Today would have been the 81st birthday of Phil Ochs, the 1960s protest/folk singer who in many ways still stands as one of the most urgent, intelligent, and political spokesman of his generation, and who probably would have gotten a lot more adoration and respect if he hadn’t lived under the shadow of his musical cohort Bob Dylan. 2021 also marks the 45th anniversary of the tragic death of Ochs, who died by hanging himself at his sister’s house in Far Rockaway, New York in April 1976. But it is Ochs’s life that is going to get the spotlight treatment here, and with overdue good measure.
So this is the “new normal?” Or is it a return to the “old normal?” Either way, regardless of how you spent this past year, regardless of your thoughts on the world, politics, and economics of the world, furrowing your eyebrows at this or that or embracing all the necessary and arguably unnecessary changes in the world, one needs a constant personal and universal soundtrack to keep going, to keep sane, to keep grounded and inspired. As the newest round of the holiday season gets ready to dawn upon us, music not only acts as the perfect and always obvious choices for even the most discriminating of tastes, but also something that brings much-needed relief and communion to end another challenging year and brace everyone for what lies ahead in 2022. So as always, here’s my picks for some of the sonic highlights released this year, spanning all genres and tastes.
With 2021 finally dawned upon us, it brings a new beginning to what was for sure one of the most tumultuous years in anyone’s recent memory in the year 2020, with a plethora of events that occurred (and many still recurring) that need no repeating. We all know of what went down and what’s going on, things which have spilled over and are still extreme challenges in this new year. In short, 2020 was a year most of, if not all, of us would soon rather forget.
However, what shouldn’t be forgotten are the names of the many luminaries in entertainment that we lost last year, also a stunning amount of creatives and well-knowns of seemingly every type and stripe. While in a lot of ways an “in memoriam” list seems rather arbitrary and irrelevant considering the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the United States alone last year during the pandemic and of people who became global martyrs by way of insurrectional behaviors by authoritative figures all across America, a list like this becomes in a way necessary, as it’s important to give the proper respect and final send off to some of the individuals who touched our lives in so many ways, especially during last year, when all forms of entertainment became not only entrenched in its typical “escapism,” but also became a healing balm in a sense, something that helped people push through during the darkest times of necessary state and governmental-enforced bondage on us all. And it is for that reason, that we present some of our heroes, guiding lights, inspirations, and illuminations who left us in 2020.
To say that the year 2020 has been chaotic at best is an understatement of the highest order. Between an ongoing world pandemic to civil unrest, a “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” stance of all things racist and unfair, to a domestic Presidential election that left many flummoxed and drained and finally relieved, 2020 will be a year for the ages in the collective memory and history of the planet. And as always, music has acted as an almost collective balm for healing, inspiration, guidance, and direction during these unprecedented times. The beauty of music is that it always serves some sort of a purpose for the listener, giving forth to them a multitude of sonic choices and ultimately solutions within and without. Now more than ever, with a holiday season of uncertainty just on the horizon and one filled with an imposed and rightfully so global bondage on all of us, there’s still the divine union of giving gifts to loved ones and friends. And what better gift to give than the timeless gift of music? So, as is our annual wont, here’s the latest installment of musical selections and suggestions to help guide your choices, as always, served up with a little tequila in the eggnog.
Check out our 2020 Holiday Geek Gift Guide for Music.
Well metalheads, it’s Christmas time again. And no matter how much you profess to worship the devil, no matter how hard you go in the pit, no matter how tall your spikes are, no matter how long your hair is… admit it, you love Christmas. Come on, we see you headbanging to “White Christmas” and laying out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve… even if you do eat them yourself the next day.
Well, the cool thing is, Christmas is a great time for metalheads. Know why? Because right around the holidays, there’s always tons of new cool shit for metalheads to buy. Here are a few gifts that will be ideal for your Christmas list, whether you’re doing the giving or the getting.