2020 Hindsight

As has become my habit I’m using the entrance of a new year to take stock of how my blog performed last year. 2020 was, of course, the weirdest year that most of us can probably remember – certainly in my 67 years on the planet – and there is something comforting in reflecting on a trivial subject like a blog, amidst all that has been happening around us. This may be a little self-indulgent on my part, but I justify it to myself by believing that newer readers won’t have seen some of the posts I’ll be mentioning, and might otherwise be distraught to have missed out (as if!).

Back in the days when I first began blogging WordPress used to provide us with an annual review of our blogs, which gave all the details and stats we could possibly want to know. They have long since stopped doing that and I now have to rely on my own analysis – so beware of potential errors!

The basic stats are fairly easy to judge – I just look at the numbers. In those terms, 2020 was my most successful year since 2015, and December 2020 was my best month since October 2015. In fact, every month in 2020 was better than the corresponding month in 2019. Compared with 2019, there were 72% more page views, 188% more likes, 244% more comments, and an overall increase of 30% in visitor numbers. These visitors were from exactly 100 different countries: 44% from the US, 27% from the UK, then 5% from India, with the remaining 24% being shared between the other 97 countries, 19 of which had just the one view. It must have been something I said. Either that or I’m just not popular in Burundi. In all I posted 112 times in 2020, my highest ever total: it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that more posts equals more views, does it!

Judging the popularity of posts isn’t quite so simple. It would be great if WordPress gave me detailed viewing stats for every post, but they don’t. Maybe it is because I only have their free plan, but they lump together 25% of my page views into a category of “Home Page/Archives,” which is next to useless, really. Any analysis of the posts which were read the most often is therefore doomed to failure so I have, as before, fallen back on rating ‘success’ by the number of likes each post was given. I know that this is unsatisfactory, but for me it is preferable to not counting 25% of the votes.

On the number of likes, last year was a bit of an oddity. For the first time that I can remember, there wasn’t one post which stood out way ahead from the others: in fact, there was only a difference of ten likes between 1st and 10th in the rankings. Having said that, I have been reminded of a favourite old Snoopy cartoon:

I began collecting data for this post last weekend, since when there have been additional likes affecting five positions in my top ten, including the #1. So, before there are any more last minute changes here is my countdown of last year, from #10 to #1:

=9️⃣  Tuesday Tunes 13: Shopping

=9️⃣   Glastonbury For Geriatrics

=7️⃣   Tuesday Tunes 21: Growing Up

=7️⃣   Tuesday Tunes 30: Sixties USA

6️⃣   Tuesday Tunes 29: More Sixties

5️⃣   RIP Peter Green

4️⃣   Tuesday Tunes 22: Disappointment

 

And the top three:

3️⃣   That Was The Year That Was

2️⃣  Tuesday Tunes 20: Lockdown Music – Part 2

1️⃣   World Mental Health Day 2020

I began the Tuesday Tunes series on 24 March, the day after our Prime Minister had placed us into Lockdown 1, as it has since become known, having since been joined by its stablemates Lockdown 2 (November) and Lockdown 3, which began last Monday. As with everything our government does, there were elements of confusion around it: on Monday the PM told us that it would last for at least six weeks, but on Tuesday a senior cabinet minister told us it would last until March. Then, yesterday, the PM said it could last until April. Talk about hedging your bets! Clarity is not a word I’d associate with this lot. Incompetence, ineptitude and corruption perhaps, but not clarity. I hadn’t intended Tuesday Tunes to become a series, but was prompted to do so by a comment suggesting I should, and it kind of grew from there. It gave me a regular reason for at least one post each week, and there was bugger all else that I could do, wasn’t there? Looking back on them, I began each one with my own take on the situation here, usually comprising jibes at the incompetence, ineptitude etc of our government, and then began to theme them: many of the early posts related to a word that had been in the news that week. I started with just two songs per week, but gradually expanded until six tunes became more the norm: let’s face it, you haven’t got anything better to do either, have you? It is no surprise to me that six of last year’s top ten are from this series, and two of the other four are also music-related.

The two remaining posts are worthy of mention. At #3 was the equivalent of this post, which gives you a look back over my blogging 2019, with links to a number of posts from that year. As many of you have joined me since then – 255 during 2020 – you probably won’t have seen these, so do feel free to meander through the detritus of previous years. But the thing that pleases me most is that, for the third year running, my top post has been the one I wrote to mark World Mental Health Day, on 10 October. Given the amount of music I have shared with you, you would be forgiven for forgetting – or not knowing – why I started this in the first place, and it is good for me to be reminded that I need to continue to write about mental health issues, perhaps more often than I did last year. Last year’s top three are now at numbers 6, 7 and 8 on my all time list – if you look, you’ll see that my top six posts ever are all on mental health topics, which is gratifying for me.

