It's been five years...
I've had that song in my head all weekend, Five Years by David Bowie, one of my favourite Bowie songs, and such a great opening track, from the album that really got me hooked on Bowie. Before, it was all greatest hits and Let's Dance but as a young teen hearing album tracks from Ziggy - especially the opening trio of Five Years, Soul Love and Moonage Daydream - I was just blown away. I'd already dedicated so much of my time to listening to music, analysing it, obsessing over it. But here were three songs in a row I'd never heard that were as good as anything I knew from the Thin White Duke/Mr Stardust...as good as anything by anyone.
Five Years would be one of my all time favourite songs - particularly in its context as the album-opener for Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, from my second time hearing it I would feel hypnotised by that drumbeat, anticipating the chime of guitar.
And the lyrics. Particularly, "My brain hurt like a warehouse/It had no room to spare/I had to cram so many things/To store everything in there". I've always loved that lyric; it rolls around in my head - one of many things I try to store. And this weekend it just kept popping up, I kept thinking about it. I played the album. I listened to the clip a few times on YouTube. It was the happiest earworm I've had, there was no issue in worrying about how to shake it. My warehouse-brain happily held on to it.
You see, it's been five years for me.
Five years to the day right here at Stuff.co.nz, five years of Blog on the Tracks.
And I really don't know what to say - or what to think. It is just any old day. For you - and for me. But for this blog it is (or should be) something special. I know, without checking, that Blog on the Tracks has had the longest life of any of the Stuff blogs and has more posts than any of the others. And I guess I'm proud of that. But you know what the man says, "it's work. All that matters is work".
I started Blog on the Tracks on September 24, 2007. The only plan then was to write about music. To be honest, to share my thoughts and to hope for a dialogue, a rolling discussion about music, sharing our likes and dislikes, bonding over the sublime and ridiculous, the wonderful and awful: you can see here from that very first post I wasn't hoping for too much.
But you came to the party - you obliged, you indulged my need to send these thoughts out. In short, you replied. Some of you have been here from near enough to day one - and I find that truly remarkable. Others may have joined up last week. And I know that the people who think I only write negative things won't read this. I mean, they'll read it. But just refuse to process it. It simply will not register. That's because they're the truly negative ones; the people who love to be offended or upset by what they perceive to be trolling. They need that negativity to fester away at them.
If I could ever hope for something from Blog on the Tracks - beyond filling so much of my life - it would be for it/me to be remembered as a blog/person (for we are one and the same in so many ways, Blog on the Tracks is my Twitter-name, this blog has spawned a Facebook page that has a life of its own) it would be for spending a wonderful hour chatting to living legend Sonny Rollins and doing my best to capture it. It would be for spending an amazing hour chatting to Paul Buchanan and capturing it; the only person in New Zealand interested in interviewing him, it would seem. It would be for the recent chat with another living legend, Ry Cooder and for a few other interviews. It would be for the passionate discussions we've had - and for the handful of emails and messages I've received from people pleased with recommendations of new and old albums.
But who am I kidding. This blog will be remembered for pointing out the emperor's new clothes scenario of the sleeping pill that was seeing Fat Freddy's Drop play live. This blog will be remembered for pointing out that I am appalled by the hype behind The Naked and Famous and New Zealand's best parody group, Six60.
And that's okay, I guess. I'd love to say that it's a shame - but I can only write these things: set the topic up, offer the information that I have, put forward what I think. Once they're posted they're not for me. They're for you - and for you to choose to interact and engage and to therefore remember them as you do, for what you think they offer.
And I'm not apologising for writing what I wrote about Fat Freddy's or Six60 or anyone - I stand by the comments on those posts. I'd back up anything I wrote here for what it is: simply a reflection of what I'm feeling at the time, a document of my times, my life interacting with music.
I've given a lot to this blog - so much so that it's very hard for me to remember my life pre-Blog on the Tracks. It's like having homework every night. After the real job, after the real life. I disappear into this zone of hammering out some words. Some nights it is so easy - other times it is punishing, a horrific chore - and if I were to take a day off now and then I would feel I'd let you down. And I'd let myself down. If I want to be a writer, any sort of writer, then I should write. And here, with/at Blog on the Tracks, I've created that opportunity.
