Friday, December 29, 2023

'23 Skiddo: Adieu! (And a Very Happy Power Pop New Year to All)

Okay kids, get ready to see out 2023, a truly rotten year, with the greatest holiday song I've heard in ages -- George Nipson's "Happy New Year! (Cheers to You!)."

That absolutely slays me; everything about it -- particularly the drily laconic lead vocal, the glorious harmonies, and all those 12-string guitars -- hits me on some genetic cellular level, and lyrically it's uplifting and generous of spirit enough to make you forget that we've just lived through 12 months that were possibly suckier than any in memory. And I say that as somebody who was around in 1968, i.e. with Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the assasinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Or 1970 and Kent State, when Joseph's Heller's great line in Catch-22 -- the bastards really were trying to kill us -- seemed newly and frighteningly relevant.

In any case, the song above showed up in my e-mail unbidden the other day, and as I so often do, I realized how much I love my phony-baloney job sometimes. As you won't be surprised to learn, I knew nothing about the artist previously, so allow me to share the bio he enclosed with the track. It turns out the song isn't actually new, and that George Nipson isn't actually his real name, but read on:

Mark Horn is an American singer, songwriter and guitar player. In 1978, he produced an album in Seattle titled Mark Horn/Someday, containing 10 of his original songs. Since that time, it has become rather collectible, selling for as high as $91 on eBay in 2012. An unopened copy is currently listed on eBay for $49.95.

In the late 1990s, while teaching 6th grade, Mark produced three CDs of camp songs to provide needed scholarship funds for 6th grade campers. At one point, eight of those song recordings were being played at every McDonalds play area in the country! However, until now, Mark has not released any recordings of his original material since 1978. About two weeks ago, that changed.

"Happy New Year! (Cheers To You!)” was written on January 1, 2000. Now, after 45 years since his last original release, and currently a substitute teacher in central Florida, Mark has finally released the first of his many songs that will be archived in the next few years. With engineering by Andy Anderson of VRS Studios in Ocoee, FL, this uplifting song is being very well received by all ages, due to its positivity and terrific production [You betcha -- S.S.]

Mark’s alias of George Nipson came about because there were already too many Mark Horns and Mr. Horns streaming their music, and he needed a nom du disque. He remembered that his father’s nickname was Nip, so he thought of Nip’s Son… which turned into Nipson. Then, he recalled that his mother referred to him as George or Pete as much as she called him Mark. Hence, George Nipson was born.

Okay, I'm not gonna belabor the obvious any more; we all know just what an appalling epoch we're barely surviving so far, both in this country and the world in general. But I will say that I have despaired of late of seeing any kind of hopeful light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Mark/George's song, however, has touched me enough to keep me off the hemlock; at the very least, it's a reminder of the power of art to heal and inspire. Or, if you will, Noel Coward's observation that there's something extraordinarily potent about cheap music.


Bottom line: Here's hoping 2024 isn't as sucky as 2023, and enjoy the forthcoming holiday weekend, even if you have to party like it's 1999.

Hang in there, everybody!


mistah charley, sb, ma, phd, jsps said...

0/in terms of annus horribilis - not only do i recall 1968, as a time traveler from the first half of the 20th century i recall 1962 - the cuban missile crisis, when nuclear war seemed very likely - and 1963, when lbj suddenly became president

1/i like george nipson's song too - yes, let's keep going - you never know when something surprising might happen, potentially to our advantage

2/i went to my primary care physician yesterday - he said he thought i would be healthier if i exercised some, lost some weight, and ate less salt - i admit he's probably right - at least he didn't tell me to stop smoking or drinking

3/no best of the year list? maybe one isn't in the mood - however, the financial times had such a list, and paul simon's latest - "seven psalms" - was on it - i haven't heard it yet

4/a todd rundgren song - "i love my life"

steve simels said...

I'm posting my top five albums on Monday.

paulinca said...

Thank you, Steve, for making my (mostly) daily routine THAT much better with musings and sharing on music that otherwise, I wouldn't have time to discover on my own. Here's to a great 2024!


بكجات سفر تركيا said...
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edward said...

Being a teacher in Florida these day, substitute or not, deserves a toast and a sincere wish of "Don't let the bastards wear you down." And by bastards, I'm not talking about the kids (but don't let them wear you down, either).

Gummo said...

... sorry, steve, but I had a really good year - I retired in '23!

So I'll just wish all the denizens of this blog a very Happy New Year!