When I first started the Radio Blog I was talking through the pleasure/pain/duty of my decision to a friend. I must have said something about enjoying the possibilities and he concurred. ‘Yes, a lovely white blank piece of paper waiting, ready for you.’ It’s true…and sometimes, maybe more than often, I feel I may be spoiling the pure simplicity of that empty space.
On this Tuesday, more than normal that comes into some focus. Given my odd work/life pattern I’ve often managed to find myself on a very blank page come the early working days of January. As members of my family and my neighbours slowly reacquaint themselves with the 9 – 5 I still get a small frisson of joy looking out the window, wishing them well but glad not to join them. In years gone by this is often mixed with the opposite and equal emotion of stomach-churning dread that nothing certain will make itself known. Poetry is good but prose is better at spelling out the facts about how sooner or later you and your family need someone to put some food on the table.
That blank page of A4 can be unhelpful too. Filling it up feels good until you realise you’ve filled it up with nothing of value. Nevertheless we begin, one word a a time and slowly notes and words appear and the silence and the empty space is filled. So creativity begins and carries on.
The joy of the New Year too is a feeling that you have done your best with the last one. We gave it a good shot; we tried for 12 months to make it an epic and well, if we failed, we can say say we tried. We made the best of what we were given…..ok it wasn’t a classic but we survived and this one…oh just wait till you see this one. It’s in that spirit I approach the first of this year’s Another Country programmes. We played as much as the music we loved as we possibly could and like almost every other year I can remember it seems we found some beautiful things which will remain friends for life. So we begin 2019 in that hope and expectation that we will surprise and delight ourselves and yourself with names that will fit comfortably into your own personal world of music.
This week we have some new names as well as well as old names with new music. We think you’ll enjoy the bluegrass of Billy Strings and the country voice of Carson McHone and someone we were recommended by Sam Outlaw called Caleb Caudle. You’ll also be as pleased as we are to welcome back Willy Vlautin’s Delines, Yola Carter with her opener from the new album and something wonderful from Hayes Carll.
We will welcome back too our Nashville correspondent, Bill DeMain who’s going to reflect on Jerry Chestnut who died just before Christmas. Bill will also give us some great musical tips for 2019.
Finally, and we’re quite excited about this one, a new tradition for 2019. The A- Z of country music will begin this week and take us through to…well…whenever. It’s two hours of country music…our way…from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening and repeated on Friday evening at five past eight.
I love the sea of opportunities presented by a blank page, but it can also be a bit intimidating. These days I just take the plunge and get anything down, then invest the time rewriting and refining.
I’m not sure an equivalent approach quite works when contemplating a new year, but I look forward to the inevitable raft of new discoveries via The AC in 2019!
It is always good to have a degree of concern faced by a new year, balanced by optimism and the benefits of experience gained. Without reflection, learning and that degree of self doubt, arrogance and failure are on the cards. Dinna worry, words and inspiration will come! Looking forward to the music!
Horror vacui – the fear induced by looking at an empty page:
As a designer its a well known condition – I just smash some stuff down and pick through the bones later!
I saw you play in Brighton in December – and if that’s all you ever achieved in 2018 it would be more than enough!
Thank you and Happy new year!