At the beginning of December, I could not have named you a single song from 2022, let alone my favorite. “Something by Bad Bunny” would have been my best guess, scrawled forlornly like a bound-to-lose Jeopardy contestant (which I have been). And that is not how I want to live.
Many years have gone by without me being particularly Up on Tunes the way I am for my pre-teen to post-college years of 1972 (“Brandy, (You’re a Fine Girl))” through 1985 (“I wanna bE…. your SLEDGe ham MER”). This year was different because it was my first year of being retired as a high school English teacher. Without the youngsters tipping me off to the toe-tappers of today, I started feeling musically musty.
What made me feel especially like Alexander from Alexander’s Ragtime Band was my Spotify Wrapped, which was so Oldies-but-Goodies it made me feel oldie. On the plus side, it did include many great songs to rock out on for the beginning-to-early-intermediate drummer. 2022 is the year I began to drum along with gusto to rockin’ tunes including “No Matter What” by Badfinger and “Loving Cup” by the Rolling Stones. Rocking out on drums has been a big upgrade in my life as a music lover, so I decided my main criteria for picking my song of the year 2022 would be: did it make me wanna drum along?
And so I dove into many a best-of playlist, earbudding what had been time for quiet contemplation while dog-walking and riding the bus home during my quest to play tennis on every public tennis court in LA. Of quiet contemplation, I have plenty. What I needed was new grooves.
“Cracker Island” by Gorillaz ft. Thundercat was my first breakthrough. I am not guaranteeing that my snappy drum part is what their percussion people are playing. I do not see the point of note-for-note recital because their guys already did it great.
I do see how playing what they’re playing could improve your technique; however, I work on technique from a bunch of different how-to-play-drum books before I rev up my giant boombox. Stick Control for the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone; 4-Way Coordination by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine; Joel Rothman’s Mini-Monster Book of Rock Drumming: these all get about five or ten minutes before I get crankin’.
I found my own personal groove and stayed with it on “Cracker Island.” That’s what I do. Find my groove. Stick with it. I’m grooving along on what feels right.
And on that note let us lurch and trundle into my Top 10 Drum-Alongs for 2022.
9. “Midnight Sun,” by Nilüfer Yanya – This song starts out big, stays big, has dreamy-gritty vocals, what-are-you-talking-about lyrics, acoustic guitar way up high in the mix and a drum riff I adore.
8. “Believe,” Caamp. This song has that good classic “we can drive it home with one headlight” straightforward non-stop vibe. Huge drums throughout. You can especially tell I am not especially playing what their drummer is playing. I am the different drummer! (Also the video I lovingly offer here features some full-throated a cappella. It’s always exciting when the drummer sings. Yo Soy Ringo.)
7. “Tastes Just Like It Costs,” MJ Lenderman. This guy is my #1 find for 2022. He sounds like he has eaten, digested, and metabolized every Neil Young and especially Crazy Horse record. I don’t know why this song is at number 7. It should be number 1. Life is unfair but we drum on.
6. “De Carolina,” DJ Playero y Rauw Alejandro. This video captures my little doggie Chip wandering about, which is like seeing the gaffers and Paul & Linda’s kids roaming around in the Let it Be remix doc that came out this year and is the best thing done in any media ever, because it’s like being friends with the Beatles.
5. “Lo Lo Lonely,” Young Guv. This song epitomizes everything I like about songs, especially starting out big and bold and keeping it that way.
4. “No Tomorrow,” The Medium. Compiling this list makes me realize what a Beatlemaniac I still am, which makes me glad because I love being aligned with Young Mark, the sensitive boy I was and who to this very day is being followed by a moonshadow, not a Beatles song as such but which does sound like “Norwegian Wood” if you squint. Point being that this song sounds like a dense molar concentration of deep cuts from Revolver and Rubber Soul.
3. “SAOKO,” by Rosalía. This is my breakout hit, with 1.5K impressions on YouTube and 46 likes, towering over the mid-single-digit response to my literary outpourings. Sobering? Nah. Exhilirating! Two of my top 10 drum-alongs of ’22 are paeans to Puerto Rico y eso me alegre mucho.
2. “Q4,” Father John Misty. I broke my first pair of sticks to this song. Zildjian. Green wax handles. Maple. With me from when I started pounding away mid-pandemic. These sticks died a hero as I was taking my first solo dives onto the toms, and now they are in drum-along heaven.
1. “Ready or Not,” Shakey Graves ft. Sierra Miller. This is my one true old-fashioned favorite song of the year. Why? Oh, I just like it. I am a sucker sunrise-sunset. When did they grow to be so tall? Furthermore, the drum part here shuffles along like I shuffle along; and there are several long, thoughtful pauses.
And so we come to the Gnu Year 2023 wherein I am resolved to stay current on la música nueva so I don’t have to cram my whole new-song-loving into one month, wondrous though it’s been. It could be even more fun to Be Current, which will also be a good name for my band.