Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saturday Single No. 140

Originally posted July 11, 2009:

I was going to say that there was a knock on the door last evening about 5:40, but there wasn’t. Just as I entered our small front porch to turn on our outside light, I saw our company for the evening coming up the steps. So before they even had a chance to knock, I opened the door and admitted our guests, JB of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ and his Missus, visiting St. Cloud from Madison, Wisconsin.

The idea for the visit popped up sometime in the early months of the year, when it became apparent that a cousin of The Missus would be playing in a golf tournament in Blaine, Minnesota (a megasuburb north of the Twin Cities) during the second week in July. JB emailed me or left me a message on Facebook, or maybe both, and we two couples began planning.

But in a larger sense, the preparation for last night’s meeting in real life began just more than three years ago when I first came across the world of music blogging. I’d simply been looking for more information about a 1965 LP and happened to find a Google link to a blog whose owner had ripped and uploaded the record as mp3s. I happily downloaded, all the while thinking “People do this stuff?”

And when I finished gathering in the mp3s, I began to click links, wandering – as one does – from one blog to the next. And about five clicks in, I happened upon a blog that was very different from the ones I’d been seeing. Here was a guy writing about music and how it intersected his life, about how single records spoke to him, sometimes after more than thirty years, and about how his life had spoken back to those records.

Once I mastered the navigation, I bookmarked the blog, and then clicked back to the beginning of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. And over the next few days, I read every entry on that blog from the beginning, nodding knowingly at the tales from the intersection of life and music and thinking to myself, “Geez, I could do this. Maybe not this well, but I could do this.”

And not long after I got my USB turntable and began to share music I’d ripped, I stopped by JB’s blog and left a comment about something he’d posted and then invited him to stop by Echoes In The Wind. He did, leaving a complimentary comment, and from that first set of comments grew a chain of comments and emails in the digital world that led to our meeting in the corporeal world last evening.

We sat for a while, sipping beverages and just chatting as dinner baked, and then over dinner (one of the Texas Gal’s better recipes, a Texmex dish called King Ranch Casserole), continued to get to know each other, telling tales and laughing.

But JB and I, we both realized during the course of the evening (and we both had suspected this beforehand), already knew each other pretty well. Both of us write a lot about our lives on our blogs, and having read each other’s blog for the past two-plus years, we each already knew a lot about the other’s history and how he felt about a wide range of topics, music prime among them.

“There are forty million music blogs out there,” JB said last night as we sat in my study and talked about beer, blogging and life, “but very few of them do what we do.” We use our lives, he said, as a starting point to talk about the music that moves us, and there are very few blog writers who do that.

That fit in with something I’d realized the other evening when Rob stopped by for a few beers: as we talked, I told him that I sometimes feel as if I’m writing my autobiography, one post at a time. He nodded. “That’s exactly what you’re doing,” he said. “I’m surprised it took you this long to figure it out.”

And JB agreed with Rob’s assessment (though he didn’t express the same surprise at the slowness of my recognition): We are both writing our memoirs as we blog, able to hang those memoirs on the hook of music because music has been such a crucial portion of our lives.

Along with the blogging, however, has come something unexpected for both of us: Connecting with others out there. “We heard so much,” JB said, “that the ’Net and blogging was going to leave us all in our little rooms, disconnected from one another.” The truth, he said, and his experience parallels mine, is that he’s found more connections – with other bloggers, with the musicians he writes about and with readers – than he’d ever imagined.

The evening progressed: We shared stories and sipped beer. (He’d brought along samples of five Wisconsin beers and one from Michigan; I’d supplied three local brews and one from a West Coast brewery.) And all evening, it felt like the Texas Gal and I were entertaining old friends whom we’d know for years, even though they’d physically crossed our threshold for the first time last evening.

As the evening ended, we all four decided that the First Joint Minnesota/Wisconsin Music Blog Summit & Beer Spree, as JB dubbed it, had been a success. And we decided that the Texas Gal and I will visit Madison sometime soon.

Early during the evening, I had JB reach up into the unplayed LPs and pull one out, planning on using its fourth track as today’s share. Unhappily, I learned this morning that the album Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2 has too much surface noise for me to be comfortable sharing her rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” So I went back to the spot where JB had grabbed the album and pulled out the next record. And here’s today’s Saturday Single:

“Woman” by Pure Prairie League from Pure Prairie League [1972]

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