A Message to The Chain Gang

Hello.

I owe you all an apology.

Here we are, in the last full week of January 2017, and so far we’ve only had one edition of “the best thing on the internet” ™ (not my words, the words of Top Gear magazine more than one you kind folks) so far this year: The Chain.

Truth be told, I’ve been finding it quite hard to get myself motivated to write it. I’m not sure if this is a case of the January blues. I think not.

I think it’s to do with the amount of work it takes (and yes, I know I always say that I just host The Chain, but since most of you write or have written blogs yourselves, I think a lot of you recognised that as utter bullshit false modesty.)

Maybe if I talk you through the process of how it is (normally) created, you’ll get the idea.

Wednesday: between 23:30 and midnight, post the latest instalment.

Thursday & Friday: erm, not a lot happens here, move on.

Saturday, Sunday & Monday: start sourcing all of the songs suggested so far that I don’t already own.

Tuesday: source all of the cover art, and any outstanding suggestions. Try and make some sort of narrative sense out of the songs, so that it’s not just “SWC suggested this:” and “George came up with this:” Try to think of some clips to include, as well as my own suggestions. Place all the songs on a playlist on my iPod.

Wednesday: listen to the playlist on the way to and from work, trying desperately to think of something, hopefully something funny or at least mildly amusing, to say about some of them. Get home. Start writing. Finish sometime between 23:30 and midnight, publish, eat.

Now I don’t want to sound all ungrateful, because I’m deeply touched that you all stop by here, read what I have written, leave kind comments and superb suggestions for the next edition. But frankly, last week I found myself approaching Monday night with a certain amount of…not dread, more apathy. The same on Tuesday. And again on Wednesday.

See, I spend my entire working day, as I’m sure many of you do, sitting in front of a computer screen and sometimes the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is to spend another five or six hours in front of another one.

I’m not having a pop here, by the way; lawd knows that I encourage you all to make multiple suggestions, sometimes posting the ones you mention in passing even if you have specifically stated it’s not your actual suggestion. I’ve always wanted this place to be an interactive blog, so I’m certainly not complaining now that The Chain is exactly that.

But, in short, something had to give, and unfortunately for the past couple of weeks, that’s been The Chain. And for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been mulling over what to do about it.

Here’s the options as I see them:

  1. Limit the amount of suggestions to two per person. I’m not doing this. Apart from what I’ve just written, I genuinely love seeing the stepping stones of your thought processes as you skip from one tune to another. So we can rule that out.
  2. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t actually start writing The Chain until all the suggestions are in, so perhaps instead of giving you seven days, we could make it five. I’m not doing this, as I think it would exclude some of you who, having posted something earlier in the week, suddenly come up with an absolute blinder at the nth hour. So we can rule that out.
  3. Make The Chain a fortnightly post. Nah, I don’t like that either, as it just means I’ll have two week’s worth of tunes to write come Wednesday night. Next.
  4. I can knock it on the head now, quit while I’m ahead.

Hmm. I have always said that once writing not just The Chain but this blog in general becomes a chore, then it’s time to stop doing it.

So, fellow Chain Gangers, it is with a very heavy heart that I announce that tomorrow’s edition of The Chain, the 36th edition, will be the last.

…To be posted on a Wednesday.

Instead, after tomorrow we’ll be moving to a Sunday. This will give me the whole weekend (assuming my hectic playboy lifestyle allows it) to tinker around writing it, rather than trying to cram it all into a five hour space I don’t really have spare. Also, it means I should have more time to write about other stuff during the week, and read some of your excellent blogs, which I am very, very behind on.

Hope that all meets with your agreement?

And just in case it does turn out that it’s just a case of the January blues, I intend to listen to this anytime I can’t be arsed with writing:

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R.E.M. – Get Up

More soon. Like, tomorrow. Or later today, depending on when you read this.