A Message to The Chain Gang


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:


R.E.M. – Get Up

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


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Contact me by email at: dubioustaste26@gmail.com Follow me on Twitter: @atastehistory Or do both. Whatever.

15 thoughts on “A Message to The Chain Gang”

  1. I know exactly how you feel and what you mean.
    The thing is the chain is a great idea. Fun friendly interactive and I think people like that. Part of the reason why we started doing something similar albeit to a lower standard.
    You don’t need to apologise for anything.

  2. I have seen this coming for some time as I know just how much work must go into it all and although it started off with just a few suggestions it has been such a success story that it’s grown arms and legs! Absolutely no need to apologise and just do whatever is right for you. No more multiple suggestions from me any more, will go easy on you.

  3. I take my hat off to anyone who is able to consistently keep a blog of this sort going as well as coming up with fresh ideas. The main reason I’ve never properly got going is the full-time job (albeit I do a large amount of hours from the comfort of my own home) and the fact that most of my spare time is spent running a competitive swimming club.
    No need whatsoever to apologise for delays to The Chain. It’s clear how much time and effort goes into it by yourself and your description of the process was really interesting. Real life does get in the way of things, I think we all accept that, and at times it can make you less inclined to spend time doing the fun things you really want to do.
    Glad you’ll be carrying on with The Chain – but not sure how I’ll fill those wee small hours on a Thursday when I’ve been busy doing gala admin!

  4. I feel a little guilty about asking about it earlier in the week. I’ve always admired the effort you put into it. If that was the only thing you posted on this blog, it would still be worthy of adulation. I must admit, I’ve had the January blues (though I generally suffer from that on and off throughout the year). The result is a lack of motivation to get my own place in order. I’ve been writing very short pieces, but I’ve still had to summon up the drive to do even that, so gawd only knows how you manage to do The Chain week after week. I’d have given up long ago.

    Glad it’s still going to feature though. That’s cheered me up. And great choice of tune too!

    1. Jez,
      You have created a monster and to a certain extent have made a rod for your own back with your wit,generosity and tenacity in tracking down the songs
      I know how it can become a chore .I sometimes stuggle to put out my 8 to 10 lines and am often glad to see the back of series where I am stuck for inspiration
      I’m sure no-one would object if suggestions were restricted to two per person (and nothing too obscure) or it if was to go to 2 weekly.
      I counted 41 songs one week which is unsustainable
      Alternatively your boss Kay seems like a good sort. She could perhaps give you a day’s paid leave per week to carry out this public service. Your company could even sponsor it The Chain in association with …
      Think of all the good will and free publicity!

  5. I have another suggestion, to make life easier> You have to source all the suggested tracks, is it not possible to create a box account or zippy, something where we suggesters can deposit the mp3? Would this save time or make things more complicated?
    I agree with the two track limit per person.
    I think there’s a lot of january blues, I can think of two other bloggers who’ve said as much. Anyway, you think you have it bad? Good god, we’ve got frost down here in the litoral, unheard of, it’s the talk of the town, people’s veg plants are dying, our avocado tree looks like a casualty. It’s mayhem.

  6. Really glad to hear you’re going to carry on – the problem, I guess, is getting the balance right between virtuous and vicious circles. You (and we) want The Chain to be successful, but the more successful it is, the more there is for you to do until the level of success leads to unsustainability.

    If it helps to reduce the workload slightly I, and I suspect others, could live without the artwork, so you wouldn’t have to source all that. Maybe just for the final, chosen song?

  7. Ditto the above, Jez, I really don’t know how you do it and feel bad for the times I’ve overloaded you with suggestions myself. I’ll definitely stick to the two choices limit in future and I’d suggest to all those of us who have blogs ourselves that if we end up coming up with MORE than two suggestions, we know what to do with them: post them on our own blogs!

    1. We can always do weekly Chain overspill posts and that will save us having to think what to post
      Jez to the rescue again!

  8. I concur with the feelings of my honourable friends and agree with the general consensus that we should henceforth limit ourselves to a maximum of two suggestions. It would make your workload a lot lighter without diminishing this essential series one jot. All those in favour say aye.

    1. Aww, you’re all really sweet, and the comments are all very much appreciated, but there’s no need – and I really don’t want you to – restrict the number of suggestions. I’m pretty sure the move to Sunday will resolve it all. Actually, writing this post was quite cathartic, and I’m counting down the time until I go home and get cracking!

  9. Hope you are feeling the love and the concern we all have for you after reading the above! Was definitely suffering the January blogging blues myself but having read the above realise I am not alone so has made me feel a lot better. Like you I was ending up spending far too much of my time in front of a computer when I’d already spent all day in front of a computer at work. Will shorten my posts and make them a lot less wordy and researched for a while I think.

    Just wanted to add to the comments above though – By definition a Chain is just a set of links and nowhere does it say that the next link always has to be on the same day of the week. We all know that No. 37 will follow No. 36 and as we all check in regularly we will see it pop up when you are ready – Just that like you, the last thing I sometimes want to do of an evening is write and source stuff but give me a couple of night’s off and the “Blogging DTs” are setting in (copyright CC). No-one will pester you again with, “When will The Chain be published?” after this post, so no worries. Take care (and make sure you eat well and get lots of fresh air and exercise – I’m sounding like your mum now!).

  10. Its your blog Jez so you do whatever you want. Whenever it starts to feel like homework (or a chore) its time to change. I used to do ‘Friday night is rockabilly night’ and after a few years (!) I began to dread fridays- 200 rockabilly posts in my enthusiasm just completely waned. So I stopped. Weekly series always run the risk of this especially one as big and time consuming as the Chain. Do it as and when you see fit. Make it irregular. Break your own rules. Erm, fight the power and be what you wanna be.

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