Hullo hullo my friends! I hope you’re well! In important news (that you already know), it is now 2023.
*shakes self* Anyhow. I thought it’d be fun to do a bit of a wrap-up, of varying topics. Most notably music and generally life things.
Music of the Year–Feat. Disclaimers That are Not, in Fact, Denial
Okay, so to look at my Apple Music Replay, you’d think I’m more of a modern music listener than a folk music listener.
I SWEAR IT’S NOT TRUE.
However, I’ll readily admit (and have said in the past) that I do enjoy (with a good bit of pickiness) modern music of varying genres (except rap, which I shan’t touch). I will also add that this year has been one whereat I’ve rediscovered some of the modern music I’ve loved in past years. 2020-21 was when I rediscovered folk music wholeheartedly, and this year I looked back to some of the contemporary stuff I’d loved.
So I did listen to it a lot more this year than I have previously.
However. The other thing is that Apple Music calculations seem to be weighted by how often you listen to a song, an artist, and an album in spurts, and/or by specifically selecting those things. The fact that I listened to Ashes, Keep the Wolves Away, and Honest Work countless times in the context of beloved playlists doesn’t seem to matter as much in the equation as the fact that I went and specifically listened to Move On several times in a row. The thing is, whilst I’ve been rediscovering the modern music, I’m far less inclined to mix it in with the more classy music I love and will put on my regular playlists. So I’ll just go and listen to it by itself till I get tired of it. But the app seems to consider that more notable than consistently listening to the other stuff year round.
Does it sound like I’m making excuses for myself?
But there is no way on earth these stats are actually correct. And I’ve heard others make similar observations (and draw similar conclusions) about their own Spotify Wrapped/Apple Replay. So I’m not crazy.
Okay, you have had your disclaimer.
Now I’ve made that, let us proceed with the roasting.
Supposedly, my 10th most listened song this year was Forty Hour Week by Alabama.
That wouldn’t surprise me, although it doesn’t seem quite right. I was obsessed with it in April/May but have barely given it a thought since then. But if it’s correct, I’d stand by it and not be ashamed of it, though.
Number 9 is Way Out There, by Lord Huron. This I will also stand by. I’m honestly surprised this one isn’t higher up. I love this song to death, and have since I found it in June/July.
But number 8 is far less preferable. I was a major Cimorelli fan in high school, and I’ve had a lot of fun rediscovering their stuff this year. While most of it is not particularly edifying, it’s clean, and their voices are good. And occasionally–very occasionally–their lyrics are genuinely incredible. However, I find it hard to believe that the one with some of the stupidest lyrics (and title–“Hearts On Fire”–*winces*) in their catalog was my 8th most listened song this year. Once again. I was really obsessed with it in April. It used to be one of my favorites, so it was quite jolly enjoying the sound again for a while. I’ve barely given it the time of day since. I must have just been really obsessed with it at the time. And/or had a lot of empty music listening time on my hands. Yeah. But I kinda doubt this is accurate. If it is, I need to rethink my life choices. Like. Girl what. How did this happen. Why did this happen. What kind of mindframe have I been in that a cheesy breakup song is number 8 on my top ten songs of the year list. I have had no cheesy breakup, so I have no excuse.
The same goes for number 7, another Cimorelli song, ‘Hope for It’. Although it’s much better in terms of lyrics, I still kinda hope this one is inaccurate. I think it might be? I guess I shall simply have to ‘hope for it’, though. < that pun is more inexcusable than the song being so high on the list.
Number 6 is They Call Me Doc, by Aaron Lewis. This I will stand by, even if it’s technically a country song, and even if it has the word s**t in it. It’s an achingly beautiful song about the work of military doctors, and if you want to feel like crying (or maybe actually cry), I recommend it.
Number 5 is Keep the Wolves Away, by Uncle Lucius. This I’ve talked about many a time thusfar, and not only do I think it’s accurate, but I’m not unhappy about it. This song is awesome.
Number 4 is Ashes, by the Longest Johns. Once again. I’ve talked about this many times, and even named it my #1 folk song at one time. I stand by that statement. I’m not sure if I stand by the app stat, though. I honestly think this one ought to be higher than it is. Like. I don’t think you guys understand just how much I love this song. And how much I’ve listened to it. Maybe too much actually, if such a thing is possible.
Number 3 is Hello, My Old Heart–10th Anniversary Edition–by the Oh Hellos. This I stand by. Even though the song is kinda indie/acoustic rather than folk, it is an incredible song that’s been very important to me. I love it so much. I shall talk a bit more about it later.
Number 2 is Here’s a Health to the Company by the Longest Johns. To be quite frank, I think in terms of accuracy this song should be number one. I’ve listened to this even more than Ashes. I’ll literally put this song and Ashes on loop by themselves, and be happy like that for quite a while.
