In this entry I’m going to reflect on 2018 and the media I’ve consumed, starting with a glance at my own blog.
It has been almost a year since I published the very first (title) post “Stray Bullet” (January 23rd). Since then I’ve written 64 blogposts and although it’s still a quite small and insignificant blog, it has found its audience and slowly grown more popular. A Springsteen related entry is read by around 100 readers in average, whereas a non-related entry is read by about half as many (if I’m lucky).
The top three most popular post so far are:
- “The Wish (spoiler alert, shmoiler alert)” (579 views), which I wrote on February 3. It is about the (then) new phenomenon of yelling “spoiler alert” instead of gladly sharing setlists (aka setlusting) and Springsteen show experiences amongst The EStreet Nation, triggered by Springsteen on Broadway.
- “Spare Parts” (445 views) from May 20. A post on countless releases of old Bruce Springsteen material that might be looked upon as way to lure dedicated and innocent fans to spend their money.
- “I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra” (327 views), published on November 14. It tells the story of my latest tattoo (a Springsteen Tattoo).
Another huge interest of mine is music. This year I’ve attended 20 concerts and one music festival (Way out West, 9-11 August). The most memorable concerts were (in chronological order):
- Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging Molly My first concert in the newly built Partille Arena, which worked out pretty well as a medium sized venue, though the location (15 min outside of Gothenburg is less attractive).
- Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes – Southside was in a very good mood and kept a perfect dialogue with the audience. Pustervik is my favourite venue in Gothenburg. It’s a rebuilt cinema that takes around 900 spectators.
- Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters return to Ullevi after their last show where Dave Grohl dramatically fell off stage and broke his leg. The paramedic from that event was specially invited and tributed in the song My Hero:
- Brian Fallon & the Howling Weather – A great show in my favourite venue Pustervik, which only ten minutes before the show suffered from a power outage. Fallon’s voice is unique, the words and music create a remarkable sound of rock and blues and the new album Sleepwalkers is more reminiscent of his days in the Gaslight Anthem than his previous album Painkillers.
- Jason Isbell – Jason Isbell is one of my new favourite artists. He and his band put on a fantastic show. Watch a snippet of If We Were Vampires that I recorded during the show below. Their new live album Live from the Ryman (released in October) tries to catch some of their magic live act, pity that they’ve chosen to take out the talk in between the songs.
- Ed Sheeran – although I’m not a huge fan the show was very rewarding: just a man and his guitar on the large outdoor arena Ullevi. The way he created music on stage with the help of loop pedals was what intrigued me most during the show.
- Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul -When the the Teacher Appreciation Tour 2018 came to Malmö in July, I took part in the TeachRock workshop and as for the show: it was a steaming performance both literally and figuratively; Little Steven and his 14 piece band the Disciples of Soul on the small stage in the tiny venue, Kulturbolaget Club during this summer’s heatwave.
- Guns ‘n Roses– I was a bit disappointed with Guns N’ Roses’ show in Ullevi this summer. I know, of course that you shouldn’t expect a band that were your heroes thirty years ago to remain the same.
- WoW– Attending the music festival Way Out West in Gothenburg is a treat. This year’s line-up included: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Arctic Monkeys, Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire and some really great Swedish musicians (read more in my blog).
- Blackberry Smoke – I find Blackberry Smoke a damn good band; sometimes a southern rock band, sometimes a jam band a la the Grateful Dead and sometimes a country band. The show in Pustervik was solid.
Read more about these concerts in my blog (concert reviews)
Every week I listen to various podcasts. I find them perfect to listen to when driving to and fro work. My favourite podcasts are:
- Bruce Springsteen Sings the Alphabet – Two times a week Rob Carmack and JB Clark talk about every Bruce Springsteen song in alphabetical order one by one. Their insightful elaborations are knife sharp and their debating is very entertaining. I dread the day when they run out of songs to talk about.
- Setlusting Bruce – Host Jesse Jackson talks to various Springsteen fans from all over the world exploring their Springsteen stories. There is even one episode from 2017 where I appear as a guest together with BruceBud Jennifer from the Netherlands discussing our top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs.
I also read blogs and the ONE that keeps me busy and fully satisfied is the blog E Street Shuffle “Your daily dose of Springsteen originals and covers”. Each day at least two separate posts are published with enough contents to last the whole day.
Something else that I really appreciate is watching films and series. I love going to the cinema (in the company of my friends, aka “bioklubben”). Some of the films I’ve enjoyed and can recommend this year are:
Seen in the cinema:
- The Commuter (2018). A businessman, on his daily commute home, gets unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that threatens not only his life but the lives of those around him.
