Trying To Get To You

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Letter Of The Day

This is from a dear friend and former boss of mine who is now out of the music business. I found the second half of the letter rather moving and would like to share it with you.

I was listening to NPR on the drive home last night, as I usually do, and was surprised to hear Robert Christgau doing a review and was blown away for the featured selection. It was his pick for the best record of the year: Francophonic Vol.1 1963-1980- a collection of Congolese music that knocked me out. When I got home I fired up the P2P, and not finding it, bought it from Amazon as a download—great collection. It got me to thinking about Bob and all the articles over the years that I’ve read of his from the Village Voice and other print outlets and how my relationship with him has gone hot and cold. I have found him imperial and impervious, pompous and pedantic, passionate and boring. But I think the overarching quality of his writing, to me, has been that of being dull- it is ultimately academic and not proletarian except when he is fulfilling what I think is the primary purpose-being a conduit. One of the things (actually, in truth, the only thing) that I really loved about being in radio was having the opportunity to turn people on to music that excited me, thrilled me, made me ecstatic, brought me to tears-music that made me get up and dance around the room with unabashed joy. That was fun! And I was lucky to be able to do that during some very exciting times (very early 70s and mid 80s). That was also what made working in a record store a treat—I worked with some heavy vinyl junkies who really knew their shit and access to the store turntable was done through a Rota system. Nick Hornsby came close to it with “High Fidelty” but the ultimate “throw down” amongst the staff was how many copies you could sell of a record that you picked to play. So what's my point?

I found some blog writing of Christgau’s and again, his shit is so dry and dull and academic—he plays to the band (others of his ilk like the mook from The New Yorker with the kinda French sounding name-feh! [That would be Sasha Frere-Jones, ed.]) and NOT to the audience. Yet he’s at his best when he is “turning people on.” To me, I would think that is a primary function—and my further point is that you are at your best when you are writing about things that you are excited about…end of lecture.

The Franco record is an absolute gem. It gave me the same chills I got when I first heard Fela or Sunny Ade-who I got to meet once- I was the first DJ in America to play him and he was very gracious-I then introduced him to 20,000 people at an outdoor Summer gig in Chicago…one of those truly transcendental musical moments. He and his band were on fire and so was the audience.

I am getting old and am becoming frighteningly more and more aware of it and it really sucks. I am significantly closer to the end then I am from where I started and it triggers an old Buick 6 full of fear and loathing, that’s for sure. BUT, it never ceases to amaze how I can still find joy, comfort, inspiration and sustenance from music…and the passing of time and it’s attendant drama is soften by the knowledge that no matter what, I will always find what I need from my unending love affair with all things musical.

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