#NewYearSongOfTheDay 2020

Last year, following hot on the heels of my Christmas songs, I began posting a #NewYearSongOfTheDay on my blog’s Facebook page and on Twitter. It seemed to be well-received, so I thought I’d do the same again this year. And, as last year, it also felt like a good idea to do a post including all the songs I’d shared, for those who haven’t been keeping up – where have you been?!

I began these songs on Boxing Day and continued until today. Including a bonus second song today, that makes eight in total and, as with my #ChristmasSongOfTheDay I’ve tried to vary these, and not rely on obvious selections of previous chart hits. Only three of the eight featured last year, so if you saw last year’s post you will, I hope, be pleased to see the new choices and won’t be too bored! In addition, keeping to my intention to steer clear of the charts, only two of these have been top 40 singles in either the US or the UK (one in each) though they and one other have graced the lower reaches of the charts.

The first selection, on Boxing Day (Dec 26 for those countries who don’t celebrate it), was one of the three also included last year. My view is that the New Year is a time both to reflect on what has been and to look ahead to what is coming. This is one of my favourite ‘reflective’ songs, and has an accompanying video which fits that feeling perfectly. Counting Crows have long been a favourite band of mine too, since their first album way back in 1992. This song is from their second album, Recovering The Satellites: it peaked at no.6 on the US singles chart and no.62 in the UK. It includes what is probably Courtney Cox’s best acting performance ever (even better than when she danced with Bruce Springsteen 😉):

Another long-time favourite band of mine are the Foo Fighters. I ran out of days to include this one last year, so I made up for it this time, on Friday 27th. This is very much a stylised ‘looking ahead’ song, and I love its video. They may be one of the loudest rock bands on the planet but when they go into softer mode I think they really excel. This one reached no.17 in the US Alternative chart (whatever that is!) and crept up to no.42 in the UK: criminally underrated, in my view. If you never thought you’d see a rock band on the Moon, here’s your chance:

I’ve long felt that Gretchen Peters is one of the best singer-songwriters around. She has made some wonderful albums of her own, and is a great live performer, but if her name is known to you it is probably as the writer of songs which have been single hits or album tracks for others: for example, there is Independence Day, a no.1 for both Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood, or songs for the likes of Shania Twain (Dance With The One That Brought You), Trisha Yearwood (On A Bus To St Cloud), Neil Diamond (Talking Optimist Blues) and Faith Hill (The Secret Of Life). She has also written and performed quite a few with Bryan Adams. My song on Saturday 28th was another of hers which is better known as a cover, in this case by the country band Alabama, and it has also been recorded by the country singer, Barbara Mandrell. Gretchen sang harmony vocals on Alabama’s version, which was only ever a B-side and an album track and, as far as I know, she has never recorded the song – New Year’s Eve 1999 – herself. I was going to include the Alabama version when, quite by chance, I came across another one, by a band who were totally unknown to me: Prescott-Brown. Apparently they were a Canadian country band who released two albums, in 1992 and 1994. Their version of the song is on the second of those albums, which made no.10 in the Canadian country albums chart. I much prefer it to the Alabama effort, as Tracey Brown has an amazingly warm voice. I got a ‘like’ on Twitter from Gretchen when I posted this, so I guess she enjoyed it too! I’m rather glad that I found it:

On Sunday 29th I posted a song by a band which holds a very special place in my heart: Great Lake Swimmers, coincidentally another Canadian band. If you want to know why, I’ve posted about them twice before: the second post, which featured in my (now very occasional) series of #SaturdaySongs can be found as no.14. I got a ‘like’ AND a ‘retweet’ from both the band and their record company on Twitter for this one! This isn’t specifically a New Year song, but it is very much in keeping with the spirit of determination and hope which we attach to this time of year, so I thought it fair to include it. To my knowledge – and I have all of their albums – this has only ever appeared on a re-released version of their 2006 EP Hands In Dirty Ground, having not been on the original release. That probably explains why there isn’t a dedicated video for it, but I love the song nonetheless:

Another band of which you probably haven’t heard, but to which I feel a connection, is The Rescues, a US rock band. I was part of the crowdfunding effort which became their 2013 album Blah Blah Love And War, and both the band and band member Kyler England still follow me on Twitter (probably due to inertia more than anything else!). They provided my song for Monday 30th: this is another of those ‘hoping for better’ songs, and the video is hilarious:

Yesterday was, of course, New Year’s Eve, and was one of the days where I shared a song I also included last year. The song which I imagine most people associate with New Year’s Eve is Auld Lang Syne. There are countless versions of this, but none are quite as lovely as the one by Mindy Smith. If you’ve been keeping up with my seasonal music posts you’ll know that I featured Mindy on Christmas Eve – you can find her song here if you missed it. For the video to accompany her version of Auld Lang Syne she asked fans to send her photos of those they loved or had lost, or maybe both. The resulting collage is absolutely wonderful, and is made even better if you watch it on YouTube and see the heartfelt comments from people whose photos were featured. This really does capture the end of year reflective mood so very well:

Mindy sent me a ‘thank you’ tweet for that, which was kind of her.

