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A note from Ken Bethea.

October 12, 2010

Back in the mid and late 90’s, around about the time Seinfeld was becoming slightly less funny and the word “blog” was about as well known as “DVR,”  I used to write what I thought of us a “Band Diary.” For the most part I wrote about happenings on tour and in the studio. At the time I was pretty amazed at the technology that allowed me, a guy in a band, to directly communicate with fans. Fueled by the desire to prove that I was just a “regular guy in a rock band” I think I wrote off and on for about three years then suddenly… I stopped.

Why?

It’s hard for me to remember exactly the specifics, but I think for the most part it had to do with getting married. Suddenly I had a mortgage. A yard. Two cats and an iguana. Soon there was a son. Then a daughter. And not only did I have less time to devote to a few hours a week of writing a non-paying journal, but also I got a little tight with my privacy. I remember there was a phase where fans would bring up things I had written with no preface. Like:

“Hey Ken.”
“Yeah?”
“How is Tyler?” (My hometown.)
“Uh, it’s OK.” Pause here while I panic, wondering if this is someone I went to high school with. “Have you been there lately or something?”
“Oh no, I just read what you read on-line about going there over Thanksgiving.”
Relief, sweet relief would wash over me, then:
“So how was your honeymoon in Italy?”

Ick.

I know compared to most jobs that’s a fairly small complaint. For instance, I used to repair roofs with tar on scorching 100 degree Texas heat for $3.10 an hour, but for some reason, that scenario got to me. Somewhere around 1998, I stopped tapping the keys.

One year led to two. And to 3 and 5 and 10. I wrote a few other spur of the moment pieces, but nothing with any regularity. Now here I am 15 years later after the hey-day of my old school “blogs” (hate the word, love the meaning) and I’ve decided (after the urging/insistence of my band mates) to get back into the business of sharing my stories with strangers over the Internet. (See how dark that sounds?)

I’m going to keep this thing pretty loose. Not exactly a diary (too bloggy) nor a memoir (I’m not a member of AARP yet), I’m going to just try to tell some tales that you readers will find worth coming back to. Every band has a million stories and some of them are actually worth hearing.

With that, how about a story? Since I’m only recently back into the writing game, I’m going to start easy and tell the easiest story of them all: The “In the beginning…” story.

But that will have to be saved for next week. Until then, enjoy the “TGT V1.”

7 Comments

  1. Dig it. I used to read sporadically back in the day, and holy cow- 15 years?!- that makes me feel REALLY old. Thanks.

    Downloading new album now. Excited by the reviews. Oh, come to Germany! Plenty of ex-pats over here supporting the troops would love to see a show (and making it back to Dallas is kindof expensive for a gig!)

  2. Thanks, Ken! After reading the old article with tales from the road that was recently posted on FB, definitely looking forward to your stories, both old and new.

  3. I agree with the praise for the article posted on FB. Such great writing and insight to your life on the road. Looking forward to more!

  4. Awesome! Being based out of Champaign IL (no offense taken, BTW) I found you guys back during the good ole days of WEBX.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know how much you inspired me and my music career. I paid a lot of attention to the way you made the audience feel like they were a part of the scene. I watched your merchandise, your web site and blog. The way you sent the audience into a frenzy… It was an education at every show.

    I know you don’t remember, but I’d see you at shows and we’d have conversations regarding how things were going on the road, recording, merch, etc. I soaked every conversation in, took the info home to my band, and we’d try to emulate a bunch of what you were doing.

    We had a great run IMHO. Ten years, four albums, rabid fans. And a ton of that success was because of the few brief encounters we had before a show. So thanks.

    Looking forward to your Midwest push… You are coming to the Midwest… right?

  5. Your article posted on Facebook was an entertaining taste of life on the road. You’re a terrific writer. Looking forward to reading more of your insights and tales from the tour. Having you all become more involved in the website and social media has quadrupled the fun here on the interwebs. Cheers!

  6. Thanks so much, Ken. Super glad you’re back. Will be checking in regularly. As you know, you’re band is the greatest. I know Rhett and Murry like to do their solo stuff (which I do buy) but it is nothing compared with the Old 97s!

  7. I’ll add my excitement at hearing you’re going to be sharing stories with us again. You’re a fantastic writer, communicating not only the events, but a sense of you (or what we strangers on the internet have to assume is you). It’s a funny, insightful voice you have, and whenever I’ve read one of your posts or articles, I’ve felt the uncontrollable urge to share it with everyone I know, whether or not they have any idea who you, or the Old 97’s are. I’m looking forward to reading your posts again, and promise never to come up and talk to you about them!

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