Liner Notes

A Dream Goes On Forever

by Christopher Thelen

There is a line in Josh Groban’s heart-wrenching song “Home To Stay” which says “Look how far your dreaming’s gone.” I kind of feel that way as I write this, approximately two weeks away from the tenth anniversary of this site.

It’s kind of awkward, as I gave up ownership and full control to Jason and his team over a year ago – a decision I do not regret, as Jason has taken the site into areas I never could have dreamed of. But it’s weird looking in on something that was literally a part of one’s daily life for so long. Then again, when I told Jason I was handing over the reins permanently, I said the site had taken on a life of its own, and wasn’t really mine anymore.

So what are my feelings as we (and I use the communal “we”) celebrate ten years of being one of the best-kept secrets on the Internet, to the point that Wikipedia doesn’t deem DV worthy of inclusion (yet will quote from the reviews with no problem, thank you very much)?

Well, who would have expected that, when I sat at my parents’ dining room table with my cousin Bill Ziemer back on December 27, 1996, that this dream would still be around ten years later? I was merely a frustrated writer who had a passion for music, and wanted to open people’s eyes to albums that were in danger of being forgotten by the passage of time.

Ten years later, it’s kind of embarrassing to see how many artists whose discographies we’ve barely scraped the surface of -- but it’s kind of reassuring to know that there’s still some job security because of that.

In the span of the existence of “The Daily Vault,” the world saw the quick rise and sudden burst of the Internet bubble. I think the biggest reason that the site has stayed around all of this time is that the writers and I never looked at making a profit off of it; rather, the money we invested in keeping it alive was merely a labor of love. I think that’s the secret to our success.

The music business itself has changed -- and not necessarily for the better. In 1997, the true power of the Internet was being discovered while the big players in the industry continued to gouge the customer. (Note that a CD has never had a drop in list price -- something we were promised would happen when CDs became commonplace, like vinyl.) The rise of sites like Napster demonstrated to the labels that customers were mad as hell, and were taking the power of distribution back into their own hands.

The end result? Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits -- all to try and get Pandora’s box closed for good. But other technology such as BitTorrent has come to claim the throne, and while sites like The Pirate Bay now are the targets for lawsuits, the major labels still haven’t learned the important lesson: offer customers quality product at a fair -- let me repeat that, FAIR – price, and the customer will pay for it. Continue to offer crap, and the public will continue to revolt. (Don’t even get me started on the popularity of American Idol, which is one of the signs of the Apocalypse in my mind.)

Yet there is some good that has come out of the file-sharing scene. People have been exposed to artists whom they normally would not have taken chances on by buying a CD without knowledge of the content. I can personally say my love of jazz was built courtesy of MP3 technology, and I don’t regret that for a moment. (How else could I justify buying boxed sets by Miles Davis and Bill Evans that retailed for $200 to $400?)

There have been very low points in the music world as well: Woodstock ’99. The murder of Dimebag Darrell Abbott onstage. Continued murders in the rap world. But for every low, there are dozens of high points that remind us all that music is supposed to be about joy and celebration.

I still recall discovering the little record player that my parents had bought me when I was just a toddler, and the couple of hand-me-down 33s they gave me to play. I didn’t know music that well, but I knew that playing those records put a smile on my face. Now, at the age of 36, I can say that music still puts a smile on my face -- either when listening to it from a CD, or playing it on a musical instrument.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been able to pass that love of music along -- not only to readers of this site, but to my own children. My oldest daughter is 10, and she is about to follow in her old dad’s footsteps by getting a one-hour radio show at the community station I volunteer at. Her show will include -- at her choice, I should add -- one jazz song. For all the failures I’ve had as a human being, I’d like to think I did one thing right in that regard.

That love of music also carried me back to radio, where I try to turn people on for three hours every week to groups, albums and songs that you wouldn’t hear on a commercial station. I recently got a call from someone asking me to play an obscure track from the Talking Heads -- no problem, I’ll get it on in about 30 minutes. My next song I had planned was by King Crimson; halfway through the song, the caller was back on the line. “Hey, thanks for playing my Heads,” he said. When I explained who he was listening to, he said, “Oh, man, you’re turning me on to some great music!”

In that sense, my mission was accomplished – but it continues every day I’m on the air, and every day The Daily Vault brings you reviews.

Ten years is a long time for any dream to be a reality, and I truly am fortunate that I was a part of it for so long -- and am, to this day. (As part of the 10th Anniversary, I’ve been writing a slew of Rolling Stones reviews -- nice to see I’m still able to crank ‘em out.)

Who knows what the world will be like in 10 years, what musical trends we’ll be listening to, and how we’ll get our music delivered to us. Whatever the case, it is my hope that The Daily Vault will continue to be mapping those musical trends, and that you’ll all be along for the ride. Who knows -- maybe by that time Wikipedia might even recognize our existence.

I started this essay with a quote from Josh Groban; I think it’s only fitting I close it with a song title from Todd Rundgren -- “A Dream Goes On Forever.”

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