Today’s first post was one I didn’t feature last year: it is the second of my selections which was a top 40 chart hit, reaching no.10 in the UK and no.53 in the US, though it did get as high as no.2 in the band’s native land. Originally written as a love song to Bono’s wife, this changed into being about the Solidarity movement in Poland: Lech Walesa and all that.  Last year I gave you ABBA, this year it was U2, from the time before Bono became a prat:

As I also did last year, I posted a bonus song for today: the same one, i.e. the third which featured last year too. This is another selection from the incomparable Mary Chapin Carpenter, who also featured in my Christmas songs collection, on Christmas Day itself: you can find her by following the link in the paragraph above about Mindy Smith. There is a video of MCC performing this song live, in which she explains the background to the song: it is based on a dream about a meeting with a friend, which she noted down and turned into the most beautiful song. I’m giving you the ‘official’ video from her record company, which has slightly clearer audio than the live version. As she says,

‘We dwell on possibility on New Year’s Day’

Another bonus that I shared here last year, but not on Facebook or Twitter, was a reminder of my childhood. One of my earliest childhood memories of New Year’s Day was 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, 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 suitable way to bring this compilation of New Year music to a close. There are many versions of this on YouTube but I think it is most fitting to share this one from 2016, conducted by Mariss Jansons who, sadly, passed away a month ago, on 1st December. It is a lovely reminder of the spirit which he brought to the music he conducted, and the clear rapport he enjoyed with both the musicians and the audience:

If that isn’t a joyous way to begin a new year, I don’t know what is! As I’m posting this the Vienna concert is playing on my tv, so I’m in my element – I hope your day is equally good!

Happy New Year to you all!

 

A #NewYearSongOfTheDay

For the first time ever I’ve been posting songs for the New Year on Twitter and the Facebook page for my blog (if you haven’t ‘liked’ the page yet the link is to the right – go on, you know you want to!). I began on Boxing Day and brought the sequence to an end today with a double, so there were eight in total. This is the full collection – I hope you enjoy them.

The approach of the New Year can be a positive time, when we look forward to what it may bring us, and can also be a time for reflection on the year that is drawing to a close. Both of these moods are represented in my choices. I began with a really positive, upbeat song: I don’t know much about the duo who go by the name of A Great Big World, but anyone who can create a song and video like this gets a thumbs up from me:

For the 27th I went for a long-time favourite song of mine. To me, this is the perfect song to match the mood of looking back, coupled with hope for the future. Counting Crows have long been a favourite band of mine too, since their first album way back in 1992. This song is from their second album, Recovering The Satellites, and includes what is probably Courtney Cox’s best acting performance ever (even better than when she danced with Bruce Springsteen 😉):

It was back to the upbeat and hopeful for the 28th. Semisonic were one of those bands who never got the success I felt they deserved. Their album Feeling Strangely Fine was a little gem, and produced three hit singles in the UK, of which this wasn’t one (!):

Alternating the mood again for the 29th I went for another of my long-time favourite singers and songs. This is from Kate Rusby’s first (of four) albums of Christmas and seasonal songs, Sweet Bells, but is not an original of hers. There are several attributions, including the one erroneously (and lazily) given by the guy who posted this video, but the generally accepted version is that the song was written in 1891 by Will Godwin and Leo Dryden. Dryden sang it in music hall performances and recorded it in 1898. It was also recorded by Peter Dawson (‘Australia’s first man of song’ in case you didn’t know – so not Rolf Harris, then). Dawson’s version is taken a little faster, which I find totally unsuited to what is actually a heart-breaking song from the perspective of a young man looking back at year end, and dreaming of home and family. I think Kate Rusby does it far more justice – this is beautiful:

I marked Sunday 30th with another reflective piece. There is no need for an introduction to Van The Man – like everything he does, this simply oozes class, style and laid-back coolness:

