From 2005 through 2013, my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog punctuated each year with an ever increasingly complex Best Of List. After a brief hiatus, the Best Of returned from 2017-2020. In 2021, I returned to the weekly blog with FTCH. The fact is that I watch things, read things, and eat things, and above all, I love making lists. Over three weeks, I’ll pull from a year’s worth of notes and spreadsheet entries to put together a personal summary of my 2021 experience. The final summary of my 2021 experience is much like me – all over the proverbial board. These are all the things I measured that just don’t fit in the previous categories.
BEST OF THE REST 2021
2021 BY THE NUMBERS
- 5,003,331 steps taken this year (2,421 miles) (60 miles more than 2020)
- 365 days walking over 5 miles per day in 2021
- 3 days NOT walking over 5 miles per day since 1/1/15.
- 57 days with over 7 hours of sleep (+1 day over 2020)
- 44 beers drank that were new to me this year
- 44 books read (6th year in a row of meeting my 25 book/year goal) (17,444 pages read in the completed books)
- 44 films released in 1971 watched this year
- 0 times with the hiccups
- 1 tattoo
- 0 concerts attended
- 3 Professional sporting events attended (2 baseball stadiums checked off my list)
- 12 states visited (including one Capitol building)
- 29 unique French Fries for my 2021 project
- 259 albums released in 1971 listened to in 2021
- 29 entries in my Punk Project of 2021
- 27 entries in my Prince Project in 2021 (started in 2020)
- 6 movies seen in theaters (far short again of my goal of 25)
BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2021
After almost a decade of not reaching my yearly goal of 25 books per year – I’m on a run of six straight years of beating the goal. This year’s 42 books read were led by my continued Stephen King project that leaves me around 2015 as I read the novels in order.
1. Stephen King – 11/22/63 (2011): I didn’t expect to be so engrossed in what seemed like a basic time-travel story. Jake Epping became one of my favorite King characters and the story is possibly the most emotionally touching of his stories.
2. Mark Twain – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884): It had been a long time since I had done a reread on this book. The language really does make me uncomfortable now. But in the end, it’s still one of the best and most influential books ever written by an American. This is full of storytelling that is still duplicated weekly on television shows. There’s an undercurrent satire of America that still applies. Worth your time.
3. Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (2013): Sequels separated by decades are usually painful flops. This took more of a thematic approach to the continuation of the story. Telling Danny’s story alongside what easily could have been a non-sequel story was a perfect approach in the end. I hope we don’t have to wait as long for a third piece to the trilogy that seems to be at hand.
4. Ray Bradbury – Dandelion Wine (1957): This list is about how the books entertained me and how they made me think about them this year. Not necessarily how I felt about them the first time I read them. This book is still a Top Ten type of title for me. This is really a book that resonates in a younger reader but there are lessons for all ages to be had here.
5. John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980): I knew I’d like this book. It had been on my reading list for a long time. I didn’t know I’d find it almost laugh out funny at almost every turn. I recommend this for anyone that has my type of humor. There are some outrageous characters and some most memorable lines.
6. Philip K. Dick – Dr. Bloodmoney (1965): This post-apocalyptic tale is a bit uneven in parts. The narration goes astray at points. In the end, this was an entertaining read and I’m still running through some of the social commentaries in my mind.
7. Stephen King – The Dark Tower (2004): The seventh entry is not the very best of the series. In fact there are spots towards the end when you just want to get to the end. It was a long journey and totally worth it. This was really satisfying in a way that the ending to other King books don’t always accomplish. This series does belong among the best long fantasy series of all-time.
8. Robert A. Heinlein – The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966): The writing style isn’t super engrossing. The plot is mostly a political and philosophical exercise. It’s not a quick read because you really need to stop at points and think about the implications of what the author is saying. Still well worth the time investment.
9. David Mitchell – Black Swan Green (2006): Reminds me of Ray Bradbury set in 1982. This is a connected set of short stories. It really captures the youth point of view from that era. I didn’t grow up in England but so many of the observations are still relevant.
