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Reelin’ in the Years – 2001

Image – Wikipedia

It’s 2001 and I’m 39 years old. This was an eventful year. I formally converted to Catholicism at Easter in 2001. I remember feeling graces pouring down on me after leaving the church that sunny day.

The other main event, of course, was 9/11. I was with my parents that morning. We had CNN on and saw it happen. I recall thinking, Oh, they’ll just put the fire out and it will be okay. Little did I know I was watching a turning point in history.

In Toronto, the FM of 2001 had nothing to do with the FM I loved in the 70s. FM in 2001 had become what AM was in the 70s but with better, stereo sound. This programming trend actually began in the late 70s/80s but who’s counting…

So here’s a hit I remember liking by the Canadian singer Nelly Furtado. Things are getting better in the pop world; for me, anyhow.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 2000

It’s 2000 and I’m 38 years old. I remember sitting in the basement playing around with some fonts on our Windows 98 PC, trying to make a catchy banner for Earthpages for the year 2000.

Everything felt pretty new and 2001 was just around the corner—a special year for me because my favorite movie was 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I saw as a kid.

Chuck Berry releases an Anthology in 2000 and since he’s one of the originators of Rock and Roll, I think it appropriate to list one of his best tunes (there are many) for the year 2000.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Fats Domino: The quiet rock ‘n’ roll rebel who defied US segregation (scroll.in)

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1999

Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC T...

Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC Television’s Wembley studios on 26 May 1966. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 1999 and I’m having the same problem I had with 1998. I don’t connect with most of the pop charts this year. But I respect Cher for coming back with “I believe.”

She was big in the 70s TV show Sonny and Cher. To resurface with the foresight of where pop would be going… dance, dance, dance… is impressive. But I’m not inspired by the song.

With David Bowie, I respect the artist and happen to like the song “Somebody Up There Likes Me” on the album Young Americans.

Young Americans? Isn’t that another 70s relic?

Well, yes but it was r-e-m-a-s-t-e-r-e-d-i-n-1-9-9-9. Sorry folks, I have to do this remastered trick because maybe I am getting old and just not digging the charts like I used to. 37 years old, moving back to Toronto this year. I bought Bowie’s 1999 CD Hours and was mildly disappointed. But this old hit remains a fav.

Come to think of it, I don’t think my not liking tunes released in ’99 was an age thing as much as an out-of-sync thing. I’ve enjoyed a lot of pop since the EDM explosion. So either I’ve changed, the times have changed or maybe both.

1970s UK Sci-Fi TV show depicting an imaginary 1999 where an explosion breaks the moon free of its orbit – Image http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.ca/2013/08/

Technology is marching forward in ’99. People are burning CD-R/RWs and checking out digital photography. I was a bit slow to shell out for these tech advances so was still pretty old skool in ’99. Film camera. Tapes, CDs and Vinyl.

Earthpages is getting search engine recognition and I’m learning what I’m still learning today. How to get out there and be noticed on the web. Transitioning from an academic to a popular writing style has not been easy. In ’99 I’m either coming off too serious or too glib.

Striking that balance when you’re primarily a religious person who goes to Mass several times a week is not as straightforward as one might think. Ironically, I find that going to Mass enhances rather than squashes my creativity.

I still receive the Eucharist several times a week, something I’ll probably talk about more in years not yet reeled in.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Billy Bragg’s Bratty Brother (ask.metafilter.com)

 Cher Concert Tickets for Lubbock, Austin, Corpus Christi, Bossier City… (prweb.com)

 Technology shaping the future of music but its soul remains the same (triblive.com)

 Dressing David Bowie As ‘Ziggy Stardust’ (thecut.com)


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1998

Time Magazine – Fair Use / Fair Dealing rationale

So it’s 1998 and I’m 36 years old. I’m still living in Ottawa, in a slightly rundown apartment beside the Union Mission. I’m getting pretty used to hearing street people making noise because, well, I live right beside them.

One night I had to call the cops because a big guy was pounding on my door screaming “Mother… Mother!” He was pounding so hard I felt it was only a matter of time before he’d break in.

After calling 911 I scrambled out the window onto the roof of the first-floor extension below me. I was pretty scared but kept cool.

When the cops arrived I had a choice… press charges or let it drop. I let it drop but told the guy – now subdued – to his face that he really scared me. He looked like a nice guy. Just drunk and upset. Or maybe stoned.

Whatever. I don’t think he understood too much at that moment.

People did practically everything near the Mission. The basement of our house was broken into with needles left behind. My bike was stolen from that basement. Another inglorious moment.

This place (cars in front) redefined the meaning of “student digs!”

I was sad and upset about my bike because I worked hard to buy it and a friend’s brother, who owned a bike shop, had customized it. Many summers of getting up early and working hard as a city gardener probably went toward a case of beer.

