Box Full of Letters from Issue #18
Like it or lump it
I recently became a subscriber to your No Depression magazine and thoroughly enjoy reading the articles presented. I am a big fan of Son Volt and was excited to read the article in this month’s issue. After reading the article I was very disappointed in the quality and quantity of content presented. I am not interested in knowing about the past experiences of the author and how he has found a connection to his interview with Jay Farrar. The reader is interested in reading about Son Volt, not the author. Yes, it may be true that Jay Farrar is not the easiest person to interview, but if that is the case then just write what you get. Please don’t fool the reader by making the article four or five times bigger by adding a heaping amount of information concerning the author’s past experiences. Please keep the articles informative and relative to the subject. Thanks for listening to my concerns.
— Bryan D. Franklin
You know, this little pseudo-country magazine wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for Jay Farrar. Why don’t you guys show the man some respect? I was appalled that you let a shmuck like Michael Perry interview Farrar, when it was obvious he knew nothing about nor cared about his music. And his Socratic approach to interviewing wore out its welcome in the first sentence. Jay Farrar’s music speaks for itself, thank god, since your magazine cannot conduct a thoughtful, intelligent interview with him.
— Zed Giglio
If Dante’s Inferno contained a circle of hell for interviewers, it would have to be the phone interview. Couple this handicap with an illusive subject and you’re in for a wild ride. I applaud Michael Perry for holding onto the bucking bronco with his novel physician/patient approach to his interview with Jay Farrar.
An interview should do two things, sometimes simultaneously, but not always. It tells the facts and/or gives an impression; a breathing alive moment, a sense of the subject. Perry went for the latter, giving enough of the facts to build on but more importantly a glimpse of the Farrar who makes the music we love, that affects us so powerfully. Thanks to the author for his goofy, offbeat treatment which revealed clearly, for a moment, the Jay Farrar who is nearly always out of focus in photographs. And thank you No Depression for encouraging creative, smart writing about music.
— Sara Willis
East Orland, Maine
Good Ole Boys:
More Don Williams fans
I’m sure that I’m not going to be the only one to commend you on talking about Don Williams in your “Hello Stranger” section [ND #17, Sept.-Oct. ’98]. I was blown away that you guys (and maybe gals) took the time to give a salute to such an important artist, at least to me. I don’t know if I have heard a better synopsis of anyone in country music when you stated, “…how smooth and warm and easy he makes country music sound.”
Don Williams — along with Waylon Jennings — is the first artist that turned me onto country music (never stated in public, of course). I always remember hearing his songs at my brother’s, in addition to on the radio, as I always loved a handful of country songs in the mid-late ’70s that made me tune the dial to country stations on a regular basis. Some 20 years later, I can still say that Don Williams’ music moves me like no other, every time.
— Joe Priebe
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Yes, there are other Don Williams fans, ever since I heard that line about the breeze through the live oak trees and the Williams boys.
During my vacation I read a big thick book called Country: The Music And The Musicians, published by the Country Music Foundation in 1988. I felt a chill of some sort when I read the phrase “alternative country” (referring to Willie & the Outlaws of that era); and again later the words “whatever that means,” this time in reference to “real” country music.
At one point an author proposed as the definition of country: “Whatever country-oriented labels will record, radio stations that call themselves country will play, and people who consider themselves country music fans will buy.”
I have been kicking around a similar definition for alt.country as long as I’ve been reading your magazine (whenever that was):
Whatever is covered by No Depression, and not explicitly excluded in the text of the coverage; and whatever is bought by fans who consider themselves primarily fans of “real” country, “good” country, “alt” country, “traditional” country or anything country except the current million-selling artists. And we’ll even allow some of those in if they’re named Marty or Dwight.
Ooops…I guess you could condense that down to “whatever that is.”
— Dick Estel