The year in music: Pittsburgh and beyond | Music Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The year in music: Pittsburgh and beyond 

Hits and misses of 2015, as compiled by our music writers

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Best Lines from 2015 Musician Memoirs

“I’m sure I could write endlessly about nothing. If only I had nothing to say.” 

— Patti Smith, M Train

“My favorite kind of musical experience is to feel afterward that your heart is filled up and transformed, like it is pumping a whole new kind of blood into your veins. This is what it is to be a fan: curious, open, desiring for connection, to feel like art has chosen you, claimed you as its witness.” 

— Carrie Brownstein, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

“I like being in a weak position, and making it strong.” 

Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band

“There was always someone else in the way until I worked out how to make myself the one who was in the way of others.” 

Grace Jones, I'll Never Write My Memoirs

— Caralyn Green

Five music things I loved in 2015

Seeing Zach de la Rocha in the Run the Jewels’ “Close Your Eyes” video 

Please, God, more ZDLR in 2016.

Ginger Baker at the Byham Theater: He was in a weakened state having, apparently, been almost at death’s door few days earlier, but Baker blew all of our minds anyway. As one friend put it, with a morbid edge, “We were very lucky to see that.” 

Joanna Newsom: Yeah, I know how precious and un-critic-like it is to describe Joanna Newsom as “perfect,” but between her stunning new record Divers and her immaculate performance (out-of-tune harp and all) at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall … well ... how else am I supposed to describe her?

Girls Rock! Pittsburgh 2015 Showcase: Participants of the week-long summer rock camp had a chance to show off their chops and original songs for a very enthusiastic crowd. Special shout-out to Wolf Vein for writing “Scream Out Loud,” one of 2015’s heaviest tracks.

Piles of promo CDs from major labels: Everyone knows free music is one of the perks of music journalism, and you never know what you’re going to get: Will it be the new Adele or the soundtrack to a show I’ve never even heard of? Also, why are major labels still sending CDs?

—Margaret Welsh

Five feisty quotes from musicians over the age of 50

“People are going to find this music the same way you found it, the same way I found it: through our parents. Our fans are not going to come from the generation of fans who are listening to the Kenny Chesneys and the Jason Aldeans and that mess.” 

— Singer/songwriter Dale Watson, 53, on keeping traditional country music alive

“I’ve been in the music business for 25 years, and I think there’s a little bit of an unwritten seniority rule where it’s like ‘I’m 50-fucking-years-old, I can do whatever the hell I want from this point on’ … We have nothing to lose and nothing to prove anymore.” 

Raul Malo, 50, of the Mavericks on the decision to record in mono

“There’s more to being a leader than being important. There are a lot of important people around. Obama’s important, Arnold Schwarzenegger is important. Garth Brooks is important all these guys that have made a fortune are important … but they’re not significant. We need people who are significant again, like Warren Zevon, Gram Parsons, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Roger Miller, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. Look, it’s fun to be important, but it’s more important to be significant, that’s what I’m saying.” 

— The Jewish Cowboy Kinky Friedman, 70, on a lack of inspiration in America

“It doesn’t really bother me. If somebody compliments me, I just say, ‘Thank you.’ But if somebody says something like, ‘You play pretty well for a girl,’ that sometimes does come off like they don’t think a woman can play the guitar.” 

— Roots singer guitarist Rosie Flores, 65, on being labeled a top female guitarist

“I play harder now than I ever have, and honestly when I go on stage, I push a button. I swear at the pain: ‘Get out of my damn body; I’ve got to do a job!’” 

— Surf-guitar legend Dick Dale, 78, on how he performs nightly in excruciating pain

— Charlie Deitch 



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