10. Stephen King – Under the Dome (2009): So much better than the television series. It was possibly my longest read (pages and time) of the year but in the end I was pretty satisfied with how it worked out. You are really taking a chance on these long works with King but they tend to be his most rewarding.
WORST PROJECT PROGRESS OF 2021
Over the years, projects come and go. For every project that you see play out on Instagram or Facebook, there are at least a couple that either die on the vine or just don’t get off the ground. Some are abandoned for good and others are waiting in the wings to really get their due. Here are a few of the ones that I’m not willing to bury just yet.
- TACO JOINTS (2020): I made it through seventeen entries on this exciting project before COVID closed them all down. I have had some good tacos since but I haven’t pushed my limits to explore them again. I will pick this back up soon.
2. RECORD STORE PROJECT (2020): Another project derailed by COVID. I made it to one single store before this was lost for the year. I went to a few this year but didn’t make entries of them. This needs to start up again.
3. JOHN FORD PROJECT (2021): The year of Hitchcock (2017) was really rewarding. The Spielberg project lasted over a two year span (2018/2019) and was lovely. This year I decided that the next best director was going to be John Ford. Unfortunately, things came up along the way and I’m only eight into the project. It will continue strong into 2022.
4. PUNK PROJECT (2021): I did manage 29 entries but I didn’t even get to 1978 in my research. This is a great project and I don’t want to call it a failure. It’s an example of a project that I am loving more than I expected. I thought I’d get further along but there will be lots more to come in 2022 and likely 2023 at the speed I’m going.
5. SCOOBY-DOO PROJECT (XXXX): This one gets set aside and picked up from time to time. It’s never been an “official” project. I’ve filling in holes that may have escaped me in the past. This year I have finished almost every A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode from 1988-1991.
BEST FRENCH FRIES OF 2021
This project was affected by COVID, as are most food projects in these days. For most of the start of the year, I was still only getting to-go fries. By the summer, I was eating on patios or even in restaurants again. Fries are meant to be eaten right out of the fryer in the wild. That is even more of a key as I explored deluxe fries with cheese and meats. A queso seems to last longer and the freshness of the ingredients you add to it is the best indicator of a quality product.
1. UNCORK’D BAR & GRILL (Dirty Fries) (March): This was the easiest choice of all of these lists. They had a solid crunchy fry with some spicy queso and some of the best brisket I have had this year. Not disappointed with either of the two meals I’ve had at this new-ish restaurant in town.
2. BUBBA’S 33 (Loaded Cheese Fries w/Chili) (July): Excellent fries but it’s the wonderful chili that make this Texas Roadhouse related sports bar the clear second place of the year. I did not expect this level of fries to come out of this casual dining establishment.
3. CAPRIOTTI’S SANDWICH SHOP (Capistrami Fries) (August): The new sandwich place in town features fries with pastrami and I’m in love.
4. THE HOT POTATO – DALLAS (Brisket Queso Fries) (May): A really good food truck find. Just a bit difficult to balance and eat in the heat.
5. JENEVEIN’S (Gravy Fries) (March): The local New Orlean’s style restaurant did not disappoint.
6. THE COPPERFIELD (Loaded Waffle Fries) (October): This St. Paul area restaurant is one that I’d like to visit again. Thanks to my son, Christian, for introducing me to it.
7. CUT! BY CINEMARK (BBQ Loaded Cheese Fries) (November): The local theaters do not take a backseat when it comes to fries and burgers. These are fries I’d go get even if I wasn’t seeing a movie there.
8. TWIGS AMERICAN KITCHEN (Signature Fries w/Gorgonzola Fondue) (December): I appreciate taking chances. The Gorgonzola was a bit of a strong cheese for me but I applaud them doing something different.
9. TWIN PEAKS (Loaded Fries w/Pulled Pork) (October): While brisket is my top pick, pulled pork is definitely my second best choice.
