Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Introducing ... "80 Minutes For Life"

After weeks of dreaming, scheming, prepping, planning, writing, mixing, emailing, giggling, editing, fixing, troubleshooting, learning, listening, and waiting, today Patrick Gosnell and I officially launch our music website: "80 Minutes For Life."

The idea originated in an ongoing plan I have with my youngest brother, Mitchell, whose birthday and Christmas gifts from me over the past couple of years have been sprinkled with what I originally termed "Best Of" mixes. While I don't burn or rip albums for myself or others for legal and ethical reasons, I wanted to find a way creatively to introduce all of my favorite bands and artists to Mitch without simply copying a bunch of CDs. So I decided to make ideal composite collections of songs over the span of the entire output of various bands, each a sort of introductory mix, to pique his interest and to see which styles or sounds he liked; then he could go on to buy for himself whatever albums from whichever bands most grabbed him.

Then a couple months ago, after jamming out with my friends Patrick and Seth -- they on drums and guitar, respectively, myself on bass -- I found out Seth had never listened to Wilco, my favorite band. I decided to put together a similar-style "introductory mix" for Seth as I had for Mitch. As I lovingly fashioned the mix over the coming weeks, and continued to listen to it incessantly, I realized just how fun it was both to make and to enjoy such a mix -- and part of the reason my mix was so good (no shame here) was that, as a rabid Wilco fan, I knew every album, every song, every b-side, and not only that, but the place and meaning of the various musical periods of the band's life and work together. How cool would it be to have that same sort of ideal mix, knowingly and thus lovingly crafted by a true and committed fan, for every band and artist in the last half century?

The possibilities seemed endless -- almost literally inexhaustible. So I emailed my friend Patrick, a fellow music junkie here in Atlanta, about his thoughts on the matter, specifically pertaining to a website devoted to such "introductory mixes." He loved the idea from the start. Between the two of us, we both agreed it was a perfect combination of talents and passion to put this thing together, because while I am primarily a writer, Patrick is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. So we decided to go for it, and to see what would come of it.

And here we are: the official launch of "80 Minutes For Life." What is it, anyway?

“80 Minutes For Life” is a blog dedicated to love for music. There is such a wealth of wonderful music being created every day, all around the world, and few have the time even to scrape the surface of all that is out there — much less all that has come before. “80 Minutes For Life” is a place where fellow music lovers introduce bands and artists old and new to one another. The form of this introducing is by “The List”: an 80-minute mix of songs, impeccably ordered, spanning the entire scope of a band’s time and range and style and output together, that introduces a new listener ideally to a new musical artist. Not a greatest hits; not a set of singles; not #1 hits. A representative set of songs that say, in so many words, “Hello. I’m Wilco. I began in 1994 and I’m still going strong. These songs, in this order, from all my life and work, will tell you who I am and what I’m about. Try it out; I hope you like what you hear.”

Hence “80 Minutes For Life”: the given length of time for a CD, encapsulating both a composite of the life of a band together over time and a comprehensive distillation of a potentially unwieldy and expansive output into one singular mix, for life. Hence: “The Perfect Introduction.”

But of course, we can’t do this alone; and thus the venture is communal, a coming together of those who love and, accordingly, know their music. The posts will for the most part be written by various and random contributors simply by their willingness and desire to do so. There is so much music out there; and we want those who truly know it, who know the discography of some indie band or obscure 70s artist front to back, whose CDs are torn up from overuse.

If you are at all interested in contributing, or have any questions, please email us (or me or him individually) and we’ll figure something out. If not, stick around and get in on the conversation: we don’t merely want writers, we want listeners! It is, after all, essentially a resource, a growing collection, an intersection of myriad musical passions, and we want the conversation as much as we want the initial stimulation. So today and in the coming weeks and months, we want you to click on over, bookmark "80 Minutes For Life," pull up iTunes, put on some headphones, and enjoy!

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Let me hasten to add, in personal terms, just how excited I am about this. I haven't said this yet, but I am merely a lowly writer; the site's design and images are beautiful, and it is truly a gift both to be friends with and to work with as a creative partner someone who is so talented at what he does. For each and every post we put up, Patrick creates a banner image for the band or artist being featured and a wonderfully idiosyncratic image for "The List," which in turn links directly to iTunes where the official "80 Minutes For Life" iMix awaits, ready to be sampled, worked, or downloaded in full!

Not only that, but we already have some "legit" music writers and bloggers waiting in the wings to post lists of their own for their favorite bands. Liz Frith of The Bliss List (who has been wonderfully helpful in all this, and whose site towers above the music blogging scene) will be contributing for both Broken Social Scene and Stars; Blair Hook of Certain Songs will (at least) be writing on The Hold Steady, with half a dozen or so more likely to come later; and Will Oliver of We All Want Someone To Shout For will be submitting for Arctic Monkeys.

Any and all are welcome to participate; just email us at if you have a band in mind, and we'll work it out. Either way, we look forward to seeing you over there; and be sure to enjoy today's first official entry, an epic piece penned by yours truly on the one and only Wilco.

Fitting, I should say.

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