How does one finish a thought? Surely, these past five years have been one long thought, searching through arguments with myself about how music makes me feel and how I feel about music. Rarely would I come to a conclusion, never a definitive answer. More of a string of thoughts with the readers of LEO Weekly acting as the bartender, listening to me grapple with something whether you cared or not. So thanks for that.
I should say that I never set out to be a writer of any type. Writing has always been a chore, but I appreciated the opportunity to try something new and, given the luxury of time and some friendly encouragement, I’ve knocked out a few here and there that I’ve been really proud of. I still consider the profession of writing something more than what I’ve attempted, but the occasional reward of satisfaction allows me to at least use it as a footnote on whatever scorecard I’m keeping.
Most important, this column has been an open canvas to paint the emotions that music brings out in me, as well as a therapy couch to resolve some long-standing debates. Many times, I’ve been at war with nostalgia just as often I’ve celebrated it. I’ve wandered through the sounds of silence, sat confused at the comeback of Journey, defended the merits of Starship and tried not to gush too often about Pearl Jam. I’ve also used these pages to chronicle my family life, whether it a cross-country road trip with my son, or the wedding soundtrack with my wife. I’ve written love letters and mourned heroes. I had to say goodbye to David Bowie and Prince in here, as well as Chris Cornell, which was the hardest of them all. I also tried to take the moments to give praise to those who are still with us, such as Elvis Costello and Willie Nelson, with small hopes that they might read the articles and know the appreciation, a much more fun tribute than if it had to be written under darker circumstances.
I think my favorite piece was a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of joining a band or going into music. It came from a cynical place, during a cynical time, which resulted in one of the most honest moments I was ever able to tap into. I tried to be weird for the sake of being weird sometimes. Most of those didn’t work, but I still want to get there someday. A goal so far left unreached.
If this all sounds like a bookend, it’s meant to. While I am no less “obsessed” than when I started, I do feel a sense of completion, as much as an ellipsis into a question mark. Have you ever tried to talk for as long as you can without pausing? It’s a game I used to play when I was a teen, with the idea being to see how long you could think of something to say, interesting or not. Whoever went the longest without pausing won. And this is me pausing, a barrage of ideas trailing into a fog. I’ll have more ideas, at least I hope so, but my turn is over.
And there are other challenges that have arrived in their place. Last year’s self-imposed trial of interviewing everyone all the time has taken on its own life, retooling how I do my show on WFPK and getting some national attention thanks to a partnership with Consequence of Sound. I’m chasing the rabbit that’s in front of me, down whichever hole it goes. That’s what keeps the adventure going.
My favorite lyric that I’ve used as a motto for most of my life comes from Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”: “You got to know when hold em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” If it’s not something I can apply to my everyday, it’s surely what’s going through my mind on the more pivotal moments. In a sense, it’s time to fold ‘em for this column. I still plan on doing interviews and best-of lists for LEO, but I’ll be taking whatever hot topics pop up into the real world, where you and I can have a chat in person. Thank you for reading, or for allowing your cat to use it in the litter box. It’s time to hit the play button and just enjoy the song for a minute, worry about its merits some other time.