Hello Stranger from Issue #40
Sometimes this 2/3-page hole begs to be filled with comments and observations on a hot subject or timely topic. Other times, nothing obvious rises to the fore that demands to be written about. See if you can guess which one this is.
That being the case, it seems apropos to cast the net randomly, picking up whatever scraps may fall into view…
The Twangfest Auction, a fund-raiser for the annual alt-country extravaganza in St. Louis (which took place June 5-8 this year), included a set of the first twelve issues of No Depression, courtesy an anonymous donor (it wasn’t us; we’re still hording — or hiding — those early magazines). The bid topped out at $97, going to someone with initials “CG” in Oregon.
Having recently paged through those issues for the first time in a good while, we’d like to apologize to CG for the disappointment he or she will surely face upon receiving their prize. Boy howdy, have we come a long way since those days of xeroxing photos and printing out MS Word files at Kinko’s…
On the other hand, the value of such relics extends beyond the inevitably variable quality of the content. Historical documents are worthwhile because of that snapshot in time they provide, capturing the moments as they were unfolding.
I was reminded of this when I interviewed Mark Olson for this issue’s Q&A piece. Given that Olson recently collaborated with his former Jayhawks partner Gary Louris for the first time in many years, it seemed a good time to ask whether the Jayhawks’ 1986 debut album might ever be reissued.
The band doesn’t seem particularly interested in that possibility, perhaps because they don’t feel there’s enough of a demand to make it feasible, but also because, as Olson said, “it’s just some people finding the beginning of playing music, really.”
Which it is, indeed. And whether it ever does get reissued, or whether it remains limited to the couple thousand vinyl copies now scattered about the globe, it will retain its value — precisely because it captured that moment in their lives.
CD-R machines can cause bizarre musical curios from your past to cross your path again. Looking for something to fill the leftover space on a disc I’d dubbed a couple short things onto, I stumbled upon a cassette from 1987 labeled “Speedin’ Through A Stack Of Records.”
Turned out to be brief snippets (generally 10 to 20 seconds) of literally hundreds of songs, apparently the result of a boredom-bound afternoon that produced a brainstorm of utterly ridiculous proportions.
Funny how you can get such enjoyment out of something so long forgotten. Listening for the first time in more than a decade, I found songs I’ve loved since I was a kid, songs I’ve not heard since the ’80s (some with good reason), songs from records that have long since disappeared from my shelves, and songs from bands I don’t even remember.
Oh, and very little alt-country. (Sample segue: the Kinks’ “Come Dancing” into Pop Art’s “Big Mistake” into the Carpenters’ “Superstar” into Camper Van Beethoven’s “Tina” into J. Geils’ “Take It Back” into the Wild Seeds’ “I Work Hard” — all in the span of about one minute.)
The novelty of rediscovery will wear off shortly, I’m sure, but it was a good ringer in the car stereo for the drive from Raleigh to Nashville this weekend.
And, come to think of it, there’s a common thread with that previous rumination about the historical value of moments captured in time…
Finally, an acknowledgment for a piece of our history that has recently vanished. July 13, 1994, was the day that a fellow whose internet handle was KenBag created an Uncle Tupelo discussion board on AOL which eventually was renamed “No Depression/Alternative Country.” The genesis of this magazine traces in part to that online community.
Its regulars bolted en masse for a different internet forum in September 2000 when AOL moderators began deleting posts that contained profanity. The AOL board, however, continued to exist until sometime this spring, when it was understandably discontinued because the traffic had disappeared.
It was, nevertheless, a good place to start. And we’re glad to still be carrying on the discussion in these pages.