Hello Stranger from Issue #29
One day I looked up and we were five. I have no idea how this happened.
One day when I was five I stuck a knitting needle in a wall socket and nearly set my bed on fire, so I know this to be a dangerous and exciting age.
One day I looked up and we had devoted much of this issue and all of its features to artists from Nashville. Another surprise. It wasn’t a plan, none of it really, just worked out that way.
Not to trouble you with too many details, but when we began No Depression five years ago, the first issue was 32 pages and the initial press run was 2,000 copies. With this, our largest issue, we have grown to 136 pages, and 20,000 copies.
And so, before I digress further, please allow me to thank every last one of you for that. There are no other jobs that would allow me to work with such abundantly talented writers (and photographers, and illustrators), write whatever the hell I wish, and design the whole mess. Once an issue, at least, it all seems impossible, and still great good fortune.
But I intended to say a few words about Nashville, my adopted home, and the third city I’ve lived in since this magazine began: It’s not a bad place.
Indeed, as this issue’s story list should suggest, it’s a pretty good place, which is why newcomers such as Ryan Adams and Amy Rigby (and, not so long ago, me) are emboldened to move here, and are welcomed upon arrival.
Yes, there’s a big music machine in town. And most of the music manufactured up on Music Row is of very little interest. More remarkably, some of it is. Regardless, one by-product of that machine is that it creates enough work to sustain a series of vibrant, creative communities.
When we began this magazine, I rather envisioned us poking knitting needles at the big bad music machine. And we have. And will.
But there is more to the story than that.
So please do not take our celebration of Nashville musicians to suggest that we have somehow been absorbed into that machine. Rather, as always, we simply found a broad range of artists whose work engaged us, and we began assigning stories. Some of them work within the corporate world, most don’t.
Mind you, I’d imagined nothing of the kind five years ago. I expected — anticipated, hoped for, desperately needed — a broad, punk-led country renaissance. Didn’t happen, not really. Might still, might not.
Along the way, other doors have opened: the best part of life. And I’ve no idea where the next five years will take us, only the certainty that I’ll enjoy the ride, and the music’ll be good. Hope you’ll come along.
We are five in one other way. The No Depression staff, to the extent that a bunch of folks working in spare rooms across the country can comprise a staff, has numbered five almost since the beginning. Peter and I are better at the creative process than the business details, and so without the hard work and good sense of our long-suffering third partner, Kyla Fairchild, we’d be a much less functional enterprise. In addition to directing our distribution and advertising efforts, she provides invaluable insight and input to both the daily and long-term operations of our venture.
Mary Schuh attends to a broad range of office matters (and understands postal regulations, in itself a rare gift, or curse). She has been our subscriptions manager for a good while now, following Cindy Payne and Naomi Shapiro. She introduced Peter to me in 1991, and has been my friend and co-worker (and, briefly, landlord) since 1986. In fact, while I was busy writing about Mudhoney and their friends, she added notable roots-rock bands to my palette.
A year or so ago, the patient and professional Tom Monday succeeded a distinguished list of advertising representatives, following Jenni Sperandeo and Kay Clary.
Without them, and without you, none of our small successes would be possible.
So thanks. Thanks a lot.