Hello again. As promised, I’m back with my second set of New Year songs. Today sees three which actually include ‘New Year’s Day’ in their title – how imaginative of me!
My first selection is one of those, and is one that I have included before, from one of my favourite singer-songwriters: the incomparable Mary Chapin Carpenter, who was featured in my Advent Calendar selections, on Christmas Day itself. In previous years I’ve given you the ‘official’ video from her record company, which has slightly clearer audio than this live version. But this video of MCC performing the song includes her explanation of its background: it is based on a dream about a meeting with a friend, which she noted down and turned into the most beautiful song. As she says,
‘We dwell on possibility on New Year’s Day’
A band of which you probably haven’t heard, but one to which I feel a connection, is The Rescues, a US indie rock band. I was part of the crowdfunding effort which became their 2013 album Blah Blah Love And War, from which this song comes, and band member Kyler England still follows me on Twitter (probably due to inertia more than anything else, as she hasn’t tweeted anything since July!). This is one of those ‘hoping for better’ songs, and the video is hilarious:
As far as I know, the band has never had any kind of chart success anywhere: I think that’s a real shame, as they write some superb songs. A mention too, for Chet Dixon, who is so good in that video. He is listed on the IMDB as an actor, including an appearance in Cold Mountain, a long way down the list of credits. On this evidence I think he deserves better, although he does seem to have had a couple of more major roles in recent years.
I included a song written by Gretchen Peters in Part One of these posts, and it seems right to include one that she both wrote and performed:
That is an achingly beautiful song about love, loss, and the promises that we make as New Year resolutions, but rarely keep. Like everything she does, it matches a lovely tune to intelligent words, and that is why I’m such a fan of hers. This was one of two tracks on a September 2019 single release called The Need To Know Vinyl Session, which was obviously such a big deal that her Wikipedia entry has no mention of it. It’s a safe bet that it wasn’t a chart hit, I think.
I would imagine that I’ll be on more familiar ground for most of you with this next song:
That was the lead single from U2’s third album, War. It was released in January 1983, a month ahead of the album: the single reached #10 in the UK and #53 in the US, the album was #1 in the UK and #12 in the US, and has to date sold more than 11m copies. The power of this song, which refers to the Solidarity movement in Poland, still gets me whenever I listen to it. Maybe it is just me, but I thought U2 were far better in their earlier days, before Bono began to believe his own publicity and disappeared up his own fundament.
I mentioned just now that New Year resolutions are often doomed to fail. I wonder if this is one:
As you can see from the video, this was a track on an album by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas called King And Queen, which was released in March 1967. The record company made it as a deliberate attempt to harness some of the same success that Marvin Gaye had been enjoying in his duets with both Tammi Terrell and Kim Weston. The record reached #18 in the UK and #36 in the US, and was the final album released before his death in a plane crash in December of that year, at the age of just 26. We never did find out if the duo would have had more success, but as you probably know his biggest success was posthumous, with both the single and album of The Dock of The Bay. I’m not a huge fan of soul music, but this guy really did have a great voice.
I wanted to include a song which reflects the way we look ahead to a new year, a new beginning and new possibilities, without being sure what that year might bring. I think that is something we have all grown to recognise in the past two years, but there will no doubt have been many New Year celebrations in years gone by which weren’t matched by reality. This song, from one of the best singer-songwriters I know, is a great example of that uncertainty and blind optimism. It is an audio-only piece, but the words speak volumes:
I have been a fan of Al Stewart since his first album, Bedsitter Images, way back in 1967. He is one of those that appeals to me for the wit and wisdom of his lyrics, and he has made some superb albums. He has only enjoyed limited chart success, perhaps more in the US than here in his homeland (he is Scottish), but he has a loyal following and in pre-pandemic days still sold out his concerts on a regular basis.
I’ve given you a big name band singing about New Years Day, so to round off the main part of the show how about another:
This was a track on Bon Jovi’s album This House Is Not For Sale, which was released in November 2016, and peaked at #1 in the US and #5 in the UK. By their own high standards this was a relative failure, ‘only’ selling 600k copies so far – I can think of many bands who would love to have a ‘failure’ like that! This may not be the greatest thing they have ever done, but it’s a fun video with a message of hope for the future, which is a sentiment we can all share. It is also, to my surprise, the first time I’ve ever played one of their songs, though I suspect it may not be the last.
That’s the regular selections done and dusted, but all the best shows conclude with an
Thank you, you’re too kind! As is my usual custom, my encore is a reminder of my childhood. One of my earliest memories of New Year’s Day is the televised concert of Strauss family music from Vienna, which my late Mum loved and we watched with her, along with the ski jumping from Garmisch-Partenkirchen which followed it. These were both rare treats in the late 1950s/early 1960s, when daytime TV was still a novelty and before wall to wall TV took over. The closing delight of the concert was always the final encore, the Radetzky March, during which the conductor would turn to the audience and conduct their hand-clapping. This has always seemed to me to be the epitome of the joy and hopefulness that the start of a new year can bring, and I think it is a suitable way to bring this compilation of New Year music to a close. Last year, the concert was played to an empty hall, and this particular piece just didn’t feel right for me. There are many versions of this on YouTube and this time I’m giving you a vintage performance, from 1987, conducted by the incomparable Herbert Von Karajan:
I’m now off to do my usual 1 January thing and take a TV trip to Vienna, though I’m wondering how it will be in these pandemic days. Last year I had visions of a socially distanced orchestra sitting 2m apart from each other, their conductor up in the balcony, and playing to an empty theatre. I was wrong on the orchestra and conductor part but not, as I said just now, on the audience. If my memory serves me correctly, I think Austria had been put back into lockdown but that this had been lifted a couple of weeks ago, so I’m hoping for a concert with an audience this year. However it happens, the music will still be fantastic.
I’ll be back with Tuesday Tunes next week, and am starting to prepare my annual blog review too: coming soon! But for today, all that remains is for me to say that I hope 2022 is a better year than the previous two for all of us and to wish you all a very