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March 22, 2010

A Message From Merlin

Hi Mr. Pirate
Well, what can I say...

I'm alive and well (first of all)

second : I grew a bit tired of this thing, and the lack of response. You see I noticed this blog had about 50 followers (I call that vultures waiting for the blogger to lay an egg and then come and get it ....GET IT and maybe EAT IT) but I see only a few true followers saying they liked it, they enjoyed it;

Now since I went "underground" I got seven (ELEVEN) persons asking what's up ?

I feel that this really isn't worth the work I put into it (and you of all persons understand the WORK this means)

Someone said I had the most "scolarly" blog of us all. That was a huge compliment and that is why I did it all.

I did a radio program about blues and early folk on the Radio over here, and there I could "teach" as my son always says, or as I say "tell those wonderful stories of people a long time ago".

The blog brought me some true surprises also : You'll remember one day I posted a record by Dion DiMucci (the son of Skip James) One evening Dion himself (Mr. D.)replied and said he loved the item and what I said about it, for once not in a superlative way and glory hallelujah, but I placed the thing in a larger context, this being exactly he felt. I was honored. Thanks Mr. D..

Also Lucy Kaplansky - whom I asked if I could publish the record : she was delighted and even send me an unreleased demo : Thanks Lucy

So that's about it. Maybe I'll be back one day with a new Merlin, still in his old rags (because that's the only thing that really matters... these old rags and songs from people who lived when I wasn't even born.)

I lately saw on muddy's site a club concert by Leadbelly from november 1948.... I was born a month later. I cried.

So what was it like ? I loved it well.
I see you mirrored the blog.. I feel honored again but some things are over and done, they won’t come back
As I said …. I’ll see you at the other side of the mirror, someday soon.
If you feel this should be on your blog, feel free
Merlin (no rags... only riches)

Yes, I do know how much work it takes to do these blogs, and how few responses there can be. And I also know how thrilling it is to have artists appreciate the postings about them as well. The way I keep it in balance is by taking extended periods of time off (the week coming up I'll be away, in fact, so still no new postings everyone; sorry but real life is taking my time. At some point, they will resume...).

Anyway, know that you have done a great thing, Merlin, and lived up to your wizard's name, and inspired others to come after you. If the time for the blog is done, so be it, and may its riches come back to you tenfold in the years to come.


muddy said...

I know that I must something to say, but I do not know what. I read your words and think about how you're completely right.
You probably don't know that I visited your blog every day and Merlin in Rags was my favorite blog.
When your blog disappeared Pirate and I have talked about you and then I find out that you moved to Multiply. Because of you I log on Multiply. I simply wanted to continue to read your comments and learn. Later I realized that Multiply is not for me, something bothers me.
Because of that I like this blog too. Sometimes I say 'Wow Pirate I'll need two hours to read that" (see post "Letters from Yurtville"), but I know that I'll enjoy.
I don't leave comments because I have a problem with English, not reading, but writing.
Because of that on my blog I don't write notes, I find them somewhere on the net and read them and if they are ok I just paste them.
This is probably my longest comment ever, in the end I would like to say that if you ever go back to blogger please let me know.


bruce said...

Thanks, Merlin. And Pirate. And Muddy, too.

Dylan Macnab said...

aw shucks. :/

Frankie said...

Sorry about how you feel about it :)
Yes, doing any work on the internet, whether it means directing a blog or moderating a forum equally made to help or educate "the public" obviously usually means little direct feedback. Much comes back very much later at an unexpected time or on unexpected occasions, as in all teaching.
I have also been a regular reader, yes, I never commented because, as almost everybody on the internet, as a consumer I am lazy. And as a maker, it is sometimes frustrating, the lack of direct feedback. I´m sorry you are on the verge of giving up altogether. You shouldn´t. Maybe, after a break, you will catch fire again.
Thanks for the many (uncredited) inspirations you brought us and me specifically. Usually I look whether CDs where I want mainly 2 or 3 tracks for completeness sake are worth buying it or not, by downloading them and listening through them. I don´t buy tat much, maybe 2 each month, but I get my inspiration from blogs like these specialized ones, and not at all anymore from magazines or even the radio.
Good bye. Hope you are only having a break.

Anonymous said...

Merlin, Pirate, and Muddy (if you're reading this): I admit to being one of the "vultures" that follows your blogs nearly every day but hardly ever leaves feedback. I sincerely apologize for not letting you know how much I appreciate and respect the wonderful work you do.

Your blogs are glorious. They are a visual feast of fascinating information about artists, their work, and their lives. Your insight and intelligence allow us to discover artists and broaden the appreciation for their work. You are helping to preserve and advance genres that are at risk of oblivion in our overly commercial music industry. And, your thoughts about other topics are appreciated. Pirate's eloquent Manifesto and musings from The Yurt have had a profound effect on me and were emailed to about everyone I know.

