Here are ten things that made it through the muck of 2005 (they are in particular order):
10) The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame/British Museum- Usually when I visit another city I don't care much if I see the obvious tourist attractions. I'm just as happy to find some out of the way place restaurant or CD store or something that is somehow uniquely that city. That said, I must say I loved visiting the RnR Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I was highly amused to see how tiny the Rolling Stones outfits were and it was a quite a kick reading Leadbelly's correspondence. Equally impressive was the British Museum in London that was almost too huge to comprehend. Pottery from ancient Persia? Cool. Kitty artifacts from various cultures? Neato.
9) Paul McCartney "Too Many People" "I'll Follow the Sun" at the Xcel Energy Center- I guess my Paul McCartney nostalgia differs from most people. I didn't care much for the umpteenth versions of "Get Back," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," or "Yesterday." What I was glad to hear, smile from ear to ear glad, was the snarling "Too Many People" from 1971's Ram where Paul chides John Lennon about preaching practices. Equally enjoyable was the version of 1965's "I'll Follow the Sun," one of those catchy McCartney tunes that seem to flow from him effortlessly. I was so inspired I went home and banged out my own piano version for my cats. Thompson scampered away either in fear or merely to get away from the annoying racket.
8) Arrested Development- This FOX show just keeps getting better and better. Who would have thought that Ron Howard, TV's Opie, director of so many insipid movies could produce something this biting? Scott Baio's attorney character, Bob Loblaw, and Charlize Theron's British siren, Rita, were inspired additions to the already stellar cast.
7) Lucinda Williams at the Minnesota Zoo- She treated us to six new and still unrecorded songs intermingled seamlessly with her older songs (meaning they were all insightful and heart stopping/starting ). I can't wait for the next CD.
6) Shelby Lynne at the Cleveland House of Blues- Lynne was brooding, tender, and by the end of the show she was somewhat drunk. But hearing live versions of songs like "Telephone" and "Where Am I Now?" truly was a treat. The show made me buy all her back catalog- the many CDs that she recorded before she was awarded her Grammy for "Best New Artist" in 2000.
5) Seeing my friend Alex in her hometown of San Diego- We hadn't seen each other in ten years. We had a nice sushi dinner and I marveled at how comfortable our friendship still feels and how much I still admire her drive, ambition, and inquisitive mind and soul.
4) CERA Graduation Beverly Hills- Over the past couple of years I've flown to various parts of the country to take election administration classes taught by the faculty of Auburn University. It's the only election administration certification program in the country and as I finished up my work this summer, I became one of the first 300 people to earn the accreditation. Graduating at the fancy Beverly Hills Hilton (where they hold the Golden Globe awards every year) in front of family and friends was an odd mixture of show biz and the electoral process.
3) Theo- The decision to add a third cat to the household mixture was greeted with skepticism by some of my friends and family. Still once I was introduced to young Thelonious, the decision was a forgone conclusion. He's sweet, spacey, and watching him try to find his place amongst his housemates has been pure joy.
2) Ike Reilly Junkie Faithful- When the blue-eyed editor introduced me to Ike's music a couple of years ago by giving me his first CD, Salesmen and Racists, I was immediately won over. When I got to the ultimate driving song "Angels and Whores" and Ike wails, "Hey motherf*%@er kiss the ground- I not only kept hitting the repeat button and turning the volume up louder and louder, I almost drove by my destination and just kept going. His new CD not only is full of clever and inspiring lyrics- it's got as much kick as it does spirit. My current favorite line? "The things I do in the daytime should only be done at night/Like when I watch my neighbor's wife bend down slow to pull out weeds…" Junkie Faithful is the best CD I've heard in quite a while.
1) Bob Dylan's five shows at London's Brixton Academy- On my way to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport I was walking to my light rail stop when out of the corner of my eye I saw my co-workers running toward me waving a banner that read, "Dylan in London or Bust!" I was quite moved. I was also quite moved throughout the 50 different songs he did in five nights. We were treated to the live debut of "Million Dollar Bash." Along the way there were terrific performances of "Desolation Row," "Positively Fourth Street," "Sugar Baby," "Shelter from the Storm," and "Mississippi" just to name a few. To hear Bob do an abbreviated version of the Clash's "London Calling" during a couple of encores and have the natives go wild- made the expensive and somewhat crazy trip all worthwhile.