The song which I imagine most people associate with New Year’s Eve is Auld Lang Syne. There are countless versions of this, but none are quite as lovely as the one by Mindy Smith. If you’ve been keeping up with my seasonal music posts you’ll know that I featured Mindy on Christmas Eve – you can find her song here if you missed it. For the video to accompany her version of Auld Lang Syne she asked fans to send her photos of those they loved or had lost, or maybe both. The resulting collage is absolutely wonderful, and is made even better by the number of heartfelt comments from people whose photos were featured. This really does capture the end of year reflective mood so very well:

For today, I marked the New Year with two choices. The first is well-known and an obvious choice: it wasn’t that imagination had deserted me, just that I happen to like it! To begin with, then, here are ABBA:

And to round things off for this time, another selection from the incomparable Mary Chapin Carpenter. She also featured in my Christmas songs collection, on Christmas Day itself, and you can find her by following the link in the paragraph above about Mindy Smith. There is a video of MCC performing this song live, in which she explains the background to the song: it is based on a real life meeting, which she noted down and turned into the most beautiful song. I’m giving you the ‘official’ video from her record company, which is slightly clearer than the live version. As she says,

‘We dwell on possibility on New Year’s Day’

I only had a week to share these New Year songs and could have chosen many more. My YouTube playlist now comprises around 40 songs and can be found here if you’d like to see more.

Having said that I’d finished I’m going to cheat a little now, and add in a bonus just for you: this one wasn’t shared on Twitter or Facebook. One of my earliest childhood memories of New Year’s Day was the televised concert of Strauss family music from Vienna, which my 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, 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, so I’ll leave you with this one from a few years ago, during which Daniel Barenboim does eventually keep up with tradition:

I hope that 2019 brings you all that you wish for. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day

So it’s 2014 already? When 2013 started I thought it would feel like the longest year of my life. As I may have mentioned (ahem!) I retired in September and as I was really looking forward to this I imagined that the months would drag until then. How wrong I was! It seems to have been a whirlwind all around me, and the year absolutely rocketed by. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m loving retirement – I was clearly born to be a gentleman of leisure! – and have been caught up in turning my rented flat into much more of a comfortable home now that I’ll be spending much more time here. Well, officially, anyway! Those of you who have been with me here for some time will know that I started this blog to share my experience of depression in the hope that it would help others, and I have to say that the dark days of 2011-12 seem a very long way away. Of course, I am still under the care of the health services and am likely to be on medication for a while yet, but I rarely think about my illness now. That has to be a good thing, right?

This is probably the last chance for me to post while I still have WordPress’ wonderful seasonal theme for my blog, complete with falling snow. So for New Year’s Day I thought I’d share with you a few songs that I think are right for this time of year, as well as leaving you with my hope for the year ahead. Although it isn’t perhaps the most seasonal of the songs, I chose as the title for this piece an early U2 song, if for no other reason than to show you Bono in his angelic youth phase, before he became a great world leader. It also happens to be today – clever, eh!

It wouldn’t feel right to write this without wishing you a ‘Happy New Year!!’ somewhere along the way. This seems like a good way to do it:

In the UK and, I believe, other parts of the world, the song Auld Lang Syne is associated with New Year. I’d like to include it here, but – with apologies to my Scots friends – I couldn’t possibly do that with some hairy-arsed bagpipe players involved. So here’s a new version, which I think is rather lovely. It’s by Mindy Smith and she put the video together after asking fans to send her pictures of  “those WE LOVE and those WE WILL NEVER FORGET.” It tells the story well:

If you can watch that without a tear in your eye then you have a harder heart than mine!

The turn of a new year is always a time which encourages us to look back at what has happened and to think about what is to come. This Counting Crows track is in my view one of the best at conveying those feelings. As an added bonus, the video includes some of Courtney Cox’s finest ever acting work:

In the vein of that song, I too have spent some quiet time over the past few days thinking about where I was, where I am now and what lies ahead. Whilst I’m grateful to be so much better, I know of several people who have been, and still are, in difficult situations either physically or mentally, or both. This saddens me, as it makes me feel unable to help. I’ve been so well supported during and since my illness that I wish I could give something of that to people I am proud to call friends. I’m not in any way qualified to provide counselling or any other assistance, but I know I can help people by listening to them and sharing my experience with them. But I’m far from being unique in this. We all have something to offer others, especially when they may be afraid to ask for it. So my hope is that we can all think of someone who needs and deserves our love and support, even if they are unable to tell us that, and to do something about it. Hopefully we can then all look forward to a better year in 2014, no matter how good 2013 may have been for us.

Happy New Year. May it bring you peace, joy, love and fulfilment.