Music Features

Phoenix New Times Writers Share Their Musical Resolutions

We've resolved to listen to more music in 2020.
We've resolved to listen to more music in 2020. djile/
Have you finished putting together your New Year's resolutions yet?

You still plenty of time. Some Phoenix New Times writers have some goals they want to accomplish this year in the world of music, so they're sharing their resolutions with readers not only to inspire but to keep themselves accountable.

Please share your musical resolutions in the comments and have a safe and happy 2020.

Listen to More New Music

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, few things are as shameful than a music writer admitting that they need to listen to more music (insert "You had one job" GIF here). But I have to be honest: I definitely slacked on keeping my ears open last year. I’m one of those people that tend to have on/off years when it comes to cultural consumption. Some years I’ll fixate on the "new" and expand my horizons as far as they’ll go, and some years I retreat into what I already know and reacquaint myself with old loves. Last year was a year of retreat for me in more ways than one.

There were moments where I discovered new things, and the thrill of the "new" still hits like a drug: listening to Steely Dan’s Aja for the first time and wondering where “Deacon Blues” had been all my life; playing Flasher’s Constant Image over and over again and finding a new favorite song with each listen; getting lost in the Nina Simone-ish timbre of Terry Callier's voice on The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier; being moved to tears by Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors. Like all good drugs, that hit is addictive. I’m resolving to chase the high in 2020 and seeing what else gets me back in that zone. Ashley Naftule

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Playing the guitar well is harder than it looks.

Play Guitar

I didn’t start playing drums when I wanted to, which was back in the fourth grade. However, I did make that dream a reality in my grown-up life. I’ve been banging on those noisemakers for a couple of decades now. I've fortunately been able to play in a bunch of awesome bands.

I did have an instrument first love, and it wasn’t drums — it was the guitar. I've always wanted to play it. Save for two tries at learning — one in second grade and one a few years back where I would sit and play songs with guitar tablature, it never really went anywhere.

I’ve decided that 2020 is my Year of the Guitar. I borrowed one from a friend, and I am taking at-your-own-pace lessons via Fender’s website. By the end of the year, my goal is to make some reasonable sounds come out of the thing without purposely destroying any eardrums. Then I'll get on a stage, with a band, and play at least one song live.

Who knows? Maybe there will even be a solo. In any case, let the finger-blistering begin. Amy Young

You know who can write a song? Elvis Costello.
Andy Gotts

Writing a Song

For years, I reviewed albums for a major music blog. Of all the "feedback" I’d ever received, nothing wounded quite as deeply as the person who’d said I was a “waste of genetic material.” And to think I gave that Lil Wayne album a positive review. Since then, I’ve tried to become a better music writer by finding ways to improve my core skills. I’ve focused more on musical technique in my writings, spoken with musicians about theory and the like, and even taken music lessons.

While those all helped to a degree, I want to use 2020 to write a song. I want it to be something along the lines of Armed Forces-era Elvis Costello, a pop-rock ditty with ample heart and wit. Writing is mostly my bag, and this blind leap into songwriting could result in new understandings without gaining any nasty calluses. More critics need to cultivate the tools needed to engage the craft of music and divine greater truths, which means going beyond any comfort zones. I don’t expect to come up with some Christmas No. 1 material, but the act of creating should be enough to make me "better." If only to prove that one commenter dead wrong. Chris Coplan
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers