Dec 22, 2020Liked by Michael Donaldson

I thought to myself, if he gets out even one newsletter during the holidays I will be seriously impressed. I also thought, if there is one don't expect it to be engaging, which wouldn't entirely be your fault but more related to my own holiday busyness. And yet, here I am still thinking about what you wrote about Sandinista! in the middle of a busy work day and how impressed I am with it. My wanna-be rasta brothers were always trying to sell me on it but the Clash really pissed me off with that album. I spent a lot of money on that triple pack and it had no where near the punch as my first LP purchase, Parallel Lines. Plus, I was always getting burned by double and triple packs - The Beatles red and blue double packs sounded like garbage, Goodbye Yellowbrick Road - yawn, didn't like London Calling, either. The first double pack that changed my mind was Zen Arcade and I still think that album could've use less songs. It took me much longer time to warm up to Double Nickels, I wasn't ready for it until long after it was such a big deal, but that might be the only double album everyone should own. Funny thing about Sandinista! is that it is now by far my favorite Clash album, every song is a miracle, and it was my dancefloor secret weapon prior to covid. You speak of it so eloquently and from a different perspective but touched on so many of the things that made that album so great, for me in hindsight, which is always 20/20 - although I will be the first to admit I had terrible taste as a lad and would never thought the Clash post debut or disco were cool even if I went back and did it all again.

Disco is my segue into your excellent point-counterpoint about music appreciation in 2020. I try to listen to five albums a day, not necessarily new, but with the size of my collection it often is at least new to me and I am always up for that challenge no matter the circumstances. I'll probably be in the headphones as I am dying someday based on how I have listened this year. Music listening is just such an intensely personal thing for me, a means of escape unto itself. I am also a mailorder guy so there are few memories tangibly related to any particular disk, LP, or 45 I own. I care deeply about the message not the medium so the plague has been an excellent opportunity to dive as deep as I can in as many directions as I can regardless of format, although I rarely stream. The one dive that has brought the most joy has been classic disco, especially the futuristic, escapist, and joyous re-edits that came to define the more underground sounds. Sappy TSOP strings, a Miami session player bass line, or just a well-written song have helped me through some of the worst days of covid - and there have been some truly awful ones that I won't quickly recover from mentally - but at least I can counterbalance them with some ecstatic memories of music's incredible power to heal. Disco music will be the only thing I remember when I look back on this year and I can totally live with that.

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