Listen Up: Todd Burge's Top Music Picks for 2011

Todd Burge

Updated Wed, Mar 14, 2012 3:12 pm
Todd Burge

I normally don't make New Year's resolutions. When I do, I don't usually keep them, but I did for 2011.

Just one, and that was to not download anything that I had already purchased on CD, LP, cassette or even 8-track (yes, 8-track).

I listen to 99% of my music via my smart phone. I was downloading stuff I already had and felt like I was in a bit of a musical rut. I find that I can get a bit more creative as a songwriter if I'm digging into unfamiliar listening territory.

But even with that resolution, I still find myself digging back into the music of my youth and rediscovering it, sort of like I do when I watch The Godfather every three years or so.

I listen to a gob of music everyday since I spend a lot of time booking and promoting shows for the Adelphia Music Hall, plus I have my radio show and podcast (

Musicians are constantly sending me music, which is great, but I rarely hear their entire recordings and I still love to listen to albums in their entirety.

Also, I'm a sucker for concept albums if they're done well, like Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger. I totally dig Canary by Southeast Engine as well as The Hazards of Love by the Decemberists. I was turned on to that recording while listening to WOUB's Crossing Boundaries late one night, driving home from a show.

Brandi Carlile's Give up the Ghost makes me want to play rock and roll again...and again.

Almost all of Roger Miller's tunes are lessons in songwriting. He gives you a twisted world each time in three minutes or less.

It's almost cliche to put Paul Simon in a top 10 list, but he is worthy.

Early on this year I felt like I was behind on my Randy Newman listening and now I feel like I'm ahead.

And I'll stand on Mick Jagger's coffee table and yell it loud enough for the neighbors to hear, but I think Willie and Family Live is one of the best rock and roll records ever. Listen to the damn thing; it rocks.

My top 10 might be a bit different tomorrow than it is today. I suppose this list reflects what I remember the most about my listening in 2011. Happy New Year.

1. Bill Kirchen, Word to the Wise
2. Tim O’Brien, Chicken and Egg
3. Marti Jones & Don Dixon, Living Stereo
4. Southeast Engine, Canary
5. Brandi Carlile, Give up The Ghost
6. Paul Simon, So Beautiful Or So What
7. Roger Miller, King of the Road: The Genius of Roger Miller (box set)
8. The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
9. Randy Newman, The Best of Randy Newman
10. Willie Nelson, Willie and Family Live

Slideshow: Listen Up: Todd Burge


Bill Kirchen, "Word to the Wise"

Tim O'Brien, "Chicken and Egg"

Marti Jones and Don Dixon, "Living Stereo"

Southeast Engine, "Canary"

Brandi Carlile, "Give Up the Ghost"

Paul Simon, "So Beautiful or So What"

Roger Miller, "King of the Road: The Genius of Roger Miller"

The Decemberists, "The Hazards of Love"

Randy Newman, "The Best of Randy Newman"

Willie Nelson, "Willie and Family Live"