10. FLIX BREWHOUSE (Loaded Fries w/Brisket) (December): Another movie house offering that’s worth the trip.
BEST SNACKS OF 2021
I have always loved snacks. They have served as influence on my different projects. I love beverages, candy, cookies, and other salty goodies. These have become a fixture in my weekly FTCH blog and I’ve dipped back into paying attention to what is on the shelves at my local stores. A few of the memorable ones this year.
- SKITTLES GUMMIES: This wonderful candy has had a great year. Bringing back the original line-up was a great way to end the year. The Halloween Shriekers! were pretty good, especially the tangerine and raspberry. But what stands out was the addition of gummies to their offerings. I wasn’t as onboard with the first bag as I was by the time I had the second bag. Looking forward to more options including Sour Gummies in the next year.
2. MONSTER MASH CEREAL: Maybe more for my nostalgia than the actual flavor, this was one that sticks out in my mind from 2021. The packaging of all the Monster Cereals were crisp and brought back vibrant memories of my childhood. This feels like the last possible iteration of the cereals. I’m not sure where they can go next without adding a monster (fingers crossed).
3. LAY’S WAVY JERK CHICKEN POTATO CHIPS and LAY’S SUMMER BLT : I’m partial to new potato chips. My Year of Chips is still one of my favorites. Summer is the most common time for the new release and rerelease of chip flavors. This year Lay’s released three limited flavors. The Chile Mango just weren’t good at all. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from them. The Jerk Chicken grew on me and despite being a bit salty, they really had a good flavor. The Summer BLT were delicious. I want them again with my next sandwich. After only one Ssummer, I have a good association of them with blue skies and warm days.
4. MTN DEW THRASHED APPLE: Of all the new Mountain Dew flavors in 2021, this one is the one I’d really like to acquire more of in 2022. It’s a good crisp apple taste that grows on you after a few cans. I found it to be a good liquor mixer with a basic whiskey or vodka.
5. REESE’S BIG CUP w/POTATO CHIPS: I’ve been talking about sweet and salty combinations for decades. This combination needs a slight tweaking but I’m officially a big fan of this snack. I applaud them for putting these two great tastes together. Or is it three? Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Potato Chips.
MOST MISSED OF 2021
1. JOHN MADDEN (1936-2021): Not just the name on my favorite video game, but he contributed to educating me on football while making it fun. It’s hard to find the words to let the younger generation know how groundbreaking his broadcasting style was for us.
2. HANK AARON (1934-2021): One of my favorite ball players growing up for obvious reasons. Hammerin’ Hank was just a good dude too.
3. RICHARD DONNER (1930-2021): Conflicted because of some of his work but Superman and Lethal Weapon deserve some respect.
4. GREG “SHOCK G” JACOBS (1963-2021): Known mostly for “The Humpty Dance”, Shock G was much more than that character. He was a true fan of classic funk music and really helped drive Digital Underground to be one of the most influential Hip Hop groups of their era.
5. MICHAEL NESMITH (1942-2021): I don’t claim to be the biggest fan of the Monkees but I really appreciate their stamp on popular culture.
6. DMX (EARL SIMMONS) (1970-2021): One of the most unforgettable voices in Hip Hop.
7. MICHAEL COLLINS (1930-2021): The “forgotten astronaut” who went to the moon with Apollo 11. He was just the “driver” who hung out while his buds cavorted on the Moon. Every interview with this guy that I’ve heard, he comes across as a really cool dude.
8. BETTY WHITE (1922-2021), ED ASNER (1929-2021), GAVIN MACLEOD (1931-2021) and CLORIS LEACHMAN (1926-2021): Four cast members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that we lost this year. Lou Grant is one of the best characters to grace the television screen. Gavin was really underrated as Murray. Cloris is one of my favorites because of her incredible role in The Last Picture Show. Betty was an American Treasure for good reason. This show has had a lasting influence on our culture and you can see why from the type of talent that was amassed.