For some of your followers your blogs mean even more. I am disabled and you offer a door into worlds I cannot visit. I have spent many very happy hours escaping from my limited reality into the greater universe you offer. I am a sponge, soaking up experiences and knowlege you provide.

So, on behalf of your followers, please accept my heart-felt apology for taking advantage of the gifts you give us without even a simple thank you. You ARE appreciated.

Jan from New Mexico, USA

Kegan said...

I'm going to second Jan's comment, as I too am 'disabled' or handicapped, or whatever you'd prefer to call it for PC's sake. A lot of this stuff IS hard to find, and if I see something I like, I grab it and run with it, because it's so scarce.

When I find it on CD, sometimes I buy the CD, but living off social security and currently trying to balance an upcoming spinal surgery, my funds are tapped. I often find the CD versions of obscure work, while appreciated from the legitimate release labels, are often lacking in remastered sound - not often, but enough to where sometimes paying the (in my opinion) high prices for them isn't worth it to buy them new. So, I wait and buy them used, occasionally buying new copies directly if I really like an artist.

Your work is appreciated, Merlin, as is Irate's and Harlan Taylor with his crew, Red Neckerson, Uncle Gil, etcetera. I really prefer the hiss and pop of old vinyl most times, as I feel it gives the music a more 'authentic' old-time feel, and some of the labels like Document or Yazoo or JSP, even Bear Family (whom I all love dearly) remaster the music into a tinniness that's harsher to my ears than the warmth of old vinyl, the things you all have provided, and much of which will never see a true CD release.

I don't mean to horde, and I too feel guilty for not always commenting; being a writer, I love to talk about this music because I enjoy and respect it so much, but my cerebral palsy and other issues often leaves me as tired and worn out as the shellac records themselves, so lengthy comments of thanks and praise or informative conversation don't come as often as they should, I know.

I am sorry that you feel unappreciated Merlin, and any other bloggers who post music out there; I've learned the hard way how time-consuming it is to upload music, since I'm doing the same for a friend who's having trouble with certain links elsewhere - I haven't even started to digitize my own collections, and I know that that is going to be exhausting as well, but just knowing one person is grateful is thanks enough for me.

Please know that everything you and all other music bloggers do IS appreciated, and that your music is an escape of rest from the hardship of being disabled and feeling held back in life at twenty-some years of age for me. Anything I hope to soon post will be done in your honor, Merlin; Irate; Harlan, Johnny One-Note, Red, Mellow, and any other blog user I might be forgetting by name at the moment.

May God bless you all, and thank you always for what you've shared and continue to share with us. To me, music is a balm to the miseries of my often-discouraged spirit, and I hope to see you all continue your kindnesses by sharing, and to one day join you on my thus-far empty blog.

I remain forever indebted to you all for the gifts I have received, and remain respectfully yours with friendship and brotherly love,

Kegan Mahon

Muddy said...

I don't always comment, or say thanks, it must be admitted. But I do always appreciate the great writing that gives the bigger picture and context for the music. Often, I just read and enjoy the essays.
I'm glad to know that Merlin is well, and that his private blog continues. (I'd welcome an invite with promises to be a better commenter).
I'm a happier person for having learned about jug band music, gypsy jazz, forgotten folkies, and so much more.
I am thankful for Mr. Pirate's encouragement to be a part of a local physical community working for change, and not just someone with a virtual existence in an electronic community.
I am also thankful for all the music that is being kept alive, especially by musicians that absorb and transmit these great old songs and styles.

Muddy (the one without a blog)

roldo said...

"Merlin In Rags" was wonderful place to visit - the erudite writing being as welcome as the music itself.
Those of us who lack the motivation or (as in my case) skills to create and run a Blog should take time to show appreciation for the efforts of those who do.
There's nothing worse than a thankless job - especially when all you can get back from it is the occassional thanks.

Delta-Slider said...

Well i have to say that this one hits home. I hate to join the whinefest but i agree that a few more comments would go a LONG way.
At the same time I understand that sometimes people just don't have a lot to add. But a thank you doesn't take too long, does it?

Anonymous said...

Like to add my apologies to all the above ...... I'll try and be honest and say that in my case it is sheer greediness to get on through a list of potential blogs that might have that THING I have been searching for and never find .... BUT I have left the odd comment and, when I feel in tune with the blogger I do this every so on, and I DO read the blog as well, if it has, like Merlin, Pirate, Old Weird America and a few more something exciting to say. So SORRY, and THANKS, and GOOD LUCK!!

. said...

