Monday, January 03, 2005

Meet the new year, same as the old year 

Whew. My top 10 albums and singles lists are done, finalized, submitted to The Village Voice for the Pazz & Jop poll. Am I relieved? Not really, no. I'll be taking most of the rest of January to finish the remainder of my expando-lists. And because I don't have the full lists finished yet, I won't be revealing my top tens just yet. Gotta leave a little suspense for everyone.

Anyway, it's been three days, and I think I've recovered from my third consecutive Goldhawk New Year's bash. And I'll cast aside false modesty and declare that, aside from my ill-conceived spin of 90125-era Yes during my seventh hour of spinning, I was so thrilled with what I played that I'm tempted to call it one of the five or ten best performances of my life. What's even funnier about that, too, is that normally my favorite gigs are the ones during which I get away with musical murder, playing favorite obscurities and having people actually dig them; this was not that kind of show. Oh, I busted unknown quantities like Endgames and Pitty Sing early. But while my pre-midnight choice of Zager & Evans seemed to mystify some—and I challenge anyone to name a song with a title containing a number that more closely resembles the year that was five minutes away when I played it—the bulk of the post-midnight insanity featured me spinning, in addition to my usual rock & roll raves, a smattering of the sort of Top 40 fare I usually avoid scrupulously.

So why did I mix Britney and Justin, not to mention Haddaway and The Spice Girls, into the usual Killers/Franz/Human League/Beatles motif? I think New Year's Eve is the perfect night to come down from the high horse, let the hair down, do a little dance, make a little love, and whatever other clichés come to mind. Sure, in the right venue it might be a total blast to do an obscuro hipster's New Year's party. And while The Goldhawk crowd is usually pretty hip, and New Year's was no different, if there's ever a night to lean a little farther toward the middle, it's a night when everyone's paid $70 for a four-hour open bar and wants to get stupid. Besides, I would have been remiss to celebrate the year that just ended without playing its two most ubiquitous jams, Usher's "Yeah!" and Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot." Let the record reflect that, in order to play the Usher track, I first had to remove the shrink-wrap from the CD. While standing in the DJ booth. I'd argue that was the punkest moment of the night, especially considering that I don't even like the song. "Yeah!" will probably will top the Pazz & Jop singles poll if "Take Me Out" doesn't, but I just don't get it. It might have sounded revolutionary if it had been the theme song to a Nickelodeon series in the '80s, but in 2003 that song simply did not grate my parmesan.

So a lot of people got silly and danced. "Summer Wind" was a slow-dance hit; otherwise, it was high energy basically all night. I was thrilled beyond belief a little after midnight when I got a request for ABC's "The Look Of Love," which is only my favorite song of all time. There was a hip couple parked at the corner of the back bar for the better part of the night—until they started cutting the rug, that is—and the female half of the pair knew the words to practically everything I played. At one point, a nice guy came up to the booth and said, "I've been coming here for two years, and I've never heard this music here before." My obvious retort: "And you never will again." I owe the incomparable front bar staff some requests that I did not get to, but Pete, Amber, and Butch know where to find me. As New Year's is the one night that the Hoboken cops don't bust the bars for staying open as late as they want to, I played an hour later than I normally do, and this was after starting at 9:30, a half hour earlier than the norm. Then, after closing with Captain Sensible's incomparable version of the South Pacific tune "Happy Talk" (as sampled in 2003 by Dizzee Rascal), I found out we were staying open even later, and I got to unleash an encore set that went nearly another half hour. As Michael Kay would say, "Bonus cantos!"

If I could do it over, I'd play "Enjoy Yourself" by The Specials in place of the Yes song. That aside, I think this was the best of my five New Year's gigs. Onward and upward. Maybe this year won't be so bad after all.

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