Something new, and staying in touch

A selection of vinyl and CDs
Some music I bought in August 2013.

Hi there!

One of the great passions of my life is music. From 2014 through Nov. 17 of this year (2016), I had the good fortune of being a music columnist for the St. Cloud Times. Over that span, I was blessed to be able to write about new releases, old favorites and to go into some depth on ideas and feelings I had about music.

Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, was my last day as a staffer with the St. Cloud Times. I wish the newspaper and all the fine folks at Times Media the very best. I spent 12 years and one month with the company, I made many strong friendships, I met my wife there, I was given the opportunity to do a lot of different kinds of work, things I’ve never tried before. And being a music columnist was one of the most enjoyable and personally rewarding opportunitiesbeing a music columnist was one of the most enjoyable and personally rewarding opportunities. I’m grateful.

nov2016timescolumns-jpg

Please check out my last two columns for the Times around Nov. 10 and Nov. 17. The former is about the upcoming Pink Floyd box set (“The Early Years”) and the latter is me talking about last songs and saying thank you. They’ll be available online on the entertainment section of the Times’ website.

Though I’m still trying to determine what my next chapter will be, as I look for my next job(s) and forge a new path, I still have my passion for music. And I was asked by friends, colleagues and Times readers if I would still write about music and get it out there, somehow, somewhere.

You folks have no idea how much that means to me.

When I was a little boy, I wrote small stories. I’d illustrate them, make them into my own short comic books. My drawing skills never evolved much, but I took great pleasure in writing as I grew older. I enjoyed analysis, creative writing, essays, it was so nice to try to put my thoughts in some sort of order. It helped me understand my thoughts and feelings so much better, for myself. And if I could get others thinking, interacting, sharing their thoughts, all the better!

So that’s what I’m going to try to do here.

I looked at my music column for the St. Cloud Times as an opportunity to find common ground, to have discussions with you — the kind readers who have allowed me some of your time — that went beyond me simply saying, “This album is good” or “This song is bad.” Anyone can do that. But if I could tell you why I liked something, why a record or an artist or a song meant something to me, maybe you could relate in some fashion. Maybe you love that same topic as much as me. Or maybe you feel the same way about something else, and we could forge some understanding that way.

So that’s what I’ll be trying to continue here. I want to have a dialogue with you. I want us to share in music together. I’ll write about new releases. I’ll have essays. I’ll review music, I’ll talk about what music means to me, I’ll talk about old favorites, I may even throw in the occasional “I don’t really like this …” kind of piece (though those would be infrequent; I don’t see a lot of point in writing about things I don’t care for, as there’s so much to write about things I love).

I’ll admit this up front: I don’t know how often I’ll post. I may post multiple times one day, then go a few days without anything. I am looking for jobs, and I want to spend time with my wife. And I really enjoy really digging into music, throwing on headphones and being teleported away by the sounds that wash over my ears. But I promise you that every post I make will be genuine me. Each post will exist because I feel something from the music. It’ll be because I believe in what I’m writing. It’ll be because I’m excited to share a song, an idea, an album or an artist. It’ll be because I think music is important, that it should be appreciated and felt and loved.

I hope you’ll join me. I hope you’ll jump in, share your thoughts, give your suggestions. Writers shouldn’t exist in vacuums, shouting from mountains, aloof and disconnected. We grow through understanding, and through discussion, and through the occasional challenge. We hone our skills, we better understand our own feelings on topics, when we have the opportunity to exchange thoughts with others.

Variety is the spice of life, and I love so many artists across so many genres. And friends have pointed me in the direction of so much cool material (I’d never have learned of “Dracula – Swing of Death” if not for one of my best friends. It isn’t for everyone, and I’m fairly certain there are folks who’d be deeply offended by it. But if you like orchestrated heavy metal, vampires, darkly romantic passions and having your preconceived notions challenged, check this album out!).

But please know I’ll write a lot about The Beach Boys and their members. You’ll get a lot of Beatles material. Pink Floyd, Queen, Bob Dylan, Weezer, Nirvana, Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers), and so many other favorites. I’ll write about many other artists, too, but the music that dominates my heart will definitely own the lion’s share of posts.

I also may occasionally tackle the odd music news and controversies. If it is music-related, it’s fair game. One needs to have a scope, a vision, but I don’t want to limit myself too much. We are human beings, our interests and capacities are vast. You won’t get politics here, you won’t get much in the way of “issues” here.

You’ll get what I know. You’ll get what I think. You’ll get what I hear, and feel, and believe. You’ll get music.

What music is your favorite? What music means the most to you? What’s the first song you can remember hearing? What music gives you energy? What music consoles you when you are feeling down?

We’ll get to all of this. We have the time.

Welcome to my musings on music. It is good to have you here.

Chris Shields

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One thought on “Something new, and staying in touch

  1. I’m an old newspaperman, too. I was fortunate to rise from regional reporter to city editor of the Freeport (Illinios) Journal-Standard from the early to mid-90s.
    I had a blast. I used to write a music column that appeared in the weekend magazine.
    I reviewed every Beatle album in chronological order, tossing in a little trivia along the way.The readers loved it.
    Unfortunately, I rose to a position they figured they could do without when the cost of newsprint quadrupled overnight and that was the end of it.
    I did a little freelancing, but got into business management and, after 17 years, I’m still in it.Now, I blog.
    Good luck with your job search.

    Liked by 1 person

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