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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

ROCK 'N' ROLL LOVE LETTER (and Love Letters To Rock 'n' Roll)

The very first post on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) was a love letter to rock 'n' roll, an open letter I wrote to the late  David Bowie when he passed away. I was surprised by how much Bowie's death affected me, so I wrote the letter as an attempted catharsis. And then I started this blog as a place to share that kind of stuff. I don't know what my initial intentions were for the blog, but some folks--notably my This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio co-host Dana Bonn and Gary Frenay of The Flashcubes, among a few others--had been pushing me for ages to start blogging. So I guess the time had finally come to follow through. I determined that if I was going to do this, I would commit myself to posting something every day; it's too easy to slack off without that specific commitment. This is my 259th published blog post; I've written more in the past eight months than I've ever written in any comparable time frame before. Even when I was freelancing regularly, I never wrote as much as I've written this year. And it all started with a love letter to rock 'n' roll.

While one could certainly say that this blog is itself a series of love letters to rock 'n' roll, superhero comic books, radio, and Suzi Quatro, a website called Love Letters To Rock n' Roll proudly proclaims such a-rockin' and a-boppin' passion as its titular raison d'etre. Let's face it: our hearts look their spiffiest when worn on our sleeves. I have always thought that the best pop journalism serves as an unfettered advocate for its chosen point of view; if you're gonna write about something--The Bay City RollersThe Ramones, power pop, Toots & the Maytals, Liz Phair, Motorhead, Sam & Dave, The Ventures, Prince, Wanda Jackson, Little Richard, Big Star, bubblegum, Gladys Knight & the Pips, KISS, or Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich--why let something as banal and boring as objectivity get in your way? Participate. Advocate. You'll enjoy it more, and your readers will enjoy it a lot more.

The good folks behind Love Letters To Rock n' Roll understand this well. And their mission statement does a damned good job of 'splainin' it: 

"Love Letters to Rock n’ Roll has one main objective: to provide a forum where music obsessives can openly express their love.

"Geez, there are so many music journalists these days! So many album reviews of bands you have heard of and have never heard of, who you might listen to and you might forget to listen to, and who you might listen to and then forget that you did listen to. We don’t need any more reviewers or reviews. Lester Bangs perfected that art years ago and now he is probably rolling over in his grave in one continuous never ending rotation of disgust for the current state of music journalism. Isn’t the entire point of music, of art, to create a reaction? Perhaps an emotional reaction? Let’s celebrate those emotional reactions on this forum!
"This is the place where you can gush eloquently—or not so eloquently—about anything connected to music that has caused a positive reaction in you, including but not limited to a/an: band, songwriter, producer, studio, contributing artist/musician, album, A-side, B-side, musical instrument, piece of equipment, venue, particular show, lyric or snippet from a song.
"This is the place to write what you wanted to say to that band after their show but never had the guts (or the opportunity) to do so. You are not required to temper your communication. Go nuts! Open up your heart and let it gush out into one tiny fragment of the oceanic internet."

Gush. I think I just fell in love with a website.
I first heard of Love Letters To Rock n' Roll via a Facebook message from Christine Collister, one of the site's sinister visionaries, soliciting me to maybe possibly write a love letter to rock 'n' roll. I loved their concept--I've been writing love letters to rock 'n' roll for more than thirty years!--and I was delighted that Christine was willing to run an excerpt of my screed about The Monkees' hypothetical induction into The Rock And Roll Of Fame. 

While Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) only reflects my own feverish obsessions, Love Letters To Rock n' Roll is a true community project, publishing heartfelt missives from a growing legion of unabashed fans, fans of...well, what have you? John Cougar Mellencamp! Pet Sounds! The Beastie Boys! Kathleen Hanna! Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman! Insert your fave rave here. In fact, do insert your fave rave here: https://loveletterstorocknroll.com/submissions/; Love Letters To Rock 'n' Roll operators are standing by--well, not really standing by; more like jumpin' up and down while playing Otis Redding and Generation X records really, really loud! And they're ready--ready, ready teddy, awready--to read your enthusiastic, unashamed message of love.
Enthusiasm. Advocacy. Passion. And, as always around here, belief. That's my rock 'n' roll love letter; gonna sign it, gonna seal it, gonna mail it away.

Yes, I got your letters. Please stop sending them...!