2016 is going to be one of the best years in 33 1/3 history. I say that with confidence because I’ve read all 210,000 words of the seven volumes that will be released this year. In March, you’ll be able to get your hands on Kembrew McLeod’s stunning re-framing of 1970s New York in Blondie’s Parallel Lines. You’ll get an intimate portrait of one of the 20th century’s most important bands in Buzz Poole’s volume on The Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead. There’s Rolf Potts’s volume on the Geto Boys’ eponymous album that flits between deconstructing prejudice and spot-on lyric analysis. Jovana Babović on Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out is one of the most thoughtful treatises on riot grrrl (but we’re not calling it that) I’ve ever read. In April, Rebecca Wallwork goes deep into the late 1980s to bring us a startling portrait of our nation’s most beloved boy band and the Svengali behind them in New Kids On The Blocks’ Hangin Tough. Then in the fall, Emily Lordi delivers a meticulously researched but powerful and heartbreaking story of a voice that passed on too early in Donny Hathaway’s Donny Hathaway Live. And finally, in October, there’s Paula Mejia’s deep dive into post-Thatcher Scotland where a group of dreamers found each other and went on to become something bigger than they ever could have imagined in The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy.
And at this point I shall bow out. After 5+ years at this series I’m sad to say that I’m moving on. It’s been a wild ride. Keeping this big, beautiful, behemoth of a series alive is not an easy job. But it’s easily the most rewarding job I’ve ever had (okay, to be fair, I haven’t had that many jobs). By now I feel as if 33 1/3 runs in my blood. I’ve spent the majority of nights and weekends over the past 5 years editing manuscripts, reading and scrutinizing proposals, planning social media, developing author relationships and just thinking about music taste and what albums people actually want to read about. I looked for new ways to get 33 1/3 into the college classroom and came up with the idea to gather the best music writing and advice together in one place and call it How To Write About Music.
The “Open Calls” for new proposals were always the best times and the worst times. It’s terribly exciting to read 600+ pieces of fresh music criticism, and it’s a huge burden to have to find the gems and reject 590+ writers. I really did try to sign up 100 books last summer, but, thanks to the ever-present wisdom of Bloomsbury, I did not. Thanks to David, Jonathan and Kevin for just sort of trusting me and letting me run a little bit wild. Especially to David, for entrusting his life’s work to a bright-eyed and nervous 24-year-old. He started this thing and I just hope I didn’t botch it up too badly! Thank you to Michelle who is smarter, more organized and better than I am. She ran the show. I mostly stumbled around with my red pen in the dark.
I’ve worked with so many brilliant people over the years and learned so much. I’m so grateful to all of the authors I’ve worked with for their writing, their grace and their friendship. Writing one of these things is truly a labor of love, and I was deeply humbled each time a manuscript came in.
It’s was not glamorous. Okay, it was glamorous that one time I went to Edinburgh to track down my favorite novelist Alan Warner to write a book on Can and bribed him to write the thing for no money with a bottle of very expensive champagne (sorry accounting, that wasn’t a librarian focus group on sound studies monographs!). But it was never glamorous any other time.
So why am I leaving the dream job of all dream jobs? Well, I’ve found another dream job to sink my teeth into. As of Monday, I’m joining Bandcamp as the Senior Editor of a brand new editorial team. We’re going to build a new sort of editorial platform that we hope will change the conversation a bit. Inject a bit of fun into music journalism and amplify Bandcamp’s mission to support artists directly. It’s a company I have always admired for its commitment to artists first and I am beyond excited and honored to be a part of the team. Expect great things!
And from this series you can expect a deluge of great things to come. Seventeen new books are being furiously scribbled as we speak on the likes of The Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, Merle Haggard, Fugazi, Tori Amos and more. Leah Babb-Rosenfeld is the new Bloomsbury Editor who will be looking after the series from here on out. She can be reached at: Leah.babb-rosenfeld at bloomsbury dot com.
p.s. you can always find me here.