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Throwback Thursday, IV

February 11, 2010

While researching this book, I pore over as many relevant articles as I can.
Every Thursday, I’ll highlight one of the good ones.

Breaking away from the recent trend of posting articles that aren’t very good, this week’s entry is actually, you know, very good.

Mangum hadn’t given an interview in years before this one and only gave a few (if any) after, so it’s significant for that reason alone, but what makes this piece as good as it is is who wrote it. I did not know who Marci Fierman was last week. I still don’t really know who she is. What I learned the other day,* though, is that Fierman met Mangum in a yoga class (and didn’t even know he was a musician) and became friends with him.

I am not friends with Jeff Mangum. I met him once, briefly, and it would surprise me if he remembered me. I have no idea if I’ll ever get the chance to talk to him again, though I’m hoping that I do.

Moreover, I’m not friends with anyone down here, really, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get to that point. But by the time I start doing on-the-record interviews, I hope I’ll be closer to the “friend” end of the spectrum than the “total stranger” end. I’m pursuing this not to fulfill some childish dream of buddying up with some of my favorite artists but because it’s the only method I can conceive of building the trust and comfort requisite for writing the book I want to write.

When a person talks to an interviewer, he or she is ostensibly talking to everyone that interviewer will eventually be writing for: the readership of a magazine or a web site or, in my case, a book. Pretty much everyone is aware of this when they are being interviewed. But still, they are always still talking to an interviewer, literally and otherwise. Given the same audience, a thousand different people could interview the same person a thousand different ways. There are a lot of factors involved (location, medium, types of questions), but one of the most important is comfort level. The more comfortable a subject is with his or her interviewer, the more productive the interview will go. Similarly, the more comfortable an interviewer is with a subject (and, ideally, this comfort has come from actually getting to know this person through real interaction, rather than research via interviews and articles), the more productive it will be.

This is why Fierman’s interview with Mangum goes as well as it does, and more importantly, it’s why it happened in the first place. There’s a reason Mangum stopped doing interviews, and there’s a reason his first in so long was with Fierman.


*I grabbed this bit of info not from an E6er but from an Athenian who has absolutely nothing to do with the E6 beyond being a fan. I’ve talked to a lot of these people already and hope to continue to do so. They have more to offer me than I expected.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Marci permalink
    September 23, 2010 5:37 AM

    Hi Adam, Actually, I first met Jeff at Angie Grass’ house and then kept running into him at Daily Groceries Co-op. We were both big walkers and ended up taking lots of walks together. I knew he was a musician but I figured just like every other person you meet in Athens is a musician. I had never heard his music or heard of his band. We always talked about interests we had in common like Buddhism, meditation, dreams and politics.
    I finally heard his music years after meeting him, when ‘In the Aeroplane’ came out, and was instantly a big fan. I originally asked if he would do a short interview about his trip to Bulgaria and the album he produced of Bulgarian music, but when we started talking he had a lot more on his mind that he wanted to talk about.
    Glad you like the interview – I still love it and am glad he did it, even though he had second thoughts. Good luck with your book and career. M.

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