These Songs Are in My Musical Time Capsule for 2014

17 Dec

2014 Time Capsule PlaylistEvery year, folks like DJ Earworm and Daniel Kim create mashups of the year’s most popular pop songs. The top 40 songs of 2014 include ones by Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea, so it’d be easy to be dismissive and say there wasn’t much good music to listen to.

And yet, DJ Earworm and Daniel Kim’s 2014 mashups are still pretty awesome. Which proves, in one way or another, that when you listen to the right song in the right context, it can sound better than you remember.

Also, that we all have our own soundtrack, and like to listen to music in different ways. What sounds good to one person doesn’t to another. We all march to our own beat. Etc.

Plenty of music writers have already ranked what they think is the best/worst music of the year, and I have no intention of creating that kind of list. That said, as I look back on the past year, I’m finding that there was plenty of music I want to remember. Admittedly, not all of it was good (by my standards, anyway). But months or years from now, when I’m trying to put my head back in the place it was this year, playing these tracks will do the trick.

You won’t find any U2 here (free or not, I just didn’t dig their new album), but you will find multiple songs by folks like Bruce Springsteen, Jamie Cullum, and Pharrell Williams. You may even find a song from a Broadway show and a jazz instrumental track. (And two Megan Trainor songs, too; no judging.) That’s what I listened to this year. That was my soundtrack.

For your listening pleasure, here’s my musical time capsule for 2014, with some commentary on some of the tracks. Enjoy! Continue reading

Giving Thanks with Every Bite

26 Nov
Photo credit: Satya Murthy/Creative Commons

Photo credit: Satya Murthy/Creative Commons

How often do you stop and say thank you to those people, places, and things that bring you joy?

If you’re anything like me, the answer is “not often enough.”

That’s just one reason why Thanksgiving is such an important holiday: It’s perhaps the one day all year when we shift our focus from work and other stresses, and focus instead on expressing gratitude. While we gobble down turkey and watch football games and get stressed out by our families, sure. But we can be thankful for all of that, too. To paraphrase the great poet Nicole Westbrook, this is a day not to be hateful, but to be grateful.

Actually, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s right up there with Fourth of July, Patriots’ Day, and yes, my birthday. I love most everything about it, from the parade to the pigskin to the pie. And I’m celebrating this year with a big smile on my face. That’s because I have a lot to be thankful for.

Here (listed in no particular order) is a public shout-out to all those people, places, and things that tomorrow, when I’m eating turkey, potatoes, bread and butter (#morebutter), etc., I’ll be saying thank you to with each and every bite.

Thank you, thank you, thank you — for all of this, and so much more.

Continue reading

It’s Fall. Time to Answer the Big Question

15 Sep

entertainment-weekly-fall-tv-preview-2014I wish I could say it feels like yesterday since the last TV season ended, but the truth is, it feels like many months have passed since I last saw folks like Alicia Florrick, Schmidt, Mindy Lahiri, and Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary.

What’s going to happen to them this season? Will Amanda Clarke stay on course after she learns her father is very much alive? Will Jessica Lange’s character on American Horror Story this year be more over the top than the ones she’s played in years past? Where will the Amazing Racers go? And what stories will Will McAvoy report on now?

These questions and many others will be answered in a few days’ time. Hooray! Continue reading

40 Reasons Why the Summer of 2014 Was Awesome

2 Sep

SailboatBack in May, I published a bucket list of all the places I wanted to go, foods I wanted to eat, people I wanted to see, and things I wanted to do this summer.

Sure, I didn’t get to all of it, but I knew I wouldn’t. That said, I can say I accomplished the overwhelming majority of things I set out to do — and then some.

I drank a flight at Bantam Cider in Somerville, walked around Lake Hollywood in Los Angeles, sat out by the pool at the Hotel Indigo in Newton, ate all the steak I wanted at Fogo de Chão, watched my nephews have a blast aboard a Duck Tour, saw two Red Sox games (if you count the AA affiliate minor league team in Portland), watched all 26 episodes of House of Cards (in less than three weeks), etc. etc.

That’s why today, on the day after Labor Day, I can look back on the summer and confidently declare … Mission Accomplished. Continue reading

On the 9th Anniversary of This Blog, I Have a New Perspective

1 Sep
Photo credit: edenpictures/Flickr/Creative Commons

Photo credit: edenpictures/Flickr/Creative Commons

Like so many blog posts I’ve written — or tried to write — over the last couple years, this one didn’t come easy.

I had a germ of an idea, started to write, hit a wall, walked away, and didn’t finish.

But I was determined to publish something today because it’s September 1, and that date is special for me. No, not because it’s Allston Christmas. It’s the anniversary of this blog.

Nine years ago today, I started what I hoped would be a fun outlet for me to share thoughts, reviews, stuff I came across, and other random “musings” for anyone who wanted to read them. Kind of like the journals I kept in high school, except in a public venue. Thankfully, people did want to read them, and the blog grew over time: The subjects I wrote about became less random, the writing improved, the audience increased, I migrated from Blogger to WordPress, and all was well. Continue reading

You Weren’t Supposed to Lose the Song in It

2 Jul

Begin Again movie posterThere’s a scene early in John Carney’s new movie Begin Again where the two main characters are discussing the concept of authenticity in the music business.

Gretta (Keira Knightley) suggests that Bob Dylan is an artist who stands up to her lofty standards. “That’s the most cultivated artist you could have thought of!” Dan (Mark Ruffalo) shoots back, arguing that Dylan’s image is totally manufactured, with a look that changes every decade.

So Gretta changes course and suggests Randy Newman is the most authentic artist of all time. Even Dan has to admit she’s right: Newman has never tried to be a star. He’s just done his own thing for years, without kowtowing to the audience.

The discussion underlines the differences between this latest release, and Carney’s last U.S.–released film, the instant classic Once. In that one, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova play two broken-hearted musicians who come together on the streets of Dublin and heal themselves through the power of music. It’s a subtle, sweet, small miracle of a film, one that features great songs (one of which won an Oscar for Best Original Song) and performances that are earnest, fragile, and heartfelt. It’s totally authentic. (Hell, Hansard and Irglova even fell in love while making it.)

If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? No wonder Carney here tells a very similar music-heals-all story Continue reading

A Letter to Myself on My 40th Birthday

7 Jun

Young Martin LiebermanDear Martin,

Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday you were skydiving to celebrate your 30th birthday. Now it’s 10 years later and you’re 40 years old.

Wait a second. You’re 40? How are you 40? You don’t look 40. You don’t act 40. You’re still single. You have no kids. You still tell and laugh at the same juvenile jokes. You still eat Lucky Charms for breakfast (sometimes , anyway). And hell, you still watch the Real World/Road Rules Challenge every week on MTV. (Ahem, you have a season pass set on the DVR.) The fact that you’re 40 just doesn’t seem right.

Are you sure that’s how old you are? And if it’s true, then why doesn’t it seem to faze you?

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 54 other followers