I'm mad for doing it. I know that. But that's okay. We're not hurting anyone here. If this blog helps you pass your coffee-break or lunch-break then I'm doing my job. And you're helping me to do mine. It's really that simple.
I've told you about moving house. About having a son, about the joy he gives me now he's really interacting with music. I've shared plenty of myself and my life with you. Lots of significant things have happened in the life of Blog on the Tracks. I never intended it to last this long. I have no idea when it will end.
Freelance writing gigs come and go. I still have some of the ones that helped me to get this particular gig. In the life of Blog on the Tracks I've had other freelance gigs come and go. Freelance writing in this country (possibly in any, but I only have experience with it here) is an awful thing to do. The conditions are terrible, there's no respect. You can give six years of your time or seven years or whatever - to a magazine or paper or radio station - and be told, one week, out of the blue, via that most impersonal of mediums, an email, that your services are no longer required. A token thanks for giving of yourself and your time. And that's it. You're gone.
But hey, that's okay. That's the business. Shelf-life and all of that.
I keep finding things to write about here. So I'm going to keep writing about them. This weekend I opened a new vinyl copy of the recent Dirty Projectors record, an album I told you all recently that I really love and it was a new way to hear it - just me and it and the turntable. I played Robert Plant's Band of Joy and fell in love with that all over again. And Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson's It's Your World. I played James Rhodes' Live at Brighton a bunch of times. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Stunning. (At least four of you will know I'm a James Rhodes fan). And as long as records and CDs, new and old, continue to move me - both positively and negatively - I will find the time to write about them. And while I'm writing these words Split Enz's Spellbound is wafting down the hall from another room in the house, it feels - as it always does - as though it's coming from another world. A strange and magical musical world.
When Oscar came along at the end of last year, some smart-ass told me in a very damning and cynical way, left below a post as a comment, "good luck blogging every day with a baby". I add such doubts to my nightly motivation. It's cruel of me to take that anger on board and force myself on nights when I don't want to do it - but I'm looking at the overall effort. So there's a post or two that aren't any good. Maybe there are a hundred ones that miss the mark. Or more. That's not for me to say. That's for you to say. And you get to have your say every day as well. But I haven't missed a day in the 10 and a half months of Oscar's life. And I haven't missed out on anything in his life as a result. You find the time. You make the time.
Since September 24, 2007 - and counting today's - there are 1348 posts. To say this blog is always negative is profoundly ridiculous.
A lot has happened in five years: a son, a change of job, a change in working conditions, various freelance contracts and opportunities have come and gone. I've met some of the readers of Blog on the Tracks, become friends with some of you - or at the least Facebook friends. We've connected, we've chatted, we've bonded, argued, debated - called each other names. Reminded each other of great music from the past and introduced each other to great music that's happening right now (or then). However, you want to see it - this blog and your interaction with it has helped keep me on my toes. It's helped keep me writing. And both of those things help keep me alive. That's how I choose to see it.
Last year and this year have been amazing. And something of a blur. There was another birth that coincided with Oscar coming into this world. And I've mentioned it a couple of times in passing but soon you will get to see and read more about this. My first book will be released next month. You can see the two significant births in my life lined up together in a picture to the right.
It's been a busy, intense and beautiful time. And of course I have not loved every minute of it. But I've tried. I've really tried. And I thank all of you for coming along for whatever part of the ride you've sat in with me for.
I have to thank Katy, the love of my life. The most amazing person I know. And to so many of you she is surely my long-suffering wife. It's true she cringes when she finds out about some of the things I've written. It's true she tells me to pull my head in, and every now and then I catch myself listening. It's true she remains my very best editor, my best friend and my best reminder of why (my) life is wonderful. To her and Oscar I have to say - as I have done privately - a very heartfelt thanks for putting up with me and my late-night madness, my all-consuming pursuit of the word. And the sound. And the tune. You both provide the sweetest harmony in the rhythm of my life.
And a thanks to Stuff for hosting and posting. For the opportunity, the platform.
"Five years, stuck on my eyes/We've got five years, what a surprise..."
Thank so much to you all for reading.