‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.’
My favorite artist, Elvis Costello, once said that. (Actually, it’s often attributed to new wave’s bespectacled bard, but Costello doesn’t remember saying it. Others claim comedian Martin Mull is the source — though that seems odd. But no matter.)
What matters is: The statement is true. Writing about music can be like explaining yellow to a blind man.
And writing something NEW about music is even harder. It’s a thought I’ve had often while posting for this blog the last year.
Bill and I are nearly pop-culture soulmates. We met as students at Rutgers University, working together at the student newspaper’s entertainment magazine. He liked wrestling and heavy metal. I liked Woody Allen and The Smiths. But we both LIVED to talk about it.
Along the line, though, we stopped writing about it. Despite a few years as a music and pop-culture writer for The Trenton Times, I slipped into sports and news reporting. And Bill started writing about entertainment for Jersey Shore magazine Night & Day, but nowadays, he’s an editor first and writer second. So Bill came up with an idea: Let’s blog.
At first, that Costello quote nipped at my brain. There are thousands of pop-culture blogs. What the hell would we add?
In the end, I didn’t care. Pop-culture is so broad, so large, so open to interpretation. And wimpy as it sounds, it means something different to everyone. Especially music — the battery of my life. For the most part, TV shows and movies are more likely to be either good or bad. Music, though? It can be mathematical AND emotional. Its rhythms can tug differently at everyone. The same song can repulse and rejuvenate.
And that’s why I love writing about it. That’s why I love this blog. I’m grateful I get a chance to put into words the random thoughts about entertainment that jolt into my synapses while I’m driving to work.
I’m grateful I’ve gotten the chance to defend my love for Paul McCartney’s Wings. I’m grateful I’ve gotten the chance to unashamedly declare my love for Carson Daly’s late-night talk show.
And my only hope is we have an audience that’s grateful to have pop-culture in their lives, too. So thank you for reading. Here’s hoping we’ll have another year of architecture dancing.
— Brent Johnson
I equate blogging to going to the gym. It’s an idea you get that initially sounds awesome and goes really well for about a month. Then, life gets in the way, you make up a million excuses to put it off until the next day, and after a few vain attempts to pick up where you left off — your blog, like your gym membership is completely worthless.
One way to be a successful gym-goer is to have someone you are friends with go with you. There’s a sense of accountability, a sense of camaraderie and you will always have a spotter. The same goes for a blog. Work on one with someone you trust, admire and respect the hell out of, and great things can happen.
One year ago, I was in a complete creative rut. Rut is actually a nice way of putting it. I felt like I was in an epic chasm of doom. I had no confidence in my writing ability. This was made evident to me when I spent one sleepless night reading all my old articles from college. Suddenly, I felt as if I were living in the Springsteen song “Glory Days.” I never threw a speedball back in high school, but in college I wrote with reckless abandon, strung together crazy 10-word metaphors together like bulbs and tinsel on a Christmas tree, dropped pop-culture references better than a deejay can drop a fat beat and my creativity was savvy, alive and badass.
After reading my back catalog, I was filled with feelings of regret, sorrow and anger. I knew I was better than what I was writing for my current job. I was angry that I was recycling the same one-liners and witticisms in every issue. Not only was I disappointing my publisher, the entire Jersey Shore, but I was letting myself down. I needed a creative outlet that was going to allow me to not only improve on my writing technique, but one that would allow me to jump back into the world of pop-culture. One that I had left behind the day I left college. I needed to prove to myself that the kid still had it, that I had gas in the tank — that I could write.
So I turned to the best writer I know — Brent Johnson. If I was going to create a blog that was pop-culture based, I was going to work with the absolute best, someone who’s work I love, someone who’s quality of work would challenge me to up my ante, and someone I knew was chomping at the bit to get back into the game.
I gave our blog very low expectations. I figured that if we got 100 reads by the end of December, it’d be a success. With the proliferation of blogs out there, who would read us, besides my Dad and my fiancee? Little did I know that on the second day of our blog’s existence, we’d reach over 100 hits within an hour.
Almost 80,000 hits later, and we’re still going strong. We’ve gone above and beyond what I ever expected this blog to be. Not only did we create a forum for our own thoughts, but the thoughts of our friends and family — people who had left the writing game and were looking for a second chance, friends who wanted to express their unheard opinion.
As for yours truly, this blog has done so much for me. It’s kind of odd to say, but it has instilled a new sense of confidence in me. I feel that I can write again. My work on this site and my full-time job has done a complete 180 — I still have room to improve, though.
So to all of you subscribe to us, read us on the regular, surf in on the occasion or pop in to grab a photo from one of our posts … thank you. You’ve helped bring me back from my infinite chasm of self-doubt.
— Bill Bodkin