Sunday, December 15, 2019

Top 30 of the year

'The lights went out behind us
The fireflies undressed
The broken sidewalk ended
I touched her sleeping breasts
They opened to me urgently
Like lilies from the dead
Behind a fine embroidery
Her nipples rose like bread
Then I took off my necktie
And she took of her dress
My belt and pistol set aside
We tore away the rest.'

– Leonard Cohen, The Night Of Santiago

1. Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings [Album]
2. Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance [Album]
3. Bob Dylan – Travelin' Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 15 [Album]
4. Cycling and photographing all around the mining trails [Adventure]
5. Isles of Scilly adventure with daughter [Holiday]
6. Hedluv + Passman live at Camborne Rugby Club [Gig]
7. Abandoned gunpowder works at Kennall Vale with H [Adventure]
8. Planting trees in Eco Park with H
9. Discovering Predannack abandoned airfield with H [Adventure]
10. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars [Album]
11. Bait* [Film]
12. Us* [Film]
13. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.  / Two Hands [Albums]
14. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen [Album]
15. Joker* [Film]
16. Arcadia [BBC4 documentary]
17. Beth Gibbons; Krzysztof Penderecki: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra: Górecki: Symphony #3, Op. 36, "Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs" [Album]
18. Gene Clark – No Other [Album reissue]
19. Midosmmar*  [Film]
20. Belle and Sebastian – Days of The Bagnold Summer [Album]
21. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese [Film]
22. LIPS, Stanley Duke and the Kindred Spirits and Penelope Isles at the Old Bakery Studios, Truro [Gig]
23. Rocketman* [Film]
24. Cycling around St Austell's china clay pits with Daniel [Adventure]
25. Stomp on Bodmin Moor with H [Adventure]
26. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! [Album]
27. Chihuly at Kew Gardens [Exhibition]
28. Stumbling across Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons with H [Adventure]
29. Beck – Hyperspace [Album]
30. Kresen Kernow finally opening [Event]

The end of 2019: excitingly, not just a time for end of year lists, but end of decade too (again). The Guardian went one step further, opting for top hundred films and music lists of the 21st century, a bit pre-emptive, unless their knowledge of the end of the world is sooner than we think. Anyway, their lists were pretty disappointing.

(Managing to dismiss most musical genres by concentrating on R&B and hip hop, the music list felt like it was compiled by teenagers, for teenagers: everything ever recorded by Frank Ocean (I almost made it through one of his songs but his voice sounded like Michael Jackson on helium, the lyrics were cliched and the music dull and limp) and Kayne West seemed to be on the list. And nothing by any white person over the age of 50 (except David Bowie). No Bob Dylan (scrolling closer and closer to the top of the list, I was sure Love and Theft or Modern Times was going to be in the top ten, then the top five, then, it dawned on me, not at all), no Leonard Cohen, Wilco, Lambchop, The Libertines, The Flaming Lips, Boards of Canada or Spoon. But Beyonce, Britney Spears and Katy B all make the list. Go figure.

Their film list was better, with personal favourites Under the Skin, Spirited Away, Before Sunset, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Toni Erdmann, Far From Heaven, Mulholland Drive, The Act of Killing, Boyhood, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (but bizarrely, not Uzak), Call Me By Your Name, The Selfish Giant, Gomorrah and Russian Ark all in the top hundred.)

Looking at end of year music lists on Pitchfork, Uncut, Mojo, and others, albums from Lana Del Rey, Nick Cave, Brittany Howard, Big Thief, Bill Callahan, Purple Mountains, Bon Iver, Angel Olsen, Michael Kiwanuka, FKA twigs, Kim Gordon and Weyes Blood all ranked highly and are well worth a listen. As usual, if ever I get to thinking that I know anything about alternative music, lists by The Quietus and The Wire like to remind me I know virtually nothing, having not heard of most albums on their end of year lists.

Lots of great-looking films no one's heard of in the BFI's top fifty of the year. Their No.1 slot goes to Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir – which, say the BFI, they were totally surprised about seeing at number one, what with established auteurs Scorsese, Tarentino and Almodóvar all releasing films this year – but seeing that the film was financed by the BFI, and – always a film critics' wet dream – being a film about film (in an early scene the main character is seen filming with a Bolex at a party – the hand cranked camera used to make Bait, their No.8 film of the year), it was kinda a dead cert. Cool eighties soundtrack too.

*Yes, this year's best films have one word titles – see also Atlantics, Border, Burning, Parasite, Beanpole, Monos, Hustlers and Booksmart: the more words, the worse the film – sorry, Tarentino (Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood). I'm being slightly disingenuous but it seems to hold true – see (or not) Spider-Man: Far From Home and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, for example.

Previously on Barnflakes
Barnflakes' top 20 of the year (2018)
Bests of the decade
The top 100 films
The top 100 albums

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