2020: Viral Tunes

Near the end of 2019, I finally signed up for a music streaming service. Since I had so many existing and meticulously curated playlists in iTunes, I opted to go with Apple Music. There were some glitches and hiccups getting my song files uploaded while also retaining the correct album artwork, but overall it’s been a great experience that has introduced me to new songs and artists. Besides my own playlists, the one I kept going back to on Apple Music is called Southern Craft, a mix of Americana, alt-country, roots, and southern folk. Many of the songs below I first heard on that playlist.

It’s been a rough year for everyone. Personally, I woke up on March 1st with sudden hearing loss. All functional hearing in my left ear was gone. Any audio that did get through to my brain sounded like a whiny, distorted robot. It created an instant anxiety response, rendering me without the ability to focus or concentrate. I would sweat uncontrollably. Then my brain overcompensated for the hearing loss by creating its own noises, otherwise known as tinnitus. Mine is loud. At times, maddeningly loud. Imagine putting your ear next to a roaring jet engine while an entire band plays theremins and that’s what I hear all day and all night. It’s like my brain is trying to communicate with aliens. I’ll let you know if we make contact. But really, who knew going deaf would be so loud? For a while, I didn’t enjoy hearing or listening to music, so I stopped. And this nearly destroyed me. Music has been my most trusted go-to therapy, and I couldn’t imagine a future without music.

After many doctor visits, which included a series of steroid injections through my ear drum—it’s not has horrible as it sounds, pun intended—my hearing never returned or improved. But over time, my brain made adjustments. Most days, I’m habituated to the tinnitus. I’ve developed coping mechanisms for sound sensitivity and distortion. And I began to enjoy listening to music again. Thank god.

So without further self-pity, here are the songs I listened to the most (in no particular order) over the last twelve months. Here’s a link to the complete Apple Music playlist or scroll to end of this post.

I Remember Everything

Rest in peace, John Prine. Thank you for the music.

I remember everything
Things I can’t forget
The way you turned and smiled on me
On the night that we first met
And I remember every night
Your ocean eyes of blue
How I miss you in the morning light
Like roses miss the dew

Julianna Calm Down

They’re back! The Chicks released an incredible new album in 2020.

You know there’ll come a time you think you can’t handle it
But dig deep and know that you can handle it
It’ll be okay

People Get Old

Released in 2018, People Get Old was included in the Southern Craft playlist, and became one of my favorite songs of 2020. When I posted song lyrics to my Instagram story, Lori McKenna responded with a thank you message, making me an instant fan for life. She released a new album in 2020, The Balladeer, and songs from that album are included below.

When you twirl your kids in your arms
Before you know it, it won’t take too long
They’ll be runnin’ off makin’ a life just like you did

Hold On

Thank God for the Schitt’s Creek casting team. If they hadn’t cast Noah Reid as Patrick, I may not have discovered his music, which is just as good as his acting.

I’m tired of repressing these same unexplainable fears
and i’m tired of believing i wasted my formative years

Who Will I Hold

Love these guys.

You slipped through my hands
Like I did through my mama’s
Like a river that passes
The rocks that it’s on
I’m bracing for loneliness
I know it’s comin’
Who will I hold when you’re gone?

Hold You Dear

One of the most tender and beautiful songs of 2020.

You’re a part of me and the one I love
The sweetest years won’t tarry
You will reach for me when my arms are full
And I will lay down the things I carry

Country Radio

The Queens. Pride.

I wanna be that boy
I wanna be that girl
I wanna know what it’s like to fall in love like most of the rest of the world
But as far as these songs will take me is as far as I’ll go
I’m just a gay kid in a small town who loves country radio

The Gospel of Mary

A haunting song about refugees, past and present. Separating families and keeping kids in cages is a crime against humanity, and by far the cruelest policy of the Trump administration.

You took my only boy away
And though I plead and though I beg
You won’t say where he’s gone to

Now Joseph’s dead out on the road
My boy is gone and I don’t know
Where he is or where I am
With every breath, it hurts me

Bring My Flowers Now

A song written by Brandi Carlile, Phil & Tim Hansenroth, and Tanya [Mutha] Tucker. Don’t procrastinate—tell those you love how much they mean to you. Pure perfection.