And (according the very flawed stats of Apple Music)…my number one most listened to song of the year was…
Kills Me Just the Same, by Cimorelli.
Okay, hear me out.
I don’t think this is accurate, but if it is, I will actually stand by it.
It may be in the pop genre but this song is brilliantly written.
You just need to not think of it in terms of a break-up song. It’s framed like a break-up song, but the writer herself said it’s not meant to be about a break-up; just a dysfunctional relationship of some kind, whether that be a friend, family, or yes, a lover.
As somebody who in the past year has struggled through and ultimately been forced to cut ties in some supremely dysfunctional non-romantic relationships, this song speaks to me.
It’s just…it speaks to me.
I like it.
I might even love this song.
Shoot me, okay guys?
(seriously, do. this whole contemporary music thing is bad for my constitution.)
Okay now the uncomfortable part is out of the way. *mops brow* AI stats aside, let’s talk about my actual favorites, new discoveries, etc in terms of music this year. And yes, they’re mostly folk music–and the numbers are just for differentiation rather than ranking.
- Lord Huron, out of the music groups I’ve actually discovered within 2022, has probably been the most impactful one. I’ve talked about them briefly before but just…guys I love Lord Huron. I love the fact that their albums are all about specific characters/tell specific stories as you listen to the album. And that it’s not their stories. ‘Cause that makes Lord Huron bards. And they really are, if bards worked in an odd genre blend of wistful cowboy, the best sounds of 60s and 70s oldies, and hair-raisingly evocative soundtrack (not to mention that uniquely ethereal Lord Huron sound that defies genre). AND THEIR LYRICS. Within the context of the stories or without, their lyrics are incredible. They’ve even created this little universe-within-a-universe for the stories behind their songs, where there’s an old radio show host (Tubbs Tarbell) whose memory and sanity is beginning to disintegrate as he presents songs and tales in Alive From Whispering Pines. (they actually filmed a season of this show and put it on DVD. The lore, ladies and gentlemen, is thorough.) Just. Yeah. I love Lord Huron so much. If you’ve yet to give them a try, and you don’t want to start with this one (since I’ve shared the album version of that before, the one I linked is the Alive From Whispering Pines edition), then I highly recommend giving this one the time of day. Incredible songwriters and performers and story-crafters and bards. Not folk music, necessarily, but I still wholeheartedly recommend (with an occasional content caution). Just so good.
- The Hillbilly Thomists, a group of bluegrass/folk producing Dominican friars, have been another great discovery this year. I mean, I knew of them before. I grew up in a big Dominican parish (one of the biggest in the Eastern USA) and the Thomists came and played at our parish a couple of times, although I never went to see them when they did play. One slow afternoon this summer, when I was feeling kind of lonely, a family from Church (by whom I have, since then, practically been adopted) abruptly invited me over for dinner. I happily accepted the invitation, and then spent a delightful few hours in their spacious back yard simply listening to some of the teens of the family and their friends make music together. They had everything from a mandolin to a banjo, and they sounded amazing. Notably, they started singing Bourbon, Bluegrass, and the Bible (and played a great rendition of it, I might add). I was enchanted. I went home and listened to the song ASAP, and fell into wholehearted fandom thenceforth. Currently, my favorite is Good Tree, but there are lots of great ones. I 100% recommend giving them a listen. Dominicans are great, and Dominicans + bluegrass is almost too good to be true. But it is, in fact, true, so have at thee.
- Ben David Warner has been a discovery of mine very late in this year. Sort of. As a folk musician he’s a very recent discovery. As a person he’s…not. The weird thing is, I grew up with this guy. I mean, he was way older than me and my siblings, but he was a youth leader at church, and our moms were very close. I knew he went on to do folk music, but it wasn’t till my roommate went on his annual Celtic Christmas tour with him that I realized just how much folk music the guy had gotten into. I was given a cd of his album Red Rocking Chair for Christmas and when I tell you I’ve had that thing on repeat in my car, I mean it. I love all the songs so much I don’t know which to give to you guys…I’m certain I’ll be talking about it more in the future though, so for now, I shall pass along There Were Roses and marvel anew that the same voice that used to sing at the youth retreats is coming through car speakers and headphones on legit albums.
- As far as my favorite singular songs that I’ve discovered in 2022 (or that have been released in 2022, I think I’ll put here The Longest Johns’ Nantucket (off their 2022 album Smoke and Oakum), Colm Mcguinness’ Foggy Dew, Uncle Lucius’ Keep the Wolves Away, Flannel Graph’s Five Foot Three, (all three of which I’ve linked in previous posts) and most of all Stan Rogers’ rendition of Down the Road, which was taped (live) only five days before his death. So good, the lot of them.
