Jan 122012

An early Townsman ponders the state of rock discourse.


Rock Town Hall officially opened its doors on November 20, 2002, as a private YahooGroups listserv to enable a bunch of old music friends (and some newer music friends we’d met along the way) the chance to carry on the rock chatter we once had hours of free time to conduct face to face. We’d gotten older, busier, more responsible, and more isolated. We were growing up but not close to grown out of our music-obsessed rock-nerd behaviors. Rock Town Hall was our chance to reconnect and do so in a way that wouldn’t be half as annoying to our mates and non–music obsessed friends when any number of us did get a chance to mingle in the same room. Our first-ever thread on the old listserv kicked off as such:

Exile on Main Street

With the exception of Dirty Work, every Stones album since Goat’s Head Soup or so has been declared by some enthusiastic reviewer as the band’s “best work since Exile on Main Street.” Over the years, this got me thinking: Compared with albums that predated Exile, is that really saying much? I’ve come to believe that that double album’s high ranking hangs largely on a quartet of great songs and the cover shots of the boys swilling Jack Daniels around a microphone.

Our first-ever response, from dbuskirk, kicked off as such:

Re: Exile on Main Street

Nah, let me be among the first to say you’re crazy.

Perfect! I always wanted to be called an “ignorant slut.” Within a couple of months, through the YahooGroups web browser and optional e-mails delivered through the site, it wasn’t unusual to blow through 25 to 50 soap-box proclamations, quips, and counter-arguments between daily work and life demands. Some days my head felt like it was going to explode as another music-lover’s jibes rang for hours longer than should be expected in the head of any halfway “normal” adult. I had to keep a calm exterior. This wasn’t the kind of stuff one could share with a non-music nerd. “Are you kidding me,” they would probably say, “you’re really this worked up over someone’s opinion of a record?” These private battles, though, were essentially fun. People did a good job of policing themselves and not resorting to bullying and crude insults. Usually.


  26 Responses to “This Is Your 5th Anniversary, Rock Town Hall Blog!”

  1. Happy Birthday, RTH and a big THANK YOU to Mr Mod and Sammymaudlin. I can’t believe it has been 5 years on the blog and 9 years total. AMAZING!

  2. machinery

    Happy B’day to all. Thanks for creating a fun, informative and very cool corner of the interweb.

  3. diskojoe

    Happy 5th Anniversary & here’s something to celebrate it with:


  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Gyorgi told me to send you his congratulations!

  5. alexmagic

    Mod, I know “Five Years” isn’t one of his measley 30 Great David Bowie Songs, but I’m curious if it would be in fall into the 31-60 range.

  6. 2000 Man

    Hey, thanks for five years of behind-the-scenes hard work keeping our playground clean and relatively safe!

  7. Yes, it makes my Top 35, I’m pretty sure.

  8. That’s nice. I wonder if “Tastybasslee” will check in to send his well wishes

  9. I reiterate the first comment that I made on this site: I have my suspicions of this whole blog concept, but it LOOKS great. Nice work Mod and Sammy!

  10. misterioso

    (dabbing away profuse tears and clearing throat) That was beautiful Mod, just beautiful. You should be Myles Standish Proud to have done so much to create a space where people can address the truly important issues of the day. Sir, I salute you and all who have made RTH what it is today. Meaning, 5 years old.

  11. Happiness Stan

    Lovely piece Mr M, and congratulations. I’ve only been here a few months, but it’s getting longer every day (oo-er!)

    Thanks for all of the work you put into keeping the place going, and on a personal level for making me feel so welcome, it’s like a little beacon of interesting and fun in amongst all of the other stuff that’s forever kicking off around.

  12. trigmogigmo

    Happy Anniversary RTH! Thanks to Mr. M and sammy and all who created this great place to hang out and discuss what we love. It has been very enlightening to me to read these threads every day.

  13. Congratulations, Townspeople, you’ve got a community, if you can keep it. Thanks to Mod and Sammy for all the behind-the-scenes work, you’ve got a unique thing here.

  14. Well, the last two months of 2011 saw me unable to enter the hall for an assortment of reasons. And despite a new year’s resolution, a dozen days of 2012 continued the streak.

