Nancy’s Favorites of 2012

We love making lists. This is a restrained list of my favorite things about 2012, not necessarily the bests in any category. Politics, music, movies, theater, TV, books. Wanna argue? Write a comment here.


  • Constant political coverage, which annoyed everyone but political junkies like me
  • The reelection of President Obama
  • Bruce Springsteen campaigning for the President and riding on Air Force One.
  • Crowning of Nate Silver as King of Stats (others who did much the same, like Sam Wang of Princeton, unfortunately were not recognized)

Music – the Bruce Springsteen factor

  • Release of Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball album (yes, I still buy them). Excellent, substantive story songs even though the music is better played live
  • The Wrecking Ball tour and the six fabulous concerts I attended in Greensboro, New York (first time at the Garden!), Detroit, Los Angeles and Chicago (yay, Wrigley Field)
  • Taking my grandson James to his first Springsteen concert at Wrigley Field (see my September post)
  • Taking a road trip to Detroit with my nephew Brad and friend Craig to see Bruce at the Palace in Auburn Hills, with several dynamite food stops
  • Bruce’s keynote speech at South by Southwest. Regretted not going to Austin but I watched him streaming live. He gave us a history of rock and roll through his own career in music   Read the rest of this entry »

The Rock and Roll Escape Route

Rock and roll is a vibrant, dynamic art form in all its permutations from classic, punk, metal and alt to roots and country (and hundreds more*). Rock and roll emerged in the 1950s from popular music forms such as blues, R&B, country and rockabilly; it has grown to dominate popular music sales (now downloads), and live music performances to become a ~$67 billion industry globally. While the death of rock is often predicted, it continues to thrive as young musicians join the industry veterans, now in their 60s and 70s and still recording and touring.

What keeps rock vibrant and dynamic, I believe, is that it is an escape route for young musicians, usually male, from the humdrum lives their parents and peers settle for. This is a socioeconomic story as much as a rock and roll story.  Read the rest of this entry »

David Byrne, reinvented

Some performers keep doing the same thing for decades. They relive their past successes over and over again, to the delight of their longtime fans, who only want to hear the old favorites.  Some performers (and fans) are more adventurous. They constantly develop new music, perform in new formats with new bands, and even reformulate their past catalog to the point of unrecognizability.

Bruce Springsteen is in that latter category. He plays with new bands, in new musical genres, and constantly writes new material and revamps old. And so is David Byrne. The frontman for the late great Talking Heads is a curious, creative, ingenious performer who seems to enjoy playing with new material. He has proselytized for bicycling in cities all over the world (including via his book Bicycle Diaries) and even turned a building into a musical instrument.

Read the rest of this entry »