Sunday, January 9, 2011

2010: Old Farts At Play

When I was young and hip I always joked about being an old curmudgeon. I couldn’t wait to sit on my porch, eat some pickled eggs, and yell at the kids to keep off my lawn. Now that I’m older and increasingly bitter, I realize that, in fact, I want nothing to do with bitterness. I don’t mind being old, but I’ll pass on the bitter herbs. In that spirit, as I look back at the year from a cultural perspective, I think 2010 was a year to celebrate old codgers.

Let’s raise a toast to the folks aging gracefully.


The number one record of the year for me was Roky Erickson’s True Love Cast Out All Evil. The Rok is someone who has spent his adult life not aging gracefully. Drugs, mental problems, and a spotty post-13th Floor Elevators career were all encapsulated in the You’re Gonna Miss Me doc. That film came on the heels of a two cd retrospective release, I Have Always Been Here Before, which did a great job culling the nuggets from Erickson’s solo career. None of that prepared me for the beauty, the anguish, and the rock of the new record. On True Love, Erickson finally seems to have some perspective on the difficult road he has traveled. Instead of screaming about bloody hammers, Lucifer, and two-headed dogs, Erickson seems able to look back and comment on the difficult journey he has taken.

If you haven’t heard it, just listen to Please Judge, a particular moving piece where Erickson pleads with a Judge to not lock him away. Songs about finding salvation in family and friends abound and are set against the backdrop of a life derailed by incarceration and missteps. Given Erickson’s history, this is poignant and heavy stuff. True Love is a beautiful record, filled with beautiful songs. Hats off to the folks from Okervill River for helping Erickson channel these songs.

Best Live Shows

The number one highlight—seeing the GBV reunion at the Warfield. During the 90s I steered clear of all reunion shows. They seemed kind of sad to me. I didn’t want to be like a 50 year old Eagles’ fan shelling out big coin and reliving my youth. But now that I approach 50, I kind of get the appeal. It’s a pretty simple formula. Music that I love. Music that I know all the words to. All the while being surrounded by people like me. Hooray, I fit in. GBV ruled. My other favorite shows this year. Cheap Trick, Grinderman, and Sharon Jones. What do they all have in common? Old people.


Best Book of the year. Patti Smith’s Just Kids. I wrote about it here. This book won a National Book Award and is deserving. Smith was always a women of the letters, loving poetry more than any other rock and roller you could name. It’s only fitting then that this book is such a triumph. Her best moment since Horses? Maybe not, but then again, maybe so. Regardless, the book is a fond look back and being in love with the world. The writing shows wisdom and insight that only someone who has lived a full life could obtain.


One of the Best Movies of the Year: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. I wrote about this one as well. Is there anyone older than Joan still kicking out the jams? I don’t think so. This doc does a great job questioning why someone of that age still needs to kick out the jams.

In short, 2010 was ruled by old farts at play, and that’s all right by me.

Other Records I Loved:

The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings - I Learned The Hard Way, Grinderman II, Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Hawk

Other Records I Liked

Black Keys – Brothers, LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening, Dead Weather –Sea of Cowards

Other Movies I Really Liked

Exit Through The Gift Shop, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The Social Network, Get Him To The Greek, The Town, Toy Story 3, DTour, It Came From Kuchar, Black Swan, Winnebago Man