MSN Music blog readers mourn together
For anyone with even a passing interest in music criticism, the work of Robert Christgau offers an object lesson in both standards and stamina; his writing has been a reliable beacon of concision and clarity for over 40 years—the last five of which have seen regular contributions to this very network. When Christgau began adapting his trademark Consumer Guide album reviews format into the twice-weekly MSN Music blog, Expert Witness, he accomplished two equally nourishing feats. The first is obvious: He kept the column, which began in the Village Voice in 1969, alive. The second may be just as obvious in the age of blog, but is no less thrilling to see: He provided a legion of loyal readers (and newcomers, presumably) with a platform to talk back to the most prominent music critic there is.
As has become the norm, commenters respond Christgau's sure-minded dispatches by sharing their own passions, peeves, and insights about music and popular culture. As has not, the conversations that emerged on Expert Witness are fascinating to read. Within a few weeks, EW was generating lively and informed conversations running to hundreds of comments for each post. Whether volleying over Christgau’s chosen review subjects, or venturing off along diverse tangents, the blog’s faithful grew into a virtual community that got to know and appreciate one another’s insights. Among their ranks were other writers, educators, editors and more-than-casual music lovers who mirrored “the dean of rock writers’” own inexhaustible intellect and enthusiasm.
Just how connected these readers have become was dramatized on Feb. 26 when regular reader Kenny Mostern reported the death of a close friend and fellow Expert Witness David Schweitzer several days earlier. Over the course of the next few days, a commenting thread that initially riffed on reviews of albums by Al Green and D’Angelo evolved into shared memories of Schweitzer that underscored how an online meeting place had forged friendships.