A Blog's Life Top 10 Totally Off Topic

10 Things I Loved In 2013

Releasing my first ever solo EP Let’s Build An Airport was the major milestone for me but here’s 10 other highlights of the year.

The Rise of LFC

The massive turnaround in all areas of Liverpool Football Club, but especially the performance of SAS, the blossoming of Suarez into one of the best players in the world and of course the fall of Man Utd.

Discovering Cormac McCarthy

6 books 2 plays and 3 films so far. His lean style, profound dialogue, dark subject matter and old testament overtones create books that sink deep into your psyche.

Nottingham Music Thrives

Though posterboy Jake Bugg and new signings Indiana and Saint Raymond grab the headlines, they really are the tip of the iceberg. Nottingham continues to thrive and newer bands like Sea Monster Eyes, Privateers, Field Studies and Injured Birds excite me the most.


Mysterious Mostar is the partron saint of the Skyless LFC fan and the underground prophet of the match highlights videos. Thank you – whoever you are!

Bill Bailey does Billy Bragg for Billy Bragg

Brain Pickings

Addictive and profound – sign up for Maria Popova’s newsletter

Whole Lotta Helter Skelter

I interviewed Soundhog here. His mashup and video are both things of beauty.

Bad Lip Reading

Along with Honest Trailers and How It Should Have Ended, BLR supplied the lols.

Carragher & Neville Double Act

Sky turned MUFC’s most hated player into a universally respected pundit a few seasons ago. This year they did it again with LFC’s Jamie Carragher and created an entertaining and knowledgable double act.

Arctic Monkeys Regain Their Mojo

After two classic albums and two dour and miserable affairs it seems like the clouds are lifting and the Monkeys have a spring in their step once more.

Click on the links for my top 10 music, books and films of 2013

Top 10

Top 10 Books of 2013*

*(books I READ in 2013)

1) Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
David Bayles and Ted Orland

A beautiful little book full of rich insights that demythologises the creative process helping to remove the hinderances to making stuff

2) Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
Donald Miller

Finally shedding some of my evangelical prejudices and clearing up my confusion between Don Miller and Doug Coupland I found BLJ to be a warm and engaging book about faith where for once the writer is not the hero.

3) No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy

Hard to improve on a film with Tommy Lee Jones but the source book is even better. McCarthy’s dialogue sings and the Sheriff’s internal struggles make sense of that ending.

4) The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles
Dominic Pedler

A beast of a book crammed full of insights. Not just for Beatles fans but anyone who wants a thorough grounding in pop songwriting and the related music theory.

5) All the Pretty Horses
Cormac McCarthy

Two of McCarthy’s most likeable characters go through a rite of passage that is brutal and beautiful in turns. Any book that can make a city boy like me interested in the art of  breaking horses must be the work of a master.

6) The Road
Cormac McCarthy

Bleak, very bleak with occasional outbreaks of bleakness, I still haven’t mustered up the courage to watch the film. McCarthy portrays the smouldering wick of humanity in sea of evil.

7) The Sunset Limited: A Novel in Dramatic Form
Cormac McCarthy

A two-hand play in which a black Christian ex-con tries to talk a respectable white atheist out of killing himself.

8) Crap Lyrics
Johnny Sharp

Undoubtedly snarky fun but full of useful ‘how-not-to’s for any budding songwriter

9) The Street Where I Live
Alan Jay Lerner

The genesis of My Fair Lady, Camelot and Gigi on stage, screen and record as told by the raconteur extraordinaire lyricist himself.

10) Nineteen Seventy Four
David Peace

It’s grim up north. Yorkshire noir – where everyone is a bad guy.

Honourable Mentions

Other books I enjoyed

A few classics – Othello – William Shakespeare, Heart Of Darkness – Joseph Conrad. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, The Beatles Phenomenon – Barry Miles (a budget version of Mark Lewisohn with great photos and sheet music). The Crossing, Cities Of The Plains and Outer Dark – Cormac McCarthy. As if I didn’t get enough C- Mac this year! Good books only let down by mystical mexicans, weird endings and characters who spend 60 pages not interacting with another living soul. The Stand (The Complete and Uncut Edition) – Stephen King. Enjoyed my 20 year check-in with SK. Epic (obviously). And Gilead – Marilynne Robinson. Such a warm book that manages to convey such drama in what essentially is a man’s 270 page letter to his son.