- All the Money in the World (2017). The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.
- Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). After seven months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at the town’s revered chief of police.
- Darkest Hour (2017). A thrilling and inspiring true story begins on the eve of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain.
- Coco (2017) Animated film about Miguel who dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music. Not only did I like this film very much but I also liked the setting in which I saw it. For the second year this free event, an outdoor viewing in a park in Gothenburg, was organised. Loads of people come wandering carrying their own blankets and folding chairs to this huge field where an enormous movie screen has been set up. As the crowd awaits the sunset (the sun sets very late in the summer in Sweden) they hang out, eat their own picnic and drink beer. There are also food trucks, snack bars and musical entertainment.
- The Post (2017). A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalists and government. Inspired by true events.
- A Star is Born (2018). Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers – and falls in love with- struggling artist Ally. This film is a gorgeous heartbreaker; such a great Hollywood myth, I couldn’t help but weeping. The soundtrack is great too.
- Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). Gellert Grindelwald has escaped imprisonment and has begun gathering followers to his cause- elevating wizards above all non-magical beings. I love these Harry Potter spinoffs and the Fantastic Beasts fanchise is settling in for a long ride, with three more movies announced through 2024. The third film is set to be released on 20 November 2020.
Remarkably enough, many of the films I’ve streamed this year seem to have the common theme of being dystopian/post-apocalyptic (see the first four).
- Children of Men (2006). In 2027, a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child’s birth may help scientists save the future of humankind.
- 28 Days Later (2002). 28 days after a killer virus was accidentally unleashed from a British research facility, a small group of London survivors are caught in a desperate struggle to protect themselves from the infected.
- Her (2013). In the not so distant future, Theodore a lonely writer purchase a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user’s every needs. A romantic relationship develops between him and his operative system.
- The Dark Tower (2017). The last Gunslinger, Roland Deachain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together.
- Collateral Beauty (2016). Recreating from life a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death.
- The Martian (2015). During a manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet.
- Inglorious Basterds (2009). In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as “The Basterds” are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis.
- Olive Kitteridge (2014). A look at a seemingly placid New England town that is actually wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy, all told through the lens of Olive, whose wicked wit and harsh demeanour mask a warm but troubled heart and staunch moral center.
- Tomb Raider (2018). Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where he father disappeared. Fun fact about this film: the main character is played by the Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.
- Springsteen on Broadway (2018). Springsteen’s solo acoustic performance based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography “Born to Run”. No further word than “epic” is needed.
- The Defiant Ones (2017). A mini-series of four episodes which examines the partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dr.Dre – one the son of a Brooklyn longshoreman, the other straight up of Compton – and their leading roles in a chain of transformative events in contemporary culture. Bruce Springsteen is interviewed in one of the episodes.
- Rillington Place (2016) A very eerie three part drama about serial killer John Christie and the murders at 10 Rillington Place in the 1940s and 1950s.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-) Golden Globe awarded series. Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. Season 3 will be released in 2019.
- Designated Survivor (2016-2019). A low-level Cabinet member (Kiefer Sutherland) becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack kills everyone in the line of succession. Season 2 ended in May 2018 and, sadly, ABC has since then cancelled the series.
- The Fall (2013-2016). A seemingly cold but very passionate policewoman goes head to head with a seemingly passionate father who is in fact a cold serialist in this procedural out of Belfast. The only thing they share is their common complexity. I started to watch this series but, for some reason, didn’t continue. However, it’s my intention to finish it.
Finally, I’ve seen three music documetaries that I want to recommend:
- Bad Reputation (2018) The life and career of rock ‘n’ roll icon Joan Jett from her early years ripping it up onstage as the founder and backbone of hard-rock legends The Runaways, to her long time collaboration with Kenny Laguna and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and her enduring presence in pop culture as a rock pioneer and mentor. Joan Jett inspired a generation of young women to rock.
- Foo Fighters: Back and Forth (2011). Chronicles the 16 year history of the Foo Fighters: from the band’s very first songs created as cassette demos Dave Grohl recorded during his tenure as Nirvana’s drummer, through its ascent to their Grammy-winning, multi-platinum, arena and stadium headlining status as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet.
- Amy (2015) Archival footage and personal testimonials present an intimate portrait of the life and career of British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse.
That concludes this marathon blogpost. If you have stayed with me long enough to read these lines, I applaud you.
I’d like to take this moment and thank you for reading my blog, It has been more rewarding than I thought to write it and it makes me so greatful, honoured and pleased that someone actually find it worthwhile reading.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! /Anna