10) Wilco at the Orpheum- The guy behind me kept saying in an overly loud voice, "This is the best f%^king show I've ever been to." He may have been exaggerating a bit but the band, so hopelessly obsessed by studio trickery proved that it could rock with the best of them. I didn't like Ghost is Born so much but after hearing the live version of "Spiders" I was reminded that Wilco is a band I'll always listen to no matter how much they may initially annoy me.
9) Brian Wilson Smile- Finally finishing and releasing the long awaited (over thirty five years after it's scheduled release) lost masterpiece we finally got to hear what all the fuss was about. It's a great piece of music- a song cycle that takes us all across America, through time and through the heart of a great songwriter. Seeing Brian perform the entire thing live at the Orpheum was a magical thing.
8) Lucinda Williams at the Minnesota Zoo- She had recently canceled a few shows on the tour due to the death of her mother but Lucinda seemed in terrific spirits as she joked about playing in such close proximity to the animals. When she sang one of my all time favorite songs, "Am I Too Blue?" I almost fell out of my seat. So simple, so beautiful, so true (and blue too).
7) Prince at the Xcel Energy Center- Good lord almighty the little fellow can put on a show. From his searing guitar playing to his fantastic singing to his eye opening dancing he ran through most of his hits in his catalog. At times stunning at all times terrifically entertaining, it's a show/night that I'll thankfully never ever get out of my system . I only wish I had bought tickets for the other two shows at the same venue. That I got to go to the show with the still most beautiful soul I've ever known was an appropriate linking to Prince's inspired performance.
6) Creative Nonfiction Class at the Loft- When the fairly recently graduated Blue-Eyed Editor mentioned that she was interested in taking a writing class at the Loft with me I jumped at the chance. For me it was an opportunity for some structure in a never relenting nagging hobby. When the instructor asked us why we were taking the class I said something about writing this newsletter for the past ten years and how that meant I was pretty much writing the same thing over and over. My classmates chuckled. I wasn't exactly joking and the class did afford me the opportunity to stretch some muscles that were in the need of working some kinks out.
5) Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol. 1- I must admit I sorta cringed upon hearing that Bob was writing his memoir. Despite all the astounding music he has written and performed in over 40 years it remains doubtful how much we truly know about who he really is. Dylan seemingly knew from the start that the best way to avoid failing to meet expectations was to continually leaving those paying attention wondering what to expect from him next. This autobiography is perhaps the best auto biography I've ever read (even better than Miles Davis' or Charles Mingus'). Dylan takes memories of his past, that may or may not be entirely accurate and follows them wherever they lead. It's like dropping a big glass ball on to the floor and following each and every chard wherever it lands. His mind is so unique and his writing ability is truly something to behold no matter the medium.
4) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- I loved this movie because it explored why we remember the things that we remember no matter how much they bother us. I loved this movie because it was also about how the things we forget can ultimately be the things that hurt us most. I loved this movie because behind its visual beauty it was ultimately about holding on to the things that may long be gone because they are what bind together the fabric of who we are and will forever be.
3) The Upper Wing- I finally got around to finishing the attic of my house into a master bedroom and bathroom. It's something I've wanted to do since buying my house eight years ago. My contractor did a great job and as I lie night after night under the stars that peep out from the skylights I can sometimes even allow myself to marvel at the wonder of it all.
2) Ike Reilly Sparkle in the Finish- I waited a long time for this CD to arrive. When Ike's website went online in early 2003 it said that the CD would come out in the fall. Two falls later it finally did and the wait was well worth it. Ten terrific songs from a terrific songwriter that rock and roll and are just as great to listen to as you wait in traffic as they are when you finally hit the long lost road.
1) Turning 40- It was in grade school when I began having a recurring dream/vision that I wasn't long for this world and I wouldn't make it past 40. So this was a rather big year for me. That I'm still chugging along surprises me and I'm even able to occasionally admit that where I'm at now is a good thing now and again.