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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Well, that retirement lark didn’t last long. Eyes right – I had a piece published at a blog coordinated by ex-Stylus boy Dan Weiss, whose enthusiasm and facial hair makes me feel very old indeed. Dan asked me to write something a while ago, when his necromantic whim first took hold and he deigned to continue at least one facet of what Stylus was (the On Second Thought column, namely), and so I wrote something. It’s an OK piece about a fucking great record. A really great record. Get it.

All the recent photographs in my Photobucket account are of our kitten and our house. All the recent photographs in my iPhoto on my work computer are headshots of team leaders in my division. So the one up above is years old. I hope I never used it before. That would be terrible.

The Long Fin Killie piece might not just be a blip. Despite buying paints, pencils, sketchpads, and canvas, and loaning a stack of “how to draw / paint / fake it” books from the library, I’ve not yet immersed myself fully in the warm arts (if they are the warm arts). Plus Todd asked me if I’d do something “advertorial” for eMusic. For money. I said “yes”. I have a mortgage to pay, after all. And I like the record he sent me, too. More next week, on eMusic.

I also finally got a copy (two, actually – the second is for the library) of the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2007 book, in which, AS YOU MAY KNOW, my Imperfect Sound Forever piece was included. Chosen by none other than Robert Christgau. In his introduction, which I think is the first thing I’ve ever read by Christgau, being, as I am, essentially uninterested by rock music criticism, Christgau calls me boring, basically, by intimating that his attention may have wandered during the piece. I don’t blame him – reading it back again elicits the same response in me now as it did the day we published it: why the fuck did I not make this 50% shorter and not repeat myself so damn much? Christgau says he found himself thinking about it for days afterwards (“it” being compression, I suppose, the issue my article was/is about), and that this brainbugging changed his mind and convinced him it was a good piece of writing. He’s very forthright that he wanted his edition of BMW to have only the best writing in it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud to the rafters of what ISF has done, the hits it got, the articles it spawned, the book it got republished in, the records it may or may not have influenced directly or indirectly. Reading it again today, on paper, in a book (HOW WEIRD) was a strange sensation, but I was perhaps most… touched, or awed, by the fact that my tiny, tinny little dedication at the end (Thanks to MD and ME for opinions, photos, and facts, and ER for putting up with me not shutting up about this for the last two months.) wound up in there. Seeing Emma’s initials. It’s two years since I started researching that piece, and I’ve still not shut up. Em’s in the next room, with the kitten, reading, and trying to blot out the Augie March that’s oozing from the little Q Acoustic 1010s in the room I’m in, doubtless.

But that piece… It’s 6,000 words long, for pity’s sake. Compositionally, structurally, it’s fucking horrible. There are some neat turns of phrase in there, but good grief there’s also some right clunkers. And the repetition! As a writer I’m not proud of it. It’s ugly and unedited. Uneditable, I thought. As a music fan I’m fit to burst.

Anyway, this 630-odd words has tumbled out nicely, quickly, only on track 5, even if Augie March songs are so very long. This writing lark; it’s about sorting my own thoughts, I think. If I don’t do it, I get paranoid that I have carbon monoxide poisoning. I get headaches. Maybe that’s the altitude, though. Top two floors.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


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Nick Southall was born in southwest England at the tail end of the 70s, and is the youngest of three brothers. He has a degree in popular culture and philosophy and has written about music for Stylus Magazine, The Guardian and Drowned In Sound, amongst others. He likes red wine, expensive headphones, spicy food, and the Hungarian national football team of the 1950s. His favourite record is the last one he listened to. You can contact him by email via sickmouthy @ gmail dot com should you so wish.

All material copyright Nick Southall 2006/2007/2008

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