The Back Page: Looking Back At 2018

It has been even weirder than I thought it would be, living in a country where Donald Trump is the president. We’ve now had almost an entire year of it, and I frankly can’t imagine how we’re supposed to get through three more. Seven is beyond comprehension.

In the past, when the government has been in unfortunate hands, we at least had the comfort of a robust artistic reaction. The Vietnam era gave us some of the greatest music of all time. During the Reagan years, punk and indie music provided relief. Even if it wasn’t overtly political, you could feel the resistance expressing itself in all kinds of music.

Now? Meh. There’s no music “scene” to begin with, so how can that scene reflect the times? The answer is it can’t. It doesn’t. Taylor Swift isn’t going to risk alienating her fans by commenting on the state of things. But that was always true of the really popular artists, the chart-toppers. The problem now is the absence of anyone else who might hit on this stuff.

Are Spoon or the War On Drugs going to make a punk record? A protest album? I don’t think so, and I don’t think I want to hear it if they do.

Bruce Springsteen could maybe make a listenable protest record, but would he at this stage? And who would buy it and in what format? Besides, Bruce is playing Broadway for a thousand dollars a ticket these days. Not exactly sticking it to the Man.

So it’s up to us at The Back Page, not so much to stick it to the Man as to just stick to it. We’re going to do what we’ve been doing and be glad that 2020 is a little closer every day. For more than two decades, we’ve taken a look back at the new year, and we’re not going to let a little thing like good sense stop us now. Here’s a look back at what 2018 will bring:

January
On the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Trump throws a Second Annual Inaugural Ball on the National Mall in Washington. The Baha Men and Donny Osmond are the featured performers.

February
In a series of heavily sourced reports, The New York Times blows the lid off Hollywood’s sex-abuse scandal. According to the Times, every single man who produced, directed or starred in a motion picture before 2017 wantonly and repeatedly abused every woman within his influence. Harvey Weinstein cannot be reached for comment.

March
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr meet to discuss a Beatles reunion. Paul says he has some songs lying around from 1972. Ringo says they could call themselves Liverpool Rhythm Section. At some point, they remember that they have a jillion dollars and this will be a huge pain in the ass. “So hello, goodbye, then,” Paul says. “Say what?” replies Ringo.

The National plays the final show of its long tour in Berlin. The band leaves the city on five different flights to five different cities. “See you in 2022,” says Matt Berninger, as his sunglasses fog up.

April
On the eve of the big trial, President Trump pardons Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Henry Rollins. “No collusion!” he tweets. “And I really liked those first couple Black Flag albums.”

May
In an interview with Pitchfork, Bob Mould says he is willing to consider a Hüsker Dü reunion. “I’m not sure why,” says Mould. “It just feels like a better idea now than it used to.”

June
Wilco releases a surprise new album, Will Comply. The record is released only on the dark web, where all your personal information is already available. If you can find the dark web, you can find the album.

July
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young hold a press conference to announce that they are all still alive. “Who’d-a thunk it?” says Graham Nash. “We’re not doing a reunion or anything, but my God, we’re all still breathing. Even fucking Crosby.”

August
Jared Kushner jumps onstage with Queens Of The Stone Age. “This is about the worst thing I can imagine happening at one of my shows,” says Josh Homme. “I mean, the nerve of that guy.”

September
After selling “Here Comes Your Man” to the not-so-punk-rock Citibank for a commercial, the Pixies sell “Monkey Gone To Heaven” to Marlboro for a series of web ads.

October
On the first anniversary of Tom Petty’s death, Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn, Jeff Lynne and the Heartbreakers gather to “get to the point” and “roll another joint.” But they still don’t know how it feels to be him.

November
In what analysts see as a reaction to a second year of President Trump, Democrats win 350 seats in the House of Representatives and regain a majority in the Senate. On Twitter, Trump blames “weak candidates” and reminds everyone that he won 300 electoral votes in 2016. “My historic landslide makes me unimpeachable!!!” Trump tweets.

December
Father John Misty releases a Christmas album, although none of the 11 tracks is remotely about Christmas. His fans see the anarchic genius of this. The rest of the world continues spinning in blissful oblivion of Misty and his fans.

On his Facebook page, Santa Claus announces that he won’t be delivering gifts in the continental United States this year. “You people have lost your freaking minds,” Claus, a citizen of the North Pole, writes. “See you when you find them again.”