You’ve likely guessed it. The header is a reworking of the eponymously titled song Last Night a DJ saved my Life, a monster smash hit in the 80s by Indeep.
The lyrics to the song tell the story of a bored woman at home trying unsuccessfully to get hold of her other half . Then a DJ drops a hot tune on the radio. ‘And if it wasn’t for the music I don’t know what I’d do, yeah’ she says.
She’s revived. Music saves her life, twice over in fact. Because the story goes on to suggest she has an accident. ‘…Last night a DJ saved my life. Last night a DJ saved my life with a song’.
It reached №13 in the UK here being performed on Top of the Pops and №10 and №2 respectively on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, Club Singles chart. Rolling Stone magazine said the song “one of the greatest songs ever written about being a girl, listening to the radio, or any combination of the two”.
But it was up against it. Society was changing in one regard, that is Disco was out giving way to spectrum of new musical forms like Rap and New Romantics. On the other hand crossover for black artists was still a rarity.
The analogy to blogging isn’t so far fetched. I’d been blogging on my own platform since 1997, but in 2005 took the plunge to join blogger.com. Plunge because the idea of writing on someone else’s platform was a philosophical crossing the rubicon. Why would you anyone do that; give content away?
It’s difficult to understand the mindset of the time. Meism trumped ‘We’ — one reason why a book called ‘We the Media’ — by Dan Gillmor was a media sensation; the book every media exec must read.
I couldn’t find full time work and outlets for writing or reporting like The Producer, Blue Print etc were few and far between.
Some years earlier I’d been heralded in the Standard as one of the young Black Brits to watch. But the only thing I was watching was time slipping by with no joy. I was hassling within the hustle. Nada!
Blogger.com became a place to write about journalism that I knew and the world of academia I was entering. Couple of years from starting on viewmag.blogspot.com I posted 501 stories. Looking back that’s madness. 365 days in a year and 501 stories. Whatever happened to days of rest?
This was my passion project, so though I knew I was writing into a black hole, it wasn’t arduous. It was cathartic. Incredibly, it led to people noticing my work from all over the world, and where once I’d be toiling endlessly for a publication to let me tell my story, I could now tell it myself, albeit with no earnings.
Blogging saved my life. And if it wasn’t for the blogging I don’t know what I’d do. Out of the blue, Blogger.com sent me a message saying:
Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.3 score out of (10) in the Technology category of Blogged.com. This is quite an achievement! We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style. Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!! www.blogged.com
I wrote about design, and new writing styles around emerging psychologies whilst building in HTML and CSS websites.
Other strange things followed: awards, invitations to talk about my work etc. Blogging wasn’t just an outlet it was a recording, a repository to store ideas, a time stamp to remember where you were, a lead to something from nothing.
I’ve taught blogging for many years and true enough for the students who went down the rabbit hole they too could use it as a calling card. And then just like the DJ song, society perceptibly shifted. Blogging seemed no longer to be of use.
‘Who here blogs?’ I often ask students year on year. Relatively few raise their hands. Understandably there are other platforms: Facebook, Insta, Twitter, TikTok all vying for our attention and there’s only so many hours in a day.
For me this was a cleaner, more creative canvas and it had a different growing stimulating community. Photos could be bigger and tweets could be embedded into the texts ( given it’s the same company).
I started from zero again.
In 2017 I received an email. It said I’d been picked as one of @Medium top writers in journalism. Lightning can strike twice. I was thrilled and thankful and for the last four years have been featured in their list.
I wrote this as a way of sharing what I did. This week I returned to blogger.com. It still garners hits and I’m relearning that I should cross post though it takes me a tad longer to post on Blogger because of their procedures. But never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Something else, or two. Some of the leading platforms on Medium have requested if I could repost on their titles, thus recrystallising the idea of super sharing.
Today, writing has also become a way of realising the content framework and chapters for an intended book. The next train on the way following podcasts and TikToks appears to be AI. As a medium for expressivity it appears somehow cognitively dissonant.
The whole point of AI is to take away doing and letting the machines take over. Therefore it requires loading the knowledge base with content that can shape the machines output. What also killed off A DJ Saved My Life was the lack of crossover for Black Music.
Now more than ever, that needs addressing. The story and storyteller matter for how they shape narratives and inform audiences. I’m not sure How AI Saved my Life has the equivalence of a mega hit song, but forty years on from a DJ, these are the beats and this is the kinaesthetics of storytelling as demoed by my lad, who last week clinched a place at a top UK dance school.
p.s If you’ve liked the read, drop me a line :)