This is not a proper episode of the podcast. Rather, this is an explanation, at least in part, of why there have been fewer episodes than normal this year, and what I plan to do about that.
One of the things I promised myself when I started this podcast was that I would not do the thing that many podcasters do of waffling on for fifteen minutes at the beginning about their lives, in an attempt to build up a parasocial relationship with the listeners. I pride myself on the work I do, and part of that is making the podcast about the work, rather than about me. I do enjoy the friendships I have made through this podcast, but I don’t want the podcast to be about anything other than the history and the music.
But that does mean that you haven’t all had an explanation why, after two years of me getting the podcast out weekly on the dot, the podcast has averaged an episode every ten days or so this year, including some gaps of two weeks.
A small part of that is that the episodes have been getting longer. It takes more time to write, record, and edit a ninety-minute episode than a half-hour one, and while I keep promising I’ll try to get the episodes back to the shorter length I prefer, there’s just a lot of material to cover in some of these.
But a much larger part is that this last year has been the worst year of my life, without exception. There have been a whole series of stressful events, most of which I’m not at liberty to talk about because they involve other people, but the year started with one of those awful life-changing events that only happen once or twice in your life, and astonishingly managed to throw a couple of other curveballs almost that bad.
And that’s on top of the stuff that everyone has been having to deal with, with the political situation in the world and with covid.
But there’s also my health, and I can talk about that because it only affects me. I have multiple chronic illnesses and disabilities, which among other things meant that I had to spend the first five months of this year totally isolated, not seeing another human being, until I could get fully vaccinated. And it turns out that being totally isolated from the world for months, while multiple catastrophes happen in your life and the lives of those around you, is not great for chronic illnesses.
I have had a number of flare-ups this year, and to give you some idea, yesterday my blood pressure read as 196/120.
Getting all five hundred episodes of this podcast done is my highest priority, but in order to do that I have to live to see episode five hundred. And sadly, making sure I live to see episode five hundred means not working on days when any kind of extra stress could give me a stroke. Which has been the case on several days this year.
I am working out some new things with my doctor, which I hope and believe will make my chronic illnesses more like they were in 2018 through 2020 — just annoyances rather than anything more worrying. I am fairly certain that 2022 will be much better.
So my plan is to get two more episodes out before Christmas — episodes on the Byrds and Frank Zappa, both of which are mostly written and should be able to get out in fairly short order. Those two are again going to be very long ones.
I’m then going to take a few days off between Christmas Eve and New Year, and not do any new work for that week. I’m going to try to relax, get used to my new medication regime, and get my blood pressure down to normal.
And then, all being well, we’ll start the new year as I mean to go on, with episodes coming out once a week on a regular schedule.
Thank you all for your patience and support during what has not been an easy year for anyone.
And I don’t want to leave this without a quick acknowledgement of the sad death yesterday of Michael Nesmith. He was one of my personal musical heroes, and you can be sure that when the podcast gets to the Monkees, they’ll be treated with the respect they deserve.