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Don't Call It A Comeback
Or, You Can If You Want To...
Don’t call it a comeback. Quarter Notes has been here for years, rockin’ my peers and puttin’ suckas in fear (probably). But this newsletter has been on hiatus for over a year, and I’ve been putting off starting it up again, frankly, because it scares me and I want it to be perfect and I don’t know what to write or if I’ll have the time to be as consistent as I want or if anyone will like it and I love making long run-on sentences of excuses. But here we are. It’s time to just knock it out.
I started Quarter Notes when I turned 25 in 2020 as an opportunity to explore the music of my birth year. Then it sort of morphed into a general offering of essays and thoughts on music, how we listen to music, etc. (with plenty of listening suggestions). Then I basically lost all energy and will to write in 2022. Going forward through the rest of 2023, I suspect it will look similar to how it looked before the hiatus. However, as I go into what is sure to be a busy season of seminary studies, I doubt I’ll have the energy for many 1,000-2,000 word essays.
So what I’m going to try to do more often is just offer up some music (maybe other art media as well) that I’m enjoying at the moment. I might share a few thoughts about songs or albums, I might not. But I’m always up for conversation in the comments section, Twitter, at a local coffee shop, etc.
So if you’re interested in a very imperfect, inconsistent newsletter with some random guy’s music suggestions and some light conversation, follow along, invite your friends, and let’s take this itty-bitty world by storm. ‘Cause we’re just getting warm.
A Quick Happy 20th Anniversary to 2003
Like so many others, it was the seminal one-two punch of Switchfoot and Lindsay Lohan that made me fall in love with rock and roll. Some would point to Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at Monterey or Freddie Mercury holding an audience of 70,000 people in the palm of his hand at Live Aid as their baptismal experience. But for an eight-year-old in 2003 Los Angeles, it was Lohan ripping through a solo on the Fender Tele-Sonic she was definitely playing to celebrate the marriage of Jamie Lee Curtis and the guy from NCIS while an approving Chad Michael Murray watched from the crowd.
The passion. The attitude. The cool.
On a more serious note, 2003 was the year Switchfoot released their breakout album, The Beautiful Letdown. I listened to that record via Limewire downloads on a burned CD (real ones will know) over and over and over. To this day, I know the ins and outs of that record—every note, every texture—better than anything that’s come out since. It was my first love, and I’m eternally thankful for it. It’s not an overstatement to say that much of my ethics, philosophy, theology, and way of being in this world are indebted to Jon Foreman and the songs of that record (something I’ll have to explore in depth perhaps at a later date).
As I’ve reflected on these two essential moments in my rock & roll history, it occurred to me that 2003 was really a watershed year for me, a year where I really started to engage art and culture in a formative way. I saw Return of the King and Pirates of the Caribbean in theaters and was absolutely obsessed with the former. I watched American Idol for the first year of what would be an almost decade-long journey with the show, something I’ve written about elsewhere. I obsessively watched the Los Angeles Dodgers, often keeping my own scorebook on scratch paper as I watched nightly. I started playing video games—mostly World Series Baseball 2K2 on my Sega Dreamcast—and I did my best little eight-year-old impression of Vin Scully while I did it.
What seemed so cool then seems a bit silly in retrospect. But I’m learning that silliness is essential to being human, much more essential than “coolness,” whatever that is. I’m sad for the silly childlikeness I’ve lost since 2003. And these recollections fill me with a mix of joy and sadness, like Riley’s swirly blue-yellow memories in Inside Out. Despite the sadness, I’m thankful for these memories and the cultural artifacts that can take me back to moments of pure childlike joy in an instant. I’m thankful too for the reminder that somehow, some way it will be like that again. Joy will overcome. The things that perhaps feel lost in 20-year-old memories will be renewed. And all along the way, if we allow ourselves to pay attention, we can experience new moments of inspiration that fill us with as much wonder as an eight-year-old kid enthralled with Guitar Hero Lindsay Lohan and the glorious passion of rock & roll.
Quarter Notes: The Playlist
And finally, here’s some new music I like. Typically, I’d like to write a bit about the songs I share, but I think we’re going to keep it simple this week. Leave a comment with what you’re listening to orwhat you like from the playlist!