the best day of the year for social media–addicted music streaming
service users who can't remember who their favorite artists are: Spotify
Wrapped release day.
those unfamiliar, instead of allowing people to access their listening
data at any time, Spotify waits until the end of the year to give users a
rundown of their most listened-to artists and songs. People then share
their results on social media. I am not immune to this phenomenon. If
you're curious, my top artists for 2022 were Big Thief, Elliott Smith,
the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Kate Bush, in that order.
That list is lacking Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, who no longer put their music on Spotify. Young has been on my mind recently: As I read about the ongoing protests in Iran and China, I thought of "Ohio,"
the protest song put out by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in
response to the Kent State massacre, when the Ohio National Guard killed
four Vietnam War student protesters in 1970. The shooting sparked
national outrage and inspired dozens of songs, and also, as I learned
from the incident's Wikipedia page, left a lasting impression on several key figures in the 1970s and '80s new wave movement.
Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer of the Pretenders (and the artist behind a pretty kickass album of Bob Dylan covers,
if that's your thing), was a student at Kent State at the time and
witnessed the massacre. Also present were Devo's Gerald Casale and Bob
Lewis, whose interest in the concept of "de-evolution" grew after they
saw their classmates killed. "I don’t think I would have started Devo
had that not happened,” Casale told the Washington Post.
hard to conceive of any positive results of such a shocking act of
violence, but young people throughout the area channeled their trauma
into a burgeoning avant-garde music scene in Akron, Ohio, giving us
songs like "Whip It" and "My City Was Gone." With the holidays coming
up, give a listen to the Pretenders' "2,000 Miles," one of the few Christmas songs I can stand.