#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!


#SaturdaySongs No.15 – Great Lake Swimmers

When I reblogged my #SaturdaySongs post of songs for Bonfire Night last weekend, I had a slight pang of guilt, as I have posted so few of those recently. The idea for this post came about when, earlier in the week, I was having one of my late evening sessions watching YouTube videos. I was in the middle of a run of several by one of my favourite bands, the Canadian group Great Lake Swimmers, and was scrolling through the comments when I came across someone saying they were looking forward to seeing the band play in London. This struck a chord, as I went to that show, and I then had one of those D’oh lightbulb moments: the comment was by me! Here it is, in all its glory, second one down:

As this was six years ago I guess I can be forgiven for not recalling this, and in any event I rarely post comments on YouTube so wasn’t really expecting to see myself there! This brought back some lovely memories of the gig, which actually has a very special meaning for me, and it reminded me that I had written a post about it. After digging back into the darkest recesses of my library of posts, I found the piece. It was originally written on 23 April 2013 in response to that day’s WordPress Daily Prompt. I used to write a lot of those, until they spoiled it all by moving to single word prompts that did nothing for my limited imagination. These prompts have now stopped: it seems I may not have been the only one who didn’t like the change! I was going to do this as one of my reblogs but I thought the occasion deserved a fuller post, so I’m going to share the full text of what I originally wrote and will then round things up at the end. Here’s me in April 2013:

Daily Prompt: Earworm

“The question posed in today’s prompt is “What song is stuck in your head (or on permanent rotation in your CD  or MP3 player) these days? Why does it speak to you?”

The song which I have played most since the album it’s on came out last summer is unlikely to be known by many. It is ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ by the Canadian band The Great Lake Swimmers. Here’s the official video:

“Easy come and easy go

That’s what they say when they’re about to go broke

So try not to choke

And put your arms around me and don’t ever let go”

Have you even heard of them, let alone know their music? They have been together in various incarnations since 2003 and the album this song is on – ‘New Wild Everywhere’ – is their fifth. If you’d like to find out more about them they are at www.greatlakeswimmers.com

Apart from the fact that I love this band’s music, and this song in particular, there are two answers to the question about why it speaks to me. Firstly, the message is a simple one: “everything can be collapsing around you, but I’m here to look after you” – I know it’s more complex than that, but that’s what I take as the underlying message of the song. It’s a message I like and which I think we all want to have from a special someone if life reaches the point of being dismantled around us, as in the video, or should we be going through a difficult time. As you’ll know if you’ve read any of my previous offerings, I am in recovery from depression and started this blog to encourage others that things can and do get better. But I don’t just sail blithely through life, and I still have my black dog days. I had a spell of these last week and didn’t really start feeling better until yesterday morning. This was the first song I played – it is hard not to get carried along by the tune, and the words seemed comforting after a very rough few days. That’s what the song does for me.

The second level is that this band will always be special to me for a very personal reason. Before I was ill I used to love going to live gigs, usually at least once a month. I went through a period of nearly two years when I just didn’t feel like going to one – Great Lake Swimmers at Bush Hall in London, 26th November 2012, was my first after all that time. Being able to overcome my apprehension at going, on a horrible wet Monday night, to be part of a crowd and to enjoy losing myself in the music again is something that will stay with me forever. And just to prove I was there, a very quick snippet of ‘Ballad of a Fisherman’s Wife’ :

Just to finish that evening off, a final part of the story: on the tube home I tweeted the band and thanked them for a great show. Most bands don’t reply to fan tweets like that, but GLS did – I had a very nice tweet back from Miranda, the rather lovely red headed one, saying how much they appreciated that. The perfect end to my first show after the long break!

I hope you have a special song, piece of music, poem, painting or whatever that says something for you when you need a comforting ‘voice.’ Why not share yours via the comments box, it would be interesting to see what helps, comforts and encourages you.”

Back in the here and now: as a little bonus I thought I’d also give you the song on which I made my comment. It is the title track from what was then the band’s new album, referenced in the 2013 post, and the video is nice, too:

I still play that a lot nowadays. As I said: special band for me, with special memories.