That's a long time. I've had two marriages that didn't last that long. So bear with me while I wallow in a puddle of personal nostalgia.
The way I got the job was answering an ad Jeff posted in the country and western music newsgroup. (That shows you how long it's been; does anybody remember newsgroups?) He was looking for writers, and I sent him a sample of some reviews of records I owned - Lorrie Morgan's "Something in Red" was one of them, and I can't recall the other - along with my philosophy of reviewing which revolved around "praising the praiseworthy and damning the damnworthy." (And I bet you right now Jeff is shaking his head in disgust and saying "Damnworthy's not a real word. What is the fool doing?")
And even though I had a tendency to make up words, Jeff hired me as a reviewer. The first CD he sent me was from a young man named Jesse Dayton. I gave it a big thumbs up, and Jesse Dayton sank into semi-obscurity.
Reviewing is a lot of fun when you have a great record to discuss. It's even more fun when you have a terrible one. What's hard is finding something new and interesting to say about a record that is just mediocre.
And I've done some interviews as well. The very first one I ever did was with one of my favorite artists, Shelby Lynne. Shelby is many things. Beautiful, yes; multi-talented, certainly; but loquacious she ain't.
I had several pages of questions for her - for all the good it did me. This should give you an idea of how the interview went:
Me: How closely would you say this album lived up to your original vision of what you hoped the album would become when you first started working on it?
Shelby: It was close. (Long pause)
Me: Um, could you elaborate on that at all?
Shelby: It was very close.
I forget the number now, but Jeff said he wanted a certain number of words in the article, and I remember panicking as I realized that even if I wrote down every single word she said from "Hello, is this Robert?" to "Bye now," I still wouldn't have enough. Even if I included the "excuse me" after she sneezed - even if I included the sneeze - I'd still be short a couple hundred words. If you go back and reread that interview (and please don't) you'll see that by the end, I'm quoting her song lyrics and anything else I can find to round out the article.
Shoot, I'm almost out of room, and I haven't even gotten to how I became a columnist. Be here next time when I reveal for the first time ever what the original name of the column was going to be and how it all got started because of Jeff Remz's dislike for a particular pronoun.
The views expressed in this column are Robert Loy's and do not necessarily reflect those of CST.