HELLO STRANGER: A Walk Through No Depression’s Fall 2022 Journal + Playlist
EDITOR’S NOTE: Managing Editor Hilary Saunders’ letter, below, opens our current quarterly journal, featuring the best and most timely stories in roots music today. Buy the Fall 2022 issue in print or digitally here. Better yet, start a subscription with this issue and help support No Depression’s music journalism all year long.
On my first major journey since the pandemic started, I brought Gloria Steinem’s memoir My Life on the Road with me as an inspirational, textual companion. The trip spanned three countries and six cities and took me abroad for almost a month. I traveled by plane, train, car, and subway, as well as by foot across many, many miles.
Not shockingly, the idea for this trip stemmed from wanting to go to a friend’s gig. But over time, with both much planning and much spontaneity, it blossomed into something far larger. I heard Occidental music in Paris and hoe-downs in Stockholm. I met Finnish fans who flew to Sweden just to see their new favorite American singer-songwriters perform and spied on attendees who knew all the words in a language not their own. I met someone who asked what I do and literally fell to his knees and bowed when I told him I work at No Depression. He’d been reading it since he was a kid.
I thought I knew how much I’d missed traveling during lockdown, but it turns out I was underestimating out of self-preservation. Despite the COVID scares and 10 cumulative hours of travel delays and lack of air conditioning and poor nutrition that comes with this kind of life, I fell in love with the road — and the magical connections you make with people along the way — all over again.
Steinem, a renowned feminist author, advocate, and activist, released My Life on the Road — a book about her itinerant childhood and intentionally transient adulthood and career — in 2015. Regarding the overlap between traveling and community organizing, she wrote, “Other than becoming a rock musician or a troubadour, nothing else allows you to be a full-time part of social change.”
Sitting in the Arlanda Airport hotel bar, I nearly spilled my Swedish stout while marking that passage in my book. Steinem’s work is far outside the music industry, so I was surprised to find her making a connection that has become the basis of so much of my life and work with No Depression — that everyone has a story to tell. That music carries stories better than most forms. That stories connect us when we feel most divided. And that sharing music with others, especially on the road, is one of the greatest joys and one of the most powerful agents of change.
The thing about the road though, is its unpredictability. The road is never straight, and sometimes, as my friend and I used to yell lovingly at each other, there’s not even a path to follow! Starting with the Fall 2022 issue, we’re embarking on a new leg of our own journey with No Depression. This edition is the first since our return-to-print issue in Winter 2015 without a theme and will pave the way for future editorial adventures.
Somewhere along the road during my recent journeys, I posted a photo with the caption, “May you always have a mini bottle of vintage champagne and a French pastry at hand.” A musician — one that we’ve covered in these pages — saw it and joked that I’d just written the forgotten verse to Rod Stewart’s ballad “Forever Young.” Our brief musical connection and chuckle reminded me of even the smallest ways that songs bring us together. So as you read these stories of hope and thanks and perseverance and connection and roots and growth in the Fall 2022 issue of No Depression, I’ll hope you’ll take Rod’s prayer of life on and from the road as guidance and gift:
May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam.
And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you’re far from home.
And may you grow to be proud, dignified and true.
And do unto others as you’d have done to you.
Be courageous and be brave.
And in my heart you’ll always stay
Here is a playlist of songs from artists featured in the Fall 2022 issue: