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Reelin’ in the Years – 2004

It’s 2004 and I’m 42 years old. Not much on the charts or album releases that I can relate to.

I’m exploring the Toronto Public Library which has a great network of branches. You can order a book, magazine, CD or DVD online from any branch and a van delivers it to the branch of your choice. Add up all the branches in our geographically large city and that comes to quite a selection.

Daniel Ek addressing Spotify staff.

Daniel Ek addressing Spotify staff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days Spotify is rendering that a bit redundant for music, and the library should probably put its funds towards obtaining a free Spotify account for all Torontonians. But we’re not there yet. We do have Naxos, though, which is awesome for classical.

So this year I’ve settled on a song rather than a particular version of it. I like this tune a lot. Cat Stevens wrote and performed it in 1967. P.P. Arnold sang another version in ’67. It was a hit in Canada in ’73 with a take by Keith Hampshire. Rod Steward also did a cover in ’77.

Here’s the 2004 incarnation by Cheryl Crow:

And the version that spoke to me as a kid:

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

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Reelin’ in the Years – 2003

It’s 2003 and I’m 41 years old. My father would pass away this year so it wasn’t exactly a stellar year. However, my faith saw me through. I remember driving down to St. Michael’s Cathedral and hearing this song by the Canadian duo Appleton come on the radio.

The radio program was called Lovers and Other Strangers, hosted by Don Jackson. It was always nice to listen to this show while driving down to Mass. It dealt with love and spirituality from different perspectives so was a good precursor to receiving the Eucharist.

Sadly, one year CHFI decided to change its format a bit, and the show was canceled. Nevertheless, Mr. Jackson has reinvented his program online.

We can’t always control the Powers That Be but we can choose how to respond to them.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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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 – 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)


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1994

It’s 1994 and I’m 32 years old. Cruising along with my doctorate, living in Ottawa and spending some time in Toronto during the summer while my parents are away.

TLC’s amazing album CrazySexyCool comes out this year

Apartment living in Ottawa got pretty buggy at times, and my parents’ empty house was a welcome respite.

Also, the spacious Toronto Reference Library had The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, whom I was studying, and a lot of related material.

Toronto Reference Library – Wikipedia

So in summer, I would wake up in the morning, get my things together and, clutching my Toshiba 286 laptop, take a long walk downtown to the library. If I had enough energy after my daily thesis write, I would then walk further south to St. Michael’s Cathedral, in the heart of the downtown core.

I was fairly active in younger years, jogging about 30 to 45 minutes most days in my late teens and early twenties. So by my thirties, I was still walking long distances in both Ottawa and Toronto, and loving it.

St. Michael’s Cathedral 2011 (before renovation)

Choosing my favorite tune for this year was a showdown between TLC’s “Creep” and Bass is Base’s “I Cry.” After listening to both songs, “I Cry” comes out on top.

I like TLC but Bass is Base hails from Toronto, my hometown and where I live today. So this one reflects my turf in ’94. Its multicultural groove speaks to me as Canadian delighted that I can meet people from all around the word the moment I step out my front door.

Who needs to travel?

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1990

Total Recall – 1990 via slantmagazine.com

Whew. Those overblown 80s are finally over and I’m 28 years old. I’m living in Canada again. Not the happiest time in my life, especially after spending two years in tropical India, where the sound of frogs and crickets lulled me to sleep each night.

Musically, I just looked over the charts for 1990 and things aren’t much better. I wasn’t connecting with anything the radio was spitting out. Or very little. I remember going down to “Little India” as it used to be called in Toronto and hanging out, buying Indian tapes. But I knew that was over too. I was moving on.

Toronto Reference Library 1990 via Wikipedia

I cannot find a tune for 1990 that I feel is memorable enough to list here. So I’m going to cheat again like I did for 1986 and list two songs appearing on a 1990 compilation album.

Peter Gabriel was key to the rock group Genesis. When Gabriel left, I felt Genesis suffered dearly from his departure. I suggested this elsewhere and almost had my virtual hide ripped off by someone who thought post-Gabriel Genesis was better. Whatever. Music is subjective. Not worth getting your shirt in a knot over who likes what.

So here’s two songs for (cough cough) 1990. They were actually released in the late 70s and early 80s.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1988

Baul (traveling musician) in West Bengal, circa 1988

It’s 1988 and I’m 26 years old. I’ve been studying in India for a year, doing a degree in Comparative Religion. During summer break the heat was intolerable so I returned to Canada where the temperatures are great in the summertime.

Somewhat out of touch with Western ways, I immersed myself in family, friends, and of course, pop culture. I needed to update and take some tapes back to India for my second year of studies.

James Taylor’s Never Die Young is one of the albums I took with me, so I really got to know it back in my little Indian room with a beautiful view.

Indian kids circa 1988

There were several good tunes I could have chosen for ’88. But Taylor’s “Home By Another Way” sits best with me today.

James Taylor has one of those amazing voices that doesn’t require any studio tricks to stand out in a mix.

I was first introduced to Taylor with Sweet Baby James and the classic, “Fire and Rain.” His music came back into my sphere with Gorilla, which is another great album. JT and others followed. Seems James Taylor never really disappeared, still doing concerts on PBS from time to time.

This song is about overcoming evil not by taking it head on but by going around it. Christians are told to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. That means know what’s going on but don’t let life’s monsters realize you know. And skirt them if you can.

A king who would slaughter the innocents
Will not cut a deal for you…

But Herod’s always out there
He’s got our cards on file
It’s a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch
Old Herod likes to take a mile

It’s best to go home by another way
Home by another way

The Moody Blues expressed a similar idea in their 1969 album On the Threshold of Dream.

Face piles of trials with smiles
It riles them to believe
That you perceive
The web they weave…
And keep on thinking free

I’m saddened that I haven’t listed a classic Moody Blues song in my 70s recollections. They are one of my favorite bands. I was focussing on pop radio for that decade, and The Moody Blues songs that made the radio were good but not my favs.

Image via discogs.com

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Eagles Add New Dates to 2018 Tour Schedule (news.radio.com)

 Why India has better things to do than hang out with Justin Trudeau (nationalpost.com)

 Canadian PM Trudeau roundly mocked for political, fashion blunders during disastrous trip to India (businessinsider.com)