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.
Sound City Director: Dave Grohl Screenwriter: Mark Monroe Cast: Neil Young, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Rick Rubin, Mick Fleetwood, Lars Ulrich, John Fogerty, Rick Springfield, Paul McCartney
Directed by Dave Grohl, Sound City focuses on the history of the legendary Van Nuys, CA studio for which it is named — where artists like Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, and countless others created classic records over the past 40 years — and the never-ending fight to preserve the human element of music in a digital world.
Through interviews with legendary musicians and producers, Sound City uncovers the magic within the walls of that studio and culminates with many of those legends creating a new album on the same legendary Neve console that produced so many hits.
Part of today’s Kindle ebook deal of the day over at Amazon today is Margaret Atwood‘s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale for only $1.99 (that’s 87% off the regular price of $8.99). If you’d like to purchase a physical copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, the book is also in paperback for only $10.20.
Note – this deal is valid only for today, Wednesday, December 26, 2011, until 11:59pm PST.
Harvest, by Neil Young, which still stands as one of America’s great classic folky rock/electric country albums, is now available on MP3 format from Amazon this month for only $5.00.
Subtle in its masterstrokes, Harvest finds Neil Young a bit more subdued in a positive sense, sort of a musical detoxing from the CSNY supernova and his reverbed up energetic prior releases such as Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere. By 1972 and Harvest, Young had become a cult figure put on the influential pedestal like a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon, and like those two aforementioned artists, Neil Young also had a rite of passage by way of his sheer, stark creativity and originality. He truly is and remains one of a kind, and the great music on Harvest just solidifies the obvious of Young’s mammoth talents.