I have been making playlists since I started listening to rock music back in the days. Somehow you had to spend your time in school (*g*) and music was THE most important thing from 7th grade onwards. For years I made my own charts, my monthly Top Twenty. Unfortunately I threw away the small black ledger with those lists years ago…
11 years ago I started doing this again and made up one list of songs – usually 15 to 17 – for the entire year.
Social media is quite helpful in that endeavor, first I used youtube only but nowadays spotify is the medium of choice for making up the list.
For this post though I will provide the youtube-links.
For some of the songs the videos are just to good to not be shared.
The choice of songs is often driven by the concerts I attended during the year and I was quite curious, how this would play out for 2020.
In May I was at three songs and I feared for the list to come together at all. Alright, this was a bit premature. Eventually I finished with enough songs for the list, but nowhere near as many as in the years before, when I used to make a ‚runner up‘ list for the songs that didn’t make it.
So now for 2020…
1. Bruce Springsteen – One minute you’re here
I thought I knew just who I was
And what I’d do but I was wrong
One minute you’re here
Next minute you’re gone
Let’s start with authority and this wonderful piece of music from The Boss’s new album Letter to you. I have always loved the somber and more depressed songs of the man, the likes of which to be found on Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad.
2. Mal Élevé – No pasarán
Alerta, Alerta, Antifascista!
Keinen Schritt weiter, wir schlagen Alarm!
Kampf dem Faschismus, egal wo und wann
No, no, no pasarán.
I wanted to see Mal Élevé live in 2020 so badly, but that did not play out due to covid19. Love the whole of his new album ‚Resistance mondiale‘ and there are so many brilliant songs on it – so it was not easy to choose the right one for this compilation. Eventually I decided for the one with Dolores Ibárruri’s eternal words…
3. The Legendary Pink Dots – Just a lifetime
And one fine day the planet crumbled,
just cos someone sneezed.
For this, we waited just a lifetime.
Hard to believe it took me only 40 years after their first release to see The Legendary Pink Dots live in concert. But this we did in February, not knowing by then it would be the last show for a very long time. Nachtleben in Frankfurt was quite packed and Edward Ka-Spel in his usual attire (soft long coat and scarf) didn’t sound a bit different from the earliest songs of their long career.
Second most important lyrics quotation in this post! Number one follows right after this one…
4. Shearwater – Rooks
The ambulance men said there’s nowhere to flee for your life
So we stayed inside
And we’ll sleep until the world of man is paralyzed
Clearly my song for 2020 as spotify was also pointing out in the wrap up of this dreaded year.
The bright guitar and voice of Jonathan Meiburg in stark contrast to the dark lyrics get me every time.
Might well have listened to the song a 1.000 times in 2020 already and will add another 1.000 come the next few months.
5. Nathan Gray – No way
But I ain’t giving in
No way in hell I’ll break
No Way in hell tonight
Ah, Nathan Gray. Believe it or not, but I heard of Nathan in 2018 only for the first time, when one of the songs of Feral Hymns found its way into my spotify discovery list. In March 2019 Kim and I saw him live @Schlachthof Wiesbaden and afterwards I met him outside for a short talk and a heartfelt hug.
I simply love the guy, love his attitude, his FCK AFD-T-Shirt – the one he wore on occasion in the US, his proud antifascist stand and most of all: his empathy and ability to show vulnerability.
And I am so glad we had the chance to attend the concert @Batschkapp Frankfurt, see him and Ben Christo1 live again. Since it was also the last time we met with Petra this year, it was safely booked on this list from February onwards :-)
6. The Chicks – March March
Tell the ol‘ boys in the white bread lobby
What they can and can’t do with their bodies
Temperatures are risin‘, cities are sinkin‘
(Ah, cut the shit, you know your city is sinkin‘)
Woohoo, THE CHICKS are back. And HOW they are back. Gasligther is the title of their new album and ditching the Dixie is a brilliant move.
March March is an excellent song and the video is outstanding.
You go, Chicks! <3
7. Biffy Clyro – Space
And then the silence fell
We bit our tongues, with which we tell
All of our dreams, and the stories we sell
But we didn’t know what we didn’t know
The maximum amount of NICE GUY is defined by Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro. Do yourself a favor and watch this piece on youtube…
Space is from their latest album A celebration of Endings, which is a wonderful title for 2020 in its entirety.
Covid19 put us all and our relationships to a test and I believe it helped defining those relationships, thus cutting clear edges, where there once were blurry lines and we found ourselves separated from others by the harsh truths this year has laid bare2.
Space is one of my dearest songs in this playlist.
8. Tool – Pneuma
Reach out and beyond
Wake up remember
We are born of one breath, one word
We are all one spark, eyes full of wonder
How often did I listen to this song in 2020?
