Ok, maybe not so frequently
Q: Who are you?
A: My name is John McFerrin. I was born in 1980, I'm a Mormon, I live in Chicago, I have a lovely wife and a young son, and my background is in finance and mathematics. I currently work as a financial software developer for a not-too-small company that makes fixed income analytical software. And, as you can see, I possess a lot of music (I know others online who own more, but I own more than anybody I know in real life) and enjoy writing about it.
Q: Why do you have this site? Do you not have a life? What makes you think your opinion is so much better than mine? What makes you think you're so qualified to have a site like this?
A: (i) I started this site in 1999 (prior to my sophomore year in college) largely as a way to fill a void when, for various health-related reasons, I suddenly had a lot more free time in my life than I'd expected to have. Truth be told, I didn't entirely expect the site to last more than a couple of months, but somehow it's stuck around since.
(ii) I have plenty of a life, and this is a large factor in why the update pace of the site is quite slow. In college, I had more time (at first I wrote every other day, then every three or four days, then two reviews a week, then up to three reviews every two weeks, before falling back to four or five reviews a month, where it should stay), whereas now I have less. Thank you for your concern.
(iii) It's not so much that I think my opinions are objectively correct (which I don't) as it is that I have strong opinions, I put a lot of thought into my opinions, and over time I've developed the ability to articulate them in text. My tendency towards rather verbose explanations of my opinions, especially when they're in opposition to the opinions held by individuals or the general public, might easily be confused for me thinking that my opinions are objectively correct. This is false.
(iv) My "qualifications" are that I've heard enough rock and pop music to have a good idea of what makes me like or dislike a given song/album/band/genre, that I'm willing to take the time to commit my thoughts to text, and that some people enjoy reading my work. I do not boast anything more than that, and I do not feel any more than that is required.
Q: So why is your site just a George Starostin ripoff? Aren't you just copying his tastes with a few differences here and there?
A: The websites of George Starostin and Mark Prindle, without question, were the main inspiration behind this site. The rating system I used for years was designed as a hybrid of their systems, after all, and I would be lying if I didn't admit that many of the bands/artists in my collection were introduced to me through their reviews (though just as much through the reader comments on each of their sites). The earliest reviews on this site drew extremely heavily from their writing styles; I have sought to purge those elements from the site as much as possible over the years, but there are likely many remaining instances that may come excessively close to reading like something from their sites. I am continually looking over the pages on my site for such things and attempting to improve things.
As for the "George clone" issue: my tastes are indeed very similar to George's. This was not intentional: my initial introduction to George Starostin was in a childish spat on the Mark Prindle page, and when I discovered his website I did not have great warm feelings towards it. Through a stroke of luck, however, I discovered his site around the time I had independently learned two significant things about my tastes: (1) I had begun to think that Led Zeppelin, while a good band, was not quite the immortal all-powerful force that I had once considered them, and (2) I had found that I wasn't enjoying post-Thick as a Brick Jethro Tull very much, apart from some lone songs and albums. The fact that his site lined up with these two aspects of my newly-forming tastes so strongly (especially when they were largely minority opinions), and that I was discovering new things in common with his tastes seemingly on a weekly basis, was enough to make me treat his site as a good source for leading me to albums I would likely enjoy. And so yes, my opinions do largely match his, but while some of this comes from him influencing my tastes, a larger portion than you might think comes from our tastes having a coincidental correspondence. And besides, I don't agree with him on everything ...
Q: Why do you review so many of the "standards" and not lesser known, more adventurous stuff not covered by others?
A: If I reviewed at a faster pace, I'd probably get to more stuff along those lines than I have done and plan to do in the next few years. As is, I choose to write about bands/artists that I like or find interesting, and I try to rise up to the challenge of finding something at least somewhat new and interesting to say about them. How much I pull this off is up to your judgment. And no, I don't plan to speed up my reviewing pace; even if I had more free time, I would be hampered by the thought-intensive nature of my job, which makes it hard enough for me to have enough left in the tank to write as much as I do.
Q: Why is most of the stuff you review so old?
A: Well, I review stuff in my collection, so if the stuff in my collection is old, my reviews will be of older stuff. The question then, of course, is why my collection skews so old, with a relative lack of newer music. The biggest reason, frankly, is that I don't have the desire to seek out the best of more recent music. I have no doubt that there is plenty of music being made today that I would find interesting, catchy, innovative and just plain terrific. I also have no doubt that, as with decades past, it will take time, effort and perspective to sort out the diamonds from the dirt. I put a lot of time into listening to and absorbing music, but I cannot and will not put in that level of time and effort towards absorbing the constant influx of new music, especially when I'm still trying to get caught up with music already made. I feel that I could spend the rest of my life listening to music that has been made in years past, without spending any time on that which is currently being made, and be quite content.
Q: Do you listen to anything other than just rock and pop music?
A: Indeed I do. Starting in early 2008, I began a serious self-education in classical music, spanning as many eras, styles and forms as I can manage. Starting in early 2009, I also began a serious self-education in jazz, in an attempt to make myself at least conversant in a form that has such a vibrant history and has had such a strong influence on rock music. For a complete list of what I own, go here.
Q: What's with posting reviews on the 17th or 18th of the month but claiming they went up the 13th?
A: The 13th actually does have some significance; it's the cutoff date for reader comments to make it into that month's update. As for claiming the 13th but not posting until the 18th, this is just a way to make sure that I get reviews up at about the same point every month. When I get to, say, the 16th of the month, this fuels some of the same adrenaline that would occur if I actually were 3 days late, and it helps me to find focus in my writing. It's a cheap ploy, I know, but it works.
Q: When were your various pages written?
A: The following is the chronology of when pages were added to the site, as well as when substantial revisions were applied to them.
Q: How on earth does your rating system work?
A: Go here for an explanation
Back to the main page