On Basketball

Not to bury the lede: I’m not going to write about the Grizzlies, at least not this season.

When I left the Memphis Flyer to come to the Daily Memphian, there was a certain amount of relief involved around backing away from the NBA grind. I’ve been writing about the Grizzlies since the summer of 2011, and I’ve been covering them as credentialed media since the summer of 2012. In all that time, I’ve been the only person in my organization in that role (both at the Flyer and previously at Grizzly Bear Blues), so I’ve been to a lot of games in that time period.

Things have changed for me since I started doing this, younger and dumber and with way better hair. I have two small kids. I’m in a different, albeit very exciting, “day job” role that requires a lot more mental energy. For at least a season and a half, I haven’t been having fun, and I think it’s come across in the work. There were whole weeks last season where I physically couldn’t make myself write anything, even though I was technically on deadline. The last post I wrote at the Flyer sounds a lot more like a goodbye than I realized at the time, and it took me two weeks to write. I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of thousands of words about a basketball team, two handfuls of Flyer covers, two Memphis magazine cover features, done probably a thousand radio appearances…

…and I finally feel like I don’t have anything else to say. Like I don’t have anything interesting to add to the conversation around this team, and like forcing it out of a sense of obligation would only mean I’m not doing my best work, which isn’t fair to other people and other voices who would otherwise get that attention.

Since I’m blessed enough to be in a position where I have the option, I’m going to bow out now. Better to leave on a high note, right?

I’ve made some great friends doing this work, and those friendships will no doubt continue (though Herrington might be a little mad that he has to think about renaming “Turn Four”). There are thousands of you that I know by Twitter handle only, and I like all of you, except that one guy (you know who you are).

All of this is to say: so long, for now. Thanks for reading. Thanks for making my life brighter and more fun all these seasons. I may be back, but I’m not going to promise anything other than my undying gratitude for the support you’ve all given me–far more than I deserve.

Some High Points From 1970 Jimi Hendrix Bootlegs

1970 was the year Jimi Hendrix died, but it was also a time of great creative growth for him. Free of the Experience (sort of) and free of the contractual mess that led to Band of Gypsys (more on that in a bit), he holed up in the nearly-finished Electric Lady Studios to work on his next album of material, most of which would trickle out unfinished on various compilations after he died.

For whatever reason—greedy management, according to most accounts—Hendrix had to head back out on the road for a grueling tour, playing the hits, billed as the Experience but with Noel Redding nowhere in sight, trying to play the new stuff and also enough of the hits to keep the crowds happy. The result were some of my favorite performances of his.

You can get some of the tour on official releases already, so I’ve left those off my list, though there are certainly some gems there. The US tour is represented by the Berkeley show (highlight: “Johnny B Goode,” probably, but “Straight Ahead” is also really good) and the Atlanta Pop Festival (not one of my favorites) and there’s a Blue Wild Angel record that captures his kinda-bad Isle of Wight show from August (highlight: “All Along the Watchtower”). The new material was where all the magic happened for the whole year; the older stuff mostly just sounded rote except when “Foxey Lady” got stretched out into interesting jams, and the two exceptions I put on my list. Hendrix also played the “Star Spangled Banner” at most of these shows, just as he’d played it a couple of times before Woodstock, but it’s not exactly something that you need to hear done more than once.

Here are some of my favorite performances from Hendrix’s 1970 tour, in chronological order. If you like pristine audio, you probably won’t be able to hang with most of these, but like so much lost art from the history of humankind, it’s a blessed miracle that we have what we have.

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