9. LARRY KING (1933-2021): Simply one of the best talkers of all-time. This talk show Hall of Famer set the bar pretty high on radio and then again on television. Another trend setter that doesn’t get enough credit from younger talk show hosts.
10. NORM MACDONALD (1959-2021): If you like your humor dry. then Norm was your man.
THINGS FROM 2021 THAT DIDN’T MAKE ANY OTHER LISTS
1. RIGBY. She is #1 again for a third year. I’m still a bit obsessed with her. She is the reason I get up to walk at 5:00 am each morning and the reason I head to bed early when she determines it is time for bed. Would I dare add another pet to the mix in 2022? Stay tuned.
2. MICHIGAN FOOTBALL. I’ve waited over twenty years to be this relevant again. Beating Ohio State was certainly the frosting on the cake. I may not appear to be having fun when I watch them, but trust me, this is as good as it’s been. It was a really painful ending but I’m trying to put it in perspective. Hoping that this loss is a springboard to a revenge tour next year.
3. TRAVEL. It certainly hasn’t been “back to normal” but this year provided a few opportunities for my son to return home from Minnesota. I was able to leave the state on two extended vacations that both included seeing family and dear friends. Establishing those connections again in-person are what makes these days on the couch much more bearable.
4. FROM THE COUCH HOLE. I knew I missed writing but it wasn’t until a month or so into the relaunch of my blog that I was interacting with a couple readers when I realized that I had missed having a forum to blab blab blab. Thank you to my constant readers, you know who you are and you are appreciated.
5. PEANUTS. This year seemed to be an explosion for Peanuts related tie-ins. Pretty good considering there isn’t a new movie and their shows are locked up over on Apple+. Shoes, shirts, toys, and more. I can’t afford even the smallest percent of them but it makes my heart soar to see younger folks wearing them around.
6. CANDLES/SCENTS. I’m still a Yankee Candle guy above all. They have my favorite scents and I believe they have the best quality out there. But other brands are making some headway and the sheer variety of scents has been exciting. It’s still some of the best money spent for the hours of pleasure I get from the way they make the living room smell.
7. SPACE. After years of pretty much nothing happening except the International Space Station, we had people seeming to go to space every week or two. Even William Shatner got in on the fun and went to space in probably the most touching moment of the space year. And the launch of the next best telescope that will help us see into the past. I’m sad that the Moon trip appears to be on the cutting board or delayed indefinitely but the more it makes headlines, the more hope I feel about humans.
8. CRYPTO/RETAIL INVESTING. The RobinHood/Game Stop story called attention to what was brewing just under the surface. Every day, regular folks are able to invest in the market. It has helped take away some of the barriers to get into the market. I think it’s important that we start to build a financial vocabulary and these apps are a great way.
9. THE EVER GIVEN. That little ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal seemed to be a microcosm for all of us that just wanted to pack it in and give up this year. After a short self-care break, the ship got back to work but for some days, we could all identify.
10. VACCINES. So popular that I got three of them this year. And they allowed much of the #1-9 to happen. Better living through science.
BEST PRINCE ALBUMS HEARD IN 2021
The Beatles Project started in 2019 was wrapping up with mostly Greatest Hits, Anthologies and a few new releases in 2021. The Prince Project continued, mostly covering 2001-2020 releases. Too many people had lost contact with Prince and his music by 2000. But here are some of the ones worth your time.
- Prince – 3121 (2006): His thirty-first album showed that he still had the chops to cover multiple genres as well as any other musician. I’m tempted to place this in line with some of his very best efforts. He really excels when he’s channeling James Brown. Start with “Black Sweat”.
2. Prince – Art Official Age (2014): This thirty-seventh official album release is one that I was woefully unfamiliar with before this year. I knew it was a thing but hadn’t even bothered to purchase it. I was missing out. This is a return to the Purple Rain sound in many ways. There’s a tad more electric funk behind the songs but I’m really impressed. Start with “U KNOW”.