Bring my flowers now while I’m livin’
I won’t need your love when I’m gone
Don’t spend time, tears, or money on my ole breathless body
If your heart is in them flowers, bring them on

Best Years of My Life

Moody and masterful.

I picked a good day for a recreational percocet
I’ve got an itch to just get high
I’m in the middle of the worst of it
These are the best years of my life


There will always be a part of me that’s holding on
And still believes that everything is fine
And that I’m living a normal life
But until somebody sits me down
And tells me that I’m different now
I’ll always be the way I always am

When You're My Age

Lori McKenna (feat. Hillary Lindsey & Liz Rose)

You’ll outgrow your shoes
You’ll outgrow your bed
You’ll outgrow this house
Just don’t forget
When you’re all grown up
But you don’t feel that way
You’re still gonna be my baby
Even when you’re my age


Desperate for an enemy
But too afraid to kill
Use the pain of someone else
And triumph for their will

Hollywood Lawn

If you keep dreaming
I’ll keep sleeping through the night
Cause your demons got reason to fight
Keep dreaming

I Should’ve Spent The Day With My Family

Turning on my phone
Was the first mistake I made
My heart sunk when I read the first headline
There had been another shooting
And this time not so far away
And a child who lost his life
Looked an awful lot like mine

Young Man

You’re of me, not mine
Walk your own crooked line
I promise you’ll be fine
Take the best parts of him
As your own life begins
Leave the bad news behind you

It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault

Feels like I’ve gone crazy
Like the women in my family usually do
We can’t seem to keep our heads on
Long enough to make it through
Ah, but I’m still sensitive and stubborn
Still cry more than a person should
But it’s this feeling inside that’s changed
Like I’ve gone bad, but the world is good


Again with the honesty
If we’re doing it properly
Then what you have on me is called a monopoly
It’s like I’m part of your property
Goin’ down like a fallin’ tree in a forest no one’s
Found but I do make a sound when I fall down obviously


Some things are worth risking all your life for
Worth running out into traffic to stop someone turning a car around


I’m hurt, not hurt enough to die
See I was born to raise, born to fight
I’m tired, not tired enough to sleep
So, devil on my chest, don’t sing with me
Take my breath, let me be
Oh, let me be

I'm Not Crying, I've Just Rubbed Jalapenos in My Eyes

I’m not crying
There’s not much about you to warrant a gesture like that
You can see from my worn out valise I was already packed
But you chose this cantina to publicly say your goodbyes
I’m not crying, I’ve just rubbed jalapeños in my eyes

Why Wait

There is love in this world to find
And there is love you must leave behind
It’s no use to pretend
If you’re just going to leave me in the end
Why wait for you to break my heart

The Balladeer

She sings every song that she knows
The way that she hears em sad and slow
They’re never gonna play her on the radio
So she hangs in the darkest bars with downtrodden bleeding hearts

Blinding Lights

I’m going through withdrawals
You don’t even have to do too much
You can turn me on with just a touch, baby

Who You Thought I Was

Now I wanna be steady
I wanna be forever
Now I wanna be the me I could’ve been
When we were together
I wanna be at least almost
Close to worth your love

Toe Jam (Live)

Every day is fuckin’ perfect
It’s a paradise
I watch my life like it’s a movie
I had to watch it twice

Before the Next Teardrop Falls

If he brings you happiness
Then I wish you all the best
It’s your happiness that matters most of all
And if he ever breaks your heart
If the teardrops ever start
Well I’ll be there before the next teardrop falls

Western Swing & Waltzes

The iron still hits the fire
And the rope’s thrown straight and true
And they scorch their hides, ’til upon their sides
The brand is showing through

Letter to Madeline

Now in the pouring snow, sad, but swift
I headed down the highway
Hoping that the burden of my blues would lift
And praying that the whiskey would keep me brave

Goliath (Acoustic)

Here’s a story about the power of the broken
Here’s a riddle ’bout the rebel in your heart
Here’s a story ’bout a tick that beat the giant with a trick
About when you told me to do everything I can

C'mon Utah!

