Yesterday’s post completes my run-down of the ten non-compilation albums that I’ve listened to most in 2011. Here they are again, in order, with links to the articles about each:
1. Spring Hill (2011), Chloe and Silas [18 listens]
2. Days of Open Hand (1990), Suzanne Vega [17 listens]
3. The Incident (2009), Porcupine Tree [16 listens]
4. So Beautiful or So What (2011), Paul Simon [13 listens]
5. Liege and Lief (1969), Fairport Convention [9 listens]
6. The End of History (2006), Fionn Regan [8 listens]
7. Help! (1965), The Beatles [7 listens]
8. Blue Divide (1994), Richard Shindell [7 listens]
9. CSN (1977), Crosby, Stills and Nash [7 listens]
10. Hejira (1976), Joni Mitchell [6 listens]
Looking at the list, I am immediately struck that eight of the ten are folk music of one sort or another, with the only exceptions being the prog rock of The Incident at #3 and the Beatles’ Help! at #7. Of course it may be that this tells us only what a broad church “folk music” is, encompassing the jazz-folk of Joni Mitchell, the country-folk of Richard Shindell, and so on.
I also notice that a few of these albums are there largely on the strength that I have loved other work by the same artists — Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Crosby Stills and Nash’s eponymous debut, Richard Shindell’s Reunion Hill. The albums that made it onto this year’s lists haven’t necessarily captured my heart the way those others have. I am pleased that the overall winner, Spring Hill, is an album that I adore entirely on its own merits.
The big shift in my listening this year has come from the fact that I am looking not only for songs that I like to listen to, but also for songs that I will be able to perform myself at the Folk Club. That explains the big swing towards folk — and in fact, it occurs to me now that even Help! has the folkish quality that most of its songs would work perfectly well as just guitar+vocal. In fact I’d say that my musical 2011 has been more about playing and singing than about listening.
But in the early days of 2012 I find I am really missing the complexity of prog, and listening more to bands than soloists. It’s music that I’ll never be able to play (even if I could find a band), but prog speaks to my soul in a way that folk can’t. (Not a better way; just a different way.)