In this end-of-the-year review I’m going to reflect on the passed year, a year that has been characterised by a nasty virus that has made us reevaluate and rearrange our lives. I’m going to talk about the media I’ve consumed, the trips I’ve made and other personal stuff. I’m starting with my own blog Stray Bullet:
Almost three years ago (on January 23, 2018) I published my very first entry. It was meant to be a Bruce Springsteen blog entirely, but over the years it has evolved and now I also write concert and album reviews and travel reports, mostly in English but also (rarely) in German. Since the start I’ve written 136 blogposts altogether. However, this year I have only written a fraction as many posts as last years (a measly 17), and not any of them in German. I’m a bit disappointed in myself actually. Apart from the fact that the Corona-pandemic has robbed me of things to write about (live shows and travels), I have also struggled with motivation and self-doubt. BUT, that’ll change next year. My goal for 2021 is to write at least two posts every month (out of which at least five should be written in German).
Three of the top five posts in 2020 were my reviews of “The Live Series“. The Live Series are Bruce Springsteen archival live compilations in a series of a total of eight themed playlists released on streaming services. The three new playlists (installments 6,7 and 8) released in 2020 were:
- The Live Series: Songs Under Cover (14 February, 2020)
- The Live Series: Songs of Summer (15 May, 2020)
- The Live Series: Stripped Down (17 July, 2020)
A fairly new feature on my blog is album reviews, the most recent ones (the ones that aren’t Springsteen related) I’ve chosen to label “Turn it up, Turn it up…”. The albums I’ve liked and reviewed in 2020 were: Pearl Jam “Gigaton”, Brian Fallon “Local Honey”, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Reunions”, and The War on Drugs “Live Drugs”.
However, the album of 2020 was (of course) Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You. Heavily promoted with tons of interviews, it was greeted overwhelmingly positive and for me personally it was an album of my taste. The album is a classic Springsteen and the E Street Band album, with the pedal all the way to the floor. The supporting documentary was also top class. Some one and a half week ago (13 December), Springsteen and The E Street Band performed Ghost and I’ll See You in My Dreams live on Saturday Night Live. It was absolutely fantastic and actually brought tears to my eyes. I sincerely hope there will be a live tour some time in the future. I can’t wait.
Speaking of live music, the year started well. On February 4, I went to see Frank Turner and Dropkick Murphys in my hometown, Gothenburg. The show was great but the venue, a former warehouse where they used to store bananas, was kind of crappy and it was a bit cold. I guess, that if I had known it would be my ONLY live concert this year I would have appreciated it more.
In 2020 I was going to see Bryan Adams, Brian Fallon, Pearl Jam, Suzanne Vega, Crowded House, Jason Isbell, Jesse Malin, Luke Elliot, The Bowie Tribute, Håkan Hellström and the Way Out West festival. All of these shows were either postponed or cancelled. 😦
25 January-2 February, before the pandemic had fully reached Sweden, I attended the Gothenburg Film Festival for the first time. I saw six films; Once Were Brothers -a music documetary about the Band, featuring Springsteen as one of the interviewees, Harriet, 1917, Queen and Slim, A Perfectly Normal Family and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I liked them all.
I really love to watch films and there is nothing better than to do it in a cinema. Sadly, also this pleasure has been limited due to the Corona. Films I did catch on screen this year were: Knives Out (in Cologne and synchronised in German!), The Outpost, Parasite and Tenet (I’m still puzzled by the film’s palindromic structure).
Now, due to the Corona, the cinemas in Gothenburg are shut down again and the 2021 Gothenburg Film Festival will go digital with an online cinematic experience. I’ve bought the ticket already.
When I couldn’t go to the cinema, Netflix, HBO Nordic or Amazon Prime did the trick. I’ve watched loads of series in 2020. A few of them were:
- This is England 86, 88, 90 – Three mini-series, which are spin-offs from the 2006 film This Is England. Each series features 3-4 episodes from the title year.
- Dark (2017-2020) The third season of a German science fiction thriller- a family saga with a supernatural twist.
- The Umbrella Academy (2019-) The second season of an American superhero television series created for Netflix. The plot revolves around a dysfunctional family of adopted siblings superheroes. This season the Umbrella Academy is forced to go back in time to save the world.
- Sex Education (2019-) – The second season of a British comedy series. A teenage boy with a sex therapist mother sets up an underground sex therapy clinic at school with a classmate.
- The Crown (2016-) The fourth season covers the time period between 1979 and 1990, during Thatcher’s premiership. It also features the marriage between Lady Di and Prince Charles.
Travelling in 2020 wasn’t easy. From mid-March until mid-June flights were cancelled like never before and 14 weeks went by without a chance for me to see my boyfriend, who lives in Germany.
Nevertheless, I’ve been on a few trips. For me, the year began in Cologne. Apart from New Year’s celebrations the trip, 26 December 2019- 3 January 2020, included a live show with the German Springsteen cover band Bosstime (concert story in German here), and a new tattoo.
On 12-16 February I went to one of my favourite cities, Edinburgh, to visit an old friend. Although the weather wasn’t on our side we had a nice time. Read the travel report here.
At the end of June I went to Cologne again and from there we headed on a 10-day vacation to Mallorca, Spain, a surreal experience really. El Arenal is normally a lively resort town with plenty of bars, discos, and clubs – perfect for a party-all-night scene with booze and live music, but now it was more or less a deserted place (it had only just begun to open up after a lockdown). Not that it bothered me to have the whole beach to ourselves.
On my next trip to Cologne in August I had the chance to partake in an excellent street art tour by Alternative Cologne Tours.
“This two hour tour of street art in Ehrenfeld, Cologne, went fast and was very interesting and educational. The tour guide Eva’s enthusiasm and knowledge was impressive. I believe this is a tour you can take part in more than once. There is so much to see and, as it seems, always new things to discover. I really recommend it.”My review on Facebook
By the way, my hometown Gothenburg is a place I can recommed to any tourist. In 2020 I’ve discovered new sites that I’ve never seen before although I’ve lived here all my life. For example is the Volvo Museum (currently closed due to the pandemic) well worth a visit.
In the end of March I learned that my mother, who had been hospitalised since the beginning of the year, for breaking her hip, had caught Covid-19 while being treated in the hospital. She was transferred to the intensive care unit and only a couple of days later the family was brought to the ward to say our goodbyes. On April 8 she passed away. 😔 It was harder to deal with than I had expected. Luckily I
had have people around me for support.
“When will this pandemic end?” is a question we ask ourselves. In the final weeks of 2020, it seems the world is closer to getting an answer, as vaccines begin to slowly roll out across the world, offering hope for an end to a pandemic that’s devastated lives and businesses around the world. The COVID-19 outbreak has made 2020 a year like no other and has brought more change than many could have imagined.
It can be hard to feel optimistic when there are still so many challenges ahead. In this year of extraordinary change, I still feel hopeful, having seen time and time again the power of people to help each other through this crisis, sometimes against all odds. Love and friendship are vital and I consider myself lucky in that regard.
As 2020 comes to a close, I must say I won’t miss it. May 2021 bring back some kind of normality (whatever that is) and the things we miss about day to day life. May 2020 bring back travelling and seeing our loved ones whenever we like. May 2020 bring back live music and concerts (a Bruce Springsteen tour would be much appreciated)!
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.