Friday, January 3, 2020
2020 Is Hindsight
As another year ends and a new one begins, I find my enthusiasm for music stronger than ever. I won't pretend that my enthusiasm is fueled by new artists and new music. While I am always open to anything new and exciting, I am no longer searching for the "next big thing" the way I once did. I find myself having more fun with all the great records I grew up playing, either alone in my room or with friends and cousins in their rooms. There is an even greater thrill discovering some of the great records I missed along the way.
I find that pulling out a classic LP I have loved for ages is far more rewarding than slogging through some trendy list of unknowns, or worse, Mojo Magazine's 75 Best Records of 2019. (Only 3 of my 22 faves of 2019 appeared on Mojo's list. One of us is listening to the wrong shit.)
When was the last time you listened to The Jam "Setting Sons," or checked out an existing catalogue like Grant Green's Blue Note output? Or in the case...literally...of the recent John Hiatt boxed set, revisited his post-"Crossing Muddy Waters" records? Catching up on what I missed seems like a safer bet than gambling on something that always seems to disappoint. I no longer feel the need to keep up the way I once did when I had my shop. My former business partner put it this way, "One of the best things about no longer owning a record store is that I don't have to give a damn about new music anymore."
While this all seems very cantankerous, I assure you, I do not have a lawn, and if I did, there would be no need to get off of it...not this time, anyway. I might not have the patience required for the Lizzos and Taylor Swifts, but I'd be the first to champion either or both if I was truly moved. I just haven't been. That said, I did rave about Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" then and I still love it now. I have no agenda and I am not afraid of pop music, or of (almost) any music. (Clarkson is one example and the first to come to mind, so let's not dwell on it.)
I know there is plenty of fine new music to be heard. The down side is my usual complaint. There is TOO much to be heard. It has become impossible to focus. I don't partake in the practice of sampling. One song cannot possibly tell the whole story, and 30 second samples say even less. I know the genres and styles that have never done it for me, so in many cases I just stay away altogether, unless guided to do otherwise. I choose what I know, as I assume you do, or I focus on the opinions of those I respect, like Don over at I Don't Hear A Single. I would hope I have become one of the opinions you respect.
I have done my best to share music as extreme as Monk is to Motorhead, and though I am another year older, I have only just discovered the beautiful attack and aggression of Pantera. And for the record, The Beatles, The Who and Todd Rundgren do occasionally get booted off the turntable by Trombone Shorty, Alison Moorer and Neu. I enjoy venturing out of my safety zone and often wonder why more people don't, or maybe won't, do the same.
Moving forward, I'd like to devote at least one post a week to jazz and one post to a single album that is currently doing it for me. An "Album Of The Week " if you will. The irony is, I've admitted in so many words that I find listening to new music a chore, yet I have spent over ten years writing about music I love, hoping to turn you on to something new. My band The John Sally Ride has only been around for four years and we just released a new single that I want all of you to hear, enjoy and share, because that is the point of making music, no? Yet, I've just mentioned how much more fun I have listening to music that is tried and true and expect you to behave differently.
Ultimately, I think we all should give music the same enthusiastic social media support we seem to reserve for Facebook cat videos.
It's an amazing phenomenon.
Writers want to be read, yet they are the last to read fellow writers, unless of course, they've just written something and want you to read it, then maybe, they'll find a minute for you. Musicians want support, yet they are the last to give support to fellow musicians. I have many musician friends who will attest to this, even though many are guilty of the practice. (Myself included, so save the hate mail until at least February.) Some of my oldest friends, a few of them ex-band mates, have yet to say a single word about any of the music I've made since 2016. Not a peep or a groan. I'd take either, I swear. The silence is a killer. Yet, I have shared and purchased their music time and again.
If you talk about music you love, post a video of a song that moves you, talk about your own new release, write a piece you're proud to share, the Facebook boards take a nap. For some reason, the "feed stops working." But then of course, you post a GIF of a young dad getting hit in the nuts with a hockey puck, and you are suddenly the most popular man on social media. Feed fixed. I'd really like to see that change in 2020, on Facebook and here at Burning Wood, as well.
This blog was created in the wake of my business shutting down, with hope of recreating a record store atmosphere, like people gathering round a virtual counter, sharing their feelings and love of music. I don't get paid, which is a little too much like my shop, actually. None of the bloggers who we all read religiously, get anything from the work put in, except of course, the thrill of the work itself and the pleasure of the readers' feedback and commentary. When the interaction dissipates, it's all just spinning wheels.
The Song Of The Day has been around a long time. It became a "Songs Of The Week" post at the suggestion of many who don't tune in on a daily basis to catch the SOTD. I've added backstories to spark a bit more interest, also at the suggestion of some readers. Yet, even now, the SOTW remains the least popular weekly post on this blog. The same three or four loyal readers offer thanks and commentary, some toss a few bucks in the till without a single prompt, while hundreds download the zip and say nothing. Remember, you owe me nothing. If you are just lurking about and enjoying yourself, that's fine. I mean that. Burning Wood is here for everyone. I'm just letting you know, it isn't as much fun playing to an empty hall. The blogosphere can be a lonely place, especially when you are particularly excited about something and the only party goers are crickets.
Let's make 2020 about support and encouragement, here, elsewhere, at home and at work. I think we can all agree, a few kind words can go a long way. As another friend once said, 'There is nothing colder than indifference."
Posted by Sal Nunziato at 4:57 AM