Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blogging Against the Silence

I started this blog two years ago, and I've often asked myself, "Is it worth it?"

There's much good to be said for blogging; introducing people to bands they've never heard of or letting them re-listen to bands (or albums) they'd already passed judgment on plus forging connections with others in this clumsily-named Blogosphere. Blogging lets us communicate in our own fucked-up style and reach the world (or at least tiny pockets within it).

Of course, there is the silence.

Some bloggers don't give a rat's ass about the response but I want to know, good or bad, how others react to the music and the words. It is discouraging when, following a good post (and Lord know there's been some dogs here), you get one or two comments (some of which are complaining about the rip, the link or the spelling of the violinist's name etc.). Perhaps my disappointment springs from the damnable fact that I just like to talk about music too much.

I shan't whine too much about it, if you set up a blog offering music downloads (even of out-of-print music) most people will take or leave what you offer with nary a thought. And ~140,000 visitors from all over the globe (many of whom are not fluent in English) is no great shame.

Thanks to the many incisive people who have offered their comments (you excellent people know who you are), you've kept this enterprise afloat when it might've gone down long ago.

I started with Billy Bragg's Peel Sessions twenty-four months ago, so now I'll come full circle with this single from Bragg's 1998 collaboration with Wilco (and Natalie Merchant). The single contains the awe-inspiring title track (later pilfered by the Gaslight Anthem) plus two pure Bragg songs with no Wilco, Cara Tivey or Ian McLagen to get in the way.



  1. you're quitting? I just found you (google search of the clash - straight to hell) what a shame.

  2. blogging is art. your art. you do not need a feedback. it is your thing. keep on doing this fine blog and stop thinking about people saying "thanky!", "wonderfull!" and soon- do it for yourself as every blogger does!

  3. I know the feeling! Thing is I don't think that the number of comments a site gets in any way reflects on the affection that its regular visitors feel for it. In fact until I started blogging myself I would often (an understatement) snatch a download and offer silent thanks to the hard work of the blogger.
    I reckon that it's only when you actually write a blog that you realise the feel good factor that comments can generate (although of course they can also be pedantic whinges!)
    Keep up the good work brother... i'm going to check out the post below for obvious reasons!

  4. Two years is a lifetime in blog years. I've been considering quitting for similar reasons. I like the fact that you're passionate about the music and that shows through since you don't offer just a picture, a link and/or Allmusic's description.

  5. Every artist wants an audience. And any artist who's been able to get someone's attention well over 100,000 times most definitly has an audience.

    Keep on blogging in this not-so-highly-regulated corner of the world (wide web)!

    ...Wow, that does NOT flow off the tongue.

  6. Heh!

    Well, if you want to talk music Jeffen, what did you think of the Stand/Stand GT's cover of "Boys from the County Hell"?

    They've also done "If I Should Fall..." and Mr. Bragg's "Strange Things Happen" as B-sides on other singles.

    So how do you rip yr vinyl?

  7. If it helps, it's not you - this seems to be a common complaint around the net. If it helps any further, I read every update on your site.

    Keep on keepin' on.

  8. I understand your concern, but there's nothing you can do about this. People have everything for free and they don't realize the work done by music bloggers month after month.

    I've been posting for 3 years now. From time to time, I personally write to my friends and contacts to interest them and to stimulate their curiosity.

    Sometimes it works.

    Keep on doing what you do best.

  9. Hi Jeffen

    I'm close to quitting blogging myself but not for the same reasons. I'm struggling with motivation and I'm bored of it really to be honest. Its only the commenters that keep me going sometimes but then again,I am a self-confessed lazy bastard.

    I agree with you,comments are important and not just grabbers but I think c.o.m.p.e.i.l.e.r has a point too about "doing it for yourself" Having said that its nice to feel appreciated by someone voicing an opinion (even if it is a negative one)

    For what its worth,I love your blog.

  10. love the blog...keep posting!

  11. To paraphrase The Northern Pikes:

    "He ain't quitting, it just sounds that way."

    Mmmm...Northern Pikes...

  12. And continuing on what CallPastorBob said:

    "...there was this misconception all over the net,
    That he would walk away from his blog saying: je ne regret..."

  13. i'm one of them grab and go types.
    i have no good reason. strangely, i think about my lack of expressed gratitude a lot. both on the web and with my scattered american friends and family. i certainly value your input and enjoyed the clash series a great deal. there's only so much one can do. if you quit compulsive blogging you may want to consider compulsive 9/11 research. it gets heavy but you can't quite dance to it.

