It's hard to blame one single event, person or place for the putrid prose that has spewn out of my laptop over the past five years.
But in the interest of trying, let's just say that I knew I was a goner when I got the Elvis Presley 50 Gold Records (RCA) five-LP boxed set for my 10th birthday, the same year I learned how to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" note for note on an acoustic Stella guitar at Olsen's Music in Palatine, Illinois.
The library's stock of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis books, tapes and LPs led me straight to my first concert, a Chubby Checker comeback gig in 1976 at the Arlington Park Racetrack's annual van show. It was all downhill from then on out, as I graduated from moldy used record stores to greasy spoons and rusty diners where greasy people ate rusty food and listened to worn-out 45s of "Your Cheatin' Heart," "White Lightning" and "Burning Love" as I just secretly grinned and learned to like the taste of watery coffee and chlorinated ice water.
Somehow, in 1989, I ended up in the greasiest, rustiest and roots-rockingest place of them all, New York City, where a chance encounter with a free tabloid newspaper led me to a start-up music publication, Sound Views.
Crusty, cantankerous editor,
Lee Greenfeld, humored my
roots music obsession by publishing my bi-monthly Rootin' Around column
beginning in summer 1992 (even after I abandoned my coveted Lower East
Side digs and lit out for the heartland in 1995) and allowing me to distribute
it first by e-mail and then later via this meandering excuse of a Web