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A song a day.

Thu Aug 20, 01:01 AM

I’m expecting the next 75 days are going to be pretty rough for me.

Next week my youngest son (one of my four best friends, and I guy with whom I’ve been joined at the hip for a decade) is returning to college. He’s doing so amidst a sea of uncertainty and even danger, just a few weeks after I learned I lost a friend to the ravages of Covid. When one of my kids leaves, I wither with loneliness – but I’ve never had to deal with loneliness and fear.

This is happening while the president sits back and watches, literally doing nothing but creating more chaos, feeding crazy conspiracy theories to his base, and generally making it more difficult to contain the spread of this disease that, 75 days from now, will have killed 200,000 Americans. I’m terrified for my son – not just for the health hazards he’ll be facing every day, but by the way this disease has thrown his life into disarray, at a time when he should be thriving. I’m equally terrified for everyone else, and I’m fully aware that everyone’s anxiety is through the roof. I’m also perpetually angry that the important work being done by the BLM movement is suddenly being overshadowed by the election and by the reopening of schools.

Heading into the fall, I’m expecting the disease to return, or at least continue to create chaos. Nerves will be frayed everywhere, businesses that have squeaked by during the summer because they could set up outdoors will be forced to close, we’ll all have to retreat inside again as the weather gets cold. That lonely feeling we all had in March? I figure it’s coming back. I expect the anxiety that wracked me in the spring will return as well.

On top of all this, the election is going to be brutal. The campaign is going to be filled with mudslinging like we’ve never seen before, violently desperate attempts to cling to power, the obvious importance of the choice we have in front of us, my unending frustration with those that refuse to see how critical it is, the uncertainty of how it will end, and the even greater uncertainty of what will happen if the right candidate wins. It will dominate every one of our minds, for the next 75 days. There will be no “off” switch; if you give a shit about the world around you, it will be impossible to pull your mind away from it.

I need something to do to take my mind off it all. And I also need something to do that makes me feel like I’m helping somehow. I suck at making phone calls (I did it for Obama and I hated it, and was clearly terrible). I’m really good at organizing benefit shows, but, umm, there are no shows. I’m not someone who can knock on doors – I just don’t have the ability to show up unannounced at your doorstep and tell you why it’s important that you vote for Joe Biden, even if he’s not your favorite guy. And again, I know I’m going to need to turn this horrid shitshow off for a while every day.

Tracy Wilson, the singer of Positive No, is a person I met a couple of years ago online. Tracy puts out a record, and part of the process involves not just writing the record, but writing about the record. Her band’s most recent album, Kyanite, was pretty excellent – and with each song, came a little narrative about the song’s meaning, some backstory, a few interesting anecdotes about what she was thinking. Tracy gets it; she understands that that stuff is still important, even though Positive No is not The Beatles in terms of screaming fans, clamoring for every tidbit she writes – she writes the stuff for herself, but also knows that there are people who actually do care.

Ten years ago, to fulfill a promise to my friend Rich, whose 2002 death sent me on a long hiatus from anything music-related, I wrote the story of my little record label, day by day, for a whole year, in a blog (which you can mostly still read). When I did that, I realized that something in my belief system was off: I thought nobody gave a fuck about Dromedary Records or the tiny circle of people in its orbit. What I learned was that the people in its orbit gave a fuck about it; it was important to them, and it was important to me. Writing that blog was fun, and a couple hundred people a day read it. We put out really good records, a few people care, and that’s more than enough in this polluted, war-torn mess.

So for the next 75 days, I’m going to take a page from Tracy’s playbook. Each day, I’m going to focus on a song that came out on Dromedary Records over the last 27 years. I’ll tell you something about the song, maybe an anecdote, a story about the band, or something. And then if you buy that song on that day, I will donate all the money to a different political organization. Each day I’ll tell you about the organization, so that if you don’t like the song, or if you don’t give a fuck about Dromedary Records, maybe you’ll consider making a donation on your own. Maybe you’ll share it with your own circle.

Each day I’ll post it in the Dromedary Records blog, as well as on Facebook and Instagram (I hate Twitter). So we’ll start later today, and we’ll continue until November 3. It’ll be cathartic for me to write, and maybe it’ll give you a few minutes each day to take your mind off the chaos, and listen to a song you’ve probably never heard before. I promise none of the anecdotes will be as long as this one!

-Al/dromedary

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