On Standby

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So here’s the thing.

Regular visitors may have noticed a few things around here recently. Shorter posts. Fewer posts.  Even fewer responses than usual (by me) to the very kind Comments left. New series’ started then quickly dropped or left in limbo (actually, that’s not that unusual).

I’ve realised that I’ve got a bit bored, disinterested, unmotivated to keep doing this.

See, I’m a lazy old sod at heart. To keep me interested in long-term projects like this, I need to have targets to reach, deadlines to beat. And the thing is, at the start of the year I set myself a target which I passed a month or so ago, and it’s been since then that I’ve found it hard to write anything.

I’ll try to explain. I think this writer’s block/burn-out/call it what you will happens to many of us every now and then; I certainly can think of at least two regular readers who have decided to take some time out, or reduce their output, recently in order to reignite their interest (and it seems to have worked for them, by the way). And when they announced their intentions, I left them what I hope were encouraging comments, about how it’s important that you recognise that when writing becomes a chore it’s time to take a break, how once you start chasing the statistics which you get supplied when you write one of these blogs it can become quite addictive (and that should be avoided), and not to worry if you need to take a little time out because your readers will wait for you. (I still have When You Can’t Remember Anything saved in my favourites in the hope that Badger and SWC will start it up again; old-time bloggers may remember a great blog called Best of Both Worlds – that stayed in my favourites for at least a year after the writer died, just in case.)

My real life friends and family will be spluttering in surprise at my mention of not chasing the statistics, for every one of them will tell you that on the occasions when they have unwisely stumbled into a conversation with me about this place, very little time has passed before I’m waving my phone under their noses, showing them how many hits this place gets.

Earlier this year, I tried an experiment. I’m very aware that the most popular thing I write here is The Chain and I wanted to see what happened if I stopped writing it for a while. Yes, I know I told you all it was because it took up too much time (sorry!) and that really was part of it.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that visits here didn’t drop off, in fact they increased.

I’ll show you what I mean, and forgive me if what I’m about to write seems boastful or self-indulgent, it’s not intended to, it’s merely to illustrate the point.

I started writing this blog in 2013. In 2013, the site attracted 1 “hit”, and I think that was probably me checking it worked.

In 2014, 70 hits. Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly setting the blogging world alight at this point.

In 2015, 2,316 hits. A marked improvement. I can’t pretend I wasn’t delighted.

And then, in 2016, three things happened. Firstly, quite a lot of “my era” pop stars and celebrities started keeling over and dying and suddenly I had plenty of material to write about. Secondly, in April 2016 I wrote the first post in The Chain. And thirdly, and most importantly, several more of my blogging peers added a link to this place on their blogs (I think a couple may have done so in 2015). I know before I started blogging, browsing the sidebar on blogs I followed was my doorway to finding more and more great blogs, incredible writing and wonderful tunes, and I’m forever indebted to those of you who like what I do enough here to endorse it on your own blogs.

So in 2016, the blog had 36,963 hits, which frankly blew me away.

And so come 2017 I set myself the target of at least equalling that.

And here we are, October 2017, and I’ve passed 40,000 hits. Again, I’m blown away.

Back in 2015, I was delighted if the blog got 100 hits in a month. Now, I find myself getting annoyed if I’ve not hit that in a day, or more recently, if I’ve not hit 1000 in a week.

I know, I know. Arrogant and vain, not characteristics I admire in anyone else, less still in myself.

And on top of that, I’ve found I have very little time to do other stuff. My weekends are generally spent either writing here, or trying to think of stuff to write about, or trying to find songs suggested for The Chain. This weekend, I intended to move the unit which houses my turntable and vinyl approximately six inches to the left. Did I do it? No. I have a flat-pack cabinet which has been propped up in the corner of my living room for two weeks now which needs at the very least opening. In an effort to lose some weight I bought a rowing machine in January 2016, and I still haven’t put that together. The composite parts just get rearranged around the living room every couple of months.

So for a couple of weeks now I’ve been thinking about taking a break, and just catching up on life.

And then two things happened this week that made me decide the time is right.

Firstly, I realised on Sunday evening that I hadn’t even started to try and source the records for the scheduled edition of The Chain this week. Normally, I have this nailed down by Saturday lunchtime and am just waiting for the last suggestions to come in. And my reaction was not to buckle down and get it sorted; instead I decided it could wait another week.