Another new feature for me last year was to convert my Christmas posts into a daily Advent Calendar. Together with my monthly review on 30 November, this meant a 26 day streak of posts from me, which is almost unheard of. Thank you to everyone who lasted the course! None of those posts were close to the top ten, but I had a lot of fun doing them, and it felt like they were well received. So maybe I’ll do it again…

Before I go, I’d like to mention the real oddity of last year’s stats. In my review of 2019 I said this

“I’ll leave you with my own favourite post from last year. It was another of my musical ones but with a difference: its main aim was to show how talented musicians can be found on YouTube amongst all the dross on the site. I deliberately gave the post a slightly ambiguous title and, as you can see from the comments, a couple of people admitted to being drawn in by it. As I said to one of them, it was good to know that my MBA in Marketing (1980!) was still of some value, and who wouldn’t want to find out what Under The Covers was about? That was far from being the most ‘liked’ post, but is probably the one from which I derived most pleasure in writing.”

Since then, that post has for some reason developed a life of its own. It was single-handedly responsible for 9% of my total site views last year, and I marked its birthday by sharing it again in 2020. If you haven’t read Under The Covers do take a look, and if anyone can tell me why it has been viewed so often I’d love to know.

My own personal favourite post from last year, which didn’t appear in the top ten, is Birthday Celebrations, in which I revisited a post written for my 60th birthday, updated and compared with how we did it in 2020. It features a little star who wasn’t born in 2013, who is very dear to my heart.

I should probably close now, but before I do I’d like to offer my thanks to each and every one of you who has contributed, whether that be by reading, liking or commenting on any of my posts. Some of you are regulars, others less so, but I value the support you all give to my blog. It’s good to know that there are people out there beyond my screen and keyboard, and I value our interactions – as indeed I do when I read, like and comment on your blogs too. We’re all in this together, folks 😊

Late November

I’m getting this month’s review in a day early, as I have plans for December and didn’t want this to get lost amongst them!

Regular followers and readers will know that I posted a lot in November – just the fifteen posts, which is almost unheard of for me, except when I’m on a ‘post every day’ stint. The first post of the month was the previous month’s review:

October Road

which was living under a title borrowed from a James Taylor song. Any ideas where this month’s title comes from? All will be revealed at the end, so bear with me.

As usual, there were Tuesday Tunes posts each week – four this month, beginning with:

Tuesday Tunes 33: More Seventies Singles

which gave us music from Black Sabbath, Roxy Music, Jimmy Cliff, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Boston and Free.

Then came:

Tuesday Tunes 34: Seventies Singles Encore

which featured The Cars, The Moody Blues, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Mott The Hoople and Don McLean.

For the next two posts I moved into albums, starting with:

Tuesday Tunes 35: Seventies Albums

which included Bruce Springsteen, Bad Company, George Harrison, Steely Dan, Gerry Rafferty and Warren Zevon. Not a bad bunch! The second selection of albums followed in:

Tuesday Tunes 36: More Seventies Albums

with music from Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Fishbaugh Fishbaugh and Zorn, Poco, Nick Drake and The Eagles – showing my growing leanings at that time towards American music.

To keep the musical theme going I also posted several posts which weren’t on Tuesdays, just to show that I’d worked out that other days of the week exist. In order of posting, these were:

Bonfire Night Tunes

November Poems And Songs

As its title suggests, that one contained more than music, as did the next post with music:

Selfies 2020

which was a reworked, expanded version of a post originally written in 2015.

There followed a straight reblog of a post from last November, marking its first birthday and the fact that it is the post which, by some distance, has clocked up the most views this year:

Under The Covers.

I then posted a couple of musically themed posts for two dates which feature high in the American calendar during November:

Songs Giving Thanks

and:

Black Friday.

Just to ring the changes, there were also some posts that didn’t include music – yes, I can do it sometimes! The first of these was a reblog of a post from five years ago in which I mused on our inability to learn from history:

What Now?

I also posted to mark Remembrance Sunday, as I always do: this is a day that should never be allowed to be forgotten. The post went by the imaginative title of:

Remembrance Sunday 2020.

My other two November posts were both on a mental health theme, and were both updated reworking of posts from a number of years ago. The first of these was:

Let’s Work Together – Again

and the second was:

There Is Still Time To Change.

That completes the round up of what, by my standards, was a busy blogging month. I hope this has been helpful in reminding you of anything you missed or would like to see again. To end the month, which now includes this as its sixteenth post, I promised you that I would let you know where I ‘borrowed’ my title from. It was this, from one of the loveliest voices this country has ever known:

That song was on Sandy’s album The North Star Grassman And The Ravens, but I’m sharing this stripped down solo performance as I think it really brings out the beauty of the song.

I’ll see you again tomorrow for the start of December, and something a little different from what I have done for the past 36 Tuesdays. Stay tuned!