Hello Stranger from Issue #18
The last thing I heard, first thing this morning, was the sound of Mark Olson and Victoria Williams singing together, on their latest self-released Creek Dippers album, Pacific Coast Rambler.
These final weekends are always a struggle, and a pleasure. And they are, as we so commonly note here, always about music and sports, pleasant tonics both to break the tension. Almost a year ago I was agonizing over the words I had written about Mark and Victoria. It remains the piece I have written these last few years that I am happiest about (and, to borrow from Mr. Earle, I ain’t ever satisfied), though my reasons were mostly private.
See, I don’t really know Mark and Victoria — we writers usually don’t know our subjects socially, and can rarely write about them honestly if we do — but they were kind enough to invite me into their home near Joshua Tree one afternoon. In person they are as they are onstage: kind, sweet, full of joy, tender, and just tough enough.
The story I ultimately wrote was, in part, a meditation on the possibilities of marriage, partly inspired by their example. What I have said privately several times is that the name of this magazine, in addition to its Carter Family/Uncle Tupelo/AOL references, is for me a reminder that No Depression began amid the ashes of a seven-year relationship. The piece about Mark and Victoria was also in part inspired by a woman I’d just met who, in less than a week of this writing, will become my wife.
I guess that’s what happens when the words work the way they’re meant to.
Doesn’t always work out that way, as more than a few of you noted in response to Mike Perry’s profile of Son Volt leader Jay Farrar last issue.
Well. Peter and Mike and I, we’ll all stand behind that story. We thought it a good and revealing study of a difficult but important figure. Still do. Obviously a number of people took offense, not the least of whom is a treasured friend who happens also to be Son Volt’s publicist.
Here’s the deal: First, please be certain that no offense was meant (though some was certainly taken). We genuinely meant that as an honest, honestly revealing piece, and were genuinely surprised by the honest passion raised against it.
Second. Please extend to the folks who write, edit, and otherwise contribute to this magazine the same grace you would extend to a favorite musician. If we don’t occasionally fail, we’re not trying. And if we’re not trying, we’re not worth paying attention to.