one louder

“As good a friend, as good a master and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town or borough in the good old world.”

The Aga Khan, you ask?

No. Those words describe one Ebenezer Scrooge. “He did it all,” it was said in 1843 of the renowned businessman and philanthropist, “and infinitely more.”

Today, one might therefore expect the name Scrooge to be associated with the most generous among us.

Consider as well, as the new year kicks into gear, the fate of one Mr. Grinch, who in Whoville is remembered for his community spirit and for carving a mean roast beast. You, however, are more likely to know him merely as the “mean one.”

The moral? You may have begun 2018 determined to change your evil ways, but it will do you no good in the context of contemporary society. Let hedonism prevail; it is needed now more than ever. Certainly, never has it drawn greater rewards.

Something to think about as you go over those resolutions… if you have not already thrown them away.

As to the year so far, confidence abounds, if the plucky story-editors behind CBC Radio’s The World at Six are anything to go by. A mere three days into the new year, the program aired its annual “guitar groups are on their way out” feature. It’s a surprising move, given that such filler is generally kept in reserve. That leaves only the “vinyl revival” and a lament for declining interest in seeing live bands to fill the remainder of 2018, music-coverage-wise.

Well, there will no doubt be more rock and roll legends lost. So there’s that.

(Local press cleverly dodged this potential shortfall by kicking-off the year with round-the-clock coverage of the 1998 ice storm. Well played, what is left of local media. Well played.)

Moreover, there are always anniversaries to mark. The 50th anniversary of the release of Beggars BanquetOdessey and OracleThe Kinks are the Village Green Preservation SocietyMusic from Big Pink and God Bless Tiny Tim. Fifty years since Elvis’s “comeback” TV special. Fifty years since Ringo left The Beatles (for a few days). Fifty years since the death of Coleman Hawkins. Fifty years since the world first greeted Amon Düül II. Also, 40 years since the first Kate Bush album; 30 years since Surfer Rosa and Straight Outta Compton; and, 10 years since Tina Turner’s 50th Anniversary Tour. (Not sure how to celebrate that last one, but it’s worth celebrating nonetheless.)

And 20 years ago, you ask? (If not, I am asking for you.)

Only the arrival of the song that has exerted a greater influence on the music of the 21st Century than anything before it — a song that has allowed tone-deaf singers the world over to have careers. I am referring, of course to Cher’s massive 1998 hit Believe, the song that auto-tuned mainstream music. The previous year had seen the release of Wu-Tang ForeverMMMBop and Paranoid Android. It can be argued that every original work released since 1998 owes something to one or more of the above-mentioned titles.

Not that there wasn’t great new music to savour in 2017. To save time, I will happily award to Big Thief the honour of both album and live performance of the year. The former is sublime; the latter, at September’s folk festival, was alternately disarming and frustrating, as Adrianne Lenker fought to be heard above the din emanating from an adjacent stage.

Locally, I’ll go with Bonnie Doon‘s Dooner Nooner as album of the year. There were other fine releases, but none was more fun. And these days, having fun can be a challenge.

Happily, the song of the year for 2018 has already been determined, thanks to the boffo TV hit, The Launch, which debuted this week. The show promises to marry the edge-of-your-seat excitement of Homegrown Cafe with the mass appeal of George Stromboulopoulos’s The One: Making of a Music Star. It’s all in aid of not only finding the next Ryan Malcolm but also forcing an international smash hit down our eager throats.

That would-be hit is The Lucky Ones, an ode to being young and beautiful that is conveniently set to the tune of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. (Or, for rockier contestants, She Drives Me Crazy. Either way, international smashiness awaits one, um, lucky contestant.)

Of course, here in Capital City we will be looking beyond the charts for excitement. (A wise move, if The Lucky Ones serves its intended purpose.) After all, Canada 150 was a never-a-dull-moment celebration; it is only fair to expect Canada 151 to be bigger and better.

Or, at least, one louder. Even if guitar groups are on the way out.

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