Since 2018, I’ve been writing year in review posts and I’m going to continue that tradition. You can read my year in review posts for 2019 and 2020 too. Each year, I find that my writing improves and I keep coming up with creative ideas for informative blog posts. I’m proud to say that this is a growing blog and this year has been the best year yet and here’s to each year after this one being better! I wish that to all my fellow writers and creatives.
I think that whenever you find yourself to be in a rut or down on yourself because you feel like your work isn’t good enough, I think it’s important to step back and get a fresh perspective, heck, even look at your old work and reflect on it and see how far you’ve come (even if looking at your old work makes you cringe, that just means you’re improving). I always get that feeling of being in a rut and depressed every winter, due to the lack of sunlight and the colder temperatures, and it’s even worse with the pandemic. All I want to do for much of the winter is hide under the covers and not be productive. But I find that doing these meta blog posts helps my mood and exercises different writing muscles because instead of doing writing that’s informative, I’m writing about writing and that’s refreshing in a way. Without further ado, The Diversity of Classic Rock‘s Year in Review: 2021!
What was 2021 like?
Just as bad or maybe even worse than 2020. At least there was a semblance of normalcy for the first couple months of last year and I even naively thought that things would be back to normal in a few weeks or maybe a few months. I guess these are unprecedented times. Is it me or things have been getting worse since the unpredictable crazy year that was 2016? I mean The Cubs won the World Series that year, which was about as likely as an Oasis reunion. Politically, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and Brexit won. That was nothing compared to 2020. I’d rather be in 2016 again.
With lockdown being my reality for like half of 2021, I had no choice but to write and writing I did! A lot of it and not just for this blog, but also the book I’m working on and a bit of writing about politics on my Medium page. We’ll talk more about the mindblowing numbers in the next section.
As far as my personal life, I’d rather not talk about it, but let’s just say mentally I was not in the best state, and especially in the first half of the year when I was sure that they’d never vaccinate anyone and we’d be doomed. On the other hand there were other victories, like losing weight and getting back to exercising, which thanks a lot Omicron, I’m not sure if I’ll return to the gym for my own safety. Physically, oh boy! Debilitating cramps (as in I can’t walk or stand without pain) that I’ll probably not get any medical attention for because the state of medical care here is awful. And then my back pain has been getting worse and I had stomach pain and digestion problems for much of my visit to America. No idea, but at least things got better when I got home.
I wanted to do a soundtrack post, but I’ll make life easier for myself and save you from another post of me whinging about how awful life is and I’ll say the soundtrack to my life at the moment has been my Classic Rock Therapy Sesh playlist, almost a day’s worth of depressing music.
The Diversity of Classic Rock in Numbers:
Since I’m a numbers geek (that hates maths but let’s not talk about that), this is my favourite section to write. I suppose we can say this year has been the year of burnout because that’s how I’m feeling right now. But it was also a very productive year, just not limited to my blog. On a happier note, this is the year of multitasking.
- 81 posts published this year, not including this one, but if you count this one, that’s 82 posts.
- Over 235,000 words written. Both of these statistics aren’t bad considering that I’m writing a book and the word count for it is over 56,000 words.
- A new record for most views in a day was set on 26/10/2021 at 1,410 views
- Once again, most views in a month was in October at 14,722 views
- My goal this year was to get over 100,000 views in a year and this year the blog hit and passed that with 159,000+ views.
- Unique visitors this year: 122,000+
- Average daily views: 438 views
- Viewed in 187 different countries
- 10 Most viewed countries
- Five most read blog posts this year:
In case you missed it/best of:
81 posts is a lot to get through so I’m going to share the blog posts I’m most proud of, but really I’m proud of all the writing I did this year. I don’t publish blog posts that I’m not confident about. Only regular blog posts in this section, I have a separate section in this section for reviews and interviews and there are a lot of those that I’m proud of. So here’s a recap of what I did this year. It’s a long one, but I covered a lot of ground this year.
- The most viewed new blog post is Music Video History: Music Videos in the Pre-MTV Era. I’m especially proud of this one and one of my mutuals on Twitter said that it was some of my best work yet. If you’re more into the 80s, check out my Musicians who got me to love the 80s blog post.
- Inspired by my friend, Alessandro, I wrote a blog post on Italian rock music of the 60s and 70s. I still need to complete the series and I want to do that when I come back to the blog full time!
