The Best Worst Year
Iâ€™ll only have your attention for the next 47 seconds at best and thatâ€™s why itâ€™s been the worst year but itâ€™s also been the best year because you already endorse my satire for endemically-shredded attention spans. You already know.
You know how fucked it all is, how fucked we all are; you already know because itâ€™s the internet and weâ€™ve heard everything that Iâ€™m about to rail against: like our reserves of morality and empathy now emptied down to crusty flakes as we hunger for escapism as insatiably as locusts. Glowing gadgets keep us connected as we stay-mobile and the 24-hour-news networks remind us how many children died (and how) thousands of miles away from us as we slept, and day jobs still feel like devilish treadmills.
But itâ€™s been the best year because of how oddly rewarding it feels to have retained perspective in days of modern madness â€“ – that thereâ€™s always solace if you know where to look and where to listen.
This was the best worst year because it will still feel like the last one: Weâ€™ll still basely sum up some new bandâ€™s new song as if it sounded â€śBeatles-esqueâ€ť and weâ€™ll still think a pop-song can take the pain away and weâ€™ll still feel self-conscious if we havenâ€™t yet heard of the band being talked about by your perfectly-strange-stranger-Facebook-friends-in-the-flesh, rapping at the bar between local bands that might be breaking up in a matter of months anyhowâ€¦but Heyâ€¦you are here, and still alive and you arenâ€™t being shot-at in the streets or being mercilessly zoomed by drones and earthquakes are not on your list of concerns, nope, nor are volcanic eruptions or sieges of zombie hordes.
This was the worst best year because, well, floods, droughts and fatal, and sometimes futile street-protests are all the new norm, as is an incompetent, if just intrinsically dysfunctional national legislative body, but then there is the catharsis that does come, however fleeting, in a song, in a musical recital or recording, whether at the edge of a stage where a guitar neck skims the hairs of your chinny-chin or whether with heads-viced between cushy headphones as the rich tones, snapping percussion and fuzzed timbres emitted into your ears and into your body because no matter how sordid the shuffle of superficial Facebook flumes, you can still feel something, you can still tap into something, the sound is still tangible.
This is the worst-best year because bands you love are making exciting, creative, invigorating music and its tangibly enriching and uplifting the culture and collective spirit of the community. Itâ€™s the best year because you feel a sense of community, even if weâ€™re just gathering out for a show to drink some beer and hear some music and yes, whittling each weekend summit down to just that, then, again, it is the worst year because of how much things feel the same despite how much things have changed.
I know itÂ feelsÂ the same, day to day, but if you look, if you listen, in the right spots… There’s bands out there making music in refreshingly unworldly languages…Throwing their whole damn bodies into it, to boot.
Itâ€™s the best year and the worst year because I, and Iâ€™m willing to bet you, too, canâ€™t recall a time when there were so many bandsâ€¦anywhere, everywhere, even just locally.
Itâ€™s the worst because there will be a lot of noise. Itâ€™s the best because creating something (albeit anything) has become compulsive.
We could all be at a Nascar race sanctifying the wasteful burn of fossil fuels and toxic dump of RV sewage tanks, but instead weâ€™re standing (not sitting) close together (no longer disparate as we are, this morning, on our respective facepaged-feeds) and nodding along, undulating in a weird but heartening meditation to the rhythm and the roarâ€¦of noise-made-by-neighbors.
Whatâ€™s the harm? Whatâ€™s the point? Wasnâ€™t it great?
Or…What was so great about that?
Thereâ€™s â€¦justâ€¦ energy here, though, and I feel thatâ€™s worth something. (Worth what? You ask? That answer doesn’t come for at least another year).Â I donâ€™t know why you or we do what we doâ€¦gather and regather, sing and re-cite and re-plug in and re-tune and re-string and re-position the bass drum after that last plod of kicks.
Itâ€™s fleeting, Frank Woodman told me, as a disarming pensiveness flared his slightly-bloodshot eyes, in just that moment, uttered before being drowned out by feedback from a fuzzed-out amp, a band tuning up behind him up on stage.
And if youâ€™re so sure that itâ€™s been the worst year, then youâ€™re likely not to appreciate those two words from Frank. Come the end of 2013 youâ€™ll wonder why thereâ€™s no good bands around anymoreâ€¦when you might have been in the middle of a moment of our greatest (as of yet, anyhow) potential… Can we muster more? Weâ€™ll see in 2013.