  14. Everyone:


    Ever since this Bragg post started percolating ((early June) I knew I'd have to address the maddening comment situation. I tried not to get all diva-ish about I just stated a problem that's bugged me.

    If it sounded all melodramatic, well so be it, it's the only blog I've got damnit!

    I'm off on vacation for a week but there's too many posts buzzing around my head for me to quit now.

    P.S. Hopefully I'll respond individually to some of your excellent and heartening comments upon my return.

  15. I came to your blog and fell in love with it due to all of your Ramones and Clash posts. I've told all my music nerd friends about it.

    By the way, Dee Dee is the best Ramone...period.


  16. welcome to all of our worlds. I hate when I write some brilliant piece of crap and I do not get the feedback I hoped for.
    Drives me crazy when there are a bunch of d/l's of what I post and nary "thanks".

    Hey, do it for yourself, expect nothing in return and continue to add to your scrapbook of madness!

  17. If it'll make you feel any better, here is something in return:

  18. I've only downloaded a few things from here, but allow me to speak for all leechers and say thanks for your efforts. I appreciate all music bloggers who post and write about obscure music.

  19. keep posting mate.i do posts where i get loads of downloads and nobody says anything but i keep doing it cos i just enjoy posting and babbling about music like yourself.i go through periods where i dont know what to post next from my collection and then someone like yourself or another blogger will inspire me to post something related to a recent post you may have done or a band you may have mentioned or whatever.yes it does get a little discouraging when people just 'grab and go' as you say but fuck 'em, in the end i think most of us are doing it for ourselves.keep going mate and dont let the bastards grind you down!

  20. Well I've been here before I'm on my third blog now. Yep it's a thankless task and people are just happy to grab and go. When I think of the hours spent hunting down records at fairs junk shops etc and people just get it for free without any effort. Why don't you give yoursel a break from it for a while and then come back that's what I choose to do. If it's gratitude you are looking for then just share amongst your friends otherwise it allways feel this way. I for one will miss you and your blog you are one of the good guys so cheers Jeff.

  21. Hi Jeffen
    I understand where your comming from.I've only been at it for three quarters of a year and I was thinking of stopping myself. I can only speak for me but, I never cared about getting thanked. When I post a record that I really like. I'm in hopes I can open up a running dialogue with other people who either maybe never heard it before and really like it, or can share info and or music with me. It's nice to talk to other people who share this passion since I rarely meet anyone in everyday life who I can talk to about any of my favorite bands.Sadly at the end of the day if your going to do this, you have to do it for yourself.I really enjoy your blog. Thank You!!!

  22. Hi there:

    See how we all love you! You've re-Clashed my life, if I can be allowed a neologism, and for that I thank you. Don't go if you don't have to--the writing here's lovely, as are the stories of Winnipeg rockin' and so on.

    A friend in Canada

  23. as someone who downloads from blogs quite a bit and only on occasion leave a comment - funny i comment most often when the blogger is upset about too few comments and i feel a bit guilty, hence this comment: don't get discouraged. what you bloggers do is very, very important to me. i am currently out of work and can't purchase like i have in the past but need new and old music fix often and the blogs give that to me - as well getting stuff i might not have heard otherwise. the problem i have with not always being able to comment is that there are way too many graet sites and i always seem to find more on a regular basis. it would be almost impossible for me to leave a comment everytime i download.
    but ive also noticed it goes both ways. i've left what i thought to be interesting comments on other sites but no reply from the blogger. nonetheless, just know that what you bloggers do IS appreciated by me (a severe music lover) and important to many others.

  24. I haven't downloaded any music from your site. I enjoy your site & check daily, it would be a shame if you shutdown. Thanks for your great effort. Bergenite

  25. Anon
    That Straight to Hell did work its charm.

    Mnay true words there, though be truth be know as fine as those "thanky-wonderful" comments are it's the ones with the added detail, the counter-offer or the dissenting viewpoint that remind you this is worth something.

    It is true that my fellow bloggers are some of the best commenters - they understand the silence.
    (Hope you enjoy youir namesake band and I'll add BA to my blogroll.)

    Yeah I've tried to add my own take on music blogging, I'm glad its noticeable. Hopefully you'll keep going because the Small Takeover has a strong, personal feeling too.

    Thanks for the reference to the Northern Pikes' worst song (even if it's fitting...)

    We'll get to that discussion when I can just rip those first three singles (I use an ancient stand-alone CD recorder to create a disc then I rip that - very inefficient). The story of the Stand GT and their great singles run (and their not-so-good album run) is worth a series of posts.

