In keeping with my theme of reflection for the year 2010, here are some things I learned (or was told):
1. No one blogs anymore
Is that true? Or is it just true that no one reads blogs anymore? And did they ever?
I read some blogs. I read those whose authors are good writers, or those that say something I'm interested in, or those of people in whom I'm interested.
Frankly, I wish I had time to read more, but I just don't. I have to draw the line. I can't read everything that might or might not be interesting. We need a service we can subscribe to, one that emails us links to blogs that we, personally, would be interested in reading. Something that can be personalized to each individual. Business suggestion for someone out there! Free idea!
The funny thing is, I never went into this whole blogging biz with the thought that anyone would read mine. Nor was that my intention.
I've always written. Always. When I used to tear pages out of the typewriter (anyone remember those?), I certainly didn't expect anyone to read them. Why would I expect anyone to read my blog? I write this more as a diary than anything else. Even when I post the videos I've made, it's not for the purpose of marketing. It's to have a written record of things I've done. For me. I'm always shocked (shocked!) when I get comments (the ones that aren't spam, written in Chinese).
2. ReverbNation is a great way to waste a whole bunch of time.
Don't get me wrong; I like ReverbNation, for what it is. This isn't a knock on the site. We have a page there.
I don't see that it's done anything for us as a band, but then again, what has?
Awhile back, after FAWM, I set up my own page as a place to post my acoustic songs (Red River's is here). I guess I was bored one day. I started browsing for Americana artists, to hear some new unsigned music, and I became a fan of some.
Now suddenly, my whole email box is filled with "Bill Blessyourheart just became a fan of yours on ReverbNation".
Not to be cynical (ha ha), but I just don't think all those people are my fans. If you'd heard my sad, lame guitar/vocal renditions, you'd understand.
No, these people want fans of their own. That's understandable. It looks better on your page to have a lot of "fans". But I'm one who always not only "fans back", but I try to listen to at least one song from every artist and post a comment. It's getting too burdensome! I can't possibly keep up!
It's a game, and I'm thinking I might not want to play anymore. But thank you to the two people who posted really thought-provoking comments on one of my songs. I really do appreciate it.
3. I'm not a social networking kind of gal.
Facebook is fine. I usually check it out once a day, to see if anyone has posted anything interesting. But I just looked, and the last time I updated my status was on October 9! What am I supposed to say? "It's chilly today"?
Twitter is even worse. I feel like I should say "something", but I don't know what. So, I just gave up on it entirely.
I tried to join a songwriting site, but they don't like new people butting in. Those sites are like small dysfunctional families; they're close-knit, even in their sometimes hatred and disdain of one another. I posted a couple of times, but was either ignored or condescended to, so I just moved on.
Social networking is not for me.
4. I hate TV.
Here is what I watch on TV: one national news channel, two sitcoms that I really like, and American Masters and American Experience on PBS. That's it.
I watch the local weather. I can't abide by the rest of the local happy "news", which isn't news at all, but a coffee klache we're all invited to.
The other thing about TV that makes me hate it is the commercials. First of all, they're too damn loud (however, a bill was recently passed that will ban this! Best thing Congress did all year!)
Secondly, they make men look like morons. It's embarrassing. I like my husband; I think he's a good guy. I don't think he's a hapless loser. But apparently, all national advertisers think differently.
There was one commercial this year that I liked, and I would even replay it if it showed up on my DVR:
That's cute! Sorry, but it is.
5. I'm basically done buying CD's.
Unless the Eagles put out a new CD, or Mark Chesnutt, or Dwight Yoakam, I'm done.
I believe I bought two CD's in all of 2010. One was by George Strait, but that's really for collection purposes. I have all of George's CD's, and I'm not breaking the chain. This, even though George's song quality has diminished, as he's tried to stay "relevant", sadly.
The other was Marty Stuart's "Ghost Train". Good! Just GOOD. I don't need to say more. Buy it and find out.
I'll buy a single download here and there from Amazon, but I'm done. I've got enough music (good music) to last me the rest of my life. Until Nashville swings the pendulum back, they've lost me. Sorry to be blunt.
6. Words can hurt and they can soar.
There's a very, very nice man on NoDepression.com, who comments positively on all of Red River's videos. He's just a nice man. I don't deceive myself that our songs and our videos are anything even remotely outstanding, but John Apice posts a nice, uplifting comment on every video I upload there. He knows how to lift the spirit, and I truly, truly appreciate it.
By the same token, one of Red River's videos on YouTube got a thumbs-down. Why would anyone take the time to do that? If you don't like it, click "stop" and move on. It seems mean. And that was one of the songs I thought was one of our best (well, there you go, thinking again).
It seems silly to even remember that tiny slight, but I do. Words (or little negative icons, in this case) can hurt.
7. Give me some new gadget, and I'll be your friend forever.
There were two things I wanted for Christmas: a Kindle and a USB turntable.
I wasn't real sure about the Kindle, because I love, love books. I like the feel of a book; I like going back to certain passages and re-reading them. I like the heft of a book. I like putting my bookmark in the crease at bedtime and reopening it to that spot the next day. I'm a book geek.
But everyone raved about the Kindle, and on the practical side, I don't have room for all my books anymore. I donated a bunch this fall, and only kept the ones I really can't bear to part with. So, a Kindle seemed like a good idea.
I think I like it. The jury is still out, but so far, so good. It does help that Keith Richards is a really good writer. Who knew? My first e-book, and I'm enjoying it.
The USB turntable is just another world all together. I, yes, posted about it a week ago, because I'm in love with it. I am replaying and converting all my old albums and singles - and I haven't heard some of them in more than 20 years. I even like just looking at it. I forgot what it was like to play records.
An added bonus to the whole turntable thing is, I now remember what really good music is like. Say what you will; if you hated country music in the 60's and early 70's, because it was too "corny", rock on. I like it. I like it a lot. And did you know, most of those songs didn't even have bridges? And most are under three minutes? Just like the Beatles songs. I think songwriters today are really over-thinking things.
So, it's not only a new cool gadget, but it's a (re)learning tool.
8. Anything I create is for me.
Songs, videos, what-have-you. I'm 55 years old. Even if the brass ring was dangling out there, I wouldn't have the dexterity to catch it.
I've got things to say musically, I've got some pretty pictures to put to music, I've got words. Lots of words. I like words. Always have. Words are magic to me.
Nobody has to like my music or my words or my pictures. I like 'em. That's enough.
So, eight things I learned (or was told) in 2010. Some of them were probably obvious, but I just didn't realize it before. Now I know.
Happy 2011. Great; now I have to get used to writing 2011.
But on we go! Maybe I'll learn nine or ten things in the coming year.