hunched over arcade machines, somehow completely immersed in virtual reality. This was my first foray into the “cyber-punk” genre. I haven’t read anything by Neal Stephenson, but Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash are high up on the to-read list.
Zach Davis – Appalachian Trials: The Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking The Appalachian – The author is hilarious and has a really great writing style.
James Joyce – Dubliners, Ulysses – I started reading James Joyce this year as a result of a combination of listening to a radio special about Marshall McCluhan’s work and reading a few essays by Joseph Cambell. Both were apparently influenced in some way by Finnegans Wake. I probably won’t be reading that anytime soon, but I bought Dubliners and enjoyed the stories and the structure, and so moved onto reading Ulysses. I started reading a chapter at a time and then reading the annotations (Ulysses Annotated by Don Gifford), which helpful in understanding many of the allusions, especially regarding historical details, but I’ve found it more enjoyable to read the annotations after making it through a handful of chapters at a time.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi