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RIP: The Word

I'm still numb two days after learning The Word magazine is closing shop

As I tweeted on Friday, "I am heartbroken."

I had just gotten a letter in the mail a few days ago from Word editor Mark Ellen thanking me "for renewing my subscription and, obviously, congratulations on your impeccable taste." Like a lot of things in The Word, the use of the word "obviously" was not only clever but understood. 

I've been through this kind of magazine death before with Trouser Press and later Musician, but it's been decades since both those magazines closed. This is a fresh wound. 

I read a lot of music publications, but I guarantee I won't feel the same if Rolling Stone, Spin, Magnet, Vive Le Rock, Mojo, Paste, Record Collector, Uncut, Q, Pitchfork, Filter, PopMatters, Shindig or any other mag were to meet the same fate. They all have their upside but none feel like ME. The Big Takeover comes close, but it's a completely different animal, with a much narrower and predictable focus on music and just two isseus a year at that.

Word felt like my friends, the ones who are opinionated but open-minded, who  introduce me to new music, enlighten me about other subjects and are brilliantly funny. 

The Massive, as The Word so eloquently described its readers, were are a clever bunch, taking the magazine's offer to build a music community but taking it off in its own directions. The Massive is always quick-witted and sometimes snide,  but a group that always had your back and seemed like the kind of folk who would bend over backward to help you in time of need.  Music geeks are like that. We hang tight once we know you're for real. 

I'll miss reading the print magazine top to bottom, but if it's possible, I may miss even more The Word Podcast. These regular subscriber-only recordings were always unpredictable but rarely disappointing. Hearing The Word family discuss -- in real voices! -- all things esoteric brought fans closer. This description of the podcast from The Word website says it all:

"It doesn’t attempt to be a “rockumentary” or anything similarly dull. It sometimes has musical guests, it sometimes doesn’t. It meanders across all kinds of subjects. It’s as spontaneous and unscripted as a conversation ought to be."

I will never forget the hilarious episode in which Nick Lowe spills the beans on Rockpile's inability to get Keith Richards -- drunk and fresh out of prison -- off THEIR stage during a New York concert. What band would actually want Keef off stage? Only Rockpile.

Such moments made you feel as if you were at the table with Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and gang, nodding, laughing and keeping fingers crossed that this wasn't just a dream. 

After 113 issues, The Word leaves an enormous wake. Like Trouser Press and Musician before it, I will never forget the feeling that came with the reward that came in the mail each month. Perhaps something smarter and provocative will come along. I doubt it, but if there's one thing The Word taught me, it's to savor the past but fully live the present. 

So, cold porter in hand, I will do just that ... and wait for my final issue to arrive. 

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