And secondly, Tom Petty died. I’m not a massive fan of Petty, but there a couple of songs of his that I like, one of which reminds me of happy times in my early twenties working in the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff, which I thought I might write about. But when it came to it, I decided to watch some TV instead. And ignore the flat-pack cabinet/rowing machine for at least another day.

So a break it is. Not for long. Two or three weeks maybe.

And I know that a day or two after I’ve posted this, I’ll think of something I want to write about, or hear a song that sparks a memory that I want to share, or, more likely, Trump, Farage or Johnson will say or do something that makes me so fucking furious I won’t be able to stop myself.

So I will be back. The Chain will be back. Most of the other old favourites will be back. Maybe some new ones.

Until then, friends:

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Grandaddy – I’m On Standby

More soon(ish).

(And when I do, that bloody sign-off is getting changed.)

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Sunday Morning Coming Down

Wow.

Just Wow.

My head is still spinning from how incredible Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds were last night.

It was the first time I’ve seen them, and no review I’ve read of his gigs came anywhere near accurately capturing how utterly brilliant they were. So, I’m damned if I’m going to try.

Except to say that this morning’s song was a highlight for me, played immediately before the song I posted last night:

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Ship Song

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I’m writing this in advance of me setting off to see them, but if the reviews I’ve read of the other gigs they’ve played so far in the UK are anything to go by, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds tonight at the O2 is going to be amazing.

I’ve posted this before, a long time ago, but it’s so beautiful it deserves a further outing here.

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: has there been a better opening line than “Now I don’t believe in an interventionist God”…?

More soon.

You Can Count On Me

Drew over at Across The Kitchen Table has it right.

Whilst I post an upbeat tune to get your Mondays going, every week, without fail, come Friday, Drew will post an absolute banger of a track (usually an Old School choon I’ve either never heard before or have completely forgotten about) in his ever-wonderful “It’s Friday….Let’s Dance” series.

And as it’s payday Friday for many of us UK folks, and, more importantly for me, a day off, I figured I’d post something equally as dance-worthy, but from a different genre to that which Drew usually features.

In short, here’s Shirley Ellis:

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Shirley Ellis – Soul Time

If you’ve never heard that before, a) shame on you, and b) you may recognise the counting bit from it (because that’s why you’re here, right? For some numbers based fun?) from this equally brilliant-in-a-completely-different-way tune:

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The Go! Team – Bottle Rocket

I once saw them play in Cardiff’s tiny Barfly; they were great (of course), but I will never forget their support act (okay, I may never forget them, but I’ll also never remember their name) which comprised mostly of a man throwing eggs into the audience. Most odd.

Now go see what gem Drew has posted this week. Go on, I dare you to miss out.

(God, I hope you’re posting something ace this week, Drew…)

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #16

Blimey, has it been over a month since I wrote one of these? Blame The Chain (which I think we can safely say is now a fortnightly occurrence, by the way).

So I’ll keep this brief.

I love The Go-Go’s. I’ve listened to this track several times, trying to work out if that noise – you’ll know it when you hear it – is a foot-stomp or a hand clap, or a combination of the two. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably several hand claps layered on to each other.

Have a listen for yourselves:

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The Go-Go’s – Head Over Heels

That came out in 1984, shortly before the band split (for the first time), and comes from the Martin Rushent produced ‘Talk Show’ album. It’s by far the best thing on there.

But back in 1981, they released this, which definitely features some hand claps, and which is, without doubt, one of my favourite singles of all time (which you can tell, because I think this is probably the third time I’ve found an excuse to post it):

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The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

Still sounds as great today as it did way back when.

More soon.

The Last of the Famous International Playboys

In the early hours of this morning, I was woken by the death knell that is the BBC app news flash.

Expecting it to foretell imminent Trump-inspired apocalyptical oblivion, I read it, only to find some dirty old man wearing a dressing gown in a big house had died, surrounded by women at not even half his age, who he had enticed into his world with a set of clip-on rabbit ears.

That man was Playboy magazine founder, Hugh Hefner.

*Insert joke about tossing and turning myself back to sleep here*

So, as I imagine you’ll be hearing this record accompanying the news updates a lot today, I figured I’d get in first:

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Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

More soon.