Two years ago I quietly began writing the Basement Songs posts on my blog, Thunderbolt. At the time I didn’t know who my audience was, as I honestly believed that ten, maybe twenty readers were checking out Thunderbolt on a weekly basis. Inspired by some of the finer music blogs I’d come across, I thought that Basement Songs would be an interesting alternative to the daily confessionals I was posting. At least it could be fun. As I’ve written before, the early months of 2007 were tough. I believe that the 2005 death of my friend, Matt, and a laundry list of regrets and unresolved issues finally caught up with me. Coupled with the ongoing stress of worrying about my son, I sunk into a deep funk (and not the kind of funk that involves the groove of Duck Dunn). Despite those dark months, I found great pleasure in writing the Basement Songs. A friend used the term “therapeutic communication” once, and I believe that’s a sound way of describing what I was doing. Again, I had no idea who was reading; I just needed to get some things off of my chest, and I wanted to share my love of certain music.
One person who was reading happened to be Jeff Giles, whose Jefitoblog was one of the best written and enjoyable sites I visited daily. Jeff and I became friends thanks to a comment he made about Springsteen and my response. This led to the exchange of some choice bootlegs, an Idiot’s Guide to Journey, and then one of the kindest gestures I’ve experienced this decade: Bloggers for a Cure, in which Jeff and some other fine bloggers (most of whom write for this site) joined together to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jeff was also a strong supporter of the Basement Songs and would link each new post in his weekly “Friday Linkfest.”
As many of you know, Jefitoblog vanished like the island in Lost and a huge void was left in the blogosphere. Instead of wallowing in misery, Jeff decided to gather up a group of his favorite writers (many of whom were involved with Bloggers for a Cure) and formed Popdose. I was honored that he asked me to bring the Basement Songs to the new site. Besides the opportunity to expand my audience beyond twenty people, readers would actually get to hear the songs!
In the beginning of 2008, after revising the very first Basement Song writeup of “The Rainbow Connection,” I published my first new column (I decided to call it a column instead of a post all of a sudden) for Popdose: a 1500-word essay on Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” It took a long time for me to live down my affection for that song and Bryan Adams in general. Some comment I made about Taylor Swift a couple months back seemed to quell the abuse I received for writing so lovingly about Canada’s answer to John Mellencamp.
As 2008 progressed, the column slowly transformed from a weekly write-up about a song into a running memoir that happened to feature a song in it. However, by the fall, the weekly outpouring of emotions that constitutes my life started to get difficult. There were skipped weeks, re-postings of old columns, and I questioned how long I could continue writing the Basement Songs. At this time last year, I imagined hitting 100 columns and possibly closing the basement door forever. How much b.s. can one guy have to say about himself?
At the beginning of this year I felt rejuvenated by a month off. Determined to at least write 100 columns, I challenged myself to write a new Basement Song entry for fifty weeks and to feature a different artist each week. Besides using one Thursday in April to review the Springsteen concert I took in with my friend, Jon Cummings, I’ve met that challenge, much to my amazement. And all of a sudden, here it is the second to last week in November and I’ve hit the 100 mark! How the hell did that happen? More importantly, I don’t see an end in sight.
Each week I send out reminders to friends and family when a new Basement Song goes live. As I have told those people many times, writing this column is one of my proudest achievements as a writer. In addition to the outpouring of support and kind words from readers, doing this column has given me the confidence and discipline to tackle writing a novel and actually completing it. But it’s not just the reward of working for Popdose that’s so fulfilling, it’s being a part of the Popdose cyber family, one that supports each other and watches each other’s backs. I have only met four of these people in person (Jon, Zack, Will, and the great John Hughes, who had to step down for professional reasons). I have only spoken to Jeff and Ted on the phone once. Yet I feel close to everyone on the Popdose staff, and would miss them greatly if they weren’t in my life.
A month or so ago, the site had some technical problems that Jeff described as pretty major. For a couple of hours, I wondered if Popdose would go black and cease to exist. Although I thought, “Phew, guess I don’t have to write that review of The Life and Times of Vivian Vyle after all!” I also got very sad at the thought of not having the people who are Popdose in my daily life. On any given day there are four or five emails from our “staff lounge” Google group. The banter back and forth between everyone often has me cracking up, eliciting some strange stares from my wife. These passionate men and women are my friends, even though we may never meet face to face (but seriously, Jeff, do something about that, will you?)
It may seem odd to reflect on the website I contribute to and people I have never met. However, I use this column each week to write about my life and I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to reflect on Popdose and how it has become a major part of my daily existence. Jeff and Jason and Robert allow me to write what I want even though it has almost nothing to do with pop culture, and for that I will be for forever grateful. I am also forever grateful to all of you people who take the time to read and leave comments or email me or call me on my shit.
And so, I dedicate this week’s basement song to the women and men of Popdose. It’s one of my favorites from the summer of 1991. The lyrics fit the moment and I know, oh I know, that it’s by an artist that everyone on the staff admires and loves.
No, it’s not Bryan Adams.
Until next week,
P.S. Oh, what the hell, here’s a Bryan Adams song anyway.