January 8, 2009: Mrs. L’s Best of 2008
Welcome to Mrs. L’s Best of 2008! Please remember that all opinions expressed herein are Mrs L’s alone, and are not assumptions of agreement, or attempts at coercion! Mrs. L has been known to have peculiar tastes at times, so reader, beware.
The Best of 2008
Best NYC taxi driver of 2008: the guy who stuck his hand back through the plexiglass window and handed me a kleenex when he heard me crying into my cell phone. God bless you, sir, wherever you are.
Best federal building in which I performed this year: The Library of Congress, with Mark O’Connor, in November. If you lose your faith in government, and just need a little boost of confidence, go to the Library of Congress. They have EVERYTHING archived carefully away, from Thomas Jefferson’s papers to the copyrights of my very first songwriting attempts (which they displayed in a case in the lobby during my performance). And not only that, the architecture and detail are unbelievably beautiful.
Best meal of 2008: Oh, I love this category. This is a tough one. It’s hard to remember some of those dinners back in January and February, but I do recall a fantastic dinner at Randazzo’s in Brooklyn for my friend Sheilah’s birthday, of clams and oysters and all manner of shellfish.My other friend Sheila made us a lamb stew over rice, with hot cilantro sauce on the side, just a couple weeks ago, during Hanukkah, and it was spectacular. Mr. L and I had a very romantic dinner last summer at the Metropolitan Museum dining room, and then went up on the roof to look at the lights of the city. That was a lovely night. Lastly, a dinner at the house of one of the producers of the Century of Song festival, in Dusseldorf, Germany, with Joe Henry and Billy Bragg, the band, crew and entire group, was a festive and wonderful evening. I guess it’s not the food as much as the company, but when both are great, it is really memorable.
Best film of 2008: I saw a lot of forgettable films this year, but in December suddenly the floodgates of real art opened, and I saw two amazing, stunning films which were more experience than film: "Slumdog Millionare", directed by Danny Boyle,and "Milk", directed by Gus Van Sant and starring the incomparable Sean Penn. I was so moved by both these films and oddly, for the same reason: they were both ultimately about the resiliency of the human spirit and how transcendent that spirit can be. Highly recommended. And by the way, I think Sean Penn has gone from acting to something else entirely. Being mortal, I can only guess.
Best Christmas gift: Seeing my nine-year-old son be a ‘candlelighter’ at his school’s holiday ceremony—a great privilege and one which made him very nervous. He handled it beautifully. My heart melted.
Best beach: I do love Amagansett, on the east end of Long Island, so much. It has historical resonance for me, as one of my ancestors shipwrecked there in 1839, but it’s more than that. The dunes, the Atlantic waves, the smell of the clean salt water—it’s just intoxicating to me.I go out there as much as I can, and I never tire of it. The other beach that leaves a mark this year is the little beach on Guana Island, where we went for spring break. It’s not a spectacular beach, not particularly wide or white, but the view of the islands, the palms hanging over the little terrace, and the turquoise water make it completely mesmerizing.
Best live music concert, excluding myself: I have to go back to February of 2008 for this. Joe Henry at the Allen Room at Lincoln Center was sublime, and re-connected me to why I became a songwriter in the first place.
Best live music concert, my own: Century of Song festival, Bochum, Germany. Seeing Joe perform back in February re-connected me with why I became a songwriter. These two shows with Billy Bragg and Joe re-connected me with why I became a performer, and why I love being in a band. Collaboration with gifted people is greater than the sum of the parts.
Best recording session: That would have to be April 5, 2008, with Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello. See ‘Measure for Measure’ for details.
Best Record: I hate it when I ask myself about this category. I would have to make sub-categories of mood and receptivity. I LOVED the Al Green Record. I was deeply inspired by Joe Henry’s record, and also by Rodney Crowell’s new record. I became a fan of Billy Bragg, and one song in particular, ‘Must I Paint You A Picture?’ stayed with me for months. Alejandro Escovedo made a fantastic record this year, and Steve Earle’s was delightful. I listened to quite a bit of Neko Case in December and was deeply moved by her, for a variety of reasons. I think the award will go to Joe Henry, for sheer songwriting prowess.
Best Vacation: Guana Island, March 2008. Oh dear God. It was magnificent. A private island with one resort. A perfect little beach. A view from the terrace that would make you weep, excellent dining and a deeply attentive staff. Too expensive to do every year, but oh, when my ship comes in…...
Best Novel: "The Moviegoer", by Walker Percy. I just love knowing that books like this exist in the world, and there are writers as great as Walker Percy to inspire us Philistines. Runner-up: "Saturday" by Ian McEwan. The neurosurgery details were particularly compelling.
Best Husband of 2008: Mr. L, for devotion, truth-telling and humor. I’m just lucky to be on a planet where I can be married to Mr. L.
Love from Mrs. L