Last week marked the first birthday of the music blog you are reading, Can’t Get It Outta My Head, so it’s a good time to reflect on what I’ve written over the past 52 weeks.
To begin with, I’m kind of amazed that there have been 52 new posts — essays, really, mostly of 500 words or more — during that first year. I retired from writing for a weekly newspaper nearly two years ago, and it’s nice to know that I can still produce regularly.
Going back through the archive, it’s interesting to look at the themes I used. Unsurprisingly — considering that we are a half-century and more into the rock and roll project, and taking into account our Biblical “three score and 12” — more than a dozen of the posts were about deceased rockers.
The current annum, 2016, in particular, has been a rough year for rockers and other involved in The Music. We lost David Bowie,“American Bandstand” host Dick Clark, Keith Emerson of ELP, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Dale Griffin of Mott the Hoople, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane (and that band’s original vocalist, Signe Anderson), Prince Rogers Nelson and Earth, Wind and Fire’s Maurice White.
I also, though, wrote about other artists at the time of their deaths years earlier, including Jimi Hendrix and Warren Zevon, and the threesome that passed away the Day the Music Died: the Big Bopper, Buddy Holley and Ritchie Valens. Or, in the case of Frank Zappa, after the death of his widow. And Chuck Berry, on the anniversary of his birth.
Other performers I Mused on — some because of my Continuing Digitization Project, others because I was Filling in the Corners of my music collection — included Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, Derek and the Dominos, Willy and his Mink DeVille, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, Supertramp and the Yardbirds. In the same vein, the Who’s “Quadrophenia” earned a post of its own.
Some artists were considered in the context of concerts or shows, such as the musicals “The Million Dollar Quartet” (Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley) and “Hair.” The top item on my Bucket List, a Steely Dan concert, warranted three posts. Lots of live music in “My Rock Festival Spring and Summer,” 1970.
Three posts were devoted to the radio stations that influenced my tastes in music, KAAY, Radio Free Madison and WLS. How I listen to The Music these days — via speakers, more so than earbuds/phones — was the subject of one.
Another addressed the hours of music languishing on reel-to-reel tapes in my basement. Four posts Mused on The Music of the holidays (scraping the bottom of the barrel for Labor Day and Thanksgiving.)
A bunch of posts were discussions on various phenomena and themes in The Music: album sides, car songs, dance crazes, instrumentals, non-verbal lyrics, sexism in the Top 40, Sixties music and songs about death. Reggae took some knocks in one, and I Mused on the “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit in another.
I didn’t get a lot of feedback on any of those posts, but the one that got the most was the one about WLS. Zevon's piece got a Facebook like, and a friend commented positively about the post about instrumental music.
(Re: the car songs post, my older brother asked why I didn’t write about went on in the cars; come on, you know what he meant. But other than “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” what can you say, or sing?)
What were my favorites? The “Who Put the Bomp in the Sha Na Na,” about non-verbal lyrics, ranks right up there; Ike Turner, were he still living, wouldn’t have liked it, but he was a multiple offender in that regard. “Whatchamacallit,” concerning what we call rock and roll, also was pretty good. Ditto for “Sexism and the Single.”
Which brings us to the larger question: who reads this thing, anyway? For those of you not paying much attention to the digital world, there is this thing called Google Analytics. (I know about it because my daughter is a Millennial, and in marketing.) It monitors how many people visit websites, where they come from, etc.
When I started this blog, I admit it was part of an effort to pick up some income by doing something I like, and that I have experience, and some success, doing — namely, writing. And, in this case, about something I love.
In the early months, I spent too much time on Google Analytics, agonizing over the rise and fall of the line on that graph, checking on where my readers were, etc. (For a time, a lot of them were in Russia; go figure.)
But, after a while, I accepted the fact that this is a labor of love, and if it ever is going to “pay off” — in something other than personal satisfaction — it’s going to be a ways down the road.
So I will continue Musing on The Music — weekly, as much as possible. My list of possible themes and subjects has been whittled down a bit, but I welcome suggestions; the email address (something else that I checked fruitlessly for months) is on the landing page of this website.
(A couple other notes: This blog was expanded early on by the addition of This Week in Rock History, which has been a lot of fun, and the inspiration for a post or two. Also, for those who didn’t notice it, the image on the blog page changed midway through the year.
(The original image, which remains on the intro page and with This Week in Rock, was of a local band performing at the El Rancho rock festival, a small event held in May 1971 near Milton, Wis. The new one was taken late that year or early the next, on the front stairs of the House in Stones Pocket, where I lived at the time, and also from 1974-77.)