    And I sure have missed it! I’ll never have the time to go back over two months of threads though (but tell me, did I miss a discussion of the Smile Sessions? did anyone answer my unasked Christmas music question of why “Santa Baby” suddenly became THE holiday song to the point of being heard every 30 minutes or so?). But that fact that I did miss it is testament to the denizens of the hall – their knowledge, perceptions, and humor – and most especially the efforts of Mr. Mod, the sina qua non of RTH.

    I joined up in the first year of the Chess version and I still miss that iteration. If nothing else, I couldn’t have gone close to three months RTH-less in that format; those emails forced attention in a way the blog doesn’t. At this point I accept it and the only remaining regret are those lost along the way (EPG, Great 48, and others). Mr. Mod, here’s to the next five! Thanks for everything.

  15. I have no idea how long I’ve been checking in here, probably at least the last four years, and it’s always been one of my favorite places on the web. No other music blog does such a great job generating discussion with the readers. Kudos!!!!

  16. cliff sovinsanity

    This blog answers those eternal questions of life…Who am I? And why am I here?
    Happy Woody Anniversary.

  17. sammymaudlin

    Huh, huh, you said “culminating”. And for some reason I’m now a huge Dead fan and there wasn’t even any sound in the video that turned me on.

  18. Happy Fifth Anniversary, RTH! Thanks to Mr. Mod and Sammymaudlin for all they’ve done to keep us rock nerds happy.

  19. ladymisskirroyale

    Happy Wood Anniversary, RTH. May we all make it past Tin, Crystal, China and into the beyond!

    Virtual hugs to you all, but especially to Mod and Sammy. I’ve so enjoyed following the RTH silliness (and learning some things along the way).

  20. I do miss RTH Mercury for it’s amazingly unstructured, endless discussions, kind of like After Bathing at Baxter’s now that I think of it. Favorite post of all time was Michelle’s lengthy post on public bathroom etiquette and various technical terms for situations encountered therein.

    Although I don’t post here as often as I’d like, often playing catch up when the moment has passed, I visit very regularly and am an avid Saturday Night Shut-In follower. The recurring features, Mystery Date, How Lou Reed’s Music Was MEANT to Sound, and that True confessions Scarlet Nun logo are top notch. RTH Forever, or at least for another 5 years.

    By the way, EPG would approve of the Freaks and Geeks Video intro. I recall that Box of Rain was the one Dead song that he thought was really great.

  21. cherguevara

    The email list still lives! Viva email!

  22. BigSteve

    I’ve been meaning to say Happy Birthday to Us. What is the new RTH anyway? Is it a ‘group blog’? Sometimes I want to invite a fellow music geek, and I don’t know what to call it.

    What’s interesting to me is how the blog format has opened things up so that it is truly a group project, but it still exists as a true reflection of Our Fearless Moderator, not least because he’s the most dedicated starter of threads.

    I’m glad we’ve been able to attract new contributors who stick around. Maybe this thing will outlive us all.

  23. I simply call it a music discussion blog. I don’t know if there’s an official term that would be more appropriate. I remember when sammy was designing the blog he referred me to a political blog he liked, that had a “by the people for the people” feel, The Daily Kos. Apolitical sort that I tend to be, I referred him to the highly participatory UniWatch, which examines sports uniform oddities/highlights.

  24. alexmagic

    There is nothing I hate more in the world than having to publicly give someone praise, but I want to echo the fact that the Mod’s sensibilities are integral to what makes RTH go.

    I’ve seen, and am even a part of, a number of web enterprises who are starting to do things that might someday evolve into something like The Hall, and I gotta say that they’d all do well to bring Mod in as a consultant. Nobody has content generation and discussion leading skills (if I can engage in blogspeak) on par with Mr. Moderator, and I’m constantly amazed and entertained at the topics he comes up with and the hilarious, yet strangely insightful, approaches to talking about them.

  25. Thanks, and feel free to recommend my “services.” In the case of one possible venture, I’ll work for the right to dump the 12-year-old Canadian kid who thinks those Occupy Wall Street types need to get a job.

  26. I refer to it as a “rock nerd music blog” and I kind of sheepishly mumble it when I say it.

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