I recently read Scott Rosenberg’s Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming and Why It Matters. Rosenberg was one of the founders of Salon.com. Near the end of the book, he assesses the impact of blogging by saying: “Bloggers did not smash culture apart in the first place, and many are doing the patient work of picking up its remnants, tapping on them, figuring out which might be useful or diverting.” That’s a good description of what I think I’m doing here. And as of today (July 11), I’ve been doing it for six years. Since it’s become traditional every anniversary to take note of some favorite posts from the preceding year, here goes.
We accidentally started several different series in the past year. One covered the daybook I kept during 1976, a book that turned out to be far less of a talisman than I’d hoped, but nevertheless offered some useful insights into my favorite year. (1 and 2 and 3 and 4.) We also looked at 70s hits that reached Number One in Britain without scoring big on the American charts. (1 and 2 and 3 and 4.) We spent a couple of posts discussing the Great American Songbook (1 and 2). And of course there’s the ongoing Down in the Bottom series, which examines one-hit wonders to reach various chart positions near the bottom of the Hot 100. Not originally conceived as series, but related enough to be, were the posts about how little things can cause nightmares (1 and 2), and about two kinds of geek love (1 and 2).
My favorite series of the year was about the Iola People’s Fair, a rock festival held 40 years ago this past June in rural Wisconsin, which turned into debacle when a rumble broke out between bikers and other attendees. I pitched it to various dead-tree media outlets only to be turned down by all of them, so you got to read it for free—the same way I wrote it. (1 and 2.)
Once again this past year, we told some radio tales: about a raging good Halloween night, about listening to football, about doing weather, and about the vintage rebroadcasts of American Top 40. There’s the one about a most improbable job interview (1 and 2). There was the story of that other station I worked for. Sometimes we watched TV: variety shows hosted by pop stars, cartoon shows about rock bands, a movie that sparked a musical revolution in filmmaking, and Fawlty Towers. We also touched on the extremely unlikely singing career of a 70s TV star, and measured the reach of Beatlemania before the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Did we write about bands, songs, and albums at all? Yes we did: about Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, about Debby Freaking Boone, about David Bowie’s Station to Station on 8-track, about Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and about Northern Light and their two amazing singles. A couple of posts discussed the history of “Mac Arthur Park” (1 and 2).
Because fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, we did a fair amount of philosophizing—about how if we work too hard at steering the boat, we’re going to miss the scenery, about measuring the passage of time in our own lives through the lives of the young people we love, and about the last summer before college.
And, I notice, we have once again grossly abused the editorial “we.”
When I started this blog in 2004, it wasn’t my main blog, although it has been for most of the last four years. But it’s more than just a blog to me—it’s my life’s work. Thanks for caring about it.