There will be a few end of year lists from me over the next few days, but today I want to reflect on the year that was… 2020.
A crappy year for most people. Illness and job losses hit a few I know personally. Death, thankfully has been kept at least two or three degrees away from me.
For me, I’ve been OK. Both Sarah and I haven’t stopped working. Sarah has been working from home, an experience we are both enjoying. Also good health wise. Last night I began to have a scratchy throat and it is still there this morning. The first time I had anything close to a cold all year. My allergies in the spring were much worse.
We have been extremely lucky as our only real sacrifice has been missing our family. We live in a “hot zone” in Southern Ontario while our immediate relatives all live 4 hours north of us where the cases of Covid-19 are relatively low. The last thing we want to be is patient zero. So, we haven’t been able to visit our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, or our friends all year long.
Our hunting for vinyl records took a major hit as well. We were able to slip in one record show this past February (Also the last time we sat in a restaurant) before it all went tits up. We did take one trip in August to record stores in Coburg and Oshawa, then cases began to rise again in September. So that was that.
The only store I felt comfortable enough going to is our little mission thrift in town. We’d go right when they open on Saturday morning when it was still empty. They don’t get enough vinyl records to make it a worthy visit, but they do have plenty of $2 CDs. Even that has died down as I only went once this past month since we went into lock down again.
All in all, personally, Christmas 2015 until a few months into 2019 was much worse than 2020. I feel very much for everyone else who has had a rougher go. Regardless of how bad you had it, the one thing I believe is a constant for everyone is how 2020 began very different compared to how it ended.
For this blog, I began the year… no, decade!.. by steering its focus back onto film reviews. The reason why I started it was to catalog the movies I watch so I can better remember what I have seen. But, I found a more efficient way to do this was by logging them into a spreadsheet and writing mini reviews on letterboxd. Follow me there too!
Besides, too many things were pulling me back to writing about music here…
For one, Covid carved up anytime I would spend listening to podcasts. My work commute time was cut down by a lot. 40 minutes has been shaved off the morning trip alone. And my lunch hour at work was dropped as management eliminated our overlap shift. I would take that time to walk on the nearby trails and in the parks while listening to podcasts. It all added up to 15-20 hours a week of podcast time that is now gone. My backlog quickly ballooned to unmanageable.
The final straw was when the air conditioning in my car gave out (again) in the spring. Hearing people speak over the car stereo is difficult for me to do with the windows rolled down at 100km/h. So, music in the car became king again.
My base model 2012 Honda Fit doesn’t have anything fancy where I can hook up an mp3 via USB directly to the stereo, so I purchased this little digital player device for $30 that allows me to hear them via the FM radio. It also plays lossless flac files which is my preferred way to rip CDs. Huzzah! Complete game changer!
I enjoyed it so much I bought one for Sarah too!
As my listening habits changed, two of my friends began weekly YouTube/Facebook shows about music that I have been lucky enough to be asked to be a part of.
Bill’s Vinyl Collection Show on his STCPod channel has me closely looking at my own collection at least once a week. Discovering what (embarrassingly) I have bought over the last few years and still haven’t listened to only motivated me more to start enjoying my records and CDs.
Then Mike DeLano began his “lockdown show” which has evolved into The LeBrain Train, theme song and all! Asking to regularly be a part of Top 10 (11) lists about rock and metal had my gray matter buzzing on music even more. Heck, even the weeks when I’m only watching does the trick!
Finally, Sarah and I began writing tandem posts for our blogs. Our run through of Led Zeppelin’s catalog had us both reconnecting with our collection. Every Sunday we would avoid distractions and “force” ourselves to listen and write about music. We enjoyed the experience so much that we will be reviving the series very soon.
Looking at my year end blog stats for 2020, my music posts did far better than any movie review. Especially whenever I wrote about AC/DC. I fully admit, having you all better engaged with the music posts has also been a strong motivator.
And now with The LeBrain Train, I have faces and voices to put to a lot of the comments. And your posts too! Funny to think how it was only this past April when I had no idea who Deke or John T. Snow sounded or even looked like.
OK, Full confession time…
Deke is NOTHING how I pictured him when I read his blog pre-LeBrain Train. The voice, look, and attitude I imagined was Randall Graves from Clerks:
I’m happy to report that the real Deke is nothing like him!