Liner Notes

Silver Highlights

Celebrating The Daily Vault At 25

by Christopher Thelen

25large_300_300Jason recently asked me if I had any favorite reviews from the 25-year history of The Daily Vault.

The funny thing about writing music reviews—for me, at least—is that they are all very much in-the-moment events. As soon as the review was written, it was on to the next disc, the words I just wrote all but forgotten. It's rare that something I wrote will stick with me for years to come, so that when I'm old and decrepit, I'll sit in my rocking chair and think to myself, "Yeah, that review I wrote in 1998? Now THAT was a highlight." (And, if I ever do get to that point, my wife has permission to smother me with a pillow.)

That said, I do remember a few that stick out...

Ringo Starr - I Wanna Be Santa Claus: Sometimes, the most fun I had was writing negative reviews. It's not that one takes specific pleasure in ripping apart the creative works of a musical artist, but that the work in question sits in front of the writer like an inflatable punch-me clown, begging for them to take their best shot at it. And, brother, did I hit this album with an overhand right. I've never been able to listen to the whole disc again since I wrote the review, and other albums overtook its spot on the "why did I even bother" list (hell-o-o-o-o, Bob Dylan). But, at the time, this was one that gave me some of my best sarcastic work. (Example: "If [Ringo] Starr is sincere about his declaration, I'd advise Kris Kringle to get a restraining order.")

Steve Jones - Fire And Gasoline: The review that started this whole thing. Did I know, 25 years ago, that writing a review of an album that had made an imprint on me back in my college radio days would be the launching pad for something this wonderful? Honestly, no. All I knew was that I had an outlet to do something that I loved, and along with a few select individuals, I had a new hobby. I did write to Steve Jones a few years ago, on the occasion of the site's 20th anniversary, thanking him for putting this album out. Never heard back from him, though.

Sur Sudha - Images Of Nepal: Blunt honesty here: had it not been for this gig, I'd never have heard of this disc, much less given it time in my CD player. But, I am so grateful that I was turned on to it, as it has become one of my favorite albums of all-time. Whenever I'm down, I put this on, and it somehow lightens my mood. When I just need a quiet moment to myself, on it goes. Music doesn't need lyrics to speak to the soul, and this album is proof positive. I just hope my review did it justice.

Rita Ford -- A Music Box Christmas: Not so much a favorite because of the review itself, and not so much because this has been one of the most important albums of my life. About 12 years ago, I was feeling down about a recent job change, and my always-rocky first marriage was at a low point, when I noticed I had a message on my phone at work. Long story short: Miles Kreuger, who had produced this album, had not only found my review, but had searched me out to tell me how much he appreciated my words. It's rare that one gets an opportunity to say "thank you" to someone who shaped their life; this was one such opportunity I was gifted with. (Side note: As I write this, Miles is apparently alive and well, 87 years young. If he ever gets to read these words, I hope he knows how much his call meant to me—then, and now.)

In the words of Ted Danson as Sam Malone on the final episode of Cheers, "I'm the luckiest son of a bitch on earth." I've had the opportunity to listen to some wonderful music that I might not have otherwise discovered. I've had the good fortune of speaking to—and on occasion, meeting—the musicians who shaped my life in some manner. And while my name might not grace the site's pages on a daily basis anymore (which, I'm certain, a few people are thanking their preferred deity for), I can tell you that it's been an amazing journey, and I'm fortunate to have shared the path with some amazing writers along the way.

The Daily Vault is proof that, if you believe in a dream and you're willing to work hard enough at it, it will come true. May the fact that this little venture has lasted as long as it has be the spark of inspiration to someone... and may we all be around to celebrate their silver anniversary in 2047.

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