I didn't have time or money to hear or see enough things to make a valid end-of-year list. I can tell you what I sensed and how I liked it. If I left something off, it is probable that I just didn't get to it.
I bought some CDs. I liked the new Bob Dylan and the new Neko Case. I had certain expectations of these artists and they did not disappoint. I haven't gotten around to the new Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, but I generally adore everything Will Oldham touches - except for the movie "Old Joy," which I thought was just OK.
Movie-wise, I am at a loss to pick any true winners. I know I saw some fine films this year, but for the life of me, none of them come to mind right now.
Books. I am a compulsive reader, but due to financial constraints and the availability of a very good public library, I don't think I read a single book published in 2006. Sorry. I read tons, however. Specifically, I enjoyed Robinson's Gilead, Smith's I Capture the Castle, Warner's Lolly Willowes, Borges' Collected Nonfiction, Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Twain's Huckleberry Finn - I am sure I am forgetting many. My best book discovery was the NYRB paperback classics. Nice classics that have not beaten to death by your college and high school English professors. I have read about 5-6 of these books in the last month and they have all been excellent.
Music. This is the year I discovered the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music, which was like stumbling upon Shangri-La by accident. Life-changing. Hearing those six CDs was reminded me of what music does to people when they're young - it makes you want to make t-shirts and put up posters and talk about it all the time.
On the newer side; my favorite new(er) artists of the year are Oakley Hall outta Brooklyn, Georgie James and Benjee Ferree outta DC, and The Bowerbirds and Schooner from my good old North Carolina home.
My favorite re-issues were the Bicycle Face collection and Past by a picture made - an old Raleigh band from the late 80s, sent to me by the singer who is now a Virginia attorney.
My favorite shows were the Fake Accents at the Galaxy Hut, Jolie Holland and Sean Hayes at Jammin' Java, Neko and The New Pornographers (separate shows) at the 9:30 Club. ostly I missed more shows than I saw this year, specifically regretting Shumai at Galaxy Hut, Camera Obscura w/ Georgie James and Portastatic at the Black Cat, The Clientele and Richard Buckner/Eric Bachmann at IOTA.
My favorite album of the year was Let's Get Out of This Country by Camera Obscura. My favorite song of the year was Eric Bachmann's cover of the Let's Active classic "Every Word Means No."
My favorite art exhibit was the Hokusai at the Sackler.
My favorite fruit was the orange. My favorite grain was corn in the form of grits. My favorite bird was the mockingbird.