By The Landlord
"Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is." – Malcolm Arnold
"I was really lost for a while. I was angry. But when I found music ... it was a new discovery. It was a door to this other world where I wanted to be." – Ray LaMontagne
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." – James Joyce
"Heard melodies are sweet. but those unheard are sweeter." - John Keats
Welcome back to the Song Bar, everyone. Grab a chair, take a mince pie, and the first drink is on the house! It's nearly Christmas after all. So how has your year been? Full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs, highs and lows? Sounds about right. Mine has certainly been full of them. The world at large may be going to hell in a handcart, but by contrast, oodles of fantastic music have been released, performed and discovered. Great art often comes from disaster, crisis and struggle, and, as many have said, music enables us to find and lose ourselves at the same time. But this week, we're not doing a topic in the usual way. And I'll be keeping this intro fairly short and sweet, for as Keats said, the unheard is sweeter.
So to summarise, this is a topic for everyone to interpret in their own way in comments below - to share the music they've discovered this year from new artists, artists they already know, in single examples of YouTube clips, your own playlists, stories, anecdotes, photographs, videos – anything you like, it's freeform. Begin, if you will, with music discovered through the wonderful spirit of sharing and friendship at our fine establishment, but also from other sources - the radio, browsing the web, friends, music you've stumbled across at live events, or you've even forgotten, or never realised you had, or found when searching for topic-inspired key words through your own collections.
The Song Bar feels like a daily miracle for me, a constantly swirl of goodwill, friendship, collective knowledge, enthusiasm and inspiration, and every week I'm astonished by the rich variety of music shared and discovered. Every playlist contains at least a couple of songs I've never heard, and sometimes, more, but contained in the vast array of suggestions and comments is a timeless treasure trove. I look at the reader viewing figures regularly, and all over the world people are looking at older topics, as much as the current ones, in vast numbers, clearly enjoying your posts.
And I'd also like to pay special tribute to all of you who have taken the daunting, but ultimately satisfying task of being weekly guru. I'm always enthralled by your thoughtful, considered, sensitive but tough decision making, and am particularly impressed by those who play around with the format, accompanying your playlists with formats as diverse as poems, diaries, letters, parodying literary or other styles of communication, and in one much admired case, turning the Bar into a gallery with a piece of art to go with each song. Every week feels like a fresh and surprising triumph added to the last.
I'm going to be joining in you in comments below with YouTube or Soundcloud or Bandcamp clips, plus photographs, anecdotes and more. The biggest source of discovery has, and I expect always will be from all your comments, but I've also expressed many of my discoveries in Song of the Day, and also, with some help from Michael Moloney, aka llamalpaca, dug out many an interesting album release for you to enjoy on the Vinyl Tap section. And following these, I've spent huge amounts of time going to see live music in venues, huge and echoey to the small, dark and dingy, festivals including Glastonbury and Latitude, and I've even discovered music by performing some myself.
Live music highlights? There's been so many, too many to mention really, some from artists I already knew, but some new and entirely by accident. But in the live arena, off the top of my head powerfully humorous and emotional performance by Father John Misty, and separately, his former colleagues, Fleet Foxes. And among others, the extraordinary voice and political directness of Nadine Shah, the intricately funny and clever Weaves, the gorgeous singer-songwriter Bedouine, the supremely relaxed but superb songwriting of The Wave Pictures and their side project The Surfing Magazines, the utter chaos and anarchy of The Moonlandingz, those tremendous tree-covered characters Snapped Ankles, the hyperactively enthusiastic and dry delivery of Ian Svenonius and his Escape-ism project, charming twin sisters band Tall Poppies, Glasgow's Bdy_Prts, great guitar bands DUDS and Omni, plus Nicole Atkins, Royal Blood, Radiohead, my favourite ever afternoon at Glastonbury with Barry Gibb doing the full Bee Gees following by Chic, The Flaming Lips, Sleaford Mods, Cabbage, longtime heroes Sparks perform their new album Hippopotamus and more, and getting to chat to them Rough Trade's East London shop (even Ron spoke to me!), talking to Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales after they performed the hotel-themed album Room 29, and a very funny Mancunian reunion with Paul 'Kermit' Leveridge and Shaun Ryder. Phew. Life's too short to miss out on anything, I've decided.
So then, over to you with your favourite discoveries, old and new. You are all the gurus this week, and, as ever I look forward to what you'll share. Next Thursday will be the final topic of the year, running into 2018, but please stick around through the holiday season. All of which leaves me to say, to you all, a very Merry Christmas!
Reminder: I'm still compiling a list of favourite 50 albums of 2017 from reader suggestions, and there's still time for more before Christmas. Thank you to everyone who has sent already.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.
The next topic will launch on Thursday 28 December 2017.