1800 shots in the dark

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 11:43 08/08/2014

There's got to be something that keeps you doing it? Stupidity. Stubbornness - a misguided aim to subvert the futility? A few virtual back-pats to ease the brickbats? You're not sure you even know anymore, or if you ever knew - but you do know that a day off is death. It's all downhill if you don't - and thankless tasks don't complete themselves. 

Here it's 5am (as you write this) and though you've got Richard Thompson's Acoustic Classics on to help - and really, you couldn't have much that's finer (at that hour especially, it seems) - you couldn't tell you why you're not asleep or doing anything else. You're there at the keyboard typing up whatever missive because that's been your training. A narrowing down of options sees you here. Weekdays. Weak some days, other times feeling bulletproof or whatever.

This week the things that have kept you here include a 3-CD set of maybe all you could ever need by Ray Charles (sometimes you listen to it and you're almost sure it's maybe all you'd ever need by anyone actually) and a new EP by Analog Birds (their first material since 2007) that's so wonderful it makes describing it, or even trying, seem absurd, pointless. Because in one song they've perfectly shoehorned more great ideas into place than many bands will offer across their whole careers. There's volume two of the Country Funk compilation (this is must-have/must-hear stuff) and that compilation of rare, weird, wonderful disco music (volume four) and Air's vinyl-only new album, Music for Museum, also Marissa Nadler's July - her sixth (and best). And, well, it's all there for you. And you try to say something about it - reminding that it's all there for everyone. They just have to find it. Sometimes you have the head start. You almost always feel way behind.

You don't know what keeps anyone else here. But you do know they don't have to be here. They choose to be here. A quick click and you exist. The back-button and they're gone. And therefore so are you.

Today is the 1800th post in the life of Blog On The Tracks. Such milestones used to feel mighty, now they just seem implausible, laughable - one day all this could be anyone else's; a kingdom of hatred caught in the cloud.

And then you get an email and receive the brand new album from Into Orbit just out now. A two-piece from Wellington. You remember when the drummer used to bug you here in the comments. One of several silly trolls - they come, they go. Sometimes they unmask their meta-prank ways and stay. Other times they disappear, all that butthurt over one thing you said - and then gone. They of course never *really* existed. Just as you don't - not here, only ever in the spaces when you're doing anything else. Reminding yourself, desperately perhaps, that there's a human there (somewhere). In the mundane and wonderful things you get to do, daily parties with the two year old where it's about constant learning. And the kid might pick up something too...

But that drummer from Into Orbit got all up in your face at a bar one night, and he was almost kinda begging you to take him seriously as a threat. And you laughed - because he was young. And because you'd had enough beer to fend off anything and throw a few quick slap-downs his way. You were pretty sure he wasn't going to amount to anything anyway.

Here we are - half a decade later. And he's made an extraordinary album. He's one half of one of the best bands you saw last year. They took you by surprise. They reminded you why it's good to go out on a whim. And what you saw in them was hope. And you felt it as you heard their music unfurl. You wanted the very best for them - instantly. Soon as you heard them. Now they've given you the very best they can do. And it is their very best. It's good. Really good.

That's what keeps you here. The idea - it's only an idea, that's all it ever is - that you're1800passionate about what you do. And you'll go into bat for anyone that inspires you. You'll club away anything you think is daft. Equal measures, action/reaction. You're always hoping to find and hear and help anyone you think is passionate too. Sometimes you hear people giving so much of their soul, you can see it. You can feel it. You can't believe the extraordinary beauty. Attempting to write about it, relentlessly, daily, it's killing any craft of course. But you see things - like Blog On The Tracks - as being about the whole, the endeavour, the gesture, the entire thing, never just about the one or two or ten posts that stirred. Some days some fish line themselves up in a barrel and hand you the gun. Other days a band like Into Orbit sends you their album. And you're up at 5am almost weeping at how wonderful it is and how that little jerk that told you he really can play really can play.

Good stuff.

That's why you're here.

Now, get some sleep - there's a big party tonight. 1800 posts. Everyone will be there to toast you.

Oh, that's right. That's not true at all. You've got your other job starting any minute, right now. The pay isn't great and the conditions are truly terrible sometimes. And the only toast you'll be receiving is from the home-brand bag of bread on the bench. But it's Friday and Richard Thompson is still reinventing his back-catalogue by stripping it back. And after that there'll be the new Kerretta and 1/3 Octave Band and Robert Scott's latest album, The Green House.

And you'll be back on Monday. With post # 1801. It'll be about this, or that. And it will only exist while people are clicking on it. But that's okay. For today it's your birthday - or thereabouts: 1800. Don't look so surprised. Blow the candles out. They're gonna kick you...

Blog on the Tracks is on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts

Postscript: Last night, for my sins, I attended the Steve-O live "stand-up" comedy show. Since I had to edure that the least you can do is read my review.

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