3. Prince – HITnRUN Phase Two (2015): The thirty-ninth album would be his last release during his lifetime. This was another one that took some time to grow on me. It is quite a blueprint for what magic Prince might have been up to over the next decade of his life. I even have learned to enjoy the politically charged “Baltimore”. Start with “2Y.2D”.
4. Prince – Musicology (2004): The twenty-eighth album is one that I’ve always enjoyed but didn’t appreciate until it was placed in chronology of what he had been doing before and after this release. There’s the feeling of stretching out across genres. Start with “Life ‘O’ the Party”.
5. Prince – Plectrumelectrum (2014): The thirty-sixth release is another that I had skipped at the time. It features his all-female backing band, 3rdeyegirl. It’s not great from start to finish but there are hints of some new creative ventures. I would love to have seen this version of Prince and his band as a live act. Start with “Wow”.
BONUS: Prince – 4Ever (2016) and Anthology: 1995-2010 (2018): These two anthologies give you pretty much everything you could want as a casual fan. The mixes on both are really comprehensive. Likely you’ll become a lifelong fan after a few listens.
BEST PUNK ROCK HEARD IN 2021
I have done a couple artist-based projects the past few years. This was the first year that I attempted a genre based project. I chose punk as a genre that I’ve always enjoyed, I grew up with it and I feel there’s room for me to learn about it. So far that has been completely true. I’m only through June 1977 and I’ve already discovered quite a bit that I didn’t know. Here’s the best so far.
1. Stooges – Raw Power (1973): From the first guitar lick until the last, this 1973 album sets the template for the rest of the decade of punk music. I’ve always loved this as a rock album in my head. Listening to it this year in relation to the Punk Project, I’ve changed how I hear it. If possible, it’s even better. Start with “Search & Destroy”.
2. The Clash – The Clash (1977): Cut in the same studio as Raw Power, this album takes inspiration from the Stooges and the Ramones and takes the music in a new direction. If it’s guitarist Mick Jones’s favorite Clash album, then you know it has something going on. Start with “Police & Thieves”.
3. The Damned – Damned, Damned, Damned (1977): This debut album produced by Nick Lowe is another game changer in the genre. It takes the best parts of the Stooges and the New York Dolls and turns it into a loud, fun style of music. Start with “So Messed Up”.
4. The Ramones – The Ramones (1976): Another incredible debut album that has aged well. I can’t imagine that anyone would have guessed that this would be a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame band but years later, it’s understandable. I can’t imagine how Punk would have progressed without this influential album. Start with “Chain Saw”.
5. The Jam – In the City (1977): I hadn’t given this album enough attention before this year. It’s great to hear all the influences that the early bands pull from. This album takes much from the Who and molds it into a guitar-based, mod-influenced sound. Taken in context of the time, this is as forward thinking as any other album I heard in this project. Start with “In the City”.
BEST PODCASTS I HEARD IN 2021
I’m still a rookie in the Podcast Universe. I’ve tried to make a habit of them over the past couple years. With my other daily habits, it’s been hard to commit on a regular basis to the number of podcasts that others seem to be able to listen to in a week. I’m always up for recommendations but here is a short list of the ones that I did make part of my rotation this year.
- Strawberry Spring: This eight episode audio play of the Stephen King short story “Strawberry Spring” is much more than just an audio adaptation. The acting including Garrett Hedlund and Milo Ventimiglia is top notch. This type of podcast is funny because people who scoff at the old radio shows I listen to on Sirius will willingly tune into a production like this without thinking twice.
2. Kingslingers: A Dark Tower Podcast: I’m still making my way through this podcast now that I finished the series this past year. It’s a deep read of the series by someone that has read it before and another podcaster reading it for the first time as the podcast progresses. If you plan on reading the series, I would recommend this as a companion to really get the complete experience.
3. Spectacle: An Unscripted History of Reality TV: I’m still not too far into this one but it’s not just for fans of Reality Television series. It talks about how the shows reflect what is going on in society in general. And how they have changed the conversations about race and sex and economics. A well produced show. Start with “How Survivor Revealed America’s Tribalism”.
