makegothiccountrymusicgreatagain"You look at what’s happening" Trump told his supporters at a rally in Februari 2017. "You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?" Not the Swedes, anyway, since nothing happened that night (or any other night for that matter). I'm more concerned of what has happened in America. More precisely, I'm referring to the decline of gothic country music. It didn't happen over night. It's been a slippery slope for a decade. This sad development wasn't predetermined. America has always been a source of attraction. I really believe in America when it comes to gothic country music. Heritage, culture and talent in abundance. But how has these great assets been managed? America, what is wrong with you? You must make your heart steel. The social media platforms are flooded with artists that you never heard of and, hopefully, never will. Their biographies are written by content marketing editors. It seems like an unproportional share of the artists grew up by a riverbank listening to old-timey music in grandpa's lap. Yeah, right. It's pretty awful to read. I must restrain myself not to explode. A new order is needed. Make gothic country music great again. It's going to be tough. As the philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli realized five hundred years ago "It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones." I have no idea or plan of how gothic country music will be great again. And maybe I'm longing for the old order, not a new order. But, we can start by speaking the truth. "Hello, we play gothic country". No, you don't. "Hello, we are a gothic country band". No, you aren't. "Hello, we are the real thing". No, you are fake. Strong words indeed, but I had to say it. Thruth will set you free.  

repeat400Here are some new hard facts. A scientific study has shown that for every hour of music-listening in a typical person's lifetime, 54 minutes are spent listening to songs they've already heard. There are several factors at play here. Nostalgia is one factor, for sure. Introspection is another in the sense of reflecting on yourself trough the music you used to listen to when you were young. The latter is a risk venture. A simple test: how do you - after all these years - feel when Ozzy Osbourne screams "You Bastards!" in the song Sabbath Bloody Sabbath? Does it (still) send a chill down your spine and do you (still) feel a little rebellious? I passed the test with flying colours. I'm evidently not dead, yet. Still, the 54 minutes leave me no peace. It's 90 percent. Are we humans really so limited and unimaginative? But after thinking back and forth, 90 percent may be acceptable. Personally, I believe that I'm closer to 100 than 90. It's an age thing. When you're young you listen, learn and absore. However, you aim and fire with a shotgun and not with a fine-caliber rifle and telescopic sight. At that age you haven't developed your ability to evaluate and select. Some of the music you used to listen to will live up to your standards today, while other music will definitely end in a facepalm. There's also the law of diminishing marginal utility. Wading through a quagmire with loads of music will make you quality conscious, but disillusioned. You will not get exited and expectant when someone says: believe me, this band is the new "The Smiths" (oh, no they're just another example of bleak britpop copies). With age, conservatism tends to take a firm grip of you, an early form of rigor mortis. You can try to convince yourself that you're open-minded and like to try new things, but that's probably not completely true. The management consultant says: step out of your comfort zone. Hmm, I kind of like it here. Besides, my comfort zone is probably, if not certainly, much larger than most people in my age. At least when it comes to music. And 90 percent of a record collection of 3 000 cds is more than 90 percent of a record collection of 50 cds. Some acquaintances ask me "do you still listen to music" as if music listening is an transition illness. I read the following summary in another science study: "As a person ages, perception declines, accompanied by augmented brain activity. Learning and training may ameliorate age-related degradation of perception, but age-related brain changes cannot be undone. Rather, brain activity is enhanced even further, but for other reasons and with different outcomes." I read between the lines. Work with what you got until you're dead and gone. I will keep on pushing the repeat button. Repetition is the mother of all learning.


before protectedTake a close look at the beverage crate on the left. This unglamorous crate is probably the most common place to store vinyl records. At least in Sweden. The crate on the picture is the classic 25-bottle quadratic model without partition (5*5). There are many of them out there, mostly in yellow but also in dark green. The model was taken out of circulation in the 1980s and replaced by the more ergonomic 20-bottle crates with partition (4*5). You have to take care of your vinyls and cds. Many people treat their vinyls and cds very carelessly. In my opinion, some people aren't equal to the task. Neglect and abuse of vinyls and cds should fall under mandatory reporting. A beverage crate doesn't signal respect for the product or the work behind. Lack of respect is universal. Respect is earned and not given. One who really deserves respect is the German company who specializes in products for record collectors. They have virtually everything when it comes to cleaning, protecting and storing vinyls and cds. Their product catalogue is vast and the price level is moderate. A couple of years ago I bought their LP shipping box #1 1-3 LPs (article no 1051) with DHL shipping directly to my front door for €39,85 EUR ($45). A real bargain for 50 cardboard boxes of top quality. If you double-click on their logo below you will be directed to their impressing website (opens in a new window). Even window shopping is a delight with opulent displays of their wares.  
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BS123Recently, I got rid of very precious artefacts, namely three booklets with sheet music from Black Sabbaths first five albums. They have been stored in my closets for over 40 years. I read somewhere that if you haven't touched your belongings during the course of three removals, it's safe to get rid of them. Of course, the booklets didn't pass the "three strikes and then you are out"-test. I've moved eight times since I bought them and the last time I moved was 10 years ago. I’m not a hoarder. I haven't collected things other than cds (and stamps when I was very young). Still, your belongings tend to become more and more. The long and hard separation process pushes a lot of buttons. Why did I get them, why did I keep them and what made me finally get rid of them after all these years. In this blog entry I will try my very best to answer these questions. Anyway, we will have to start from the very beginning. 

