A Hell of a Year

The Year in Music: The Titular Playlist

If you’re reading this, you made it.

In any given year some of us don’t. You may know someone who was here at the beginning of 2020 and who you never thought wouldn’t be here now. If that’s so, I wish you peace.

Amidst such a mess, maintaining a tradition might seem silly. But I’ve become a big fan of traditions, recognizing them as a useful social lubricant as long as they’re allowed to evolve. Like the transformation of this practice from C-90s to Spotify. Secretly, I suspect more of you listened to the tapes.

This year, I tried hard to include more recent records and venture further back than last year’s 1980s-heavy installment. Still, even the more recent stuff features folks from back when. I’m getting to that age. I hope you give a listen and that among the two hours or so of tunes you find something you like. Or maybe something to read among the books.

But even if you don’t, know that I wish you a better 2021. As a start, hug someone you love.


(NB: One last thing: one of the songs listed below was not available on Spotify.)

  1. Just Like Starting Over—John Lennon, 1980
  2. Political Word—Bettye Layvette, 2018
  3. Time of the Season—The Zombies, 1968
  4. The Prisoner—The Clash, 1978
  5. You’ve Got Possibilities—Peggy Lee, 1966
  6. Hallelujah Chorus—The Priests, 2016
  7. The Killing Moon—Echo and the Bunnymen, 1984
  8. Punk Rock Girl—The Dead Milkmen, 1988
  9. Beat the Retreat—Richard & Linda Thompson, 1984
  10. Polly—Nirvana, 1993
  11. Charlotte Sometimes—The Cure, 1981
  12. Long Gone Blues—Billie Holiday, 1939
  13. Always the Last to Know-Del Amitri, 1992
  14. Ghosts—The Jam, 1982
  15. Thinking Blues—Bessie Smith, 1928
  16. Wordy Rappinghood—Tom Tom Club, 1981
  17.  You Don’t Know What Love Is—Fenton Robinson, 1974
  18. Key to the Highway—Big Bill Broonzy, 1940
  19. The More I See—Fun Boy Three, 1983
  20. I Hear Music—Ella Fitzgerald, 1962
  21. When the Battle is Over—Aretha Franklin, 1970
  22. Animal Magic—Peter Gabriel, 1978
  23. 1999—Prince, 1982
  24. Daddy’s Girl—The Dream Syndicate, 1984 (unavailable at press time)
  25. The Warmth of the Sun—The Beach Boys, 1964
  26. Season of the Witch—Donovan, 1966
  27. Workin’ for a Living—Huey Lewis and the News, 1982
  28. Daniel—Elton John, 1974
  29. Judge Not—Bob Marley, 1982
  30. Last Train—Mavis Staples, 2010
  31. In the Clouds—The Cult, 1996
  32. Deal—Jerry Garcia, 1971
  33. Slip Kid—The Who, 1975
  34. Penguins—Lyle Lovett, 1994
  35. Panic Beach–Maria McKee, 1989
  36. Going Up The Country–Canned Heat, 1968
  37. Phoenix–Dan Fogleberg, 1979
  38. Hell of a Year–Parker McCollum, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.