On Top Forty radio programs, 2013 sounded like this.
And it also sounded a lot like this.
But on "As It Happens", 2013 sounded like this.
And -- for better or for worse -- this.
That was Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" performed in Klingon, by...someone whose priorities differ from mine.
Tonight, we'll be reviewing the year in music on "As It Happens". We'll look back at the legacies of musicians as disparate as Rita McNeil, Lou Reed, and Stompin' Tom Connors. We'll revisit studies about whether it's true people actually cough more at classical music concerts -- they do -- and whether choral singing can help snorers -- it can. And we'll go back to the heady days of September, when we excitedly introduced our remixed theme to you -- and got excited, and remixed, reactions.
Right now you're probably still trying to choose a cummerbund or fascinator for tonight's party. But for the time being, just leave your track pants on, and relax. This is "As It Happens", the New Year's Eve edition: radio that lets the good times Rick-roll.
2013 was a year of new beginnings for this program. One new beginning in particular:It was just four months ago that we introduced the remixed "As It Happens" theme, but it seems like it's been our theme forever. In part because the man behind the new version -- Montreal musician Josh Dolgin, who goes by the stage name "Socalled" -- used so much of our original theme in his remix.
Some of you liked it right away; some of you were willing to let it grow on you -- we hope it has; and some of you responded with a combination of vexation and vitriol -- a combination we've come to call "vextriol".
Our original theme was called "Curried Soul", by the legendary Moe Koffman. And in September, we nervously sought the blessing of his widow, Gisele Koffman. Here's some of what she told Carol:
That sound Carol makes there? That's the sound of relief.
It's a smaller version of the sound Josh Dolgin made when we reached him a few minutes later.
Well, because we asked you to. And, as he told us, it came with challenges.
That's Josh Dolgin, better known as "Socalled" -- the musician who remixed the "As It Happens" theme. We think he succeeded in keeping what we all love about the original. And we hope you do too.
Later in that conversation, Socalled said hearing his theme every night was the greatest honour he'd ever been given as a Canadian artist. That was very kind of him, and we're humbled by his words. Also, he's right.
But there are many other honours given Canadian artists every year, including the SOCAN Songwriting Prize. This year's winner is Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Mo Kenney, for this song: "Sucker".
From her self-titled album, that's Mo Kenney, with her SOCAN Songwriting Prize-winning track, "Sucker".
Over his long career, Lou Reed didn't win any official songwriting awards. But if there were prizes for "most contrary artist" or "most uninterested in succeeding", he would have had a lock on them.
Lou Reed died on October 27th, from liver disease. He was seventy-one years old.
Any fan of rock music will tell you he was a giant. In fact, he would have told you himself. And he became a giant in spite of his refusal to do anything he was expected to do. Or maybe because of that refusal.
His first single was a deliberately ridiculous parody called "The Ostrich". In The Velvet Underground, he explored subjects that were not the standard stuff of pop: transgressive sexuality and drugs, for example. And he didn't sugarcoat the subject matter -- when he wrote a song about heroin, he called it "Heroin".
After his 1972 album "Transformer" became a hit, he released the unfathomably depressing album "Berlin". And after his most successful album, "Sally Can't Dance" -- which hit the American Top Ten -- he released "Metal Machine Music", a double-album of guitar feedback.
His most enduring song is probably "Walk on the Wild Side" -- despite, or because of, its occasionally lurid lyrics. And also because of its unforgettable bassline. You know it.
That bassline -- a doubled bassline, actually -- was supplied by British musician Herbie Flowers. We reached Mr. Flowers on October 28th.
That was Herbie Flowers, the man who played bass on Lou Reed's biggest hit, "Walk on the Wild Side". Carol spoke with him the day after Mr. Reed died of liver failure, at the age of 71.
There are plenty of songs in Lou Reed's catalogue -- in the chapters of his book, as Mr. Flowers put it -- that could be characterized as angry, bitter, or sardonic. But there are also songs like this one. From the 1998 album "Perfect Night: Live in London", this is "I'll Be Your Mirror".
From the 1998 album "Perfect Night: Live in London", that's Lou Reed, with "I'll Be Your Mirror".
In many ways, Stompin' Tom Connors -- who died in March -- was Canada's Lou Reed.
And if that seems ridiculous to you, hear me out: both men were stubbornly idiosyncratic; both were fascinated with issues of identity -- in Lou Reed's case, mostly sexual identity, and in Stompin' Tom's case, mostly national; and both had fans who would follow them wherever their weird muses took them.
Also, Stompin' Tom would probably have agreed wholeheartedly with Lou Reed's adage that any song with more than three chords was jazz.
Over his long, bumpy career, Stompin' Tom Connors created a body of work that explored Canada and Canadianness. His tools were simple: a baritone voice; a guitar; a board for, you know, stomping; a sense of humour; and a sense of patriotism. And the results were legendary: "The Hockey Song", "Sudbury Saturday Night", "Bud the Spud", "Roll On Saskatchewan"...a catalogue that celebrates a whole country.
Stompin' Tom's influence was more of a feeling than a sound. That is, no one really sounds like him -- but plenty of artists took inspiration from him. Including Albertan musician Corb Lund. Carol spoke with him in March.
That was singer-songwriter Corb Lund, talking Stompin' Tom with Carol back in March.
Stompin' Tom Connors -- maybe the most Canadian musician in history -- died on March 6th. He was 77.
In 1974, he won a Juno for "Country Album of the Year", for his album "To It And At It". Four years later, he returned that Juno, and five others, to protest against awards given to Canadians who went to the States to get famous. So here, from "To It And At It", is a song about Canada, recorded in Canada by a Canadian. This is Stompin' Tom, with "New Brunswick and Mary".