A new project: Classic albums

And, breathe. My four-week Tour de France writing project has been put to bed. What’s next?

With hindsight July has been, from a blogging perspective, the most fun I’ve had as a writer while simultaneously being the month from hell. Fun because the crucible environment of publishing at least one post of 1,000-plus words every day for four weeks has taught me more about the craft of writing and promoting a blog than I had learned in the previous three years. And hellish because there were times when the last thing I wanted to do at 10pm after a long day of work, screaming kids and the odd evening out was to sit down at my computer with a mug of liquid caffeine, write a review of the day’s stage, and chip away at the 3,000-word preview I had scheduled to complete two days later.

But I did it, and didn’t miss a single day in doing so. In four weeks, I produced in the region of 60,000 words on the 2010 Tour (as well as a steady trickle of other posts), and am genuinely proud of a lot of what I have written. Some of it was utter tosh, but you win some and you lose some, eh?

Introducing the ‘Classic albums’ project

A few days later, I am itching to start a new project, albeit a slightly less intense one that allows me to have six hours’ sleep every night.

Everyone always tells fledgling writers to focus on a subject they are passionate about, and that is sound advice. One of the things that kept me going through those late July nights was that I was writing about a sporting event I adore. If I had been trying to write a daily blog about, I don’t know, crown green bowling, I suspect I might have thrown in the towel rather quickly.

So, I’m going back to basics and reconnecting with one of my lifelong loves: music. I grew up in a house surrounded by stereo gadgetry: LPs, reel-to-reel tapes, 8-track cartridges, cassettes and eventually CDs. One of my fondest childhood memories is of afternoons with my dad where he would patiently teach me how to edit and splice reels of tape; I was probably four at the time. My own passion for music stems from his, and I can already see both my sons developing a similarly strong affinity.

I’m choosing to focus on ‘classic’ albums rather than do reviews of current ones, and for a very specific reason. While I love the freedom that comes with being able to store an entire music collection on my iPod and listen to it anywhere, it means I will sit down to listen to an entire album from start to finish much less than I used to. I miss that. In a world where anyone can knock up a playlist of favourite songs in seconds, there is a certain pleasure in rediscovering tracks you had forgotten just because they didn’t make it onto one of your ‘best of’ playlists.

So that’s my project for the foreseeable future. My aim is to listen to one album every week that I haven’t listened to in at least a year, and then write about both the music and whatever associated events and memories from my life the music evokes. (I know, I know, it’s all a bit High Fidelity. Deal with it.) Here are a few which spring readily to mind, which will no doubt feature over the coming months:

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