Whew. The finish line. Thirty days without fail. It has been both energizing and unnerving, especially on those days when there was too much else to do or when the ideas didn’t come. But it has also been fun, and not only because I like the sound of my own voice. It has been fun because rock and roll is fun, and catching Springsteen live is fun, and hanging out with Trip is fun, and college football is fun and on and on and on.
We don’t much engage in music criticism around here. We engage in music enthusiasm. I get no kick out of telling you what I don’t like, because it might be something you like, and no one likes a killjoy. Every once in a while I hear someone say that The Hold Steady sucks or that Bruce Springsteen is an irrelevant old relic, and I know in my bones that they’re wrong, but I can’t put an equation up on the board to prove my thesis. Recently, when discussing the Booker Prize for new literature, Nick Hornby wrote “there is no such thing as an objectively good book, and there is certainly no such thing as a ‘best book’; there are only books we love, for reasons too complicated and personal ever to articulate convincingly.” While I think there’s a 1% exception (saying that London Calling is better than The Clash’s debut is an opinion; saying that it’s better than Cut the Crap is a fact), I know it’s true. I recently got an e-mail taking small umbrage at something I wrote in praise of a certain album, and offering in rebuttal a heartfelt appreciation of a record I believe to be a stunning mediocrity. I was surprised to read an impassioned case for music that sounds like audio mayonnaise to me, but heartened, too. Being a musician is a hard job. You take something deeply personal, give it over to the world, and watch as your bones get picked by the public, the critics and the hipper-than-thou blogging crowd. If you can make a connection to even a few people, you’ve succeeding in communicating your vision and bettering their lives in some unexplainable but undeniable way. Who am I to tell you that what you feel isn’t valid? And why would I want to do that?
And as I think about the past thirty days, it occurs to me that what I enjoy most about this is the enthusing. When this started, I didn’t know Little Jackie or the new songs by the Broken West and Ezra Furman. Now I love all of those things. I hadn’t seen the E Street Band play in five years. Now I have, and I’m reminded of why that man and that band have been important to me for most of my life. That’s the thing about music and writing to me. They make you want to get up in the morning and embrace the day, to enthuse and to share, to debate and to collaborate. They make you want to put your thoughts up on the Internet in hopes of connecting with even a few people. And if you’ve read this far, I suspect that we’ve connected in some small way with you, which makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.