A Quick New Year's Check-In

A Quick New Year's Check-In

(Featured Image: Prince by Allen Beaulieu, 1980; photo from Prince: Before the Rain.)

Normally, I write my “state of the blog”-type posts in June, since that’s when dance / music / sex / romance celebrates its official anniversary. But I guess the new year has me in a reflective mood, and in any case my low level of activity in the last month or two probably begs some questions. So, here’s what’s going on with d / m / s / r, and what I at least hope you can look forward to in 2020.

Let me begin with my customary apologies for falling behind on my posting schedule; trust me when I say that I’m as tired of writing these as you probably are of reading them. Last month was, as I’ve mentioned both on the blog and on social media, a pretty lousy one for me on the health front; this, coupled with some end-of-year crunch at my day job and general holiday-season stress, heavily impacted my ability to write on my own time. When the dust finally settled and I had some time to myself, my initial plan was to try and catch up before the new year; but I quickly realized that I was burned out, and needed to actually let myself rest. I’m confident that this was the right decision, and that giving myself a vacation has allowed me to start 2020 off on the right foot. Those of you who are patrons, rest assured that I did not deduct any fees for this month, since I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain in December. While I reserve the right to do this again in the future, I do think things are now “back to normal,” and I will be able to deliver a full slate of content in January.

But what is “normal,” anyway? In the midst of my end-of-year burnout, it occurred to me to ask myself (as I have, albeit privately, before) why I was doing this, and whether it was worth continuing to do it. On the one hand, this is an easy question to answer. I started writing d / m / s / r because it was the kind of thing I personally wanted to read: an exhaustive, song-by-song evaluation of my favorite artist’s catalogue, telling the story of his music from beginning to end. Such a thing didn’t exist then, and still doesn’t now, because it is an absurdly huge task, and anyone with the talent and expertise to do it justice assuredly has better things to do. As for myself, I have never claimed to have either talent or expertise; only that I am stupid and stubborn enough to attempt it in the first place. The fact that there are people out there who actually want to read along while I roll this boulder up the hill remains a source of gratitude and humility.

At the same time, though…this is stupid, right? According to my WordPress dashboard, d / m / s / r got a total of 33,936 page views in 2019–which is great! It’s far and away the most popular project I’ve ever been involved in. But that’s also less than the 39,884 views it got in 2018, which was itself less than the 47,772 views it got in 2017. Don’t get me wrong: this has never been about page views for me. But I’m also aware that the Prince community is a small and crowded field, and I am far from the most popular (or qualified) voice in it. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that feels tempted to cede whatever territory I have to the many other smart, talented people out there writing, talking, presenting, and otherwise drawing attention to this important musical legacy.

For now, at least, you’re stuck with me–again, I am stupid and stubborn, and I still think I have something to contribute to this fast-growing field of “Princeology.” But I’m also afraid of stagnation. I know that what I do is a niche of a niche, and will never have the following of other projects in the same space; I made my peace with that around the same time that I decided it was a good idea to write text-heavy pieces about mostly obscure, 40-year-old pop songs. Yet I also know that I could be doing a lot more to grow my audience and make sure that I’m reaching the people who want to read text-heavy pieces about mostly obscure, 40-year-old pop songs–because I know that plenty of you weirdos exist, because after all, I’m one of ’em. I want to end 2020 in a much better place than I ended 2019, with more regular readers, more patrons, and most importantly, a steadier flow of high-quality content. If I can’t do that, then well, maybe it is time for me to cede the field to my smart and talented colleagues. But I’m pretty sure that I can. I hope you stick around this year so we can find out together.

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: End of Year Roundup

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: End of Year Roundup

(Featured Image: Stevie Wonder and “Bird of Beauty” co-writer Sergio Mendes, circa 1974; photo stolen from Sergio Mendes’ Twitter.)

As I mentioned on Twitter last week, I’ve been having kind of a rough time this month on the health front; this, combined with a year-end crunch at my day job, is the reason why there was no new blog post last week. It’s also the reason why I haven’t gotten around to posting these links, my last two appearances on Darren Husted’s miniseries of track by track podcasts on Stevie Wonder’s “classic era”:

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Bird of Beauty”
Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “I Wish”

Doing this miniseries was a little bit of a leap of faith, as (and I’m afraid this is probably evident from the episodes) I’m definitely not as knowledgeable about Stevie Wonder as I am about Prince. I don’t think all of my appearances rank among my best work (though the “I Wish” episode is solid evidence of my ability to riff at great length on the ill-fated Will Smith vehicle Wild Wild West and its soundtrack), but I hope that each was at least worth a 20-minute or so listen.

In any case, as the Stevie Wonder miniseries is now nearing its end, this marks my last appearance on one of Darren’s podcasts for the foreseeable future. I want to thank him for having me on Prince: Track by Track so many times over the last couple of years. And now, I must return to my own solitary toil: I’m not going to promise any specific dates, but I’m still planning on getting you “Lady Cab Driver” and “1999” before the New Year. Until then!

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Too High”

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Too High”

(Featured Image: Cover art for Innervisions, © Tamla Records.)

I know I’m behind on my “Don’t Let Him Fool Ya” post; it will be available to both patrons and regular readers before Thanksgiving! In the meantime, here’s another appearance on Darren Husted’s miniseries of track by track podcasts on the “classic era” of Stevie Wonder, where I got to talk about one of my favorite tracks from quite possibly my favorite Stevie Wonder album:

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Too High”

Thank you for your patience. See you soon!

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Big Brother”

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Big Brother”

(Featured Image: Crowd scene from 1984, Michael Anderson, 1956; © Criterion Collection.)

Another short diversion before the next post on “Don’t Let Him Fool Ya”–here’s me again slightly outside my comfort zone, talking to Darren Husted about Stevie Wonder’s mid-’70s “classic era”:

Prince Track by Track Presents Stevie Wonder Classics: “Big Brother”

See you Thursday.