Hello Stranger from Issue #23
I write and think about god rarely enough to be unsure whether even to capitalize the word or not. But it is not a subject one can avoid, living in Tennessee and writing about country music (whatever that is).
Here one learns that restaurants will be unaccountably crowded around noon each Sunday, and oddly busy Wednesday night. One takes slow, patient instruction in doctrinal nuance, learning, for example, that the choice to capitalize Church of Christ (as opposed to church of Christ) is a matter of some importance to members of that faith. And one comes to understand better, after a fashion and still from a great distance, how these issues inescapably merge and submerge into so many songs.
And so it ought not to be a surprise that the fourth anniversary edition of this magazine — whose beginnings grew from a far more trivial leap of faith — should come closer to Sunday morning than our accustomed Saturday night. After all, it is inextricably at the core of music made by Buddy and Julie Miller, explicitly a driving force behind Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and a huge part of the tradition that draws Jim Lauderdale to the music of Ralph Stanley.
Which is rather a long way around suggesting that our ever-changing subtitle on this issue’s cover is meant, yes, with a smile, but certainly not with the sharp stick of irony.
But, then, nobody got the irony meant when two Seattle lads started something called No Depression and described it as an alternative country music magazine in the first place, so perhaps I ought not worry.
Four years on, this magazine still feels like a small miracle each time it goes to press. And a curse at least once the night before.
Not so long ago Peter and I stood in the midnight gloom of an office kindly loaned by Seattle designer Art Chantry and pieced together a first issue from Kinko’s laserprints, breaking briefly to drive down the road to the Tractor Tavern to see the Bottle Rockets. Happily, both we and the Rockets are still around, though that old truck expired long ago.
Each issue we are gratified by the kindness of our contributors, who continue to work for far less than they’re worth, and the steady increase in our readership who, we hope, continue to find far more music than they expected when first they opened these pages.
With this issue, No Depression also grows a spine (keep those jokes to yourself, now), which has more to do with our printer’s needs than our own, but is a nice anniversary acknowledgment nevertheless.
For the rest, our sincere thanks shall have to do. So once again, borrowing from Ernest Tubb: Thanks. Thanks a lot.