For me, 2017 has been a great year. Not only was it my first full year living in New York, but I made some amazing music discoveries and had life-altering musical experiences. From being completely blown away by Paula Cole to seeing Kris Kristofferson in concert, it has been a good year for a music addict.
Below I have ranked my top music takeaways of 2017. So many sites are making “best of 2017” music countdowns, but this year has been full of experiences for me. Normally I don’t put my list in a ranking, but this one is in a particular order from least to most prolific.
5. Discovering St. Vincent
I know that I am late to the game on Annie Clark’s, i.e. St. Vincent’s, work. Her album MASSEDUCTION was hard to miss this year from its colorful cover to its raving reviews. I hope this is the “pop” of the future. This album is constantly spinning on my turntable and I am currently raking in her previous releases. Read my full review over MASSEDUCTION here.
Favorite Tracks: “Pills,” “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” and “New York”
4. Kris Kristofferson Concert
Small venues and legendary artists when put together, are amongst my favorite things. When I got word that Kris Kristofferson was going to be at City Winery in New York City, I knew I had to grab a ticket. Then, I found out I was eligible for a “meet and greet” ticket (Thanks MasterCard!). Seeing Kristofferson was one thing, but to stand by the legend himself was another. The show itself was the true highlight. His raw talent, sincerity, and gratefulness to all his fans was profound. It’s the only word I can use to describe the show. I wrote a full review over the concert here and come to find out the article was also featured on Kristofferson’s site as well!
3. Discovering Griffin Anthony
As I was browsing Twitter one day I found Griffin Anthony. I looked up his material on Spotify and I was instantly hooked. There are two full-length albums and multiple EPs of Anthony’s on Spotify, but my favorite was his album The Making of A Man. Between Anthony’s songwriting and vocals and the record’s orchestration, this album should rank among Chris Stapleton’s Traveler and Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Anthony has a deep reverence for country music, yet he finds a way to move it forward.
Favorite Tracks: “Lady Blue,” “What a Lie Looks Like,” “Alive”
2. Meeting Darlene Love
Darlene love is a musical masterpiece. She has one of the most vibrant and interesting careers in music, and she’s an amazing person! I was able to go back and meet Ms. Love after one of her Christmas shows at B.B. Kings in NYC. The show was absolutely stunning. Although many of the songs Love sings are from the 1960’s, she makes them sound brand new. I cannot say enough nice things about Love. She is beautiful inside and out. I am truly grateful for this experience. I even bought a new Christmas sweater for the occasion.
1. Listening to Paula Cole’s Ballads, Interviewing Paula Cole, Meeting Paula Cole
We all know Paula Cole from her smash hits “I Don’t Want to Wait” and “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone,” but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cole’s music. As I was browsing new releases on Spotify back in August I found Cole’s newest album Ballads. This album literally changed how I listen to music. Cole’s voice completely overtakes every track, resulting in a jazz masterpiece. She intertwines classic jazz songs with songs you would never include on a standard jazz album (“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” “Ode to Billy Joe”). After bingeing this album for weeks I wrote a review with my rawest thoughts, but I knew there was no way I did the album justice.
To my surprise, Cole enjoyed my article and even retweeted it. Weeks later, her team sent out an email over her upcoming tour dates with praises for the album and there was a quote from Vinyl Culture. I was ecstatic! Then I had an idea. I decided I would take a chance and send her management an email and ask for an interview. I knew there was no way a Grammy Award-winning, Lilith Fair legend would ever answer my request. Again, to my surprise, Ms. Cole obliged. Although I wouldn’t call it an interview, it was a conversation. Read our conversation here.
Then it came time for her show at City Winery in NYC. Again I had a meet and greet pass. I was nervous to meet Cole. By this time I had listened to every album she had released and had an even deeper understanding of her music. I was last in line and as I walked around the corner and said “Hi! I’m Gabe Crawford,” she instantly knew who I was. We chatted like old friends, but I can’t tell you anything we talked about. I was completely in awe. I had never met anybody as talented as Cole. We all have those moments in our lives, the ones we can’t describe, and this was one of those. This whole experience was divine and one I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Well with that being said, there isn’t much more to be said. I was truly blessed with amazing discoveries and experiences in 2017. Thank you to everybody who had a hand in making this list happen.