I didn’t think we’d see a year worse than 2016, a year that took Leonard Cohen and David Bowie from us, and had the absolute worst, most despicable person winning the presidential election (thanks to the fucking Electoral College). But then along came 2020. In addition to having to continue to put up with the mendacious Donald Trump and his goddamn cult of racist imbeciles, 2020 also presented us with wildfires, police murdering citizens, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and of course the pandemic, which has resulted in more than 340,000 deaths in this country (so far), unemployment, economic crisis and the cancellation of everything that we enjoy. In addition to all that, we lost a lot of important people in the music world. This year brought the deaths of Bill Withers, Little Richard, Spencer Davis, Neil Peart, Eddie Van Halen, Kenny Rogers, Eric Weissberg, Bob Shane, Peter Green, Leslie West, Ellis Marsalis, Toots Hibbert, Andy Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker, Charlie Daniels, Lucky Peterson, Bonnie Pointer, Annie Ross, Justin Townes Earl, Charley Pride, Mac Davis, Helen Reddy, Billy Joe Shaver, Tony Rice and John Prine. A fucking terrible year, no question about it.
However, this year did give us the promise of a return to humanity with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, bringing us some relief. And, even though concerts have been nearly non-existent since March, many artists reached out to us through social media, presenting performances from their homes and uniting us in an unexpected way. A ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark landscape. And musicians continued to release excellent albums, helping to raise our spirits when we needed it most. In addition to wonderful new releases, 2020 gave us some fantastic 50th anniversary boxed sets, including the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, and The Kinks’ Lola Vs. Powerman And The Moneygoround. As the vaccines become more widely available, and Donald Trump and his corrupt administration go to prison (which must happen in order to keep something like this from occurring again), things are going to improve. And at some point in 2021 I expect bands will be hitting the road again. It will be kind of scary at first to enter a club or bar or auditorium, but I am looking forward to enjoying live music. Here’s to the promise of a better New Year.