Well, I’m exhausted already (and that was before I just wrote 500 words of this and hit the wrong button and lost them). I guess we picked a good week for me to write this diary since here it is, Monday morning, and just looking at my calendar and thinking about the week in front of me is enough to get me rattled. The early-morning television doesn’t help matters much, either. Was up and out before 7 a.m. today to go on ESPN2’s morning show, Cold Pizza, to talk about tonight’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. The show is actually pretty fun and the people there are a pleasure, but it’s still a rough way to ease into a new week. In and out of makeup before 9 a.m.—surrounded by baby wipes, just like at home.
Had a lovely and quiet weekend, mostly spent playing with our fantastic 15-month-old, Adam. Never went further from the apartment than pushing a stroller would allow. He’s at an amazing stage right now, with new words popping out every day; and he is so incredibly excited that he can say stuff we understand. Very glad I had these two days because I didn’t see much of him at the end of last week. On Wednesday, I had to go to Boston and back for a sales call at Volkswagen, and then to Nashville Thursday night/Friday to tape some video with Mindy Smith, a new singer/songwriter I like a lot. Flight was delayed about five hours coming back, so didn’t get back until after midnight Friday. And this week there’s a late night tonight for the Hall of Fame, a Neil Young show Wednesday night, and then I’m off to Austin for the South by Southwest music conference from Thursday through Sunday.
All of this, of course, in addition to closing the third issue of Tracks, which has been fairly horrific from top to bottom. The first two issues went shockingly smoothly considering we were launching a new magazine. But you just know that some of them are going to be snake-bit, and everything that can go wrong, will. We had four different subjects agree to be on our cover and then bail out. Finally we settled with a fifth artist, which has still proved ridiculously complicated. Stories that seemed straightforward came in messy and needing extra work, photo shoots didn’t come together—we even flew a writer and photographer to Los Angeles for a Morrissey feature only to find out after they landed that Mozzer had opted instead to jet to London for a last-minute remix of his album. At this point, I just want out of this one, just want to start clean and move on to issue No. 4.
But today’s workday will be cut short to head off to the Hall of Fame dinner at 6. Might as well get some of these thoughts out of the way now so that tomorrow I can just give you the gossip unmarred by such editorializing: Look, I’ve always been wildly ambivalent about the whole idea of this institution. I vote every year because they ask me to vote. But this year especially, the disparity between my ballot and the list of inductees is so vast that I had to think about what my concern really is, which I guess comes down to this: The hall seems to value longevity and consistency as the benchmarks for a rock ’n’ roll career. These are fine, as far as they go—and obviously, are closest to the career statistics that the sports halls of fame use—but at a certain point, doesn’t jibe with the way pop music actually works. Sometimes a band with one great album, or one great song, or one defining new sound can have a lot more impact on music than a band that releases 10 really good records.
Leading to situations like this year, when Jackson Browne and Traffic made the cut while Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Gram Parsons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Patti Smith did not. I know the Sex Pistols made only one real album—but without that album, rock ’n’ roll would have sounded pretty different for the last 25 years. Traffic is a fine band—one of my wife’s old favorites, in fact—but why exactly should they be in the Hall of Fame? Anyway, looking forward as always to Prince, eager to see what he’ll say and what he’ll play, and it will all be perfectly fun, but I still can’t get this nagging—and I realize that it is nagging—out of my head.
Between now and then, I need to read over the latest edit of the cover story, try to work out some final questions of page counts, start getting some preliminary lineups for the next issue circulating, and try to find a few minutes to listen to some of this music piling up on my desk. Being away for a couple of days causes the CDs to start backing up. And that’s one of the hardest things: Launching a music magazine doesn’t leave nearly enough time to listen to music.