What a year. Amidst so much loss and heartbreak, music offers both reflection and respite from a world on fire. I’m as grateful for artists like Jesse Ahern, who devote their careers to singing songs with a message, as I am for those who make us dance and forget. We honor both here at SPIN.
This year we’ve strived harder to bring in great writers and fantastic stories that honor the legacy of journalism, irreverence, and discovery that SPIN was built on. I could argue that there’s never been a more essential time to pursue a career in media – or the arts. As I said in my September essay “Who We Are, What We’re About,” if I can’t be part of the solution, I don’t want to be here. I definitely feel like I’m part of the solution at SPIN.
From trying to learn Norwegian (to speak to the ethereal musician Juni Habel) to crying over Sinead, here are some of my most memorable moments of 2023.
Started the year off with my annual open letter petitioning for Tori Amos’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is my third letter, following 2020’s demand for the Go-Go’s and 2022’s for Sinead O’Connor. As I point out in this letter for Tori, these artists won’t suffer without the induction, but their recognition honors not only their music, but all they represent.
I also speak about how important it is to honor great artists while they’re alive, something I wrote about more in-depth in August, after Sinead died.
I spent about an hour talking about the profound magic of Tori Amos on the Rock in Retrospect podcast. Have a listen here.
I launched a new series in February called The Why & The How – deep dive interviews into the songs that define us – with none other than Chuck D on “Fight the Power.” From Bush to Bananarama, these are some of my favorite interviews of the year.
In March, while on their Boston home turf, I got to see a Dropkick Murphys mini-concert for their charity, The Claddagh Fund, a nonprofit whose mission is to “support organizations that help veterans, children, and addiction recovery.” Aside from being one of the absolute best live bands on the road these days, this was undoubtedly the feel-good event of the year, combining a great cause with a kick-ass show. Check out my feature.
By the time I’d completed Mod Sun’s April cover story, I’d interviewed him four times: early 2022 for his 5 Albums I Can’t Live Without feature, summer of 2022 for his A Day in the Life feature, and then twice for his cover story. I like everything about Mod: his music, his message, his passion for art and life. This process was such a pleasure, right down to the incredible photos taken by legendary rock photographer Jesse Frohman, who you might know from those famous Kurt Cobain shots in the white sunglasses. I think Mod’s cover is iconic, too.
In the midst of SPIN’s month-long Hip Hop 50 coverage, I did one of the most-fun interviews of my career: Chad Tepper’s dog. You have to read it to believe it: Chad Tepper Wasn’t Available, So We Interviewed His Dog Instead. (Thanks, Boy!)
My Baby Gravy cover story included my first time speaking with Yung Gravy, my third with bbno$. SPIN Creative Director Danny Klein was at the helm of – hands down – one of the most incredible editorial shoots with two of the most vibrant artists. Thank you, Shane Smith, for your incredible photography (he also shot the Killer Mike cover).
Also in October, AXSTV launched a multi-part series SPIN’s 100 GREATEST ROCKSTARS, a brought-to-TV version of our popular 2021 feature “100 Greatest Rockstars Since That Was A Thing.” If you missed it, head over to AXS.TV to see me (and so many others) honor the artists we all love.
Just a gigantic thank you to everyone who made my 5 Albums I Can’t Live Without series such a success again this year. I started this in 2021 as a way for a community of artists to honor the music and musicians they love most. There’s so much heart in it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Check out last year’s roundup: Pretty Good Year: My Top Stories of 2022.