I can’t really count… – the reaction videos to Danny Carey’s brilliant live drumming alone have been legion. What a brilliant piece of music.
Just listen to it. Tool rule.
9. Wire – Blogging
Three king researchers use Google star maps
Bethlehem manger a high-rated app
Book rooms at the inn flags first born male traps
Amazon wish-list delivery elapse
And isn’t that just what we need for christmas?
Wire have always had this kind of detached view on what’s going on and I was a fan since the early eighties.
Since I first heard A touching display and aimed for plates with WI-RE 154, when I bought my first (and all the following) car. Never got the plates, though.
The band however will always be in my playlists. Prominently.
1980 or 2020.
Plus, their sound hasn’t changed much, which – when it comes to Wire – is a feature!
10. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Stranger than kindness
You hold me so carelessly close
Tell me I’m dirty
Stranger than kindness
Your funeral…my trial.
If I remember correctly, I got my hands on the vinyl a year later (still have it!) and heard Stranger than kindness for the first time. Instant love affair and the song has accompanied me through the years.
When we saw Nick Cave in Wiesbaden, he played it solo on the piano as he also did during his impressive show at Alexandra Palace in London (Idiot Prayer).
11. Santa Hates You – Scum
Racists, sexists, homophobes and all you other assholes
Around the globe
We’re here to let you know that your time is gone!
Fuck you! you fucking scum!
Now this is pure fun and a very nice video to make things perfect. Attitude meets dancefloor and things get rough. Yours sincerely is quite pleased.
12. ZSK – Ich habe Besseres zu tun
Schon wieder falsch zitiert bei Spiegel Online
Das muss jetzt alles in diesen Song rein
Die Bild ruft an, fragt nach ’nem Interview
Ich lege auf, hab‘ keine Lust dazu.
ZSK \o/ – Antifascist skate punk of the best kind.
We go back quite some time, ZSK and me.
In 2006 they opened for Bad Religion at the old Batschkapp and boy, this support act rocked the house. Plus, I was there with Katrin and Jörg and we had such a good time.
I have been to some of their recent shows and it was always good fun, lots of sweat and a wonderful atmosphere.
This year they took on a special task as can be seen in the picture on the right3
Twitter was kind enough to make this happen and the result can be heard and seen here. :-D
13. The Stranglers – Don’t bring Harry
Ah, you’ve met Harry
I can see by your eyes
If once there was life there
Now there’s compromise
Dave Greenfield has been a keyboard hero of mine since I discovered The Stranglers in 1979 – in fact, they have been among the first protagonists of this ‚Punk‘ thing I recognized back in 1978, when I attended a language course during the Easter holidays in Eastbourne. One evening there was a party and I remember some of my friends enthusiastically celebrating Peaches by The Stranglers.
Their first live album was among the initial ones of this very English uprising in my collection. With The Raven then came Don’t bring Harry.
The piano part of this anti-Heroin anthem makes for a worthy contribution to this year’s playlist.
Dave Greenfield died on the 3rd of May of complications due to Sars-CoV2, aged 71, playing with The Stranglers for 45 years. RIP.
14. The Last Internationale – Wanted man
No one to trust or choose to speak
I am the end and that I fear
Lord forgive me when the smoke clears
This band has been one of the pleasant discoveries of 2020. Delila Paz has this intriguing voice and I long to see them live, ‚cause everybody says they kill it in their shows.
2021 please? Pretty please?
15. Saltatio Mortis – Linien im Sand
Was heißt das schon: „Volk und Nation?“
Was ist ein Vaterland?
Kommt das alles wieder, die Heimatlieder?
Die erhobene Hand?
Saltatio Mortis, the folk metal band with the political punk attitude. Emotion, speed, bagpipes and antifascist lyrics.
Me likey. ;-)
16. Current 93 – All the pretty little horsies
Way down yonder, down in the meadow
There’s a poor little lamby
Bees and butterflies flitting ‚round his eyes
He’s crying out for his mammy
A lullaby performed by Current 93 will always trigger my inner cynic. This just HAS TO BE creepy.
I also very much like the version they did with Nick Cave, but Nick for all his ususal dark and somber image makes the song a very nice one. A lullaby to play for kids you want to have sleeping soon.
With the version of Current 93 here, they will be wide awake with terror, staring in the dark and waiting for the horror to overwhelm them.
Don’t do that to your kids :-D
- he the man on guitar with the Sisters of Mercy! ↩
- And yes – There’s always a space in my heart for you. But this will not be overcome easily. ↩
- For my English and American friends: Prof Dr. Christian Drosten is the most popular virologist in Germany, who became famous not only for his admirable work but also for his handling of the media in this case the German tabloid paper BILD, who was pestering him with inquiries for interviews. He tweeted he considered it a nuisance and ‚I have better things to do‘ – which is the translation of ‚Ich habe Besseres zu tun ↩