“I could live a million,” sang R.E.M. on one of their earliest tracks, though few had a clue what Michael Stipe was banging on about. Well, sometime last night someone somewhere in the world became the 1,000,000th person to read a post on Just Backdated, and I’ve decided to bang on about it. Materially, having 1,000,000 hits at last won’t affect me in the slightest as Just Backdated is a hobby and not monetised in any way, but psychologically it vindicates my decision, prompted by my daughter, to launch this blog at the end of 2013 and continue with it now for almost eight years, just for the fun of it.
Few organisations or individuals pay me to write about music these days but, then again, I’ve always thought that writing about music wasn’t really a job in the ‘work’ sense anyway. It’s not like making or building or repairing or selling things, or even creating music in the first place. I was just lucky that 50 years ago I was able to slip into a situation where the publishers of Melody Maker paid me to listen to music and interview musicians, then set down my thoughts on paper, which was something I liked doing, so in a way it wasn't that different from being a painter or musician or professional sportsman or woman, or anyone else who’s been lucky enough to get paid for doing what they want to do.
I was able to enable those seven years on MM into a few other jobs that were more like work in the traditional sense, especially the 33 years as editor at Omnibus Press, but the truth of the matter is that it all really boils down to MM, as can be seen from the posts on Just Backdated. Well over half of them relate back to that period of my life and the statistics reveal that those who visit the blog prefer to read my reminiscences or reports from that era than whatever I write about newer music.
Frank Zappa said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and defined rock journalism as ‘people who can’t write, doing interviews with people who can’t think, in order to prepare articles for people who can’t read.’ Of course, he was trying to be contentious so that some writer who didn’t much like him might rise to the bait and I agreed with him to a certain extent but carried on happily doing what I did anyway. As a matter of fact, Frank almost always got good press so I could understand his attitude better if it came from an act disliked by critics, like Queen or Rush or Neil Diamond.
It's not as if I have a million readers, of course. The blog tells me I have 16 ‘followers’ which is a bit disappointing but whoever you are thanks. What obviously happens is that people go back again and again to read stuff. I should add that the total isn’t skewed by my own visits, which aren’t registered, so when I go onto the blog to edit my posts slightly this doesn’t count as a hit. When I first danced about architecture – thanks Frank – Melody Maker was increasing its circulation to around 200,000 copies a week, a figure that never ceases to astound me in the light of the tragic demise of the UK’s weekly music press, so a million hits in eight years is tiny in the grand scheme of things.
Now for some other statistics. This is the 828th post on Just Backdated, so that averages out at 1,207 hits per post but as I’ve noted before that statistic is flawed because posts about The Who and, to a lesser extent, Led Zeppelin, especially those linked on their own fan sites or FB pages, usually outnumber almost the other posts by a tenfold margin. But just for the record here’s my top 20:
1) The Who Live At Fillmore East CD review – 47.7k hits
2) John, Paul & Keith Moon at Santa Monica – 14k
3) Jimmy Page’s residences – 12.1k
4) Jimmy Page meeting Robert Plant – 6.59k
5) Mandy Moon book treatment – 6.07k
6) Palazzo Dario, Kit Lambert’s Venice Palace – 5.59k
7) News of Who UK tour (2014) – 5.17k
8) Launching Dear Boy – 4.15k
9) Keith Moon & The Pythons – 4.1k
10) The Who, My Hidden Gems CD – 3.73k
11) The Who in Hyde Park, 2015 – 3.59k
12) John Entwistle Tribute – 3.22k
13) Keith Moon’s residences – 3.01k
14) The Ox (John Entwistle) book review – 2.91k
15) The North of England Beer Drinking Contest – 2.85k
16) Pretend You’re In A War (Who) book review 2.83k
17) ‘Underture’, Keith’s Great Triumph – 2.82k
18) Deep Purple in Jakarta – 2.77k
19) Pete Townshend Interview (1974) – 2.75k
20) The Who at Stafford in 1975 – 2.7k
Quite why the number one post, my review of The Who’s live CD from their show at the Fillmore East in April 1968, has received well over three times more hits than the post at number two is inexplicable really. I know it was shared on The Who’s official site but so have many other Who related posts. Hopefully, it’s a reflection of what a fine recording it is. If it’s sold as many copies as I’ve had hits, Pete’n’Rog will be well pleased.
The odd one out in the list, of course, is The North of England Beer Drinking Contest, my account of an event that several friends and I attended in Hull in 1968. This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with music and quite why it has attracted as many hits as it has is a mystery. I was delighted when a message was left for me by the winner’s grandson two years after it was originally posted (in 2016). “Lionel Tutt was my grandad!” he wrote. “My mother told me this story as a child.” (Anyone interested can read the post here: https://justbackdated.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-north-of-england-beer-drinking.html)
Aside from The Who and Led Zeppelin, other acts that attracted more than 2,000 hits include Abba, The Beach Boys, Jeff Beck, David Cassidy, Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, Little Feat and Slade, with David Bowie almost there. Oddly, posts about The Beatles, collectively or individually, don’t seem that popular. I guess everyone’s read enough about them elsewhere. Same with Bruce Springsteen whose new album, Letter To You, I'll be reviewing here soon.
As to where all my hits come from, the US tops the league with 401k followed by the UK (221k), Russia (71.6k), Canada (30k) and Germany (26.3k). Weirdly, I have had 8.27k hits from Turkmenistan, which I think might be suspect, and 191k from ‘other regions’.
Anyway, thanks once again to all who visit Just Backdated and I’ll try to keep it up for as long as I can.