I had heard there was a guy poking around. Most everyone who mentioned it just said he was some New York writer. Maybe working on something for Rolling Stone. Or Spin. Or he was doing a documentary.
Since Cage The Elephant skyrocketed in popularity and more importantly retained their place on the fame meter through their first, second, and it is looking positive on their third record —lots of people have been here, or in Nashville, or just around. Poking around. The difference was that this guy (who turned out to be Craig Fehrman, surprise!) was poking around with the right sources. Connie Collingsworth from Print Mafia. Tommy Starr from d93. Jeremi Simon from SCHOOLS. He had the right voices gathered and when he released Home Grown as an Amazon single, I immediately downloaded it and expected it to either be a grand character/city study or to prepare to skewer him on all social media and demand my $1.99 back.
It’s really great. Like, great. Great enough for me to e-stalk and privately facebook message Craig halfway through my reading it and applaud him.
And then have him do the interview below.
Young Mary’s Record: Hi Craig. Big congratulations on the release of Home Grown : Cage the Elephant and the Making of a Modern Music Scene ! Four days after publication, how ya feelin’ ?
Craig Fehrman: Pretty good! I’ve heard nice things from quite a few Bowling Green bands and readers, and that’s always the best feedback — when your subjects say you got them right.
YMR: This release is a “digital single” — and a triumphant piece of long-form journalism. Do you expect releases of this type to be an upcoming trend/ successful way for thorough reporting (both music and otherwise) to survive and be respected properly in the 24-news cycle we currently are shackled (or self-tied) to?
: Well, first, that’s really kind of you to say. I know a handful of Singles have done very well, but I don’t think even Amazon can predict where this trend will go. There’s no question the format lets writers slow down and think hard — I worked on this, off and on, for a year. But who can tell how many readers the Singles (my Single!
) will attract? It’s half exciting, half nerve-wracking.
(print from Matthew Taylor Wilson — available at Society 6: HERE.)
YMR: After writing over 20,000 words on our little burg, would you ever live here?
CF: Oh, in a heartbeat! My wife and I are moving back to Indiana, where we both grew up, in a few weeks. If I wasn’t such a Hoosier partisan, we would have looked seriously at Bowling Green. As it is, we’re moving to Bloomington, a city that feels very similar. Bowling Green’s a terrific place. I hope that comes through in “Home Grown.”
YMR: You open Home Grown as you’re crossing on a hipster-filled ferry to see Cage The Elephant play live. Did you already at that point have the arc of the story (e.g. their BG connection and our music scene)even slightly in mind, or when did that develop?
CF: You’re smart to detect a bit of writerly subterfuge in the first chapter. Here’s how the Single came about: I grew up in a small town and have always wondered how a band makes it out of a place like that. When I finally decided to write about this, I looked into a few contemporary rock bands. Cage quickly emerged as the perfect case study. It didn’t hurt that I already owned (and loved) their first two albums!
Anyway, in “Home Grown“‘s first chapter I make myself seem a little clueless, but only because I’m trying to create suspense. Non-Bowling Green readers will probably be surprised by how exciting your scene is, so I tried to make myself a proxy for that — wait, Cage is from where? And they’re playing in New York City? Like I said, writerly subterfuge, but only to suck readers in.
Wow, that turned out to be a very boring and insider-y answer!
YMR: Name a band you’d absolutely hate (or you imagine you’d probably hate) following around in a project similar to this.
Is Nickelback too obvious an answer? Either way, Businessweek did it so you and I don’t have to. If you’re so inclined: the story is HERE
YMR: What’s next for you — Will this be the last of your CTE adventures — and have you ever considered putting out a Limited Edition print version of this with some pretty swag behind-the-scenes photos and like… a Print Mafia-designed cover? Yes, I’d love to help.
CF: What’s next? Packing and moving! As for the limited edition, I’m honestly not sure how the Amazon rights work with this, but I’m a huge fan of Print Mafia’s work — I was even before the story. So for now let’s see how the digital version does and go from there!
My ultimate conclusion:
The thing about me living in Bowling Green and being involved in the music (in whatever capacity) is that I’m not like big pals with Cage The Elephant. Now, don’t be a douchenozzle and read that as me not liking Cage The Elephant. Or me startin’ some painfully hipster street battle where Brad Schultz whips my ass with a guitar that turns into a light saber while I too-slowly dig in my pocket for a Power Rangers throwing star. I - of course - know who they are and — of course — support and appreciate on a massive level what they’ve done for this town, specifically the mentality of local musicians. What I mean is I haven’t like — “done hangs” with them. My social circle was different than theirs and the only thing I think is more bullshit than our local Mr. Gatti’s closing is making friends with someone just because of who they “are” or “became.”
Now, that’s not to say I won’t make friends with them. Or that I haven’t ever had a short, poignant conversation on local music and Dex Romweber Duo and Jack White with Matt (singer) over gummy bears at Rocky’s Bar. Or that I wasn’t flouncing around on the stairs in one of their music videos and making various other limited cameos in the music video above. Or that I don’t have an interesting take on them. I feel lucky that I get to watch from so close, but far away — ya know, seeing the waves of their success and their very real, closeknit friendship with the city of Bowling Green itself and what it does. Which is alot. You see, the dream of music is ageless and CTE’s success gave a new hope to singers and strummers of all ages and genres in this region. Jumped some stalled motors, if you will. Having an American Dream story this big in our city is a miracle in today’s economy and in the state of music industry. Whether you grew up and shared a babysitter or a blunt with Cage, or you’re like me skirting on their circle’s edge, or you’re like Craig Fehrman — a writer that truly nails this …our story, it’s a big deal. They’re a big deal. What they have done is a big deal.
If you’re a Cage fan, or a “music” reader - or just a reader - or a Kentuckian — If you’ve got a brain - If you appreciate fantastic writing and reporting - If you need something to do with your evening that isn’t slop tv - Download Home Grown : HERE.
Dig this? Dig YMR? Don’t just sit there, bust a like.