- My political music posts always do quite well and I am really proud of 10 Socialist Classic Rock Lyrics. And if you liked that one, check out the sequel, 10 More Socialist Classic Rock Lyrics! I am currently brainstorming ideas for a companion post that talks about socialist classic rock musicians. I want to publish that around May Day/International Workers’ Day 2022. So keep your eyes peeled!
- If you want another two parter blog series, check out my one on my favourite live albums – Part 1 and Part 2.
- Of course, I had to do a 4/20 special on the blog, Classic Rock Songs About Pot. This year, I also wrote a post talking about classic rock musicians who were arrested for drugs.
- By popular demand, I put together a list of non-white and mixed models, actresses, and style icons of the 60s and 70s. I don’t just love the music of the time period, I also love the fashion.
- While we’re still on fashion, I’m especially proud of this blog post I did on Androgynous style in classic rock, which also includes a big section on the history of androgyny in fashion.
- If you really like my epic length blog posts, here’s three more that I’m extremely proud of: Classic Rock and Disney, which is all connections, references, and all that. And a deep dive on Chicago music history, talking about 50 years of music from Big Bill Broonzy to Survivor (and there’s a part 2). This deep dive on the 27 Club deserves so much more appreciation and I talk about musicians in the 27 Club who almost never get talked about. Honestly, all underrated blog posts, show them some love!
- If you want something shorter, check out Five Classic Rock Bands That Need a Biopic and my April Fools Post all about fake bands in movies and TV shows. And if you want something more visual, check out my If Classic Rockers Had McDonalds Meals post.
- I did a few Listen to This, Not Thats, but with me working on a book, I can’t do these deep dives (even though I really love doing one band blog post deep dives), but when I do, I really want to come back and do ones for The Doors, Deep Purple, and whatever classic rock bands you request! Check out my Listen to This, Not That for Led Zeppelin, Queen and Black Sabbath.
As for reviews, I did a lot of them this year. Here are the reviews I’m most proud of:
- My review of my friend, Paul Salley’s, book Little Wing, which is about child prodigy Jimmy McCulloch.
- My review of the Phil Lynott documentary, Songs For While I’m Away.
- My review of the Mary Quant documentary – I’m wearing a vintage Mary Quant dress in the picture accompanying the post too!
- My review of The Who Sell Out documentary. I think I like that album as much as I like Tommy and Quadrophenia.
- My cat’s name is Bowie and you know I love David Bowie. Here’s my review of Bowie, Cambo & All The Hype by drummer John Cambridge, who worked with Bowie in the early years.
- 1950s Singer-songwriter Paul Evans really liked my review of his book, Happy Go Lucky Me and left a very nice comment.
- I reviewed a bunch of Bob Dylan books: Outlaw Blues, Bob Dylan in London, and Bob Dylan in the Big Apple.
- Finally I did a little tribute post to F is for Family.
As for interviews, I interviewed 18 people this year. Not as many as last year, but this has been a busy year. A diverse bunch, here are some highlights:
- Minnesota based Americana/folk-rock musician Rich Mattson who has been in the music industry since the early 80s
- Southern Gothic musician Ethan White from Florida. Really knows his music history!
- Poet Sam Ophelia Endavour from Belgium
- Electronic/psychedelic rock musician Ruairí Richman from Northern Ireland who records as Lemonade Shoelace. Since the interview, he’s been accomplishing big things, winning Player Plus Studio Sessions Powered by Fender and Vans Musicians Wanted.
- Finland based rock musician Tom Tikka.
- Seattle Power pop musician Jim Basnight. He’s been making music since the 70s!
- Jorge Aguilera of 70s band Los Free Minds from León, Guanajuato, Mexico.
- My friend, Paul Salley, author of Little Wing
- Psychedelic rock musician Olly Vert from England.
- My friend, Mick Cantone, of Children of Minerva. He said that this was one of his best interviews yet.
- Jiminil, a folk rock musician originally from Belfast now based in Nottingham.
- And last but certainly not least, the biggest interview of the year, John Hanlon, folk rock legend from New Zealand and one of New Zealand’s best known rock stars from the 70s!
The New Music Edit: 10 Favourite Releases of 2021
Since last year, I decided to do a new music edit where I share my 10 favourite new releases of the year. Before my hiatus, I would do a quarterly new music feature where I’d share new music that I really enjoyed and this year has had some pretty tough competition. Lots of great songs, but I love making these edits in case you don’t have the time to go through the quarterly new music features and listen to everything. In no particular order, here are my 10 favourites. These were all so good that I’d say they’re on equal standing on how good they are.