BS1 3Why did I get them? Very good question. Buying their albums is uncontroversial, but buying their sheet music is more difficult to explain. Anyway, a line had been crossed. In my adolescent years I was a devout Black Sabbath fan. More than devout, I would say. I listened to their albums on maximum volume with the risk of impairment of hearing. However, I never got the chance to see them live (in their haydays, that is). The closest I came to this maybe life-changing experience was a cancelled tour. Allegedly, Ozzy Osbourne was taken in to a mental institution after drug related problems. The first and only time I've seen them live was 3rd of July 2005 at Globen Arena in Stockholm. Original line-up. They did their best to live up to the expectations, but obviously they had passed their expiration date. Rock is a very physical act, especially if you're a drummer. Bill Ward was, at the time, 57 years old. I can imagine how that feels. Back to the devoutness. I bought the booklets with sheet music under the pretense that I should learn to play guitar and master all the Iommi riffs. I didn't succeed. First, I wasn't good at reading music or taking chords. Second, I totally lacked the necessary predisposition and dedication. However, my little brother had both. I was quickly overtaken. Browsing through the booklets brings back memories. I still remember when and where I bought them. I bought them in the mid 1970s at Sergel Musik AB and Svala & Söderlund in Stockholm, small sheet music and record shops (the former an affiliate to the latter). The shops closed down in the beginning of the 1990s and in the year 2000, respectively.     


BS2 4Why did I keep them? I had every reason to get rid of them. In the beginning of the 1980s I adopted a preppy style. It may be hard to imagine, but during my senior year in high school I walked around in pea coat, crew neck Alan Paine cardigan, Lacoste tennis shirt, Dexter loafers and wore checkered golf pants. It wasn't compatible to be associated with Black Sabbath. An awful lot of terrible music rolled in and over us. Black Sabbath were not dead for me. Now and then I listened to them in solitude. Some old classmates were hard core to the bone. At the 2005 concert I met two hardliners, even more devout than I was, who have held on their principles over the years. Never sold out or cut their hair. They weren't surprised to find me there. In some ways it was like coming home again. With age comes that you aren't ashamed for what you are or have been. I think I kept the booklets of the utmost respect for Black Sabbath and a subconscious feeling that we would reconnect later in life. Which we did. And listening to gothic country music today would surely not been possible if it weren't for Black Sabbath. Black is black.                
BS3 4What made me finally get rid of them after all these years? It could be "death cleaning", the Swedish folkloristic phenomenon by which the elderly and their families set their affairs in order. They didn't want to burden their children with going through their drawers, sorting out precious heirlooms from junk. The modern take of the agrarian society phenomenon is when you're downsizing from a house to a smaller apartment. Things go either to a thrift store or in a dumpster. Some people I know set up a strict policy, one in-one out, to keep the total number of things from growing. Maybe there's a simplier explanation to why I got rid of them. You can feel satisfaction over that things comes to use and finds a better home. Now that they're gone I don't feel any remorse or particular empty inside. Sometimes, you have to bend up your cramping fingers and let go of things. Besides, I got 1000 SEK (which is approximately $107) on Tradera (Swedish eBay). This money will go directly into buying rare gothic country cds. I'm not committed to the one in-one out policy. But hopefully, the net effect will be zero. I can also live with a positive net.      

Southern Gothic picture 2019 2Once is an incident, twice is a trend, thrice is a tradition. Southern Gothic Campout (SGC) is a trend, but hopefully it will turn into a tradition. The dark roots music festival will as before take place in the middle of nowhere in Adams, TN and near the home of the Bell Witch. SGC will surely not beat the Woodstock festival in 1969, which unexpectedly attracted an audience of more than 400 000 people. There's a number of reasons for this prognosis. The most important reason is that tickets are limited to 300. The attendance figure in 2017 was approximately 100. What can I say, the genre attracts a small but dedicated audience. Reportedly it was freezing and pretty remote. Among the bands that performed in 2017 were no less than Those Poor Bastards (evil doom country) and Sons of Perdition (apocalyptic doom country). These bands both fit the "Southern Gothic" bill. But, what about the rest of the bands and artists? The term "Southern Gothic" seems like a misnomer. According to a primary source there were probably three or four acts that could be filed as gothic. And this isn't just the purist point of view. It's an objective fact. The gothic factor seems to be constant this year. But we shouldn't let the best become the enemy of the good. SGC is a great initiative. The main attractions and the bands with the largest fonts on the poster are Murder By Death and O'Death. Other bands are Viva Le Vox, Freight Train Rabbit Killer, Blood on the Harp and JT Oglesby. More bands are to be announced. This event sounds like a lot of fun. But, I will stay home and read about it instead. There's a number of reasons for this damper decision. One reason is that Swedes generally are strangers to camping in late October. 

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