But I figured the theft was a form of global welfare so let it go.

Having graduated, I no longer had access to the university computer room, so migrated over to the Ottawa Public Library. The library had computers, internet, and email through National Capital Freenet. NCF also had free web space. This is where Earthpages began. I talk about that here, so won’t elaborate.

The library has changed a bit since I was there in ’98

In my last entry, 4FUN HITS, I mentioned having a hard time finding anything I liked in 1998.  Since then I realized that Frank Sinatra’s work was remastered in ’98.

Ha! This was the year I first discovered Frank—oddly enough, the same year he died.

I recall making a post-student dinner of noodles and stuff, stirring away and listening to a Sinatra album I’d picked up from the Ottawa Public Library.

Hey, this guy is really good, I thought to myself. What incredible timing.

It would be almost another two decades before I’d go full bore into Sinatra. But I’ll get to that. For now, I’ll just share some of my favorite Sinatra tunes.

Now this is music. I wonder how many pop tunes churned out in ’98 will be remastered 40 years after their release?

“I’ve Got the World on a String” was released in ’56, Come Fly With Me in ’58. And yes they reflect the times. But are we immune to reflecting our own cultural landscape?

It’s now 2018… 60 plus years after the release of these tunes. 60 to 70 years from now I imagine our cultural biases will be just as awkward. Maybe we’ll be scandalized. Maybe we’ll just look back and smile.

I tend to smile with Frank Sinatra.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Breaking: Conductor is suspended in Canada (slippedisc.com)

 Graceland marks Elvis’ Army stint with free day for military vets, active duty (triblive.com)

 Who Is Eva Marie Saint? Reintroducing the 1955 Oscar Winner (time.com)

 Drake’s Degrassi-era notebook is being auctioned for $54k (thefader.com)

 THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Officially Announce Reunion Tour (Without D’arcy Wretzky) (metalinjection.net)



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4FUN HITS – Who Are You by The Who


Going through the charts for 1998 I’m having a tough time finding a song for Reelin’ in the Years. I do not think any of the songs are all that great.

I’m considering posting one as my most respected for that year but it never was a fav. More like something you’d hear while shopping in the dollar store. Nothing wrong with that… just sayin’.

So I’m going to have to dig deeper, look thru through my collection and see what I was listening to that year. Something tells me I was drifting toward jazz and sacred music. But there must be a pop tune that stirred my soul in ’98.

In the meantime, I thought I’d do a parallel series called 4FUN HITS to fill in the gaps for some of the great songs overlooked in Reelin’ in the Years.

“Who Are You” was released in 1978. My girlfriend back then Jill (not her real name) had given me that album for my 16th birthday. The dear soul bought a special red vinyl edition that was just soooo cool. As I’ve said before, Jill was the ultimate teenage girlfriend. Sometimes I’ve regretted that we broke up but life is about movin’ on.

The Very Best of Steely Dan: Reelin' In the Years

The Very Best of Steely Dan: Reelin’ In the Years (just in case you didn’t get where I got the title of Reelin’ in the Years from) – Wikipedia

Anyhow, I’d just purchased my first stereo amp. A Yamaha with 60 watts of power. Back then that was respectable. The real serious audiophiles had 100 watts but 60 was good for me (and my bankbook)!

Our family had a pair of Genesis loudspeakers, bought off a friend who was indeed an audiophile. Add my Technics turntable and I was ready to rock.

And rock I did. When my parents were away I had small house parties where I’d blast those 60 watts and Genesis speakers to their extreme capacity without distorting. I’d been warned by our audiophile friend that loudness didn’t kill speakers. Distortion did.

I remember dancing with my pals, pretending we were performing this song, and generally having a gay ol’ time.

The Who were quite progressive for a rock band. Their use of analog synthesizers was advanced back in the day. I think they are one of the great classic bands. And Roger Daltry is probably my all-time favorite straight out rock and roll singer.

For me, he’s better than Robert Plant or Burton Cummings, who have similar styles when they roar.

Oh tell me who are you, you, you, ah you?

The Who were the very first band I saw live at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. I didn’t do a lot of rock concerts as a kid. But those I did go to are burned in memory.

In the 70s the audience held up cigarette lighters instead of cellphones. It was pretty magical. I can still see the calm bassist John Entwistle looking like a wise old Druid up there on stage. Even then, I could tell that music had a mystical component.

I came home and found myself hoarse the next day. I was a quiet kid but The Who got me screaming! 🙂

Image top right: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:4Fun_Hits.jpg

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 The Economics of Spotify – Local Band Version(ask.metafilter.com)

 Many popular young Nigerian musicians have sold their souls to Satan – Skid Ikemefuna(vanguardngr.com)

 Best Buy To Pull CDs From Its Stores, According To Report(gpbnews.org)


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1997

OK Computer released by Radiohead in 1997. I like the album/band name but the music never grabbed me – Image via discogs.com

It’s 1997 and I’m 35 years old. U2 releases Pop which for me was a waste of money. One could actually discern the beginning of U2’s slide with Zooropa (1993), Achtung Baby (1991) being a tough act to follow.

