Well, it’s that time again. The year is coming to a close and I’m looking back at significant shows, photos, artists, and albums that made 2017 great. As I reminisce, it occurs to me how pervasive music is in my life. Nearly every significant moment in my life is soundtracked by a song or album that played an important part in helping me through, inspiring me to persevere, bringing me joy, or making me smile. So, rather than do a chronological recap of the year, I thought I’d look back through a few different lenses. I’ll be looking back at my favorite 75 photos of the year, the important role music plays in my life, celebrating those we lost in 2017 and a cool new timeline of my favorite albums released this year.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy seeing 2017 through my eyes.
THE POWER OF MUSIC
A friend and I were recently talking about makes us like a song or artist. For me, the music I tend to like the most is that which makes me feel something. Whether it’s lyrical content or the mood of a song, if it elicits an emotional response then I’m in. Through the years it has given me joy, put a roof over my head, pulled me out of depression, healed heartbreak, and soundtracked pivotal moments in my life. Songs can be so closely attached to a moment or a memory that they can instantly bring you immense joy or deep sadness.
On December 24th 2005, just after 2 AM, myself and 2 friends were driving to get some late night food after going out to see some live music. On the way to the restaurant we were arguing about what the best Pearl Jam song was. I was arguing for State Of Love And Trust as my favorite, but my friend John told me I was stupid and that Alive was clearly their best song.
Minutes later, we were hit by a drunk driver, ejecting John from the car and killing him. In the months after the accident I spiraled out of control, turning to alcohol to numb the pain and guilt I felt for being alive while John wasn’t.
For years I couldn’t listen to the song Alive. It hit too close to home, exacerbating my survivor’s guilt and binging back horrible memories of that night. One evening about 2 or so years after the accident, I happened to be flipping through channels and came across Pearl Jam on VH1 Storytellers and Eddie was talking about the song Alive. How when he wrote it was a song of confusion and feeling cursed by the loss of a father he never knew. He goes on to describe how the fans’ interpretations to the song changed the meaning of the song to him… lifting the curse.
As Eddie told this story, the exact transformation of the song’s meaning was happening for me as well. Instead of being angry that I was still alive, the realization that it could just as easily have been me who was killed that night became motivation for me to not waste the life I have. It has given me a resolve to make the best of every day since. I’m still alive.
I won’t claim that this song singlehandedly pulled me out of alcohol abuse and depression, but it certainly was an important part of understanding how to transform tragedy into strength.
In April of 2016 I had the privilege of photographing Pearl Jam and in April of this year they were inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As we near the 12 year anniversary of that terrible night, I can’t help but think of how excited John would have been for both of those things.
GONE TOO SOON
It’d be difficult to wrap up 2017 without talking about some of the musical giants we have lost this year. Some died of natural causes, some lost valiantly fighting terminal illnesses, and some succumbed to the scourge of substance abuse. The legacy left by artists like Tom Petty, Malcolm Young, Chris Cornell, Jessi Zazu, Charles Bradley, Fats Domino, Glenn Campbell, and Gregg Allman, will inspire generations of musicians and music fans for years to come.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see and/or photograph many of those who are no longer with us. While I’m sad that they are gone, I’m glad that they lived and shared their gifts with the world. Let’s celebrate their contributions to music and crank it up.
Rest In Peace.
2017 BY THE NUMBERS
THE BIG PICTURE
- 719 Artists photographed
- 10,210 Photos posted
- 25 Music Festivals photographed
- 178 Individual events photographed
- 238 Days shooting shows
- 149 Artists nominated for at least 1 Grammy Award
- 1179 Total Grammy nominations by those 149 artists
- 84 Artists have won at least 1 Grammy Award
- 301 Total Grammy Award wins by those 84 artists
- 45 of those 84 have won multiple Grammy Awards
- 26 artists photographed are in Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAMERS PHOTOGRAPHED
- Gregg Allman
- BB King
- Beach Boys
- Jackson Browne
- Jack Casady
- Cheap Trick
- Dr John
- Buddy Guy
- Hall & Oates
- Billy Joel
- Jorma Kaukonen
- John Mellencamp
- Steve Miller
- Pearl Jam
- Tom Petty
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Mavis Staples
- Steely Dan
- Rod Stewart
- The Temptations
- Van Halen
- Neil Young
MOST GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
- Chick Corea – 64 nominations
- Willie Nelson – 49 nominations
- Dolly Parton – 47 nominations
- Emmylou Harris – 47 nominations
- Lionel Richie – 32 nominations
MOST GRAMMY WINS
- Alison Kraus – 27 wins
- Chick Corea – 22 wins
- Yo Yo Ma – 18 wins
- BB King – 15 wins
- Bela Fleck – 14 wins
MOST PHOTOGRAPHED ARTISTS
- Walk The Moon – 6 shows
- The National – 5 shows
- Jason Isbell – 5 shows
- Saintseneca – 5 shows
- Six bands tied at 4 shows
MOST PHOTOGRAPHED VENUES
- Taft Theatre– 30 shows
- Riverbend Music Center – 29 shows
- Southgate House Revival – 18 shows
- Madison Theater – 15 shows
- Bogart’s – 8 shows
- US Bank Arena – 7 shows
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