I started this blog (well the first incarnation of this blog which originally was on Blogger.com) back on May 29, 2004. Its initially purpose was to journal the 10 months my wife and are were spending in Strasbourg, France. I wanted a way to both store my experiences their for posterity and share them with my friends and family. At first I was writing breathlessly about my experiences in a foreign country, amazed and excited about every little new things. But as these things happen the new and exciting slowly became old and familiar. I wrote less and less about my French experiences and began writing movie, music and book reviews. When we moved back to the states I kept that aspect of the blog up and The Midnight Cafe became less a journal and more of a pop culture site.
It didn’t take long for me to start writing about bootlegs. At first I was reviewing them and then I started actually posting the music. It was very trial and error in those days as I was still figuring out the best way to upload the shows and make them readily available to my readers. For a time I was writing about pop culture, sharing interesting things I found on the Internet and posting bootlegs. But more and more the bootlegs began taking over and eventually The Midnight Cafe became the bootleg blog you all know and (hopefully) love.
The very first bootleg I ever posted was a show featuring Jim James, Conor Oberst and m. ward. Sadly I no longer have that show (lost in one of many hard drive failures since then) but you can see that early post here. It should be noted that the free music I mention in that post isn’t bootlegs but rather studio MP3s I had been writing about (and sharing) at the time. That first bootleg was posted in October of 2008. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of me posting bootlegs to this blog I thought I’d highlight the ten most popular bootlegs I’ve ever posted. The plan is to do one each month. I’d like to repost the shows and maybe talk about them and my blog a little. Since I missed January I’ll try to post two in February and then if everything goes smoothly I’ll count town one show each month until we get to October and celebrate the most popular bootleg I’ve ever shared.
I’ll be using the WordPress counter, sorting by number of views over the entire history of the blog. As mentioned this blog started on Blogger, migrated to a free WordPress site then spent many years on my own paid for space (though using the WordPress platform) and then a few years back I loaded everything back onto the free WordPress site. My guess is that this has royally screwed up the counter, but its all I got.
Interestingly (and this may point directly to how screwed up the counter is) none of the top ten posts have been accessed more than a few thousand times. Truth is I’ve never been a really huge site in terms of hit count. I average somewhere between 1000-1500 unique visitors a day. I have a small, but really enthusiastic base of regular readers (and commenters – you guys are awesome) but like any site most of my visitors come randomly via web searchers and don’t stick around very long.I also post a lot of shows. My average is probably 2-3 boots a days which adds up pretty quickly. Because of all this no single post gets that much love, even after ten years.
When I first started preparing for this series I was shocked to learn that the majority of my most popular posts are not bootlegs but old pop cultural posts I did ages ago. Far and away my most popular post ever was a little thing I did on the movies I have seen on Premier Magazine’s list of the most dangerous movies ever made. I wrote that one back in 2007 and periodically still get messages about it. I try not to be disheartened about how my sillier posts from more than a decade ago still get more love than all the bootlegs I’ve posted since then.
Anyways without further ado here’s the 10th most popular bootlegs post on The Midnight Cafe.
Bob Dylan – Abandoned Desire
As you might expect from the title this is a compilation of alt cuts to Dylan’s 1976 album Desire. The bootleg combined combines the quadraphonic mix (taken from a vinyl source) with studio outtakes from the album sessions in July 1975 and a recording session with Bette Midler in October 1975. Unfortunately the firsts 8 tracks have been removed because they have been officially released. The Dylan Stubs site has full images of the liner art for the bootleg which comes with lots of info on these sessions.
I originally posted it on Nov 21 2015. It has since been viewed 2, 251 times. That seems an insanely low number to me. I really suspect that the counter is only counting hits that have come in via this free WordPress site and none of the others transferred over. Whatever the case its a cool collection of songs and well worth the listen.