Are you believin’ we’re already a month into the new year?! The Buzz hasn’t even fully closed out the books on 2008 yet, and ’09 has already ticked away thirty precious days of its half-life.


I know that we’re already knee deep into the new year’s music slate, and that you’ve no doubt already largely forgotten all the brilliance 2008 had to offer, but please allow the Buzz a final opportunity to sway your ears. The ten tracks which make up the playlist that follows don’t necessarily comprise the absolute best music of the year just ended — any list of that stripe which fails to include Sugarland’s fascinating cover of “Life in a Northern Town,” Kings of Leon’s incendiary “Use Somebody,” Tift Merritt’s devastating “Another Country,” or Kacy Crowley’s wondrous “The Universe” is just ridiculously short-sighted and ill-conceived — and, indeed, a great many of these songs may have slipped entirely through the cracks of your musical cognizance last year. Do seize this shot to correct that foolishness. It may not come ’round again.


1.  “Come On Get Higher (live)”Sugarland (from Love on the Inside [Deluxe Fan Edition]) — Sugarland - Love On the Inside (Deluxe Fan Edition) - Come On Get Higher (Live) [Bonus Track] —  Hated the album. Love the woman. Adored her charmingly easygoing take on Matt Nathanson’s instant classic. If the slinky way the extraordinary Jennifer Nettles nails that “loudest thing in my head” lyric that opens the song’s second verse fails to give you chills, you aren’t listening hard enough.

2.  “Angel”Leona Lewis (from Spirit) — Leona Lewis - Spirit (Deluxe Version) - Angel — all the attention went to the album’s smash singles “Bleeding Love” and “Better in Time” (and with damn good reason, at that). But for a project of this type — where the focus is clearly on breaking Lewis’ spectacular voice to the masses, who are expected to fall for her no matter what she’s singin’ — Spirit contains a stunning dearth of forgettable filler. (There are easily no fewer than three more primo radio opportunities on this record; every time I listen to it, my main thought is, “Why the fuck can’t David Foster consistently find this kind of material for Celine Dion no mo?”)

3.  “The World Should Revolve Around Me”Little Jackie (from The Stoop) — Little Jackie - The Stoop - The World Should Revolve Around Me — a genre-defying blast of fun from that long-lost flibbertigibbet Imani Coppola which contained nothing short of the lyric of the year: “not for nothin’ / but what came first? / the chicken nugget / or the egg mcmuffin…?”

4.  “This Boy’s Fire” Santana featuring Jennifer Lopez and Baby Bash (from Ultimate Santana) — Santana - Ultimate Santana - This Boy's Fire — Lopez — who, strangely, never sounds half this hot on her own records — sexes up the joint somethin’ fierce with immeasurable assistance from the still-spry guitar legend. (Anybody out there who has any idear why Arista went with that dreadfully dull Chad Kroeger duet over this as the project’s lead single, please do shoot me an email and explicate.)

5.  “Dance Your Life Away” Jon McLaughlin (from OK Now) — Jon McLaughlin - OK Now - Dance Your Life Away — with a thumping bass line stolen directly from Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and an aesthetic sensibility lifted straight out of Footloose, this classic track — one of several bright spots on this underrated kid’s fun second CD — is just like a big ol’ ‘80s fest. In a good way.

6.  “I Just Fall in Love Again”Anne Murray &
Dusty Springfield
(from Duets: Friends and Legends) — Anne Murray - Duets: Friends & Legends - I Just Fall In Love Again (Duet With Dusty Springfield) — recorded within weeks of each other in 1979, Dusty’s spectacular version languished in obscurity while Anne’s went on to become a crunchy crossover classic. With the kind permission of Springfield’s estate, Murray was allowed to create a “virtual” duet by laying new vocals atop Springfield’s original, a la Nat and Natalie. The result: an exquisitely-rendered knockout. (Am I crazy, or is Murray ageless?!)

7.  “Miss Otis Regrets” Labelle (from Back to Now) — LaBelle - Back to Now (Bonus Track Version) - Miss Otis Regrets — some three decades after their contentious breakup, Patti, Nona, and Sarah reunited and sounded as though no more than three days had passed. This significantly slowed-down take on a Cole Porter classic only served to reaffirm what we already knew: Queen Patti is an unstoppable force of nature who was born to belt.

8.  “Another Day (That Time Forgot)”Neil Diamond (featuring Natalie Maines) (from Home Before Dark) — Neil Diamond & Natalie Maines - Home Before Dark (Deluxe Version) - Another Day (That Time Forgot) — she’s at the top of the heap as far as ridiculous heifers go, but man can Maines sing. The record — an uneven follow-up to Diamond’s sensational 2005 comeback 12 Songs, and the very first number one album of Diamond’s sun-kissed career — was something of a wash, but even then, it had its moments.

9.  “Solitary Thinkin'”Lee Ann Womack (from Call Me Crazy) — Lee Ann Womack - Call Me Crazy - Solitary Thinkin' — country radio is still reticent to forgive her for so blatantly chasing pop success Shania-style at the beginning of the decade following the triumphant success of “I Hope You Dance.” What they’re missing: bold tracks like this one, a marvelous half-spoken, half-sung rumination on the occasional necessity to jus’ git drunk. Womack can be a bit grating and full of herself at times, but when she’s on her game, as she most certainly is here, there’s nobody better.

10.  “Into the Mystic” Michael McDonald (from Soul Speak) — Michael McDonald - Soul Speak - Into the Mystic — covers like this are always incredibly risky, because Van Morrison’s original is about as perfect a song as you could ever in your lifetime hope to hear. Wisely, McDonald alters the tune’s arrangement and the tempo just enough to be able to slip under its skin and put his own affecting spin on it. (Oh, and the fact that McDonald’s still-smooth voice is just drenched with pure unfiltered soul hurts nothing.)



1 response to “just might need that fire truck to come and get me
(or: 2008, we hardly knew ye)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    After an almost-three-month hiatus, the playlist is back! Let’s hope that the break until the next one is not nearly that long.

    I’ve heard virtually all of these songs many a time, thanks in part to driving over 900 miles with Brandon along the back roads of Texas and the highways of California and Nevada, all in the course of three weeks.

    Here are my four choices:

    1. “Come On Get Higher (live)” by Sugarland. This song is yet another proof how excellent Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland is. I may have to trek out to Primm, NV in the middle of the summer to see them in concert!

    2. “This Boy’s Fire” by Santana, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Baby Bash. Despite his popularity, Santana is new to me, and this is a very fine introduction.

    3. “I Just Fall in Love Again” by Anne Murray and Dusty Springfield This is a gorgeous, timeless duet.

    4. “Solitary Thinkin’” by Lee Ann Womack. This is just a great song, both music and lyrics. (“Oooh, with some solitary thinkin’ / And lonesome drinkin’…”)