1. “Stand With Me” – The Moons
I think this was one of my most played on my new music playlist. I love psychedelic rock and I’ve loved The Moons’ music for a long time ever since I first heard “Be Not Me” years ago. A great song and really catchy! This is a more pure psych-garage approach and I love hearing that.
2. “Snake Oil” – Generous Gods
In memory of Atlanta psychedelic rock musician Gray Griggs, who passed away in 2021 just before his debut album was to be released. He was an incredible talent and when musicians die at a young age I always wonder what more they could have accomplished. One great thing about being an artist is that you create something that will live forever. Play “Snake Oil” loud! It’s a fuzzy garage rock banger.
3. “Autopilot Paradise” – Lemonade Shoelace
I played this one a lot on repeat. It’s that good. Psychedelic rock in recent years has a bit of an electronic influence and I like seeing music of the past modernised and refreshed with new approaches. This one is trippy and I love it.
4. “I Wanna Be Your Slave” – Måneskin
2021 was Måneskin’s year, winning Eurovision with their classic rock inspired song “Zitti e Buoni”. I couldn’t get enough of that song. They also have a really cool androgynous glam rock style and I love that too. “I Wanna Be Your Slave” was all over my timeline and it was even bigger than their Eurovision entry. Everyone was fangirling over the video. It’s even classic rocker approved with Måneskin releasing a duet version with Iggy Pop.
5. “Family Tree” – Jiminil
It was hard to pick which of Jiminil’s songs to put on here, “Family Tree” or “Spider”, that’s how great his music is. It’s folk rock mixed with a bit of Southern Gothic, like a cross between Nick Drake, John Martyn, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Bobbie Gentry. The music video for “Family Tree” has that vintage aesthetic too. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
6. “To You I’m Bound” – Cool Ghouls
Sometimes you find a song that’s so good almost last minute and this is one of those times. I’ve heard of Cool Ghouls before, but didn’t listen to them much, but I listened to some songs from their latest album, At George’s Zoo. Just listen to the whole album, it’s great. Modern music that sounds like classic rock, we love that here! Great for fans of 60s garage rock and surf rock.
7. “Remember A Dream” – The Small Breed
I found out about this band because of Fleur and Elke, two Dutch musicians I follow on Instagram who have great taste in music. Great opening track to a great album, with sounds that remind me of Pink Floyd and George Harrison’s Wonderwall soundtrack. While you’re at it, listen to the whole album! The Netherlands has a pretty good psychedelic rock scene, not surprising because it had that amazing Nederbeat scene in the 60s – can’t miss that!
8. “Yüce Dağ Başında” – Altın Gün
Altın Gün (whose name translates to Golden Day) are a psychedelic Anatolian funk rock band based in Amsterdam and the band are a mix of Turkish and Dutch musicians. Thanks to the internet, Anatolian rock has been brought to many people’s attention and it’s something that psychedelic rock fans would enjoy. The band released a single, “Yüce Dağ Başında” at the beginning of the year. But don’t just stop there, listen to the whole album, Yol, and their other work too!
9. “Nautilus” – Yin Yin
I found out about Yin Yin thanks to browsing Reddit. I really love their Southeast Asian meets surf rock meets funk sound and I love their 2019 album, The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers – excellent from start to finish – and I really wanted to hear more from them and so when I saw they released a new single called “Nautilus”, I had to listen to it. There’s a lot of great music out there that combines rock and roll with music from around the world and I love hearing that and I hope to write a blog post about world music for classic rock fans. If you like Altin Gun and Los Bitchos, you’ll love Yin Yin.
10. “El Camino” – Pennan Brae
Once again Pennan Brae makes it to the year end edit. This prolific musician from Canada makes great power pop songs reminiscent of the 70s and 80s. He released two albums this year. Incredible! Check out my interview with Pennan Brae here.
If you want to hear more great releases, I have a whole playlist of great songs released this year:
Before I end this blog post, I want to thank all of you for supporting my blog. It means a lot to me that thousands of people every month come here to learn more about classic rock and read my opinions on it. Couldn’t do it without you.
Well, that’s a wrap for 2021! Here’s to 2022!
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