Saturday, November 12, 2011
TEARS IN RAIN
Today, someone I follow on Twitter posted, "My music writing bibliography is over 12 pages long." I thought about whether I could even catalog my own writing about music, and soon realized it would be utterly impossible.
I started writing about music for money in 1996. I've written literally hundreds of album reviews, maybe (hell, almost certainly) thousands at this point, for dozens of outlets, both print and online. Several of the websites I've written for (music.com, paperthinwalls.com, metaledgemag.com) are gone now. The metal blog I ran for MSN in 2009 and 2010 (Adrien Begrand runs it now, and does a great job) switched hosts after its first eight or nine months of existence, and in the transition, a lot of posts were lost, permanently deleted. I had a blog before this one which is long gone.
Some of the magazines I've written for don't exist anymore, either. Does anybody remember Oneworld, Russell Simmons' attempt to create his own Vibe? How about the US version of Metal Hammer that only lasted six months? I wrote for both, as well as tiny zines - Carpe Noctem, Subliminal Tattoos - now long dead. And I've got tearsheets of some of that stuff, but not all of it. I don't have copies of anything I wrote for Magnet or Cowbell. And even in the cases of magazines that I currently write for - Alternative Press, The Wire, Jazziz - my archives are far from complete. Not only do I not have tearsheets or moldering stacks of back issues, I can't even access the original manuscripts, as a lot of them were written with WordPerfect and saved to floppy discs which I threw away years ago. Vast swaths of my output - years' worth of work, hundreds of thousands if not millions of words - are totally inaccessible to me.
And yet...I don't care, not really. I'm much more concerned with the next thing I'm going to write than whatever I've already turned in (and been paid for). Even if I could somehow access all the words I've ever typed, I wouldn't re-read them. Sometimes I'll get a press release that includes a quote from a review, un-bylined, and I'll think, "That sounds like something I wrote." But if I can't go back and check, does it even matter?
I put together a collection of longish profiles in 2009. I'm proud of all those pieces, and if you'd buy a copy of the book, I'd be happy. I was even giving some thought to gathering the profiles I've written since, but I don't have anywhere close to a book's worth yet, and I'm writing fewer of them now.
Eric Dolphy famously said, "When you hear music, after it's over, it's gone, in the air. You can never capture it again." That's how I feel about much of what I've written over the last 15 years. I wrote it, and now it's gone. Time to write some more.