(A Live Zoom Party As We Record Our 2020 Podcast)
It all started a year ago. Brian Koppelman started this thing on Twitter—“The Royale”—as a way to drag himself, and all those who call him friend, out of our existential funk. Just a daily picture with our morning cup of coffee—the first one of the day—The Royale.
And it worked. Covid had hit, and we were isolated from each other, but there was something about seeing all these folks from all over the world throwing vanity aside just to say, “Yeah, this sucks. But we’ve got coffee, and we’ve got each other.”
A year ago we were all sequestered. In Memphis, sure, but everywhere. I was in Asheville, Ben in Knoxville, and Jeff out in Berkeley. And we were all suddenly teaching via Zoom, worried about our students, our own families, and all who were being ravaged, both near and far.
So, with my 50 year-old birthday trip to Ireland cancelled, I reached out to Jeff and Ben and said let’s make our 50 year-old birthday playlists. It was an idea that Franklin Leonard put in my head back along, and it’s so much harder than you think it is: just pick the best song from every year you’ve been alive.
Sounds easy, right? Well, let me introduce you to 1976, where you’ve got “Thunder Road,” “American Girl,” and “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)” vying for your attention. Or 1991, when Nirvana disposes of all hair bands with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Bono stares us down and sings “One,” and George Michael gets us (and super models) dancing with “Freedom 90.” That’s right, you can only pick one! Impossible!
But we did it, and we recorded it, and then we figured we could send it out into the universe. Over the course of the year we’ve showed up once a week, usually on Wednesday nights, and Zoomed together our thoughts on each year, from 1969 all the way to (nearly) the present. Through the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, the election, holidays (but with NO holiday specials), and our own personal and professional challenges, we’ve salvaged something out of each week by looking back on the music of our lives. In a time where we’ve desperately neededconnection, this little podcast gave us the chance to feel less lost, less alienated—but then I picked Garth Brooks that one year and all those feelings came rushing back.
Still, it’s been a saving grace. And thank you to Ricky and Jacob at the Music City Drive-In Network for giving our podcast a home. And thanks to all the other podcasters who support us and retweet us and give us that great positive energy we need. Thanks to Brian Koppelman for the idea and coming on to talk Eddie Van Halen with us. And thanks to comedian Eugene Mirman, Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, Steep Canyon Rangers’ Graham Sharp, Ricky Valero, Kevin Brown, actress Therese Plaehn, Rich Price of The Sweet Remains, musician extraordinaire Clint Bierman, and drummer Kyle Caprista for their guest spots. Y’all brought life and listeners to the proceedings!
And thank you to the Grammy voters over the years—you’ve provided incredible content.
So, on Wednesday, as we record the 2020 podcast—the end of this initial idea—we would love to have any listeners join us and have a little party with us as we figure out the best songs of last year. Our weekly version of “The Royale” is coming to an end, but we’re gonna have one more cup of coffee before we go. And we’d love to see you there.
Topic: 50 YEARS 2020 LIVE!!
Time: May 5, 2021 05:15 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 913 4068 4913