Meantime David Bowie releases a strong album, Earthling. I almost chose the song “Little Wonder” from that CD as my fav for ’97 but it doesn’t resonate so much now. I mean, this was 21 years ago and people change.

’97 was the year I completed my doctorate. Hardly a light year. I remember standing in the hall awaiting my examiners’ response after being grilled on my thesis.

Also a TA that year, one of my undergraduate students showed up to cheer me on. He was a bit unconventional and, thinking it would help, started to massage my back while I was standing in the hall. It just made me tenser. I had bought a new suit for the occasion and was afraid he would wreck it while working on my back muscles…

Such is life. I guess I politely asked him to stop. I dunno. Can’t remember exactly.

For Christmas that year I got a greatest hits CD containing the single “Walkin’ On The Sun.”

I like this song’s retro style. 1950s or early 60s, for sure. The lead singer reminds me a bit of Chubby Checker or Bill Haley.

Most of the other pop from ’97 doesn’t age very well. This song harkens back to a classic time of surfboards and beach parties, so still works today. Sort of like that old song “I’m Your Venus” which has been reworked at least twice, I think, for ladies’ razor commercials!

And their kids were hippie chicks or hypocrites
Because fashion is smashin’ the true meaning of it

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

The Number Ones: Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (stereogum.com)


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1996

Liam Gallagher of Oasis performing at a concer...

Liam Gallagher of Oasis performing at a concert in San Diego, 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 1996 and I’m 34 years old. ’96 is an awful year for music. At least for me. There’s a whole bunch of IMO second rate bands pumping out lousy rock that the kids of that era seem to really love.

These bands didn’t grab my attention. So was I just becoming an old fart, out of touch with the scene or could I simply discern that the music was crap?

Well, the success of these bands seemed short lived and today they’re mostly forgotten. So I tend to go with the “just crap” hypothesis.

The Beatles (sort of) released the Lennon post-mortem reconstruction of “Free as a Bird.” I remember hearing that and feeling some nostalgia but also that it wasn’t quite right. Proof positive that Elton John and Bernie Taupin were wise to say:

And you can’t go back and if you try it fails ~ The Captain and the Kid

No Doubt released Tragic Kingdom which I enjoyed at the time but not so much today. And Oasis had a hit with “Wonderwall”—another one I liked then but not so much now. Listening to that tune last night I was amazed at how Liam Gallagher’s vocals ingloriously drift off-key when he holds a note.

Image via musicdirect.com – Fair Use / Fair Dealing rationale

Yes, I understand that “detune” is cool in EDM but was he doing that on purpose or is he just a crummy singer? I guess a hit is a hit. So he must have known what he was doing. And as I say, I liked it when I was younger.

I don’t remember too much from my personal life for ’96. Probably just working my butt off on the Ph.D., a few friendly and romantic dates here and there, and taking long walks, checking out Ottawa mostly on foot.

I do remember talking to a lot of street people and watching their natural progression from say, just losing their apartment to becoming homeless babes in the urban woods.

I learned a lot from talking with those street people—musicians, drifters, and drinkers, alike.

It was sad and I sometimes tried to help. But after getting scammed by one operator I started giving less and less, with a few exceptions. I guess what I learned most from my long interactive walks is that street people are individuals just like anyone else. No stereotypes really apply to any of them.

The shield from the Coat of arms of Canada. Th...

The shield from the Coat of arms of Canada. The shield was created by a Royal Warrant in 1921, thus out of Canadian Copyright. http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/symbl/arm1-eng.cfm (Wikipedia)

Anyhow, my fav song for ’96 wasn’t an obvious choice. I really only recall the hook when Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip sings “You are ahead by a century…”

Gord Downie is a hero in Canada. A very brave guy. With terminal brain cancer, he kept performing and advocating for Canada’s First Nations communities, trying to shed some light on one of Canada’s dirty little secrets.

Personally, I think there are more dirty little secrets in Canada. But only time can bring those to light.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country. But I look at it as a physician would look upon a desperately sick nation. No cure without first identifying the disease.

So with that said, hats off to Gord Downie, a great Canadian in line with other heroes like Terry Fox and all those who sacrificed their lives or health in the line of military duty, fighting to ensure our country remains “The True North Strong and Free.”

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Liam Gallagher On Noel’s Wife: “She’s The Reason Oasis Is No Longer” (stereogum.com)

 North Korean Figure Skaters Make Olympic Debut, To Cheers (gpbnews.org)

 Music icon Quincy Jones says Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen can play guitar ‘just like’ Jimi Hendrix (businessinsider.com)