1. The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
I’ve spent much of this year learning how to pray; which is to say, to be silent, to listen. So this song has been on heavy rotation in between.
“The sign said
The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls,
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”
2. Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix
I just like this one.
“You’re just like crosstown traffic,
So hard to get through to you…”
3. Ingrid Bergman – Billy Bragg & Wilco
Mermaid Avenue was by far my most listened to album of this year. It’s a collaboration between Billy Bragg and Wilco, putting music to some of the 3000 Woody Guthrie songs that were discovered without music. I probably could’ve picked any one of about five favourites from this album, but this one is just a cracker love song, complete with raunchy double entendres.
4. Elegantly wasted – INXS
I miss INXS. Or rather, I miss the Michael Hutchence-era INXS. Listened to this in the car a lot this year.
5. Hospital – Counting Crows
I saw CC live again this year, and although they were not in particularly good form, they still have some great songs. This is off their album of covers of mostly little-known songs, and anyone who suffers from any form of mental illness can probably relate.
6. Jesus Walks – Kanye West
Great lyrics to the second verse, in fact I had a similar conversation (without the rhymes) with a cop when he was arresting me in September at SIPC.
“To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks with them)
To the victims of Welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(Jesus walks with them)…”
7. 99 Red Balloons – Nena
For Ascension Sunday this year we all tied gospel messages to helium balloons and released them. I played this song as part of it. It’s from the early 80s Cold War period, about releasing 99 helium balloons in Berlin and the military mistaking them for an attack and starting a nuclear war.
8. Jacob’s Ladder – Pete Seeger
This year at GraceTree we did a series on Genesis/Exodus, looking closely at the stories of the patriachs and matriarchs. This is one of the songs we used.
9. Down in the River to Pray – Alison Krauss
At the Swan Island Peace Convergence this year there were 15 arrests after a walk-on incursion, and as each person was ejected from the base we sang the modified spiritual:
“As I went down to Swan Island to pray,
Studying about that good old way
And who will stop this ugly war
Oh Lord show me the way…”
10. Same Love – Cam Nacson ft L-Fresh the Lion
L-Fresh the Lion had a few of us over to his place to watch Q & A early in the year. He’d just done this cover of Macklemore’s song. He’s a lovely guy, check out his music.
11. Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z
It’s been growing on me.
12. Drown – Smashing Pumpkins
I watched the movie ‘Singles’ again, and realised how brilliant the soundtrack is. It’s deeply etched into my late-teen self.
13. Oh Freedom – Harry Belafonte
I’ve been trying to collect movement songs/spirituals to adapt to various protest/resistance circumstances, that are easy to learn, catchy, and easy to adapt. This is definitely one of them.
14. Jumper – Third Eye Blind
The catchiest song about suicide you’ll probably ever hear.
15. Buses are a-comin’ – Bernice Reagon Johnson
From the documentary Freedom Riders.