The pop-culture savvy among you might recognize this December’s nod to the Marvel Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy. RayRay and I took three months this year to watch the entire Avengers franchise, starting with the Incredible Hulk (2008) and ending just in time for the streaming release of End Game. That’s a decade of movies in one summer. It was one of the year’s highlights. Parenthood will do that to you.
I decided to hew a little closer to the original idea behind these collections: introducing RayRay to great tunes of music past. Hence the inclusion of Otis Clay, Toto’s second appearance, Queen, The Pretenders, and Eddie Floyd. Some of the more old school appearances – Cindi Lauper, Hot Chocolate, Soft Cell, and Queen – are well known songs but fit nicely with this return to the basics. Roxette appears as a nod to El Salvador’s propensity for 1980s-based music stations. I heard this song months ago while driving and was reminded just how great a voice Marie Fredriksson had.
Three times I jumped into the Way Back Machine to Rock N’ Roll’s golden era. The Cadets’ appearance is equal parts music education and a nod to a friend in Chicago who shares my love of the movie Dead Poets Society. Wipeout acknowledge the surf lesson RayRay and I took just before Christmas, and Jim Croce’s You Don’t Mess Around With Jim is a nod to us catching up on the entire Stanger Things series. (It’s also a song I’ve loved for a long time and have included on some personal road trip mixtapes, back when they were literally cassette tapes.) I included Tu vuò fà l'Americano to acknowledge (again) that we met in Italy and that we returned this year for our 10-year class reunion. Yes, we brought the baby with us, an experience from which we are still recovering and might be forever scarred.
A few tunes are, by modern metrics, old, such as those by Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M, which is a brutal reality for a guy whose “coming of age” years prominently featured these bands. But it’s not all “in with the old.” Durand Jones & the Indications, around for less than a decade, perfectly channel a sound from decades past. Kelly Finnigan is in that same vein. Until I learned that this year’s album is his first, I thought he had been around since albums were nothing but vinyl.
This year’s Christmastime collection ends with a tune for the baby, who’s not a baby anymore but a full-throated toddler.
That’s it from Central America. Merry Christmas, everyone. We’ll see you in the next decade.
Heart – Barracuda
Jim Croce – You Don’t Mess Around with Jim
Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up
Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
The Surfaris – Wipe Out
R.E.M. – Nightswimming
Renato Carosone - Tu vuò fà l'Americano
Arthur Adams – You Hit the Nail On the Head
Kelly Finnigan – I Don’t Wanna Wait
Nicholas Britell – Taking Over the Damn Place
Toto – Rosanna
Eddie Floyd – Big Bird
Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing
Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Cliff Nobles & Co. – The Horse
Roxette – Fading Like a Flower
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The Pretenders – Middle of the Road
Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Too Late to Turn Back Now
The Cadets – Stranded In the Jungle
Joan Baez – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
Durand Jones & the Indications – Smile (Live at KEXP)
Jonny Clegg – Cruel, Crazy ,Beautiful World