After a hiatus of more than three years, The 22nd Row is reborn anew as a blog along with the occasional edition of the classic email newsletter.
Self-anointed Elton pundit Jim McKay and other contributors will offer perspectives, fever dreams and humor inspired by the songs, recordings and performances of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
In short, burn-out. Then, 42 months of recovery. And now the excitement of what I consider to be Elton and Bernie’s best project since the mid-1970s.
After something like 15 years of facilitating The Row, it got to be a little too much. While 99.99% of Elton-and-Bernie fans are a great pleasure and privilege to know, there is that 0.01% who can be needy and demanding. Considering that our heroes have billions of fans, that 0.01% can be a sizable, challenging amount–a bit of a distraction from the best part of The 22nd Row–writing, reflecting upon, and celebrating the songwriting and recordings of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. It ended up that I didn’t get to do what I liked best nearly enough.
Tie this with the responsibilities of every day life and work, and, well, a hiatus from The 22nd Row e-newsletter went from being a week off, then to a month, then to years. It happened.
At this point, I wish to acknowledge with humility and gratitude the many heartfelt communiqués of encouragement that came from the 99.99% of loyal and supportive fans since spring 2007 when “the Row” went away. Unless you are one of the 0.01%, you are a huge reason for this rebirth.
Then & Now
When what became today’s The 22nd Row originated on June 23, 1992, there was nothing else like it on the internet solely dedicated to the topic of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. As a result, anything and everything EJ-and-BT was covered, from the release of The One album on that day, to celebrity sightings, and even “I heard Elton on the store muzak” threads. Furthermore, because the internet was viewed as an experimental niche, it was felt that all points of view and topics had to be fostered and accommodated by one resource point. That was part of the internet’s culture of the day. Given the tiny scale of the internet at the time and that we were one of the only resources, it was believed that we had to be all things to all Elton-and-Bernie Fans.
Today, there are tens of thousands of Elton John and Bernie Taupin fan resources on the internet–and of course the “Captain & The Kid” themselves have their own official web sites. It doesn’t get any better than that! Throw in the advent of Facebook and Twitter where one can share immediately on the tiniest trivia of Elton’s most insignificances, what relevancy and purpose in the fandom could the 1992-spirited Row have in 2010?
The one thing that The 22nd Row did better than most any other internet resource is serve as a forum for the appreciation and discussion of the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. While some great sites–notably Hercules’ EltonFan.net, Crazy Water and even EltonJohn.com among many–offer fan discussions, I think the caliber of discussion at The 22nd Row offered the most depth and stimulation. At best, our banter was like a forum akin to the passionate discussion between legendary critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. Then again, there were moments where the trivia and speculation descended into absurd speculation and the stuff of fever dreams. Mostly for better and a little for worse, the ethos of The 22nd Row might be largely attributed to its founding as a forum in the academic community of the University of Illinois.
How Things Will Be Different
The 22nd Row‘s primary face will be this blog as a sort of journal written by myself and others. The 22nd Row Digest (the e-mail newsletter you’ve known for years) will continue on a limited basis as well.
The 22nd Row of 2010 will not attempt to be all things to all people, but rather focus on what we do best and enjoy most–writing about the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The threads about hearing Elton on store muzak and Elton’s dinner plans will be left to the plethora of sites and resources that do this so much better than The 22nd Row. There will be some concert reviews now and then, but most of the other fan sites–and, of course, Elton’s own official site–also do a great job in this respect. So here we will focus on the songs, the records, the lyrics, the chords, hopefully inspiring new insights and appreciations.
If you have a writing to contribute…
Please email me at jjmckay((AT))the22ndrow((DOT))com
Many thanks to all you have contributed to The 22nd Row.
Here’s to the once and future 22nd Row. Please, take a seat.