This is just to let people know what’s happening with the podcast over the next few weeks, as we head into a season which has holiday celebrations for many people, including me. The podcast has been keeping to a fortnightly schedule for the last few months, but at this time of year I have commitments to visit family and friends for Christmas and New Year, and I’ve learned that when I’m away from home I can’t record and shouldn’t even make the attempt. Also, a lot of people don’t have time to listen to new podcasts over the Christmas period.
So here’s what’s going to happen with the podcast between now and the beginning of the year. I’m recording a full podcast episode today, and that will be going up either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, depending how long it takes to edit, so two weeks after the last episode, and then there will be a gap for Christmas and New Year. I will be doing Patreon bonuses during that time on a weekly basis as normal — they take much less recording time than the main episodes, and I can prerecord them in advance — but the next main episode of the podcast after this week’s will go up on Monday the ninth of January, a little less than three weeks after the last one, rather than the normal two.
However, to fill in the gap I’m going to put up a few old Patreon bonus episodes over Christmas week. Every year around this time my Patreon bonus episodes tend to be about something seasonal, and so I’ll put up a few of the old ones on the main feed for those of you who haven’t heard them. These are older bonus episodes, some from four years ago, and so not in the same style as my more recent work, and mostly around ten minutes or so in length, but they’ll hopefully be of interest to anyone who is looking for something seasonal to listen to.
Happy holidays to those who celebrate a winter holiday at this time of year, and my sympathies to those who don’t or for whom it’s a difficult time for whatever reason. I’ll see you in a couple of days for the next proper episode.
You’ll have noticed that my experiment with timings has been only a qualified success. While my buffer did allow me to get episodes going out weekly for a while, they’ve started to lag again, as events and health have derailed things — though I have managed to get a bonus episode up for Patreon backers every week. As the upcoming episode is the second one in a row to have a significant delay, I’ve decided that that’s a sign the weekly rate for the main podcast is clearly unsustainable with these longer episodes, even with the skip weeks — but it’s also clear that I can do a main episode every two weeks without any problem, and can get a bonus episode done every week, and that that is very, very sustainable even in times of stress. I now know for sure what my productivity rate can be. So this is an official announcement that for the foreseeable future, this is a fortnightly podcast, with episodes going up every other Monday, but with backer bonuses every week. It may return to the weekly schedule at some point, but for now that’s the plan. Episode 156, on Stevie Wonder, will be up on Monday, and then the episode after that, on Pink Floyd, will be on the seventh of November. See you then.
[Admin] An Explanation for Delays... And What I'm Going to Do About It
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.
About a year ago I did a pledge week, to encourage people to back me on Patreon. This seemed relatively successful, so I’m going to do it again.
For those who don’t know, the podcast is supported by listeners pledging money on the crowdfunding site Patreon. Listeners can give $1 a month or more, and I use that to fund the project. They also get various other bonus things, like the ability to send me private messages, free copies of my books for those on higher tiers, and so on.
Some of those bonuses haven’t been that frequent in the last few months, as between the pandemic, various things in my personal life and health, and the disruption caused by a false DMCA claim, this has been the single most difficult six months of my life to date, as you can probably tell from the disrupted schedule recently, though I’m now trying to get back on track with everything.
But one bonus they always get, and have for two years, is a ten-minute or so extra podcast along with every regular episode. Anyone backing the Patreon at a dollar a month or more gets access to those as they come out, plus to the ninety or so old ones I’ve already done.
So this week, like last year, I’m going to give everyone a taste of what the backers get — every day for a week I’m going to upload an old Patreon bonus episode, in the hope that some of you like what you hear enough to sign up for the Patreon.
However, I want to make something very clear — I only want you to sign up *if you can afford to*. New signups mean I can afford to do this podcast without having to add advertising and so on, but I know that a lot of people are having financial problems right now. If you have enough money after looking after yourself and your family, and after any charitable giving and so on to actual important causes, that you feel able to throw a dollar a month to someone talking about music, great. If you don’t, then please don’t feel obliged, and the podcast will continue to be free.
The next proper episode of the podcast, on “Here Comes the Night” by Them, will be up in a day or two — I’m recording it right after I upload this and the first of the Pledge Week episodes, which will be on “If You Wanna Be Happy” by Jimmy Soul, and it’ll be up as soon as it’s edited. In the meantime, enjoy the free bonuses.