Another year has passed and, as tradition would have it, I’ve collected some tracks for my annual Mixtape. Sixty to be exact.
Significant music from the course of the year is curated into a playlist and shared with friends. Some of it may be new, some old, I might have been to a gig, missed a gig, seen a film, heard something on the radio, or I have a special memory associated with a song. The Mix is always eclectic and although not all of it will be to your taste, you might just find something you like.
I design a cover and annotate each choice of track (coming in a couple days). As with any form of a diary, sometimes it only makes sense to me.
The start to 2019 was a childhood dream come come true - as fireworks signalled the new year on Easter Island, mysterious heads of the Moai stared back at us.
The last couple months of the half-year of travel culminated with highlights of the trip in Patagonia and then Brazil. Next was brother Lenny and Claire's wedding, leading onto a fabulous five weeks in South Africa. This cushioned the blow of reality - back to normal working life in London, 10kg overweight and unfit (great tan though).
The fast-approaching summer was anything but normal - a crazy jammed-packed schedule of events, leaving no time to dwell. A visit from my Dad and Lenny to the UK, taking in some epic experiences. I had to train hard and long to get back to shape and before I knew it, I was in New York City to settle a score with the Marathon. Success: a safe Boston qualifying time of 3:05:11
Some noteworthy moments of the year:
Easter Island/Rapa Nui, Walking on the Perito Moreno glacier, Hiking with Sophie and Lisa in El Chalten and Torres Del Paine, Iguazu Falls, Sao Paulo, Senta's birthday escape, Salvador, Being mugged violently in Rio, Struan & Claire's wedding, Kruger Park 4/5, Road trip - Joburg to Cape Town, West Coast chill time with Veektor, Graaant & Christa, Cedarberg Khoisan rock art, Back to London and seeing friends on my birthday, Ibiza for Al's stag, Hackney Half, Jarvis at Chats Palace, The Strokes in Viccy Park, Stanley Kubrick exhibition, Crewing the SDW100 for Doc Hanson, Portugal: Al & Charlie's wedding, Dons & Migs' 90th party, Cricket World Cup - SA beating Aus in Manchester with Dad, Brother and MEGA crew, taking Dad to see Bob Dylan & Neil young in Hyde Park, Ireland road trip to Green's wedding, a weekend in Norfolk, Casino Royale secret cinema, Pixies at Ally Pally, Return to SA for my ID book(!), New York City: David Byrne's American Utopia, NYC Marathon, winning the WC Rugby, Spurs vs West Ham for Mourinho's first game, Analogfolk Christmas Party, SOPHIE's 40TH BIRTHDAY!
That's quite a list considering I had to leave so much out. So many moments and experiences had a soundtrack. I hope my collection keeps you company on your life journey in the first year of the next decade.
Don't hold back. Hold your own.
The mixtape exists as a Spotify playlist (anyone who wants this on Apple Music let me know, I might be able to help)
Get the 2019 Mixtape on Spotify:
The song itself is one of the happiest songs I’ve heard all year but I recently discovered a darker story about the band. One of Uganda’s most popular bands in the 70’s, the band was involved in a tragedy. A band member was killed because of President Idi Amin’s amorous association with his girlfriend.
January 2nd, Easter Island: It’s 2am and Sophie and I plan to drive across the island to sneak into one of the sites and take photos of the Moai (Giant heads) under the Milky Way. The shoddy rental car can only play radio and the only choice is Radio Rapa Nui. As we set off, this track belts out - setting the scene for dodging potholes and wild horses.
James North told me about David Berman the week after a Silver Jews track appeared on my Spotify Discover. The artist suffered from depression and produced this album after a quiet ten years - many of the songs reveal his struggles. A month after the album release and a few days before the tour began, he took his own life.
Lazarus is a musician and activist who, like many of those in Malawi with the condition, has been persecuted for his albinism in Malawi. He was discovered busking by The Very Best (who have featured on previous Mixtapes) and helped to record an album. "Ndife Alendo" translates as "We Are Strangers" and speaks of hope beyond the cruelties of the world.
I’ve become even more of a Talking Heads and David Byrne fan in recent years. This song accompanied me on travels far and wide - perfect for a road trip by car through the Karoo or 36 hours on a bus in the Andes. Interestingly, Johnny Marr plays lead guitar on this recording.
One of my finds of the year. I didn’t quite realise that these Northerners have wryly been commenting on culture since the 80’s. This scathing critique of hipster gentrification is poignant and hilarious at the same time - most of us will find ourselves vilified by at least a few lines from this cynicism. “Stop analysing Stravaaaaaaaaaa"
He was on that bucket list that might never be ticked but for my Dad - I don’t think he even contemplated being able to see Dylan in the flesh. But this all came to fruition. Bob's shows have been known to be self indulgent for many years now, but at Hyde Park this July, the magic happened. For Struan and I, seeing how happy Dad was while this played was better than the show itself.
Another artist with an acclaimed album release that I haven’t chosen a song from. Instead I’ve included this song of 10 years back. I love how he takes a sweet melody and theme of friendship and twists it into menace. "Now I'm not saying we're cut from the same tree, But like two pieces of the gallows"
This famous American jazz musician apparently could play the piano with his hands facing upward. This strange song sounds like gibberish but it turns out Slim wrote this song about his time living in Detroit when he was taken in by an Armenian woman who often cooked Arabic food for him. The lyrics are almost entirely made up from Arabic food names.