Okay I’m done talking about music now. Let’s move on.
The Written Word
I have sadly not read as much as I wanted to this year. Finally having access to a library and being free to choose my books for the first time in years (it’s a long story, don’t ask) should have made me a more prodigious reader than it did. Alas. But for what it’s worth, the most notable books and authors I discovered this year were
- Ogden Nash. Poet of the early 20th century. Gosh I love this guy’s stuff. In general, the hallmark of Ogden Nash is wit, humour, and unexpected rhymes, but one of my favorites of his poems is rather serious.
People expect old men to die,Old Men, Ogden Nash.
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when…
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.
2. The Graveyard Book. I’ve talked about this one before, but I really liked it, and I didn’t plan on liking it. Had had yet to give Neil Gaiman the time of day; the Graveyard Book made me rethink it.
3. P.G. Wodehouse is my new favorite prosey witticist. <not sure if either of those are words but I feel like Wodehouse would use them. The Code of the Woosters was recently lent to me, and while I have yet to finish it, it’s endless fun and I’ve been quite enjoying it.
4. The Wizards of Once is another fantastic series by Cressida Cowell; whilst I have yet to finish it, it seems pretty certain proof to me that this particular modern day novelist can make the magic happen in more than one series. Which makes me very happy, because Cressida Cowell’s writing is something I aspire to. (In conjunction with Chesterton’s…and others…)
5. I can’t think of a fifth notable new literary discovery, I’m afraid. I’m sure there is one, but it’s late, and I’m quite tired.
Ye Olde TV Screen
Interestingly, for the first time in my life, I think, I’ve got at least as many if not more notable tv show discoveries this year than movie discoveries.
- The Office. Very funny and engrossing, although the humour can be very off color. See previous ‘general update’ posts for my full thoughts on this thing.
- Over the Garden Wall. Haunting, whimsical, hilarious, and so strange you sometimes just have to shake your head at your cat even while you’re enjoying it. All the macabre Victorian fairytale vibes, but make it autumnal and animation. 10/10. This I also talked about in a general update somewhere.
- I rediscovered childhood favorites The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (miniseries) and Blackbeard’s Ghost (movie) this year. One a dark, witty his-fic, the other a fantasy-comedy. Both excellent, both highly recommended. Full rambles about both in one of the update posts.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender sneaked in at the very end of 2022, as a group of friends had me over to watch it with them for a New Year’s Eve thing. We haven’t even finished the first season yet, but thusfar I’m really enjoying it. It’s a bit childish (I mean, the show was made for children), but the worldbuilding is really cool, and much as a hysterically-tired-and-happy Grim was roasting all the characters mercilessly at 10:30 pm on 12/31/22, to the entertainment of her friends (who’d all seen it before), I actually really liked some of the characters and am invested in the story now. It’ll take us a while to get through the rest of it, but I’ll report back when I finish it with full thoughts.
- I saved the best for last–well, Over the Garden Wall is the best, but Studio Ghibli is a close second. Talked about it at length elsewhere, and it’s so well known I daresay you know all about it, but for the record, my favorite Ghibli films are Whisper of the Heart, Spirited Away, and Castle In the Sky. Great stuff that.
So my first post on this blog was on 12/31/21.
Which means we’re over a year into this train wreck, somehow.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
It’s been lovely of course. I’ve really enjoyed interacting with you dears. I’ve not built much of any kind of ‘platform’, but I started a blog to stay in touch with long distance writer friends and to make new ones, and that I have done. And also to share my love of folk music with whoever would listen. And that I think I have done as well. Thank you, reader, for being the one who listened, and the one who became a friend. I hope you’ve no regrets.
But somehow it does not seem strange that it’s been a year. Starting a blog, and upholding it (semi) regularly has been one of the least eventful things that’s happened this year. And I guess what’s strange to me is that when I was a little younger, I thought finally doing this would be something super eventful. I was living a different life back then, though, and in that life, this would have been super eventful.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it means a lot to me that you’re here, reader, and that I’ve come this far with this little trainwreck. But let’s just say that in perspective with everything else…well.
It’s been a year.
Probably both the best and the worst year of my life thusfar.
I have had crosses settle on my shoulders that I could not even begin to comprehend a year ago…and I have discovered joys that I thought no longer existed in this old world.
I have dealt with some excruciatingly painful goodbyes, and I’ve been welcomed wholeheartedly to sweeter, truer hearths.
And when I look back, I don’t recognize myself from a year ago. Or even a few months ago.