    Yup it's a constant complaint but somehow I felt it was worth a post anyway.

    You're right,after all so many people don't believe they should pay musicians for music so why would they pay respect to a mere blogger?
    (Gotta get my wife to translate some of yours posts - google translation is weak - it looks excellent.)

    Exactly,I loved the little discussion that revolved around your posting of a late-period Stiff Little Fingers post.
    Thanks for letting me steal so many post ideas from you!

    Thanks, and glad to see MOPR is back up and running.

    "if you quit compulsive blogging you may want to consider compulsive 9/11 research. it gets heavy but you can't quite dance to it." That's hilarious (Comments can also just be funny).

    Can furthering Clash/Ramones obsessiveness be a calling?
    (I may be in the Joey camp but Dee Dee is a mighty close second. In that interview he really reminds of Tommy Smothers.)

    Damn you always put things so well, I'm usually jealous.

  26. Bethany

    Nice intro-acoustic stuff. Thanks.


    I try not to use the word "leeches" but I really appreciate you speaking for those labeled as such.

    We do it for ourselves first but when there's no reaction it can start to feel kinda...masturbatory ("And on the internet, you say!")

    And I link to every blog you start (and will continue to do so) because you always find great content (plus you're a dedicated commenter both here and at IMCT)

    Frank Miller

    Unlike your comic-writing namesake (I"m the Goddamn Batman") you said it perfectly; "I'm in hopes I can open up a running dialogue with other people who either maybe never heard it before and really like it, or can share info and or music with me". Thanks

    Neologisms, especially Clash-related ones, are always welcome here. Thank you.

    bell ham
    Yeah the "Why aren't you fuckers leaving comments!" post is a bit of a blogger cliche. I resisted it for awhile and then just decided to do my own take on it. It is true that the awe-inspiring array of blogs makes can make commenting a daunting task (especially since you want to comment after you've heard the music by which time you may have forgotten where the hell that download came from).
    Point well taken.


    Hopefully you will find something to download at some point. Till then, thanks for adding your thoughts.

  27. I am a little slow with my reply here, so this may come as "mustard after the meal" as we say in Dutch.

    As I wrote before in a reply to one of your posts, there are so many great music blogs that it is hard to keep up (at least for me). But I always make sure to check your blog, and even when I don't download anything or don't leave a comment, I usually find your posts quite interesting. They sure have made me check out music that I didn't know before. Moreover, in your posts I recognize an obsessiveness with music that I also have. (By the way, why aren't there hardly any females who have this?). So thanks for ALL your posts, and in particular for Billy Bragg. You may have this already, but for you and the other readers of this blog, I have uploaded 2 great BB bootlegs from the Mermaid Avenue era. Both have excellent sound quality.

    BB & the Blokes - Mermaid Avenue Tour:

    BB & Wilco - Mermaid Avenue Demos

    Cheers & I hope you keep on blogging!

  28. the same thing bothers me, and i don't do anything near as awesome as this.

    for me what stops me from commenting is not that i don't appreciate/like what's written but it feels weirdly intrusive if I don't know the person. I've been told by a music blogger friend that I don't get blogs, and that's probably true, but for me, if I don't know you, I feel weird getting all up in your grill with my comments.

    so know that there are people reading who love your stuff but don't want to cross some sort of (probably imaginary) etiquette barrier by responding. i know how satisfying that's not, but it's true.

  29. Alphish
    Thanks for those very kind words (though you have always been a good commenter).
    I've been in a bit of a "Mermaid Avenue" phase these days so I'll listen to those right away. Thanks for that as well.
    P.S. "Mustard after the meal" is a very precise expression that I need to remember

    emily p.
    Thanks for putting the shoe on the other foot - I tried to leave a comment on your cool ironic signage stuff over at Flickr and felt completely at a loss ("register"?). Makes me understand why those less familiar with Blogger may feel ill-at-ease commenting.
    That idea about being obtrusive ("Up in your grills - this post inspired some great figures of speech didn't it?) was new to me. I've always felt that commenting ADDS something to a post but now I can see that some would-be-commenters might be uncomfortable with that very idea.

  30. You're still here after 3 years which shows this is a succesful blog and an inspiration as I have just started and I am sometimes wondering whether it's all worth it. What a great name for a start! I have just been browsing your site and came across this track which is one of my favourites. I love Wilco but my dad, as a Dylan fan introduced this to me! Brilliant

  31. flycasual
    Glad to have offered up some inspiration as well as the Bragg. Hope you keep the blog going.


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