Albums of the Year: 2016
Making this list this year was simultaneously the most difficult it has ever been and the easiest. Ann Powers navigated this better than anyone that I saw, making her list the Top Ten (Beyond the Obvious). In that post, she says:
“The Knowles sisters, David Bowie and Frank Ocean made the best albums of 2016, according to virtually every list; only a handful of others deserve Top 10 status at all. The critical consensus is beginning to feel a bit suffocating; what about the hundreds, nay thousands, of other artists who released music this year to at least some acclaim?”
Write Me a Birmingham
I’m really happy to share that work on book two begins today. This time, I’m going to share the history of Birmingham music.
Best of 2015: Concerts
This may have been the toughest year that I have ever tried to narrow this list down to ten. So, yeah, I took some creative liberties and I added a few special mentions that I felt were noteworthy. There are no geographical boundaries to this list – these are simply the best shows that I saw in 2015.
Best of 2015: Records (That Have No Tie to Alabama)
I split this list up this year because Alabama had a special year in music, and Alabama music was an important part of my year. So here are the ten-ish records that I thought were the best of 2015 that had no connection to the state of Alabama.
Best of 2015: Alabama Records
Call it a cop out or a crutch or cheating – I don’t particularly care. It’s my blog and I do what I want.
I wrote a book this year – The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME – which focused on how my hometown evolved from a studio town to a songwriting town to a town that bred some of the best music that is being created in the South. So if I were ever going to take the opportunity to “cheat,” this year allowed me a valid excuse. And that’s great because folks from Alabama made amazing records this year. There are three records on this list that could and have appeared in top tens from the most respected music publications in the country.
Filed under Music., Places.
“There really ain’t no difference
in Michigan and Maine
If you ain’t here to see this I’m missing just the same.” – Jason Isbell, ‘The Blue.’
I realize the absurdity of the notion, but there really ain’t no difference in Boston and Birmingham.
The former is the sixth-largest media market in America, while our Magic City is the 43rd. The former saw the American Revolution play out in its’ streets, while the latter was one of the largest stages of the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960’s. The former is home to the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, the Bruins. The latter just moved its’ AA baseball team back downtown three years ago.
Boston counts John Adams, Samuel Adams, Aerosmith, Louisa May Alcott and Ben Affleck among its most famous natives, and that’s just among things that begin with the letter “A.” The most notable people from Birmingham are all athletes, but its’ at least an impressive list that includes Willie Mays, Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson and Vonetta Flowers.
Filed under People., Places.
Stories and a Lesson From the Road
When The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME was released on June 29 of this year, I didn’t go on some sort of full blown book tour or anything like that, but I did make a few stops across the state of Alabama. And that’s an interesting thing; chatting with people that you don’t know about this thing that you have created that they connect with.
When I finished writing the book, I never really looked at it again. It was no longer mine. It belonged to the publisher, it belonged to the people that bought it (many of you) and it belonged to the Shoals community; the latter being my top priority in the effort. When I negotiated that deal, I wanted to find a way to bridge a giant divide from the “Muscle Shoals” story that had been told and the one that we are still living out. There was no blueprint for that, and I felt the best way to create one was to simply speak to the people that lived it, people still living it, people that I call friends.
I think I hit the target. I’ve been told, at least, that the work was partially responsible for new life in the Fiddleworms. And nothing could make me happier.
But I digress.
Filed under Music., People.