Multifarious Proliferation

We never know how things are going to turn out when we start them—because if we knew how often things were going to go wrong, we’d never start anything. This blog, I am happy to say, is one of the things in my life that hasn’t turned out wrong. Today is its seventh anniversary. Here’s a survey of some favorite posts that have appeared since last July 11th.

It’s  interesting to examine individual songs in detail, either their history or their impact, and sometimes both. So this year we wrote about Bob Seger’s “Still the Same,” Grand Funk Railroad’s “Closer to Home,” the multifarious versions of a song most people have never heard of anyway called “Roxy Roller,” the BS&T song “And When I Die,” as well as “Just My Imagination,” Lawrence Welk’s “Calcutta,” and a bubblegum song that name-checks Tricia Nixon. I had never heard “Mill Valley” by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point Third Grade Class until I began exploring the fascinating story behind it. Other groups turned out to have interesting histories, too: the Poppy Family, the Starland Vocal Band, the Brady Bunch (who were not the hitmakers many people believe they were), and an early group featuring a pre-stardom Rod Stewart.

This blog was intended from the start to deal with radio stuff, and this year we did plenty. We paid tribute to a trio of deceased personalities (here and here and here). We noted a couple of remarkably lame moments in the history of American Top 40 (here and here), and I confessed to one of my own low points. We found a couple of WLS novelties from the middle of the 1970s and discussed the importance of the top of the hour. We considered the changes in the way your favorite radio station delivers programming to you and how country music is different from what it used to be.

Rock festivals proliferated like toadstools after Woodstock, and I’ve spent a lot of time researching them, both here and over at In 1970, there was a festival in tiny Wadena, Iowa, in which people started rewriting the record of what actually happened there practically from the moment the festival ended (part 1 here, part 2 here). This kind of research sends me digging into old newspapers, which are endlessly fascinating. Old newspapers provided material for posts on the anniversary of a legendary storm and on Christmas Eve. Christmas usually results in some posts I’m proud of; this past year they were about a purported Christmas hit that was never a hit at all, and about the life, death, and rebirth of aluminum Christmas trees.

There was a fair amount of navel-gazing again, as always: about the girl who made me a chart geek, about a painful first semester in college, about how a particular place sounded, about feeling my age, and about the things high-school graduation speakers don’t know.

And there was more grievous misuse of the editorial “we.”

The best thing about writing this blog is the relationships I’ve developed with the regular readers. A couple of those relationships have crossed over into the real world, and I’m hopeful that in time to come, more of them will. Many thanks to all.

8 thoughts on “Multifarious Proliferation

  1. Happy anniversary (of course, I guess “we,” your audience, should be the happy ones). It’s been a pleasure learning all the things I’ve gained from your blog — and being exposed to songs I either never heard or barely remembered. Best wishes in the year to come!

  2. …and many happy returns, after seven glorious years of entertaing and informing all of us. You have the writer’s gift, J B, and I think regardless if you were writing about radio and music, automobiles, or home improvement, you’d do the genre credit and attract regular readers.

    You’ve established yourself as a “daily read” and I look forward to every new post.

    Congrats, sincerely.

  3. Congrats on your “lucky 7th.” Yours is probably the music related blog that I first stumbled upon 5 years ago when I became interested in starting one myself and I’ve never stopped reading. Here’s too the next 7!!!!!!!

  4. Congratulations, JB, and thanks. As I move further away from being (slightly) involved in the music industry, the thing that I miss most is the hours and hours spent discussing music with friends. Sure, the co-workers I have now listen to music, but its just one of dozens of things that vie for their attention.

    But stopping by here each day, I always hope to see a new post. It’s not necessarily because we share the same tastes (though there is a fair amount of common ground), but it’s because of your obvious affection for much of what you write about.

    Quite simply, if you had crossed paths with the crowd of friends that I had 10-15 years ago, I’ve no doubt we’d have invited you to pull up a chair, contribute to the banter, and argue over the tab at the end of the night.

    1. J.A. Bartlett

      I have found over these last few weeks that it’s much harder to put time, thought, and effort into this blog when I’m working the kind of hours the rest of the world works, as opposed to the prioritize-it-yourself writer’s life I usually enjoy. I have no complaints about the work I’m doing lately, but I do miss being able to write all day.

      Thanks to all for the lovely comments.

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