4. Ted Talks Daily: Usually about fifteen minutes of interesting people, ideas, and stories that I wouldn’t get through my Google News feed. The interesting rate is about 33%. I finish about two to three per week but considering it’s daily, that’s not too bad.
5. The 33 1/3 Podcast: I’m a latecomer to this podcast and I’ve only really taken a dip into a couple entries. This is right up my nerd alley. A deep dive into some of the best albums of our generation led by Prince Paul. Start with “Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back“.
BONUS: Elency Radio: Your interests in women’s history and related issues might be limited but if I can brag upon one of the podcasters for a second, Christian Bourdo is funny and smart. So you should probably take a listen.
MOST PLAYED SONGS FROM SPOTIFY IN 2021
I have music on pretty much all day at work and while driving and even while dog walking. It’s always interesting to look back at the top songs from the year.
- Prince – “I Would Die 4 U” (1984): Simply put, I listen to lots of Prince. Lots. Like probably too much to be healthy. When the stats say that I’m in the top 99.95% of Prince fans on Spotify, it makes me worried for that other 0.05% who listen more than I do. I spent most of my non-Project time listening to Purple Rain. This is part of the awesome run of songs on side two of the album. This song leads into “Baby I’m A Star” and then into “Purple Rain”. What an incredible run of songs. The 7″ single contained the equally awesome “Another Lonely Christmas” as the B-Side. Lyrically, it fits the film as well as any other song on the soundtrack. It’s about that devotion. Don’t ever doubt, have faith.
2. Gerry Rafferty – “Right Down the Line” (1978): Enough long car trips this year to put this one near the top. It’s a great singalong song. I have the t-shirt to prove my dedication to Gerry. “Long as I’ve got your love / You know that I’ll never leave”.
3. Fleetwood Mac – “Gold Dust Woman” (1977): This might have become my favorite song off of Rumours. This is Stevie Nicks at her most succubus moment. “Take your silver spoon, dig your grave”.
4. George Harrison – “What Is Life” (1970): Not surprising that a George Harrison song off of All Things Must Pass is on here but honestly surprised that it’s this song. Not complaining but probably my fifth favorite on the album.
5. Prince – “1999” (1982): After Purple Rain, this 1999 album is my next most listened to on my free time. One of the best driving albums on my lists.
6. The Police – “Bring On the Night” (1979): Lots of love on road trips for the Regatta De Blanc album and this is the one you listen to the loudest.
7. Paul McCartney – “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” (1971): Last year it was “Band On The Run” that made this list. Oddly, Paul is the only duplicate artist from 2020 on here too. This song is fun and a combination of Beatles Project and 1971 Project.
8. John Lennon – “Instant Karma!” (1970): Poor Ringo doesn’t make the list. I do listen to him but the other three dominate my most listened.
9. Isaac Hayes – “Hung Up On My Baby” (1974): This super funky tune is from the Tough Guys film. And it’s been sampled more times than I can even recall.
10. The Ramones – “Blitzkrieg Bop” (1976): Oddly, the only song from my Punk Project to make the Top Ten. I feel like I spent lots of time listening to the Ramones and I guess this is the most identifiable of their early tunes.
BEST ALBUMS OF 1971
The year has been called “the most important year in the history of popular music” by those more into Pop Culture than me. It’s certainly a creative time. The Beatles have broken up and the field was open to a number of bands to fill that void on radio. There are genres exploding (hard rock, prog rock, funk) and ones being born (punk, heavy metal, hip hop). I was struck by the sheer exploration and creativity of artists in 1971 compared to 1970. The Best Albums category is not necessarily how they were viewed in 1971 but how they sound to me today.
1. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (May): This album hit me in a way that it hasn’t since I first probably heard it in 1982. Politically aware lyrics. Acknowledgement of the climate and nature throughout the album. It’s soul and jazz and funk all wrapped into one package. This is one of those albums that when you say “changes the playing field,” you aren’t dealing in hyperbole. The lyrics could have been written this year. Start with “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”.
2. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (July): With each listen, I’m more impressed at how a single album from when I was three years old could sum up my musical interests in my 50s. The title song with Eddie Hazel’s groundbreaking guitar solo alone would be enough to make this one of my favorite albums. The album is equal parts funk and rock and psychedelic. There’s fun and there’s deeper thought all existing side by side in the lyrics. I am more impressed with this now than when it first crossed my path in the early 1990s. Start with “Maggot Brain”.
3. Carole King – Tapestry (February): “Mellow as the month of May”. It’s one of the best-selling albums of all-time for a good reason. The vocals are impeccable. I listened to it this year with an appreciation for the production. The best moments are when you feel like it’s just you in that room from the album cover with Carole and a piano. Her voice is always the star of this album. It’s never too late to go “home again.” Start with “So Far Away”.
4. Joni Mitchell – Blue (June): I’ve always thought of this as a pure folk music album. But after watching the Ken Burns’ documentary Country Music, I’ve come to this with a different perspective. I hear that influence in the instrumentation and the lyrics. I don’t love all the songs on this album but I appreciate how important this has been to a whole generation of female vocal artists. Another example of how a breakup (with Graham Nash) and a new love (James Taylor) can power songs to be meaningful over fifty years later. Start with “A Case of You”.
5. John Lennon – Imagine (September): I’ve written about this album so many times that you are probably sick of hearing about it from me. Simply, it’s a masterpiece. Even this year, I felt like I heard bits and pieces that I hadn’t caught in multiple previous listens. If this is going to be the album that defines a career, then you’d be worse off than having this held out as your pinnacle. Start with “Gimme Some Truth”.
6. Paul McCartney – Ram (May): Paul’s second solo album has really grown on me. Before my Beatles Project a couple years ago, I would have said this was only good for the “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” single. There’s so much more to this album that it took me really learning about Paul to appreciate. Paul shows off his talent on multiple instruments and the themes are almost what today we would call indie music. Start with “The Back Seat of My Car”.
7. Al Green – Gets Next to You (August): This is soul music. Simple. This album isn’t his best but don’t be fooled; it’s filled with some of the most soulful songs that were released in 1971. Start with “Tired of Being Alone”.
8. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (November): aka Untitled, this is another album like these last few that set the foundation for the next decade of rock releases. There’s so much going on beyond the surface here. You can go through the album multiple times just listening to each member show off their talents. It’s everything you could want from rock and roll. I venture to say if you are reading this, that you’ve probably got a working knowledge of this album. Star with “The Battle of Evermore”.
9. The Who – Who’s Next (August): This album doesn’t rank higher because there’s no “fresh” look at it for me. I’ve rarely gone more than a few months without listening to this album from start to finish. I always just assume anyone from my generation owns the album or has a working familiarity with every song on the album. Start with “Bargain”.
10. Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (April): I know that this is the best Rolling Stones’ album for some and this ranking doesn’t suggest that it isn’t one of my top Stones’ albums. It contains my favorite Stones’ song with “Wild Horses”. It combines rock, country, and blues in a fresh way. It has received so much airplay that it didn’t hit me the way other albums did this year. Start with “Bitch”.
This list might omit some of your (and my) favorites. I didn’t get to December releases from 1971 for many reasons. There were also so many choices. I acknowledge that this list leaves off David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Allman Brothers and Black Sabbath.
Thank you for your indulgence if you made it this far. My obsessions all stem from a desire to keep discovering and keep learning. The time I spend on these things is only rewarded by sharing opinions and observations with friends like you. So feel free to always chime up when I post things and make recommendations because my mind is always open.
“You’re just a sinner I am told
Be your fire when you’re cold
Make you happy when you’re sad
Make you good when you are bad
I’m not a human, I am a dove
I’m your conscience, I am love
All, All I really need
Is to know that you believe” – Prince