I was thirsty, I was lost
I was hanging on a cross
I was dying to make it back to Colorado
Bones in a saddle
I was weary from the battle
The path was much too difficult to follow

Between the Dirt and the Stars

Years will pass before we turn
To face the place where we come from
Years will pass before we learn
What time denies to everyone
If we’re lucky ghosts and prayers
Are company, not enemies
I time travel straight back there
You were singing back to me

No Glory in the West

Tired of begging them just to compete
Shoot to win can feel so bittersweet
But you take what you can get
’Cause there ain’t no glory in the west 

Classy Girls (B Version)

And I made her laugh, I made a pass
I showed her my half-dollar ring
She said, “That’s pretty cool
But classy girls don’t kiss in bars, you fool”

The Problem

I’m trying not to think of names
Will you look at me the same?
Do you need the reasons why?
Is a chrysalis a butterfly?
And all I could think to say
Was everything’s gonna be okay
It’s gonna be alright
I’m on your side


I feel like I’m gonna fall down
I was born and raised in an earthquake state
So I’m better on a shaky ground

Locked Up

I’m a dying fly on the wall
I’m a teenage girl who just won’t call
I’m a deflated basketball, no needle to be found
And I just want to be around

Put a Little Love On Me

When the lights come up and there’s no shadows dancing
I look around as my heart is collapsing
‘Cause you’re the only one I need
To put a little love on me

Effigy of Salt

My beloved, my curse
How you ripped me open
And you’ve heaped upon my hearth
And the many things that you have required of me
How they frighten and inspire me
The arch of your brow
The way everything’s laid out


I used to work all day, fuckin’ work all night
Spill my heart out on the slide
Well, it’s hard to make a livin’ hidin’ money in a can
‘Cause you can’t cash out what you ain’t cashed in
You take your dead-end job on a dead-end street
Throw it on a record, hon, and put it on repeat

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain

Love is like a dyin’ ember
And only memories remain
and through the ages I’ll remember
Blue eyes cryin’ in the rain

Welcome to Hard Times

Life’s a casino, I’m tellin’ you
And everybody’s playin’ – boys and girls
Women, children, me, and you
The dice are loaded and everything’s fixed
Even a hobo would tell you this

If I Told

I am a loner, I am stubborn
Can you handle this world I live in?
I know I can’t change, but for you I’d compromise

Let's Fall in Love for the Night

I’m the boy that your boy hoped that you would avoid
Don’t waste your eyes on jealous guys, fuck that noise
I know better than to call you mine

And It's Still Alright

It ain’t alright the hardness of my head
Now close your eyes and spin around
Say hard times you could find that it ain’t the way that you want
But it’s still alright

Record Player

Where are the songs that I love?
Where is the music that I care for?
Is it only in my head
Or on my record player?

Depression, Descent

When I stood by you
By the Christmas tree
Oh, your words were ugly
You said death was on the marquee
And you meant for yourself
You did not mean for me
And happiness came and went
Depression, descent

This is Home

Put your hand in mine
We’ve got all the time in this world
The blood in our hearts burns like a star
Leading us closer, times moving slower each day

Apalachee Plain

Mustangs are kicking in the field
I saw it all behind the wheel
But it woulda never had that feel
If you weren’t right there at my heels
Holding up
Your end of the bargain

The Being Gone

All this sense that I’ve been makin’ makes no sense to me at all
And the chances I keep takin’ up the chances that I’ll fall
Into the hole that I’ve been digging for myself into the dirt
If I can make it back to you then maybe no one will get hurt

In memorium

Some of the artists who touched my ears, heart, and soul that passed in 2020.

I can’t believe I won’t hear anymore new songs written by Adam Schlesinger. Fountains of Wayne songs are wrapped around so many memories. This song, I-95, is one of my favorites. Read about how their self-titled debut album instantly bonded Danny and me.

Kenny Roger’s 1981 album, Share Your Love, was one of the first LPs I ever bought with my paper route money. Blaze of Glory is the lead off song. Been a fan ever since.

John Prine begins and ends this post.

Here is the complete 2020 playlist:


Other stuff you might like:


Find out more

Receive occasional news and info.