One of the key attributes of a leader is the capacity to inspire. Popdose is the great site that it is due in no small part to the inspiration of our leader, Jeff Giles. So when Jeff posted a brilliant Letter From the Editor in 2009, and a powerful followup earlier this year, his words moved me in a profound way. He may have been speaking to the larger audience, but in my mind he was speaking directly to me. If you haven’t read those two Letters, I urge you to do so.

I’m not exactly quick off the mark, and I’m not much of an original thinker. What I am is something akin to a dog with bone. You give me something to work on, and I’ll work on it until the job is done. It may have taken me awhile to react to Jeff’s words (this column is, in large part, my reaction), but I spent that time thinking about what form my response would take.

The best thing about Jeff’s Letters, and perhaps the best gift anyone can give you, is that they freed me. Like Jeff, I had grown weary of the chase to keep up with the huge volume of new music that was appearing on a weekly basis. Listening to music for review became a chore. One of my greatest joys became laborious. That was unacceptable.

The first thing I did was to cut way back on the number of CDs that I requested for review. Without that pressure, I immediately had much more time for listening to music that I loved. I focused on my Soul Serenade column, which is my tribute to the classic soul music that means so much to me. I continued to listen to new music, but I no longer felt compelled to write about it if it didn’t move me in some way. I became re-acquainted with those ’60s and ’70s bands that not enough people are aware of anymore, but I love unconditionally.

So the hell with the gatekeepers I say. We are leaving, you don’t need us. If you’re curious about a new record, go listen to it. Decide for yourself. Anything you want to hear is out there at your fingertips. Write about it if you want to.

What I’m going to bring you in A Fan’s Notes (title cribbed from my favorite Frederick Exley novel), is something of myself. I’ll talk about music, new and old, but in the context of my personal history of listening to records and seeing live shows over the years. I hope you’ll talk back too, because there is nothing I like more than a conversation about music with people who know something about the subject.

There is no schedule for this column. It will appear when the spirit, and the music, moves me.

Thanks Jeff, for helping me find my way back to something that I’d lost, and to all of you for making the journey worthwhile.

Let’s go exploring.

About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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