Top 25 Songs of 2013

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Your favorite pop bubblegum whore is back for year six of his favorite public humiliation routine, but this time things are a bit different.

For a variety of reasons too boring to get into here—list posts are boring and self-serving enough as it is, amiright?—I quit Last.fm this year. That left me with only the play counts in iTunes to guide me in building this list. But, while they aren’t perfect—they don’t take into account how many times I listened to a song on iTunes Radio before buying it, for instance—they do the job well enough.

I also got a little creative with the rules this year. Tradition has dictated that I list songs exactly as they are ranked by play count. But, after six years, that’s gotten a little stale. This year, I introduced the following rules into the mix:

  • Songs must’ve been released in the years 2012 or 2013
  • Songs must’ve been purchased within the last 54 weeks (to allow for songs purchased at the very end of 2012)
  • No more than 1 song per artist can appear on the list
  • No songs that I played exclusively for my kids will appear on the list, as they tend to want to listen to the same songs over and over, therefore inflating play counts

What that’s left me with is a list that’s a lot closer to my memory of the year and all the different things I listened to than it might otherwise have been.

Here’s the list:

  1. “Red” by Taylor Swift
  2. “This Kiss” by Carly Rae Jepsen
  3. “I’m Not Your Hero” by Tegan and Sara
  4. “How Long?” by How to Destroy Angels
  5. “Mantra” by Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme & Trent Reznor
  6. “Everything” by Nine Inch Nails
  7. “Last Goodbye” by Ke$ha
  8. “Walk of Shame” by P!nk
  9. “Catch My Breath” by Kelly Clarkson
  10. “Still Into You” by Paramore
  11. “The Man That Never Was” by Rick Springfield, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel & Pat Smear
  12. “American Girl” by Bonnie McKee
  13. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
  14. “Gravity” by No Doubt
  15. “Mountaintop Removal” by Lissie
  16. “Stay The Night” by Zedd, featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore
  17. “Little Games” by The Colourist
  18. “Cool Kids” by Echosmith
  19. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams
  20. “Suburban Home” by FIDLAR, featuring Brian Rodriguez
  21. “Applause” by Lady Gaga
  22. “The One That Got Away” by The Civil Wars
  23. “The Wire” by HAIM
  24. “Video Games” by Lana Del Ray
  25. “Royals” by Lorde

To look back on the Top 25 lists from previous years, give these links a clickety-click: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.

Clarkwoods to Re-Release THOSE LITTLE BASTARDS and ALL HE LEFT BEHIND

I made some tweaks to the Website this morning and am proud to announce that which I’ve only hinted at with the tweaks: in 2014, Clarkwoods LLC will re-release my first two collections of short fiction into the world.

Those Little Bastards, will come first, complete with the R in the title that’s been missing since 2002. Then, we’ll bring back All He Left Behind, as well.

I do realize that pretty much every fan reading this already has a copy of each, but there are some who don’t, and, besides that, how am I ever going to win new fans if my work isn’t out there for them to grab, right?

Stay tuned for further details.

"The Dead" by James Joyce

Every time I got in the car this past week, it snowed. That’s not unheard of in New England, but it really felt like Mother Nature might be out to get me. After all, it never seems to snow these days when I’m home and I can just sit back and enjoy the beauty of it.

As a result, I have snow on the brain, and I can’t think of a short story featuring snow that I love more than “The Dead” by James Joyce.

At fifty-three pages (in the Signet Classics version I have), it’s a bit of a slog to get through, especially in the early going, when you’re not even sure who the story is about. But as it approaches its ending: man, you better watch out. There is not a better final page on my shelves and there’s not likely to be.

That hasn’t stopped me and every writer out there from trying, however.

In a nut, it’s the story of Gabriel and a secret his wife’s kept from him for years that only comes out due to the particulars of this night, the party they’ve just been to, and the snow that is “general all over Ireland.”

It’s the kind of quiet story I want more of my students to take a stab at, the kind I wish more readers in this summer blockbuster age would give a chance.

The story can be found in Dubliners.

An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker

E. Christopher Clark performed the role of Party Dad in An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker, a production of Great Bay Academy of Dance which ran December 13-15, 2013 at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The production featured performances by Elyssa Biggs, Lissa Silk, Nathan Moyer, Abbie Patten, Brian Gray, Anna Drysdale, Craig Fogg, Crystal Lisbon, Nash Tasker, Rachel Colstad, Amy DiLorenzo, Erika Ireland, GBAD’s Artistic Director Elisa Gerasin, and many, many others.

"Dance in America" by Lorrie Moore

It seems appropriate, during this week that I’m preparing to dance on stage for the first time (in Great Bay Academy of Dance’s production of An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker), that I share with you my favorite story about dance: Lorrie Moore’s “Dance in America.”

It’s about an aging artist traveling Pennsylvania Dutch County, teaching her craft to kids, and it begins like this:

I tell them dance begins when a moment of hurt combines with a moment of boredom. I tell them it’s the body’s reaching, bringing air to itself. I tell them that it’s the heart’s triumph, the victory speech of the feet, the refinement of animal lunge and flight, the purest metaphor of tribe and self. It’s life flipping death the bird.

I make this stuff up. But then I feel the stray voltage of my rented charisma, hear the jerry-rigged authority in my voice, and I, too, believe. I’m convinced.

I appreciate the sentiment there more and more, the more I teach, the more I try to break down a creative process that continues to mystify me.

But I have always appreciated Moore’s ability to get to the heart of her character so quickly. It’s this ability to avoid beating around the bush that hooked me on this story back in grad school, and that still hooks me now.

I’m also hooked by the sick boy that appears later in the story, the son of the old friend our protagonist is staying with. In much the same way that the girl in “Marlinspike” brings something out of that narrator that he didn’t know was there, the boy in “Dance in America” guides our heroine here toward her powerful moment of catharsis:

“Come here, honey,” I say, going to him. I am thinking not only of my own body here, that unbeguilable, broken basket, that stiff meringue. I am not, Patrick, thinking only of myself, my lost troupe, my empty bed. I am thinking of the dancing body’s magnificent and ostentatious scorn. This is how we offer ourselves, enter heaven, enter speaking: we say with motion, in space, This is what life’s done so far down here; this is all and what and everything it’s managed—this body, these bodies, that body—so what do you think, Heaven? What do you fucking think?

“Stand next to me,” I say, and Eugene does, looking up at me with his orange warrior face. We step in place: knees up, knees down. Knees up, knees down. Dip-glide-slide. Dip-glide-slide. “This is it!” “This is it!” Then we go wild and fling our limbs to the sky.

“Dance in America” is part of Moore's collection Birds of America.