They didn’t attempt to eulogize their own magazine so much as exemplify all it accomplished in 13 years, so I’ll spare Grant Alden, Peter Blackstock and Kyla Fairchild the indignity of treacle. But I finally finished the last print issue of No Depression—which I’ve been advised will still be on stands for another month—and it’s clear a unique critical voice will be missing from the pack from now on, at least in print form.
What is No Depression’s legacy? Great music, sure, and writing about it with infectious, sometimes uncritical (and that’s OK), passion. What I like most about its finale is how long it took me to get through it: weeks, digesting stories one at a time, at my leisure, and extracting salient points. I’m as impatient as they come; I bitch heartily when a favorite blog isn’t updated minute-by-minute, or a setlist report is incomplete, or a story on a well known artist doesn’t tell me anything beyond cursory fluff. No Depression’s greatness is that to the end it feels unhurried. This magazine isn’t a shouter; it’s a raconteur.
READ ON for more of Chad’s review for the final issue of No Depression…
The final issue is, fittingly, a bulky mother, tethered to meaty features on some of its favorite artists, including Old 97′s, James McMurtry, Dan Tyminski, Billy Bragg and the Weepies. It allows for a bit of well-earned self-congratulation, printing an extended letters section of eloquent tribute from all corners of the country, and beyond. I enjoy its slow-cooked reviews pages—its new releases are an eclectic mix and its concert coverage zones are chosen with longevity in mind, such that reviews of now four month old shows from February and March still feel fresh, and what was most interesting about them preserved, or what they implied still being discussed.
Most of the long features, as ever, are first rate, and the best might be veteran Britt Robson’s jibing look at Pinetop Perkins. It starts with the obvious touch points—i.e. dude’s 94 years old and still brings it like the baddest motherfucker on earth, and the well-traveled stories like the fact that he’s been smoking for 85 years and surviving on a daily McDonald’s habit (why didn’t Morgan Spurlock get in touch? Maybe Pinetop’s just a little harder than he.) Then it moves into a collection of well-constructed anecdotes that position Perkins as a living legend, yes, but also play up his humble side and touch on an emotional subtext based on telling comments from friends and subordinates.
Grant Alden takes a more colloquially reverent tack in his cover story on Buddy Miller—the magazine’s anointed “artist of the decade”—and instead of cautious distance uses the fact that he and Miller are friends to paint an admiring portrait, objectivity be damned. I found myself wanting to know even more about Miller’s inspirations and choices; a brief discussion of his love of Dallas Frazier obscurities was revealing, for example, but it petered out into more reverence. But overall it’s Miller’s humility that Alden is after, and the approach gets there.
Anyway, I’m taking too much away from the issue itself by going any further. Pick it up if you get a chance—it’ll feel like the best $6.95 you’ve spent in a while.