A hot breeze pushed tumbleweeds down the empty streets, past yellowed album reviews and top ten lists. As a buzzard circled lazily overhead, a solitary horse whinnied “He-FEE-to”.

The doors to the saloon parted and a masked man entered slowly, looking around at the patrons to see if any familiar faces remained. Sauntering up to the railing, the guest caught the eye of the bartender.

“Hey there stranger….What’ll it be?”
“Mike….It’s me…..Matthew Bolin.”
“Matt? Well I’ll be damned! I didn’t recognize you with the mask.”
“Well, I don’t get my second vaccination until later this week…”
“That’s nice….I haven’t seen you around here since you were starting that series that….now which one of them was it you didn’t get past the first entry on….there’s so many of them.”
“Ha, ha. It was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s problems with certain categories….I did the one on women, and then….”
“And then…?”
“The usual. Life got in the way. Pressures at the 9 to 5 job. Needs at home. Stress…..And then….”
“The apocalypse…..and the a-pop-alypse.”

He took a look around the saloon again. Who were these stragglers? People passing through after running a google search to find if any XTC songs charted in America?….Guys writing bar trivia questions?….Marc Cohn?

“Man, it’s quieter in here than Mellowmas Eve” he said to Mike.
“Yeah, most guys now either get all their info from podcasts, or host podcasts themselves….That reminds me; do you need any podcast equipment?”
“Thanks, but I just got here. Let’s not go crazy from word one…..So what d’ya have around here that’s good?”

Mike took a look behind the bar

“We’ve got plenty of Taylor Swift.”
“And you’ll have more come next week when she wins Best Album.”
“You really think they’re gonna give it to her again?”
“Look, the Grammy Awards are nothing if not predictable. And when they aren’t, you realize after the fact that the ‘surprise’ was actually quite predictable…..So, they haven’t given the Album of the Year to a hip-hop act since 2004. No black artist at all since 2008. If any band wins it, its going to be a foreign act that people think is an American act, like they did with Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons…. Otherwise it’s going to be a solo artist. That basically leaves you with Swift, Dua Lipa, and that English guy who looks like he’s sixteen with the voice like Kermit the Frog.”
“Jacob Collier.”
“I know his name. I just wanted to say he sounds like Kermit the Frog….Anyway, if things were right in this world, of those three Dua Lipa would win; but, the Recording Academy likes to award the same act over and over again in these categories. Frank Sinatra won album of the year three times. Stevie Wonder won three. Paul Simon won three…..and now Taylor Swift’s gonna win three…. unless they do the ‘predictable unpredictable thing’ and give it to Collier. Then the argument the next day becomes that the Grammys are out of touch, instead of the Grammys just being predictable and boring…..Anyway, it looks like most of those other bottles behind the counter are quite dusty, so I think I’m going to head on out. Maybe look to see if there’s a place around here to camp out.”
“So you’re thinking of staying around longer this time?”
“Maybe. I got a couple of ideas. Got laid off from my 9 to 5 last year because of the plague, so I’ve had some time on my hands to be with my thoughts as I roam this wasteland….I’ll see you around.”

He turned away from the bar and headed back towards the outside. As he approached the entrance, the bartender called out

“Hey Matt. One more thing…..which Mike am I exactly in this story?”
“Well….I didn’t want to offend any of you by excluding….or including….any of you. So let’s just say you’re all the Mikes.”
“Oh….Okay….See ya around.”

With that, Matthew Bolin went outide, mounted his horse and rode down the dusty boulevard. As he disappeared out of sight, the few patrons in the bar could hear Mike softly say:

“Wow….What a goddamn weirdo!”

About the Author

Matthew Bolin

Matthew Bolin discovered popular music could be a good thing at age 13. During a field trip to a local college library, he found Rolling Stone's "100 Best Albums, 1967-1987" issue, and a great and glorious world opened up. In the years since, Rolling Stone has shrunk, but Matthew has moved up in the world, and will eventually claim his title as "America's Librarian" sometime in the next decade.

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