I've tried to keep the metablogging to a minimum here at Cover Lay Down. I appreciate that people like to know about the man behind the curtain, but writing about technical difficulties smacks of navel-gazing narcissism: you come here for the writing and the music, not blogging about blogging. So if you're coming here for the music, welcome, and feel free to scroll to the end of the post for a few relevant tracks.
But a few of you have asked. And so, in a nutshell: after an incredible month of growth, my habit of keeping the archives eternally open to all comers, combined with a huge influx of new faces (thanks to Boing Boing, and our work with the Denison Witmer Covers Project), bumped me up against the next tier of file hosting cost just as my provider was about to close for the weekend. I regret this weekend's bandwidth max-out, and feel badly for every curious coverfan and folktracker who found his way here only to go away without the song.
But if this weekend's file outage was frustrating, it was also healthy. Being unable to blog this weekend, watching instead the sitetracker pick up echoes looking for something no longer there, forced me to confront some hard truths about what I do here, and why. It's time to pick our battles, folks. And before I do, I feel like I owe my loyal readers some sort of explanation.
You see, like many bloggers, I've come to think of the blog as part of something bigger, something more community-minded and interactive, than just me sitting down in the kitchen, late at night when the kids are in bed, and trying to make sense of just one thing at a time. This, of course, is pure egoism: as a regular reader of over fifty music blogs myself, I know that while such a tone of collaboration is sometimes welcoming, it is also a collusive fiction, a consensual construct. But it is nonetheless true that, as a blogger, I am no more or less a part of the ongoing conversation as every fan that wears the T-shirt, every artist that is truly excited about their review, every label rep that reaches out with a handwritten note. From those perspectives, I am part of their circle, just as they are part of mine.
Still, clearly, I can't be everything to everyone. Though I wish that every new reader could start her journey, if she so desired, by scouring the collection, catching up on what has become over a hundred posts and almost a thousand coversongs, it's hard to deny the strain this causes on our ability to provide constantly new content.
I could just go the ad route, or have a fund drive for that donate button there on the sidebar. I could dig deep, and upgrade past my current Business-class hosting solution to something called the Enterprise-level account, which sounds just big enough and expensive enough to have its own holodeck. But though I appreciate any and all support for the current cost of file-hosting, I don't really feel like I want to get bigger. I like thinking of myself as small, of being a hobbyist, an amateur in the proudest sense. I like being awed by musicians who know my name; I like being part of the crowd. If I have to choose, I'd rather walk the walk, and stay small, like folk itself.
So let us let our journey keep its beginning and end, and choose to live more in the present than the past. If we are to truly consider this an ongoing conversation, I think we need to be willing to let some baggage go, so that we can come to each idea fresh. And if that means letting the songs of older posts turn into ghosts, faint memories to accompany long-written text, then perhaps that is only right, given our ghost in the machine existence.
Over the next week or two, then, I'll be deleting older mp3s from the archives. I'm thinking I'll leave some posts up -- anything linked recently, a good set of the holiday music as the weather grows colder. I might even celebrate by featuring a few old favorites on a sidebar spot, right next to the elseblog posts I continue to crank out faithfully at collaborative theme-blog Star Maker Machine, where this week all song titles consist of an adjective and a noun, in that order. If you've got any favorite posts here on Cover Lay Down which you think merit inclusion in a greatest hits collection, to stay live into eternity, let me know.
But the bulk of the files will fade. Because providing two terabytes of bandwidth in one month is not a hobby anymore. It's not even an obsession. It's just not cost-effective. Our souls are more important.
All writing will remain, of course. The conversation grows, ever onward, exploring the mysteries of how people share song, and why, and how it changes the world. Through it, the music lives on, in new covers and in old recordings, in the hands of the people, where the folk belongs. Our ghosts echo in the ever-present hypemachine slipstream.
When I started here, I was thinking of words; I still struggle to listen with my heart. But if I had named this blog after a song, it might have been one of these.
- Tim O'Brien: Lay Down Your Weary Tune (orig. Bob Dylan)
- Cowboy Junkies: To Lay Me Down (orig. Grateful Dead)
- The Mammals: Lay Down Yr Mountain (text Allan Ginsburg)
- Mississippi Fred McDowell: When I Lay My Burden Down (trad.)
Cover Lay Down will return to our regular schedule later this week. Coming soon: new covers from newcomers, and the year's first Christmas albums begin to hit the market.