Saturday Soundtrack began as a diversion. Or perhaps pandemic therapy. But as I’ve written before, it has become a real labor of love.* 2022 was the third full year of my commitment to focus more on the music in my life and share those explorations with the readers of More to Come.
At this time of reflection and “best of” lists, we once again turn to see what you — the readers and listeners — enjoyed by highlighting the ten posts with the most views from this year’s Saturday Soundtrack series, beginning with….
#10 — Just rattle your jewelry (September 10th)
The news of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing brought back a reminder of John Lennon‘s wickedly funny commentary when the Beatles played their Royal Command performance in 1963 after receiving their MBEs. Queen Elizabeth wasn’t at the 1965 performance following the ceremony, but the Queen Mother was and her reaction to John’s comment at the 15 second mark is priceless.
#9 — Wondrous Love revisted (September 17th)
The old Southern Harmony tune Wondrous Love sits right at the top of the list of my favorite songs, no matter the genre. Written with a melody that sounds both traditional and modern, it is one that sticks deep in the soul.
I featured several versions of the song, beginning with the traditional Sacred Harp treatment and ending with my favorite of the traditional takes, from the bluegrass band Blue Highway.
#8 — Celebrating ghost, goblins, and other things that go bump in the night (October 29th)
I was on the road pretty much the entire month of October, so my take on Halloween music had to rely on posts from earlier years. That seemed to be okay, given that it made the top ten. I remain a big fan of Elise LeGrow’s Who Do You Love? as well as Rhiannon Giddens’ take on O Death.
#7 — Lincoln’s Funeral Train (April 16th)
#6 — Classified (August 13th)
These two really go together, as they both relate, in different ways, to current events. I posted the Soundtrack on Norman Blake‘s song about the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln on April 16th, the day after the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. While I always enjoyed the Blake original, in 2017 Greg Graffin — lead singer for the band Bad Religion — released a powerful cover of Blake’s tune on his solo album Millport with images of what we’ve lost and what was at stake in the fight to save democracy.
Then in August, I had some fun with the news about Donald Trump’s stealing of classified documents from the government in a post that featured the song Classified by James Booker, the man none other than Dr. John described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”
For some reason it just seemed appropriate, and the MTC readers seemed to agree. After the posting, a dear friend wrote to recommend this documentary about James Booker.
#5 — Echoes of the past (April 30th)
The treasured Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park — fresh off celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021 — opened on a glorious spring day for another summer of joy, laughter, and memories, as it has done for generations of Washingtonians. We were there to welcome the carousel on the first day of the new season, and I celebrated with a Soundtrack posting featuring carousel organs and music.
#4 — Hell on Church Street (January 8th)
To the five exceptional musicians who make up the Punch Brothers, the late Tony Rice was not only a hero, but a friend. And that’s how the band’s Hell on Church Street tribute album to Tony Rice came to fruition: five musicians wanting to honor a friend. Hell on Church Street is the band’s reimagining of, and homage to, the late bluegrass great Tony Rice’s landmark solo album Church Street Blues. It was intended as both its own work of art and a gift to Rice, who died that Christmas.
The title track was written by Norman Blake (see #7 above), and here’s the band’s moving rendition of the song. Stick around to the end to hear Chris Eldridge provide his own homage to the great flatpicker.
#3 — The intimate and melodic mandolin stylings of John Reischman (January 22nd)
John Reischman first came to my attention as the mandolinist in the original configuration of the Tony Rice Unit on 1981’s Still Inside. He has remained an active mandolinist and composer in the decades following that early work. The release of a new album in 2022 was the reason for this visit. Here Reischman plays one of his signature compositions, Salt Spring, with the incredibly talented Sierra Hull.
#2 — Life is just as strange as folk music (May 28th)
This is one of those posts where I was focused on a place but added the music and turned it into a Soundtrack post as well. We were visiting Troldhaugen (or the Troll Hill), Edvard Grieg‘s home outside Bergen, Norway. The composer’s cottage overlooks a beautiful lake and would be a magical place to write for any creative individual. If you watch this video of the famous In the Hall of the Mountain King from “Peer Gynt” you’ll see photos taken around the house and grounds.
#1 — Joni Jam (August 6th)
As the entire world now knows, Joni Mitchell performed at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival for her first public performance since suffering a debilitating brain aneurysm in 2015. A selection of personal favorites from the show made this the top Saturday Soundtrack post of 2022.
My favorite performance from the show is the classic Mitchell tune Both Sides Now. Written when she was 23, it was meant to be sung by Mitchell at 78. As one commentator wrote, “This has got to be one of the most imperfectly perfect performance ever.” Like Wynonna, who lost her mother earlier in the year, I bet you won’t be able to get through this one without crying.
Thanks to Joni and all the musicians, who graced our lives in 2022.
More to come…
*I enjoy all types of music but realized in 2019 as More to Come passed the ten-year mark that I was seldom finding time to really listen to new music, much less highlight musicians I loved through the blog. Announcing a weekly commitment to showcase some of the work of those who caught my ear was a way to push me out of my typical posts. The reaction? Well, I have one family member who confesses to “never reading the music posts.” Others — friends, business colleagues, and family members — regularly comment or send emails with thoughts and suggestions only about the Soundtrack features. Suffice it to say that enough people read them that I’ll continue to feed my soul though these explorations and highlights.
NOTE: Here’s the 2021 top ten list.