Friday, February 8, 2008

There's Room for Everyone

Note: This is my second post of the day. The primary post follows this one.

The first music blog I ever read regularly was Echoes in the Wind, to which I was introduced by its creator, whiteray, after we met at a book club gathering. In my online searches for particular songs, I had previously bumped into music blogs, but they were all two-sentence posts with a song link attached.

Whiteray’s blog was different. He shared his personal feelings about songs and memories of when he heard them and how he acquired his recordings. caithiseach dug his style and became a daily reader. Eventually, inspiration struck me, and caithiseach became a music blogger as well.

The premise of my blog, as many of you know, is to share roughly 110 singles I have owned since the early 1960s in 104 posts, each Wednesday and Saturday in 2008. When I was doing what would pass for a feasibility study of the concept, I laid out a table and slotted the songs on my 45s into it. Once I got the song order to where I liked it (a matter of a couple of hours; I don’t know how it can take an artist two months to sequence twelve songs on an album. Good golly.), I decided to write a couple of trial posts, to see if my voice suited the medium.

After I wrote those trial posts, I realized that what I was writing was free of time constraints, a music history that could have been told at any point in the past 35 years. It is also, in a sense, a childhood memoir. It deals with loss, both of perfectly good 45s and of people who gave me that music. Since it is a 104-chapter life story, I want to make it robust and compelling.

To make it robust, I scour the internet for data on the artists, producers, songwriters and label owners who made up the pipeline that got the vinyl to my box of 45s. To make it compelling, all I can do is pray that my internal editor kicks in before I get too wordy, maudlin or flat-out boring.

Since I can write these posts in advance, I do write them in advance. First of all, the stories have been in my head for so long that they pour out in a matter of minutes. Second, it behooves me to write in advance, because each post takes close to three hours to write, by the time I finish my research.

caithiseach, like whiteray, is usually a deadline-driven writer. How I have been able to write this blog ahead of deadline is a question worth pondering. I’ve done it before; I wrote a 400-page novel from March to July of 2007 with no deadline. But the best college paper I ever wrote got written from 2am to 4am on its due date. It’s possible that some texts just want to come out so much that they allow themselves to be typed long before they’re due.

In contrast to the Great Meltdown posts, the posts for my Spanish version of the blog, La Gran Fusión, get written under deadline pressure. And thus it was that last Wednesday, January 30, I was so dizzy from sinus pressure on my inner ear that I didn’t write the Spanish version on time. It took me so long to feel well that I just combined the Wednesday and Saturday Spanish posts. As with most blogs, there was no economic downside to taking a day off, so I did what I needed to do.

Right now, I am glad I’ve written my posts through April 2, because I am working on a 24-HOUR scholarly presentation on the history of American music-chart hits for my school. I am also coordinating the National Spanish Contest interviews for the state of Minnesota. And my boss asked me this week to come up with a plan for a one-week summer Spanish camp for THIS summer.

I would surely be skipping posts now were it not for the ones I already have in the can.

I don’t think my approach is less valid for having prepared for lean time-times. Every word I write is written in the moment, just not this moment. When I wrote a lot of posts over Christmas break, it felt like February, then March, as I wrote. Mel Torme wrote “The Christmas Song” in July. I have no qualms about my pragmatism regarding this blog-to-memoir I am writing.

But whiteray takes a much more daring and exciting approach to music blogging: he lets his music collection tell him what to write the morning of a post. He has to improvise, associate songs and memories, and make it all work in a matter of minutes.

When you consider that his prose comes out at least as clean as mine, and more evocative on a daily basis, you know you’re witnessing superb writing when you read his blog. If he doesn’t need three hours to research his posts, it’s because he has so much more music history stored in his brain than I have available to me on Wikipedia. It’s no wonder that he won an Any Major Dude award this year.

With this on-the-edge approach to blogging, which in whiteray’s case produces professional-quality work, unexpected glitches can mess up a blog’s rhythm. It’s to his credit that his readers would be so hungry for his posts, and he so much a part of their reading routine, that they would gripe when illness or just plain busy-ness keep him from posting.

One thing you can’t do, though, is look to me as an example of consistency against which any other blogger should be compared. As I said, I already blew one Spanish blog deadline because of overstuffed sinuses. That’s the blog I write on the edge. If I ever do a more random blog of any type, I assure you that I will turn up missing from time to time. It’s the nature of the game, and within that game’s parameters, I know of no one as consistent as whiteray, both for quantity and quality.

While I’m at it, I want to thank the people who show up on my counter all the time: Pittsburgh, Toronto, Minneapolis, Adelaide, Sydney, Winnipeg, Poughkeepsie, St. Paul, Calgary, London, Denver, Aliso Viejo, Los Angeles, Lake Mary, Washington, Halethorpe, Green Bay, Heerhugowaard, Edinburgh, Lexington, Chicago, Los Angeles, and all the rest of the regulars. Seeing that you are still with me makes me glad I started the blog and keeps me writing and posting. I’m grateful, and I hope you’ll say hello sometime.

Since every post deserves a song, here’s one that seems appropriate for the theme of the blog. It’s obscure, well-loved by caithiseach and worth sharing. It’s a tune recorded in 1969 by Ronnie Dante and Jeff Barry. Just update the population numbers as you listen. The rest remains the same.

Thanks for reading this hot-off-the-press editorial. See you Wednesday!

Archies, A Summer Prayer for Peace

1 comment:

whiteray said...

Humbled by your praise, here and at my place, I can only say "thank you." See you soon!