Binghamton, 2006. I’m 23, living in a fire-trap basement apartment in the ghetto. I’m that kind of art-poverty broke where I live on black coffee and scrambled eggs and dinner is paid on for on a rotating basis between whichever one of us got paid that week. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my life except that I know I want to write and listen to records. Out of college just over a year, I’m kicking myself for not having spent more time in music classes because I’ve got a subscription to Spin and being a music journalist would have been a kick-ass career.
I started a blog, Kill Your Ipod and reviewed shitty CDs from indie bands that I solicited over email. No one read it except a couple of stalkers. I wasn’t even sure how to write about music. I lacked the technical language; all I had was this intense passion, this gut feeling whenever I listened to Tom Waits or Warren Zevon or the patchwork of mix CDs that stood in for conversation with boys I liked. I hung around the record store and worked at FYE like a model waiting tables, hoping the right person might notice me and ask me to move back to NYC to write for some new music magazine.
But print was dead and some might argue music was too. I left Binghamton, went to grad school, put my focuses elsewhere. I still played my records and my mix CDs, still thought constantly about Steely Dan and Danny Elfman and The Smiths, sneaking little references into my stories wherever I could. A corrupt cop named Roland. A dozen Euclid Avenues.
Then I got the idea for The Big Rewind, and everything changed. I had figured out, by complete accident, how to write about music the way I wanted to write about music. And with the book’s publication (and the critical acclaim that followed) I found myself immersed exactly where I dreamed I’d be a decade ago.
I routinely wear band shirts and blazers to work. I’ve got a fun and popular live-tweet that has introduced me to so many awesome record nerds. I’m writing essays on albums and bands that I love; I’ve been paid in fancy headphones and book plugs and cold hard cash. I’ve interviewed Greg Harris, the president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so many times I have him saved in my contacts, and I’ve been interviewed as an authority on mix tapes. My book is being taught in a college class at my alma mater.
Holy crow, guys. I’m actually doing this.