As 2019 is coming to an end in this entry I’m going to reflect on the passed year and the media I’ve consumed, starting with a glance at my own blog.
It has been almost two years since I published the very first post “Stray Bullet” (January 23, 2018). Since then I’ve written 117 blogposts altogether (52 in 2109) and, although it’s still a quite small and insignificant blog it is slowly growing more popular and I enjoy writing it. The Springsteen related entries are still the most popular ones, whereas non-Springsteen related entries are read by about half as many (if I’m lucky).
A new feature is that I’ve started writing some of the posts in German and it has turned out to be quite successful. It is both scary and challenging to write in German but, although the language is a bit tricky. I think I’ve made myself understood and I’ve reached a new audience.
The top five posts this year:
- 57 Channels (and nothin’ on) Blinded by the Light
- Where the Bands Are (Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, 18 July, 2019)
- Western Stars [album] (auf Deutsch)
- The Live Series: Songs of Love
- Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs (auf Deutsch)
This year has offered other challenges (on a more personal level) too. In January I had an accident during Kickboxing practise and I injured my shoulder. The injury was so bad I had to go through surgery, which forced me to spend two whole weeks on my sofa 😱, where I ended up binge watching Game of Thrones.
I’ve always enjoyed watching films and series and I’ve realised I don’t need TV-channels any more. Netflix and HBO provide me with films and series as addition to what I see in the cinema. Apart from heaps of new series (or seasons) I’ve recapitulated both Lilyhammer (2012-2014) and The Sopranos (1999-2007). Some of the films and series I’ve enjoyed this year are:
- Blinded by the Light – A film based on journalist and Bruce Springsteen fan Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock ‘N’ Roll. Set in England in 1987, a teenager from an Asian family learns to live his life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of American rock star Bruce Springsteen (2019).
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – A film by Quentin Tarantino about a faded television actor and his stunt double, who strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles. (2019)
- Joker – A phsychological thriller on mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night, but finds the joke always seems to be on him. He launches on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime in Gothham City. (2019)
- The Irishman – An epic gangster drama that follows Frank Sheeran as he recalls his past years working for the Bufalino crime family. He reflects on his most prolific hits and, in particular, considers his involvement with his good friend Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975. (2019)
- Western Stars – A cinematic version of Bruce Springsteen’s latest album with the same name. The focus is on Springsteen, who is performing the entire Western Stars album to a small audience in his huge 100 year barn in Colt Neck, New Jersey . He is accompanied on stage by a 30-piece orchestra and his wife Patti Scialfa. Inbetween the concert recordings, each song is presented by Springsteen, while vignettes, archive material and private film material are shown.
- After Life (2019-) – Tony (Ricky Gervais) had a perfect life. But after his wife Lisa suddenly dies, Tony changes. After contemplating taking his own life, he decides instead to live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes from now on. He thinks it’s like a Super Power — not caring about himself or anyone else — but it turns out to be tricky when everyone is trying to save the nice guy they used to know. Season two is due in 2020.
- Chernobyl (2019) – An excellent mini-series of five episodes on the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986. It tells the story of the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster, all the while battling a culture of disinformation in the former Soviet Union.
- Dark (2017-) – The first German- language Netflix original. An intriguing family saga with a supernatural twist, set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children unravel a sinister time travel conspiracy covering . A third season will be released in 2020.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-) – The story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate the world.
- Game of Thrones (2011-2019) – As I mentioned earlier I binge watched the series while being on sick leave and was done just in time for the release of the last (ninth!) season, which was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. Game of Thrones is a fantasy drama based on a series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin.
- Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in the Forest (2019) – A music documentary not like any I’ve seen before. Depeche Mode’s final moments of their 2017 Global Spirit Tour are featured intertwined with intimate stories from selected fans.
- Clarence Clemons: Who Do I think I am (2019) – A portrait of an artist of many facets. It presents a side of Clarence Clemons not many saw or knew
- Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017) – Unfiltered, behind-the-scenes access as Gaga spends time with close friends and family members, records and releases her 2016 album Joanne and, deals with personal struggles.
- Avicii: True Stories (2017) – Swedish DJ and record producer Avicii’s (Tim Bergling) own story, told from the inside and made from his extensive personal and family archive and behind-the-scenes footage.
Travelling, meeting friends, listening to music and attending concerts are essential to me and this year I’ve been able to do that a lot . I’ve attended 22 concerts and one music festival (Way out West, 8-10 August). The five most memorable concerts were (in chronological order):
- Eddie Vedder (30 June) A late decision to see Eddie Vedder lead to Düsseldorf. Read about the show and the hardship of getting there.
- Pink (6 July) I saw Pink in Cologne on my birthday. I had no idea she was such a cool cat! The show in Rhein Energie Stadion offered two hours of entertainment, moments of singing along, dancing and spectacular acrobatic acts.
- Max Weinberg’s Jukebox (18 July) The show in Amsterdam offered a perfect opportunity to meet fellow Springsteen fans in real life.
- Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul (5 August) Yet another excuse to travel, attend an excellent show and meet friends from around the world, this time in Copenhagen.
- Jake Clemons (26 October) A terrific concert in London with friends followed by a unique meeting with Clemons.
Every week I listen to podcasts and I read various blogposts. These are my favourites:
- Bruce Springsteen Sings the Alphabet – Two times a week Rob Carmack and JB Clark talk about every Bruce Springsteen song in alphabetical order. By November (?) they finished their list of songs to talk about and they are now on a hiatus to regroup for the songs on new album Western Stars (and the upcoming (?) E Street Band-album). I’m patiently await this!
- Setlusting Bruce – Host Jesse Jackson talks to various Springsteen fans from all over the world exploring their personal Springsteen journey.
- None but the Brave “The Springsteen Podcast For The True Aficionado” – A fairly new podcast (23 September), where film producer Hal Schwarz and Backstreet Magazine contributor Flynn McLean discuss the music and the career of Bruce Springsteen. There are five episodes so far.
- E Street Shuffle “Your daily dose of Springsteen originals and covers” – Each day at least two post are published, where Ken Rosen dig deep into his vault of rare recordings, videos, recordings and articles.
- Pinball Wizard – A interesting and educational blog, where Andrea writes in Italian about music, with a focus on the punk genre. I don’t really know any Italian but I find Google Translate helpful AND I’m trying to encourage Andrea to write some of his posts in English.
- I also read two German blogs : “Sori1982” and “Kraulquappe” both containing a wide range of subjects of which some are Springsteen related. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Natascha (Kraulquappe) in person at a Glen Hansard show in Munich this year).
That concludes this marathon blogpost. I’d like to congratulate you for getting through it and also thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my blog. I’m very honoured and pleased and I hope you’ll stick with me for another year.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! /Anna