Going Underground: Jim Walsh on his earliest memory of music writing.


Excerpt from the Introduction to Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes

My earliest memory of scribbling in a notebook while listening to music is New Year’s Eve, 1974.

I was fourteen and then as now not a big fan of mean girls and boys, so that night I intentionally stayed away from the junior high parties and was happy to have my big brother Jay’s bedroom all to myself. He was at work as a busboy and waiter at Anchor Inn, now Bunny’s in St. Louis Park, where our Uncle Tommy tended bar for many years.

I can still see the view from Jay’s window that accompanied so much of my marathon listening sessions those long-ago dreamy nights: a basketball hoop and our driveway, that still swishless nylon net alit by the Fifty-first and South Colfax–Aldrich alley lamp, and all those Minnesota stars as I hit the outer limits with Rod Stewart, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, the Monkees, America, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, John Denver, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Bread, Cat Stevens . . .

Jay had great taste, smart ears, a luscious glow-in-the-dark turntable, a killer stereo system, and all the good records, and he almost always indulged my hanging out in his room at all hours of the day and night, locking myself in his little vinyl church as I would at a time when my Catholic school education was fast being eclipsed (and augmented) by the real-time fire and mysticism I was mainlining via rock ‘n’ roll and singer/songwriters.

That last night of 1974 as I plowed through my eighth grade favorites, in a bed heaped with shimmering black vinyl records laying out of their jackets and all across the bed and floor, I listened intently into the wee hours of 1975 and wrote about how the music made me feel, where I was in my life, how it helped give me perspective on all those as-yet out-of-reach adult ideas of love, desire, and the big mysteries of life. I quoted lyrics and doodled and wrote down questions and observations until 4 a.m.

Jim Walsh will read from Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the downtown Minneapolis Barnes & Noble location, 801 Nicollet Mall.

Jim Walsh is a Minneapolis-based writer, journalist, columnist, and songwriter and the author of Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes: Jim Walsh on Music from Minneapolis to the Outer Limits; The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting: An Oral History; and, with Dennis Pernu, The Replacements: Waxed Up Hair and Pointed Shoes: The Photographic History.

“Jim Walsh’s Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes is as much a chronicle of the past few decades of the Minneapolis scene as it is a pitch-perfect memoir of what it means to live for music. A crucial read for anyone who has spent their days and nights tangled in the tether of a song.”
—Jessica Hopper, author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

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