Back during the band’s heyday, much of what I wrote about Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary, Steve Grothmann and the rest of Whiskeytown originally appeared in the pages of No Depression magazine (remember magazines?). No Depression billed itself as “the alternative country (whatever that is) magazine”; and if you haven’t figured it out before now, yes, the reference at the top of this blog to “Losering” as “The official unauthorized Ryan Adams biography (whatever that is)” serves as both inside joke and cheeky little tip of the hat.
I was one of around a dozen contributing editors for No Depression, but the magazine’s primary editorial braintrust was Peter Blackstock and Grant Alden (two writers I very much hope will someday write books for our American Music Series). No Depression was a very cool magazine back in its day, covering the far-flung ins and outs of Americana music like no other publication. It had a great run over its 13-year existence, finally shutting down in 2008 because of the simultaneous and cacaclysmic decline of both the print and recorded-music industries. I still miss it, both as a reader and a writer. There’s more about the magazine’s origins, including its connection to various books I’ve written, here.
Post-print, No Depression lives on as a website that’s still actively covering the Americana universe (including a very nice “Losering” review, thank you very much), and it will be marking the magazine’s 20-year anniversary through the rest of 2015. No Depression’s first issue — Vol. 1, No. 1, weighing in at a grand total of 32 pages — came out in the fall of 1995, featuring Peter’s Son Volt cover story. I think that still stands as the definitive story about Son Volt, and Jay Farrar thought enough of it and the magazine to send birthday wishes all these years later.
That first issue also had a little piece by yours truly in the short-feature “Town & Country” section. Headlined “A short interview’s journey into hell,” it recounted the first time I ever interviewed Ryan. That story figures prominently into the preface of “Losering.” And for better or worse, the book probably would not exist if not for No Depression, so I’m grateful. Happy birthday, No Depression! Let’s close with a song from Ryan.