John Tierney

Long Winded - Short Attention Span



I review music, but I am not a critic per se.

There is music that just doesn’t resonate with me, so I don’t write about it.  It wouldn’t be fair and frankly I wouldn’t have the time, because there is so much I love in this town. But that doesn’t mean that because I haven’t written about something that I don’t like it. It could just mean I haven’t gotten to it yet.

I still haven’t seen everything I want to see here, I still haven’t heard everything I want to hear.

I am an unabashed cheerleader for what we have and not a chronicler of what we don’t have.

I am not here to deconstruct the Syracuse “music scene” or compare Syracuse to other cities.  Other cities have what they have and that’s great.  There are things in other cities I wish we had, but we don’t, and I can’t change that.

I am not here to find fault.

I don’t have a salon full of like minded thinkers to formulate an editorial philosophy.  It’s just me out here alone, going to shows alone, listening to music alone and sharing my thoughts because I think what we have here is remarkable and should be encouraged and should be spotlighted in the way that I can.

I don’t have a photographer, I snap a few shots at shows with my phone and hope they work out so I can add them to my essays.

Although I often say “nobody else is writing about Syracuse music so I may as well do it” and that IS true for me, I am not a replacement for an arts weekly or a newspaper (if there even is still such a thing).  Even when we had those things, art and music coverage was sparse at best.

If we still had those things and coverage was good, I would probably never have started to cover it myself in the first place.

I can be sloppy, I can be rushed and prone to typos and other grammarly sins, I don’t have a copy editor, I often hit the publish button while shoving a sandwich in my mouth on my way to my day job or while trying to be present for my family.  I try to catch those and I know I miss a few from time to time.

I don’t get paid for this, I don’t sell advertising or take donations, nor will I ever.  In fact with the cost of infrastructure to support this venture, I am paying to do this. It’s a cost I incur gladly and willingly.

My bona fides?

I have never written professionally although I did write for two college papers and started out majoring in journalism before switching to technology.  

My day job is as a database administrator.  Prior to that I was a general system administrator, and prior to that a web developer.

I have been around the Syracuse music scene for 40 years, I was underage in a funky bar when underage was way younger than underage is today.  I have seen trends and genres and clubs and stages and scenes come and go and right now, the scene is as strong as I have seen it since the 70s and 80s

I have recently begun getting music sent to me by artists to review.  I think that speaks to my credibility and I cherish that credibility. It was earned because I did the work.  Not because I knew how to start a blog.

In the past 6 months I have written 5 album reviews, 4 of those albums have been nominated for Sammy Awards.  I don’t think that has a goddamn thing to do with me, I just think it’s a cool as shit thing to say.  So deal with it.

I am the marketing director for an annual art and music festival in town.

Before I started this I read a lot of the work of Lester Bangs, he loved the music.  For him it was all about the music.  That’s who I model my writing after as much as I can.

I love my community, and I love my city and the people in it.

I don’t do this to try to make improvements where improvements are needed, that’s not my job, and I don’t have the time or energy to do that quite honestly.  I’m just here to write about what I love.

This is Syracuse and this, to me, is what it sounds like right now and why I think it’s valuable. I am not in the least objective. If you want objective art criticism, you will have to look elsewhere. This is a love story.

If you don’t like what I do, or don’t see the value in it, that’s fair.  There are plenty of other things you could be doing than reading the incessant ramblings of a middle aged music obsessive.  

That’s your call.

Maybe I’m just too old.

If you are an artist and you don’t see the value here, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the value in you, and what you do.  I’m still  going to support you in the way that I can, and sometimes even here in these pages. We just disagree on roles I guess. I’m trying.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the people who have been so supportive of my work here.  There’s too many of you to name but you know who you are, you give me the juice to keep doing this. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Lester, wherever you are, I’m trying man.  I’m really trying.


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  1. The common notion that one could or should be objective about pop music is…misplaced. I was going to say it’s stupid, but–wait, it IS stupid. This is pop music. Those of us (like John) who write about our passions have absolutely no tether binding us to some imaginary notion of balance. These are opinions, expressed in a forum we’ve chosen, or even built ourselves. We’re here to advance our agenda, to proselytize on behalf of stuff we dig. We have a responsibility to get the facts right, and that is the sum total of our responsibility. What we write is subject to scrutiny and criticism, but honestly, we’re gonna dismiss any naysayer who seems like a doodyhead.

  2. Lester Bangs. So happy to hear you mention him as a muse. I should not have been surprised. Cream was my magazine of choice back in the day and mostly because they let Lester write about rock music in the long form. Here are 2 of my favorite quotes of his.

    “The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.*

    Art and especially music and even especially pop/rock music is about fun. About joy. About yeaaaaaah!

    “When kids can’t afford to see it anymore maybe we’ll have a whole resurgence of garage bands all over America and this New Wave thing will start to mean something on a grass roots level.”

    Kids these days can’t afford music anymore. Stones coming here and nosebleed lawn seats are $90 plus $25 in taxes and fees. I used to be able to tour with the Dead for 3 weeks straight on a minimum wage paycheck.

    Anywho, local is where it’s at. I can still see bands every night of the week for $5 or even free. For now. That’s changing. Austin is changing. And not in a good way I am afraid. Good stuff John.

  3. Preach on, and don’t stop!

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