That’s one reason why ‘Hello, My Old Heart’ has been such a comfort to me this year. Amidst all the painful things that have happened, the words, ‘Nothing lasts forever/some things aren’t meant to be/and you’ll never find the answers/till you set your old heart free…’ have rang quite true. Perhaps sadder is that the words ‘Hello, my old heart…how have you been? How is it being locked away? Don’t you worry, ’cause in there you’re safe…and it’s true, you’ll never beat, but you’ll never break…’ have proven to be true of me as well.
It’s been a hard run. Not just this year, but…well, it’s been hard for a while. And this year everything’s come to a head. The things that have happened…they’ve been the breaking point, the final blow.
But somehow, happily, they’ve also been the searchlight, finding the lost, scared kid with the weight of the world on her shoulders, and hauling her forth into some measure of courage and hope.
It’s been a year.
God be praised.
And it is well…and all shall be well. And all is well. Even though a lot of things are brutally painful still, I have found how good God is this year, how good He can be to me, and to others, and just…He is so good guys.
I have found that the stories are true, and He is good.
And I hope to live by those stories, going forward.
I think I’ve done okay living like that this year, in spite of everything. Somehow, I’ve come to the end of the year, and looking back, I’m not totally ashamed of myself. Sure, I made a lot of mistakes, but God has done good in me as well as for me. I have followed the old ways as best as I could, and found them, too, to be sweet and true.
I am reminded of a Lord Huron lyric, from ‘What Do it Mean‘ (but also Where Did the Time Go?)
May you laugh and sing your life full.
May you learn the reasons why.
[and most notably]
May you live until you die.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I don’t think it means simply living and breathing until you die, because then there’d be no reason to say it.
I think it means living.
You know what I mean.
Not just surviving, but thriving–not ‘running through life and cruising toward death’, but savoring all that comes your way. The pains and the sorrows, and the hopes and the joys. The Emmanuel in those around you, and the cross He gives you to bring you at last to truly live forever.
The bitter, the sorrowful, and the heartbreaking–the good, the true, and the beautiful–all felt and recognized and drank to the dregs, as the cup that has been given to you as your allotted portion.
And so, dear reader.
This year, in 2023, I wish you every happiness.
And I wish you a cross that you can be humbled and proud both to carry–a reason to boast of your Lord.
I wish that you, too, will find yourself unrecognizable when you look back–but in a good way, in a way that you are not ashamed of, even though it is bittersweet to say ‘so long’ to the younger you.
May you laugh in the darkness, sing when the storm rages, and weep tears of joy in the face of Death itself.
May you love and be loved deeply.
May you live until you die.
P.S. I’ll be back with something or other next week…probably another fan folktion? In case you can’t tell I’ve not been able to hold myself to Mondays lately, but I’m still trying to post once a week. I also apologize if this post is sloppy. I wrote it between two late nights, without time to edit it carefully…God bless you, friends, and here’s to a good year to come!
2 replies on “It’s Been A Year–Goodbye 2022, feat. some laughing over music and musing over life”
Happy New Year, Grim!
Hmm. Apple Music/Spotify do seem to be very biased on what they consider “top” songs, artists, &c. It’s quite strange.
Keep The Wolves Away! Such a good one! *scurries off to go listen to it again*
I need to check out Hello, My Old Heart! My sister loves the Oh Hellos, and I’ve picked up a teensy bit of her particularity.
We had a Dominican over for dinner the other night and ended up talking about the Hillbilly Thomists, and it was grand. XD
Ogden Nash is such good fun, but I had no idea he wrote serious poetry, too! That snipped you included was beautiful.
And all of your thoughts at the end…I don’t have a lot of words. ❤ But I hope that God will bless you abundantly in this new year!
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Happy New Year to you too, my dear Sam!
Oh gosh, I know right. I’m quite harumph harumph about it. Just not cool, man.
It is!! I discovered it via my coworker Winnie–she ended up having to have a tiny wedding (COVID era) with just her husband and each of their parents, but in the original plans, the two of them were supposed to have their first dance to that song. Which I just found…very thought-provoking, I guess. I mean, the song’s great anyway, but that definitely was a bonus positive association when I first discovered it.
I’m quite fond of the Oh Hellos, but overall, the only song of theirs that I listen to obsessively is Hello My Old Heart. It’s been a good anthem for some of the changes that have happened to me this year, that’s for certain. And I really love both versions of it, but I feel like the 10th anniversary one just suits me better, y’know.
Dear Dominicans. I haven’t run into one in a long time, but I still have a soft spot for them after growing up in one of their flagship parishes.
Right?! It reminds me of Stan Rogers’ Last Watch, and that just makes me very happy. *satisfied Grim noises*
Thanks Sam. 🙂 Same to you my friend. He is with the lot of us, so I think we’ll all be all right.