Ruminations on Reviews

My wife and I listen to Radio Paradise, a very eclectic independent Internet radio station. When I say we listen to it, I mean we listen to it. Almost every hour of every day it fills our living space. We like it in part because it’s programmed by two people who apparently have lived a life in and around both radio and music. We like it in part because we hear so many things on it that we would never have heard anywhere else. And we like it in part because the channel is totally listener supported—meaning there are no commercials. Something that’s easily worth the little bit of cash we throw into the pot every year.

Not surprising, the environment has created a full-blooded Internet community. As part of that community, there exists a comments forum. And, among other things, on this forum listeners can rate songs on a 1-10 scale.

It’s always interesting to see how various songs get tagged.

Sometimes you hear a song and you just know the folks are going to be riled up. It’s not unusual to see a message along the lines of “what part of eclectic did you not understand,” which is always fun, too. Odd and wonderful twists are a way of life on Radio Paradise, and to complain about them seems a bit more than self-defeating. Alas.

I’m thinking about this today for two reasons.

First, I’ve been on a streak of thinking about quality, and fandom, and just what is “Good Enough” when it comes to art. And second, because a moment ago, the station played “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” by Fairport Convention. It’s an old song, written and sung by Sandy Denny. It may well be one of the most beautiful and heart wrenching and contemplative songs every written (he says, using hyperbole much). If you’re familiar with the song, you know what I mean. Its layers of complexity and beauty are made even more amazing by the haunted presence of Sandy Denny’s life and her amazing voice that infuses it with their own meaning.

If you’re not familiar with it, I’ll link a version below.

You need to listen to it. And when you do, you’d do well to really listen. I mean, it’s just a thing of breathtaking beauty.

And yet, as of my typing there are forty-two people walking the earth who rated it a “1” on Radio Paradise’s 1-10 scale. Thirty-eight gave it a “2” and fifty-seven more begrudgingly listed it as a “3.” I mean. Whoa. 137 people. One hundred thirty seven. Rated this amazing piece of art “3” or below. That’s like a 1-star review on Amazon.

So, here’s the thing, you creators out there. You friends of mine who might have been hit with a poor review, or who have a smattering of 1-star customer comments on whatever reader forum exists. My friends who might be feeling down. That no one will care. It’s okay. Really, it is. Do your thing. Be who you are.

Haters gonna hate, right?

If you ever need proof positive that an artist simply cannot satisfy all people you need look no further than the ratings of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”

You are enough.

Focus on your thing. Do things that you’re proud of, that you’re happy with. Say what you’re going to say …

Then let the world deal with it on their own terms.

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