The season of year-end lists is my mostest favoritest time of the year. I love the obligatory obscurantist entries, which occasionally lead to real musical gold, and I get a kick out of noting who's desperate enough to include Madonna.
I, of course, have been swimming upstream in the cultural waters for many years now. I buy maybe two dozen CDs a year and download another half-dozen songs a month, across all categories. I won't shell out for satellite radio, I don't go clubbing. Even my young musical hipster friends are aging rapidly. And Ed Sullivan's been dead for decades. I don't buy enough new releases in a year to make a top ten list. Hardly seems fair.
But then, who got to decide this? Not me. My 2005 wasn't your 2005. I change my oil every 75 days. Do you? The light from Rigel is 1000 years old. Bamboo flowers about once a century. There are any number of people I refuse to acknowledge share my planet, let alone species. "Reality", and "release date", are just a state of mind, man. Anybody telling you any different is trying to tie you to the whole consumerist trip.
There was a time--it was long past the point when it should have--when the fact that I'd discovered The Red House Painters about two years after their fourth album mattered to me. It meant I was slipping. But eventually acceptance of the withered visage in my mirror and the need for replacement windows came around. And now I embrace it. So what if it took me nine years to get around to buying a Gillian Welch CD? An awful lot of people didn't hear Nick Drake until he was thirty years in the ground. (I used to push Pink Moon, John Cale's Paris 1919, and early Richard Thompson on every young person I knew with reasonable musical tastes. This was saved from being really obnoxious only because I presented the things as gifts. Shortly after Nick became a Volkswagen commercial I got an email from one recipient who said, "Shit, I never imagined Nick would sell out like that!" I had to explain to her he didn't have any say in the matter.)
It occurs to me now that if you adopt the Hopi attitude that what's news to you is news, and when it "actually" occurred is a meaningless question, all sorts of possibilities open up. With judicious planning Punk can still obliterate any deserving contemporary musical trend. Italian neo-realist cinema can be an answer to the career of Vin Diesel. Dylan could abandon the electric guitar for folk. Hell, if you want, Dylan can become The Next Conor Oberst, and the Beatles four Brits with a Klaatu fetish.
So here's my best of my 2005:
1) Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
2) (tie) Gillian Welch, Revival and Time (The Revelator)
And just imagine...they came out on the same day!
4) The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
5) Elvis Costello and the Imposters, The Delivery Man
6) Spoon, Kill the Moonlight
7) Tom Waits, Real Gone
8) Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Laughter
9) Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak
10) Teenage Fanclub, Grand Prix