Since I started this blog close to six months ago, I’ve been prying local artists for their favorite things about Nashville; for their tour diaries and reasons you should see them play live. I thought, that since this is a blog and all, you might want to know a little bit about me. So here’s my first personal Nashville Five ::: 5 Reasons Why I Started This Blog. You can skip this one if you’d rather I stay anonymous, like the Bike Snob or something. And there are more than five reasons, surely, but here are some. It’s a little way to get to know me, if you’re interested. This is a long one. Get a beer.
1. I love this town and its music. This needs little explanation. I love Nashville, despite being a newish member of the community. Lockeland Springsteen started when I toggled the setting from “private” to “public” on a blog I was keeping to follow local artists I loved, links to their music and my own personal diary on ways that music has moved me, thrilled me, conjured up memories, fucked me up, brought me down, changed my life or just filled a silent house with sound.
2. I have been, and always will be, a hopeless music fanatic. I’ve been music-obsessed and word-obsessed since I can remember – anyone who paid a visit to my middle and high school bedroom would have seen walls covered in posters (Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd, Beastie Boys, weird Soviet jazz ones I inherited from my brother) and passages from books and poems that I’d scrawled in pencil on yellowing sheets of wide-ruled notebooks and stuck on top of each other like paper mache. Kerouac. Ginsberg. Fitzgerald. Ferlinghetti. I loved lyrics too: sometimes, I’d write down the words to entire albums in bound diaries, one song per page. Occasionally I’d use one of those colorful gel pens (I was still a girl, after all) and decorate the margins with swirling doodles. Once I copied down the entire lyrics to Blood on the Tracks in pink metallic. It was weird. This is perhaps the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever put on the internet, from, I believe, 7th or 8th grade. I guess it was my greatest hits.
I have lots of photos of my childhood room, because this is where my friends and I would often congregate – and most of those shots include us, doing things kids in high school do. I like my friends too much to put those online. Here’s one shot – it only shows you one corner, but you get the idea. You can see my first guitar and a present from my first boyfriend (the purple stuffed Dead bear). Just ignore that. By the way, when I broke up with aforementioned boyfriend I played him The Samples’ “Nothing Lasts for Long” on my boombox through the receiver of the phone. It was easier than talking. He responded back by saying he had a song that he thought encapsulated me well and played Garbage’s “Only Happy When it Rains” and hung up promptly after. Well, shit. He went on to get degrees from Harvard and Brown and gets points as my first unofficial therapist, if you don’t count the real ones with ink splots and sweaty palms.
[Further back, here is a photo of me dressed as Jennifer Connolly from Labyrinth. I also dressed as David Bowie constantly. That was my favorite movie. It still kind of is.]
Not to say that these habits are really any different from the youth of any other music fan, or spectacularly different for a teenager. I had friends whose walls were covered floor to ceiling in tear-sheets from Vogue and Jane; pictures of pretty girls they wanted to feel like or be. I envied those images too. But mostly I just wanted to be Mick Jagger’s girlfriend. Actually, I wanted to be his microphone.
I have been, and always will be, a hopeless music fanatic, which is why this blog refuses to be inherently critical or sarcastic. Not to say that I don’t believe in criticism – I do, and criticism is part of what I do for a living. But this blog, for me, is more simmilar to the journals I kept in middle school (I used to paste the schedules of various venues around NYC into a notebook and star which shows I wanted to go to, like this. Then I would write a page for all the shows I went to that season – i.e summer or not summer – along with certain set lists, like this. If that is not early music blogging, I don’t know what is!) than the album reviews I write professionally.
As much as I obsessively devoured music I devoured writing about music, and figuring out that you could do this sort of thing for a living marveled me. I collected every issue of Rolling Stone, Spin, Blender (R.I.P) and others that I could get my hands on. I still keep a huge collection of large-format Rolling Stones that I cannot part with, and I tracked down the edition that came out the week that I was born. It took a lot of keeping an eye on eBay (and here it is). But this takes me to my next bullet point…
3. There are not enough women music journalists or bloggers. Once I discovered music journalism my new heroes became Robert Christgau, Touré, Kurt Loder, David Fricke, Ben Fong-Torres and Anthony DeCurtis. Lester Bangs, of course. And the renegade writers published in these periodicals like William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thomspon and Chuck Klosterman. It didn’t occur to me much that this was even something females really did, and I became used to reading entire issues of magazines written mostly by men. I had to really search out female stars of the genre, like Ellen Willis and later Jenny Eliscu and Vanessa Grigoriadis.
The one female editor-in-chief of Spin, Sia Michel, was promptly torn down by the press and fired. People seemed to think she was too pretty to be any good, regardless of the fact of whether or not she actually, well, was any good. Later, when I started my career, a friend of mine suggested I get glasses (and wear my hair up). I don’t need them or wear them. She thought it might make me look more serious and blend in, because we all known what the stereotype of the average music writer looks like. Now, if I want to wear a dress to an interview, I will.
Certainly there are more female music writers these days, and great ones at that, but not enough. I can tell you several times where I have showed up at the back stage door of a venue for an interview and been approached by the security or load-in team outside.
“You someone’s girlfriend?” I’ve been asked on more than one occasion.
“No,” I replied. “I’m here to interview Greg Gillis [or whoever].”
“Oh, sorry sweetie. How nice for you! Good luck!”
I don’t need luck. I’d done my research like any other journalist would. I was wearing a skirt and heels because after I’d be meeting a friend back downtown for a birthday dinner, and that’s the sort of thing girls do for such occasions. I also hammered questions at Greg Gillis for as long as I was allowed and made him show me the computer where he mixes and layers his samples together into convoluted works of art otherwise known as Girl Talk songs. It was a cover story. Because that’s what girls do, too.
4. I love reporting…about things I love (about pools and landscaping…not so much). When I plan a vacation, even for a weekend, I research everything: the best places for coffee, the most well-located hotels, where the locals go for happy hour. Anyone who has traveled with me knows that I am an obsessive collector of information. This translates to most parts of my life that I care about – music, heck yeah. Nashville, of course. I spent a summer reporting and editing for Hamptons magazine in New York, which was dedicated to the East End of Long Island and the pretty flitty things that inhabit it. And thus I did a lot of writing about pools and landscaping and socialite parties. I did not love that. But, as a working writer, I’ll always have to write about certain things I don’t love or have no interest in. I suppose it’s my job to find the story in rhododendrons or hedgerows. On this blog I never have to do that. I get to hear the stories of artists I love, and spend time researching the Nashville music scene in order to indulge my curious self while making something I’d personally want to read. And share it all.
5. People told me to do it. That’s going to sound like a wimpy reason to start a blog, but the fact that friends, colleagues and strangers were telling me to do this was the encouragement I needed to pull the trigger. Just knowing that there were as many people as I could count on my hands that would read this thing was enough to get started. And like I said when I began, I really want this to be a reflection of what you – the reader, the artist – want to see. The fact that any of you out there read this – well, that’s not just icing, that’s the whole cake. And you deserve both for making it to the end of this terribly long, probably too-personal blog post. Damn you, internet.