Music to My Ears

Sounds of 2016: Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Issue 24

The turning of a year is a minor celestial accident. A day of delusion. Time knows no man. And man may as well use an hourglass full of ground stone to mark the passing. There was a beginning, but there is no end.

Jeez, Emerson barely made that last note. Drives me crazy every time.

I don’t remember exactly when I met Hank because it was timeless.   My Mom saved those class pictures from elementary school and the goofy pictures of Hank with a bow tie went back to 1st grade with Miss Vance. It was sometime in junior high during the days of Dark Shadows that friendship really grew a beard. Hank is still a dear friend and in fact reads this column. Hi Hanker. One of the highlights of the holidays after Christmas calmed down was a sleep over we’d do on New Year’s Eve and listen to the top 100 countdown of the year’s biggest hits. It was exciting to hear the countdown which ended at midnight with the #1 hit of the year. Listening for your favorites, arguing about the relative placing of your favorite songs of the year. This lasted until 1969 when the #1 smash with a bullet was Sugar Sugar by The Archies. 1969 was a rough year on so many levels but that moment changed me forever. Yeah, there was Vietnam, the inauguration of Nixon, and the moon landing. But the Archies?! Yep, time to start growing yer hair and move on.

I’ve read the articles about the passing of 2016. There has been a lot of hand wringing on the loss of so many icons, especially in the music world. CNN, the queen of liberal hyperbole, called 2016 the Year the Music Died. Certainly many blessed notes will never be the same. In January alone it seemed a day couldn’t go by without losing a respected bum you’d heard in a railcar or a smelly dorm room.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer lost 2/3 of the band when Emerson ate a shotgun and Lake died from a long illness. The Eagles will never be the same without Glenn Frey. Some unhappy folks would celebrate that but I’m not one of them. No more electric Prince. No more Mad Dogs and Englishmen. And no more Spiders from Mars.

And a desperado finally caught a train.

One of the greatest songwriters to come out of Texas, where everything is big but especially songwriters.

Like any year 2016 had its dark and shining moments. The self-hypnosis that we were living in a post racial America died an ugly heinous death. American democracy surprised and even shocked the world with a relatively peaceful election and a transition between two administrations that could not be ideologically further apart, and without tanks or troops.

The Standing Rock Pipeline protest went on for months with stories in the press about claims of violence on both sides and angry arguments that clearly contradicted each other. But out of this a veterans group which had joined several tribes of Native Americans in the center of the conflict took a moment, and took a knee in front of a representative group of tribal elders and apologized for the harm their units had done to their tribes and families over the last 200 years. The statement was read by Wes Clark Jr., son of US Army General and former Supreme Commander of NATO Wesley Clark.

During the Olympics two athletes running the women’s 5000 meter, American runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, ran into each other and fell. Both injured, they helped each other to cross the finish line. Hamblin later said:

“That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I went down and I was like ‘what’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘get up, get up, we have to finish this’ and I was like, ‘yep, you’re right’. This is the Olympic Games, we have to finish this... I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing, such an amazing woman. Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder.” Huffington Post

If you live in Chicago or Cleveland 2016 will go down as one of best years of your Life. You’ll be boring folks forever telling where you were at the moment.

Anton Yelchin, AKA Checkov from the Star Trek series, died of acute trauma asphyxia when he ran himself over with his car. Ok, look it up.

My daughter Amanda’s personal favorite day was when the Giant Panda was taken off the endangered species list.

We lost Muhammad Ali and Joe Garagiola.

But the pundits are right. The dominating and endless news story was the passing of yet another piece of musical history. I have a list here that was taken from a Newsweek list of musicians by month we lost that year. This is maybe 5% of the list.   The main list is a little shocking. I just wanted to list those that most impressed me. If you don’t recognize a name I urge you to look it up and stream something by them or produced by them. Then buy it.

George Martin  Leon Russell  Prince

Merle Haggard  David Bowie   Glenn Frey

Paul Kantner Keith Emerson Greg Lake

Leonard Cohen     Toots Thielemans

Pete Fountain  Lennie Kilmister

Sharon Jones    Maurice White

Robert Stigwood  Guy Clark   Scotty Moore

Thank the Good Lord for the history of recording. They may be dust but we have the gold.

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