Hello Stranger from Issue #51
I recall an evening, a good while before this magazine came into existence, in which my future co-editor and I were discussing the status of a local music rag that was in the midst of troubled times, and how it was (or was not) adapting to the challenge. Grant uttered something which was partly related to that situation, but also stood as a general principle: “It is the nature of things to change.”
I was largely arguing against that point in our conversation — “What’s wrong with some things just staying the same?” — but I’ve often found myself revisiting and reconsidering his notion over the years. The key, it seems, is not to presume that change is either good or bad, but rather, to accept its inevitability, and be prepared to move with it through life when it comes your way.
A lot has changed since that night, indeed. The local music rag in question has faded away, but our little enterprise, not yet a gleam in our mind’s eyes back then, has flourished.
We gained a third partner as we grew, and each of our personal circumstances has evolved over the years. Grant moved to Los Angeles, then Nashville, then got married to Susan, they had a child, and most recently they’ve settled down in small-town Kentucky. (Even accepting the nature of things to change, he probably didn’t figure on all of that.) Kyla and her husband Ron bought a Seattle restaurant, and had their second child a couple years ago.
Me, I pulled up stakes and relocated to North Carolina back in 2000, in part precisely because I was taking Grant’s mantra to heart. Things were fine in Seattle, really — I often miss it, and may well be back, perhaps soon — but somehow it felt important at the time to “change the playing field,” as it were.
Turned out to be the right instinct. About a year and a half ago I met someone who, quite simply, changed my life. I think I can safely say that I’ve changed hers as well. Lisa and I formally acknowledged and welcomed the change by taking the big leap on Leap Day, February 29, on a ferry boat in the middle of Puget Sound, the skyline of Seattle on one horizon and the Olympic Mountains on the other, surrounded by a handful of loved ones.
The curious thing about this particular change is that it is, in fact, a declaration of stability. Though we’re prepared for whatever may come our way in the days, weeks, months and years ahead, we are strengthened by the certainty that we will go through those changes together. (“We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend,” as Lisa’s sister Lorrie sang during our ceremony, affirming the immortal sentiments of Mancini & Mercer.) In some ways, I guess I was right on that night long ago as well: There’s isn’t anything wrong with some things just staying the same. (Lisa’s last name, for instance, with all apologies to her parentsa)
As for how these changes affect the future of our magazine, that’s still in the midst of taking shape. Certainly none of us go out as much as we used to — is it even possible to go out in Morehead, Kentucky? [Grant intrudes: Yes, we saw Pete Yorn and the Fairfield Four, for $5] — but I don’t get the sense that any of us cares about music any less than we ever did. Journalistically, No Depression remains a fascinating pursuit, with rewards every two months that go far beyond financial concerns. It is my hope, my goal, that somehow we make a little difference in the world around us.
And while our pages and our paper and our perspectives and many other properties of No Depression have changed over the years, that determination to make a difference remains a guiding principle. Perhaps it’s true, as the old saw goes, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.