Looking backwards, after a long pause
How shall I say this without seeming far sadder than I mean to be, than I am? I’ve been pretty public this last year that I haven’t listened to a lot of music, that I haven’t opened the mail regularly, that there are tubs of music on the floor that I haven’t really the energy nor the time nor even the interest to sift through. Every once in a while I go spelunking and find something worth hearing, worth writing about, worth playing over and over in the truck, and sometimes I come here and write about those things.
I’ve spent thirty years, off and on, as a critic, and longer than that as a collector of musical objects. Of records and CDs and cassette tapes and reel to reels that somehow came to be a part of things, and CDs. And even one or two MP3s I can’t figure out what to do with, nor how to delete, much less how to archive. Store. Whatever one does. Sitting on my desk is an iPod touch, I think, which apparently I have sort of inherited as long as I’m willing to let our six-year-old play with it. I look at it every once in a while, this black thing sitting there on top of a book I haven’t had a chance to open, and I wonder how it works. If I’ll be able to figure it out. And then life gets in the way, or I have to go sleep, or Maggie needs something. Life.
It now appears that I’m going to do a tiny bit of local radio, a final embrace of old media. We’ll see if I can make time actually to get it done, and if it’s worth airing once done, but I’m meant to be writing and cutting a series of one-hour shows that will get aired on some kind of schedule as soon as everybody’s sure it works. Or, it won’t.
So I started tossing songs into folder on iTunes, which, at least on this desktop, I can sort of use. Trying to organize things. Think through what sounded like a show, what made for a kind of an essay that would be worth listening to.
I had meant to do a kind of global introduction show, a pilot that would give me a chance to learn a little bit about the board and something about the computerized editing system that everybody says is really easy, and maybe it is, but it’s all new to me and learning new software is never my favorite thing.
Anyhow. What I ended up deciding needed to be the first show isn’t at all what I’d expected it to want to be, but apparently what I really want and need to do is air an introduction to alt.country. Of all foolish things.
To that end, I’ve poured, uh, 55 songs into a folder to try to cut down to an hour, though I’ve already made a deal with myself to cut a second hour. It’s been fun listening again. With older ears I can hear more faults, more technical errors (headphones, y’know, so as not to wake the little one; and I tore up my good headphones by accident…anybody have a recommendation for something that sounds good and will fit both jacks? I’d be grateful…it ain’t easy being a technophobe…). But I’ve gone back these last two days and listened to a whole bunch of the artists whose work lead to the creation of No Depression, the magazine, whose work I believed in so strongly that I risked every spare moment of my time (if not my money, since I had none; some things really don’t change) to try to make a broader audience attend to their work.
And the thing is…I was right. We were right. They were damned good, that crop of artists. I haven’t played the Backsliders in at least a decade, but, damn “Hey Sheriff” is still a hell of a song. And the V-Roys. I wrote about them, respected the hell out of them, saw them play a bunch of times. But I’d never have guessed their songs would wear as well as they do. Never mind that first Whiskeytown single I’m going to dig out and play if the mice haven’t eaten it. Such a fragile, searching beauty they once had.
We all had, I guess.
I’ll tarry no longer. I’ve remembered a couple more songs I’ve got to add to this impossible mix because somehow I’ve not dug out Blue Mountain yet. And I’ve got to get up early to take Maggie to school, pour coffee, refinish those church pews. All that stuff.