Readers’ Choice 2020
PART 10 CONTENTS
- Harvey McKinnon shares new old discoveries and old ones that still sound new. It’s been an easy year on the ears!
- John MacLean has had a great listening year too. At the same time he laments the loss of four musical favourites.
- THE READER’S CHOICE 2020 PLAYLIST is on YouTube and Spotify. It samples a selection of the songs recommended in this year’s 10-part series.
This is the third annual Readers’ Choice January series featuring subscribers’ top listens of the past year.
Part 10 concludes this year’s set of contributions.
Thanks so much to all the readers who took the time to share your faves with everyone!
Stay tuned and enjoy,
30 January 2021
Two of the year’s highlights:
I discovered two groups I missed (somehow!) that I love – The Editors and Stereophonics.
Listening a lot to:
- Stereophonics Radio on Spotify with groups like James, Elbow, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Paul Weller
- The 70’s band Joy of Cooking. Two killer female vocalists.
- Which remind me of Australia’s great band The Waifs. Also featuring two killer female vocalists. And we listen to them a LOT.
- Try: Did You Go Downtown. Joy of Cooking (sounds fantastic 50 years later and almost contemporary).
- And Pony: The Waifs Or this song by them: London Still.
- Marcia and I have been listening a lot to our holiday dance party list from last year. You can find it on Spotify under Harvey.
About Harvey: Harvey McKinnon is an activist and fundraising consultant social isolating in Vancouver. He has published five books and loves comedy, theatre and music – especially live.
John Prine and Charley Pride are just two of the musicians who lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus in 2020
Four Musicians We Lost in 2020
- Paradise: John Prine
- Souvenirs: John Prine
- Kiss An Angel Good Morning: Charley Pride
- Mr Bojangles: Jerry Jeff Walker
- Night Rider’s Lament: Jerry Jeff Walker
- Tutti-Fruiti: Little Richard
- Long Tall Sally: Little Richard
Despite this unexpected and difficult year, the pandemic hasn’t been without some silver linings. Fortuitously, I was able to let YouTube run full time allowing me to catch up on various musicians. With a fuller understanding of their music, a few musical gems emerged.
On the dark side is the loss of a number of musicians to COVID. Had there been no pandemic it wouldn’t have been their time, which makes their absence even larger.
John Prine succumbed to the virus in April at 73. His health was compromised from surviving a serious bout of cancer. Prine was a letter carrier in Chicago before gaining recognition as a singer-songwriter and befriending great talents like Steve Goodman, who died at only 36 in 1984. Prine wrote with a common touch as unvarnished as it was honest. I first heard his music played by a burly busker singing Paradise outside Vancouver’s Maple St. liquor store.
The song was written for Prine’s father who’d grown up in Paradise, Kentucky. A hauntingly plaintive song of respect for the land, the damage done by man and the love for his father.
Another, Souvenirs, speaks to how memories of better times are overshadowed by loss and sadness. “The years robbed me of those childhood souvenirs”, he sings. This version is performed by a young Prine accompanied by Goodman.
Country great Charley Pride also lost his life to complications from COVID in December at 86, a month after he was awarded the Country Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Pride went to Nashville in 1966 and had 29 Number Ones on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart during his career. His signature song was the huge hit Kiss An Angel Good Morning and he was one of only three African-American members of the Grand Ole Opry.
Other musicians we lost dodged the virus but not cancer. Singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker – best known for his song Mr Bojangles – died of throat cancer in October at age 78. Born in the US northeast, he moved to Texas finding a home for both himself and his music. Mr. Bojangles is a timeless song of struggle and persistence through adversity, while finding simple pleasures in what you do. Night Rider’s Lament, speaks to the uncertainty of past decisions but ultimately satisfaction in his choice. The song was written by Michael Burton, not Walker but one of his signature tunes. Both are such lovely songs.
Richard Penniman (aka Little Richard) was 87 when he died of bone cancer in May. A progenitor of rock’n roll in the mid-50’s, his energetic and outrageous musical performances helped open American society’s doors to black music and its ears to an emerging musical genre. The Beatles opened for him in early 60s Hamburg and it’s purported he kept cash in his car trunk to help those in need. A measure of the man.
You can find other musicians we lost this year here.
About John MacLean: John is a semi-retired musicaholic and modest guitar and violin player, who plays on occasion with a loose collective of like-minded musicians.