Merlin was just about the best blog out there, with Grapevine here throwing up some stiff competition.

I'm sure this seems ridiculous given what was just written, but while I said "thanks and such" a few times, the main reason I didn't comment all the time was because I didn't have something to say other than "thanks" and "you are awesome" which in its way seemed like a trite non statement.

I know, it is stupid, but there you go. I don't tend to say something in life, unless I have something worth contributing and that has followed me on to the internet it seems.

Still, my life (and the lives of the girlfriends I force to listen to my music) has been enriched by the music you have shared. I hope you take that to heart.

Anonymous said...

Good luck me old mucker; once a labour of love starts feeling like "work" it's time to call it a day, for sure. Many thanks for all the efforts, and make sure you enjoy the free time that taking a break will create for you.

B.W. Blackwell said...

Hi. Just a thought, something that comes out of my life and work as a quasi-librarian: Melville's Moby Dick is almost never checked out of small branch public libraries, particularly when compared with works of entertainment (mysteries, romance, etc.) But we insist, rightly, on having copies of classics on the shelves.

I know maintaining a blog is a lot of work, and life goes on, but please do not base your decision on popularity or public response. You have chosen to work with and for the classics.

Thanks for everything, and best luck.

Nino Dusty said...

You never miss something until it's gone. Dear Merlin (or Joski) I've followed your blog for the last two years - silently, unfortunately. Probably you deserved a comment, a "thank you" or "I sincerely appreciate your effort". I didn't do that. Well, I'm doing that now. Thank you for all the good music you made me know and for a lot of other reasons I can't express properly (I'm not native English speaker) - one of those is having made me know other amazing sources of information like Mr. Irate Pirate.
I hope you'll come back soon.
God bless you (you, Merlin, and you all guys, who share your knowledge with the rest of us).
Nino Dusty

vilstef said...

Merlin, if it's possible to get an invite, I'd love one (vilstef at For some reason your blog was accessible publicly on night in January and I loved what I saw, signed up for an rss feed, and was never able to get in again. I'm planning my own sharity blog to add to the weirdness. Launch date-soon!

Anonymous said...

The folks who quit their blogs because of the lack of comments always dumbfound me. Every week my blog gets hundreds of downloads and no comments, and I don't mind at all. I take the downloads as message that my musical choices were appreciated. I suppose if the reason you started the blog was to make friends or to start a discussion about music, that you might be disappointed... but my only hope is that as many people as possible listen to this music.

Dylan Macnab said...

Comments make a blogger feel more appreciated, but without some encouragement most readers don't ever comment.

The internet thrives off anonymity. I encourage you to keep on writing. From the looks of this post, there are many people that care about your blog! 17 comments.

The Irate Pirate said...

Thanks for all your comments, everybody. It's quite touching to read some of them, and to know what these blogs mean to people who are disabled or otherwise. And it's also good to hear from people who don't normally comment, and their reasons for doing so.

And no, it's not like we do these blogs to collect thanks or friends or whatever, but feedback of some kind really does help, and it means a lot more than just looking at download counts and guessing that folks might like it.

I have often been astounded, actually, by unexpected offers and communications, via private mail, from people who may never have even left a comment. So I don't label people as 'leechers' or anything like that just because they seem to be silent.

And I personally have no intention of abandoning this blog, in fact I really want to be posting a lot of things but right now I've just got so many other things to do in the real world that I can't quite get to it.

But again, thanks for all your comments on these recent posts (I seem to get a much greater response when I don't post music than when I do...)

Kodak Ghost said...

A bit late in my post, but I agree with all of the comments (esp Roldo etc)... Merlin was a fantastic blog, it taught me heaps, and was a reference point every couple of weeks (as is Grapevine).
It is very sad to see its passing... it is as if your local museum/dusty vinyl record store/Cornershop have just closed. Things that you took for granted as places you could go back to and refer to, have suddenly disappeared. Thank you for all the work and love you put into it, and thank you for the knowledge and music you have allowed me to access.

Phil said...

I am embarrassed to say that I, too, was one of the "vultures" who followed Merlin's blog, received musical nourishment from it but never gave in return.
Like others, my only justification was that I thought I had nothing useful to contribute, but I now realise that a simple "thank you" can also be a valuable contribution to the person who has done all the hard work.
Thank you, Merlin, for all your hard work over the years. You have enlarged my musical knowledge considerably, and given me great pleasure. I tried to contact you through Multiply, but that didn't seem to work properly, so I am glad of this opportunity to make contact.
To the Irate Pirate, I must also give thanks for past gifts, and hope that he is not too water-logged to continue.
It was also great to see muddy's notes. His Sava Riverbank blog is
the place to go for blues music.
All the best for the future.