November 20, 2015

Fuel/Friends is 10 years old today (we got the means to make amends)

Ten years: On Josh Ritter, Pearl Jam, and finding my voice

Blue_candles_on_birthday_cake

Homecoming – Josh Ritter

I feel a change in the weather
I feel a change in me…

A decade ago today, I sat at my kitchen table on my pink Dell laptop in my new hometown of suburban Colorado Springs and I started writing a new blogspot called “I Am Fuel, You Are Friends,” named after a favorite Pearl Jam song. I never thought more than a handful of people would read it, but I had things I wanted to say that were withering in the silence of my kitchen.

And so I decided to write. For me, for music, for you, even though I didn’t know you yet.

Days are getting shorter
and the birds begin to leave
Even me, yes yes y’all
who has been so long alone
I’m headed home
headed home…

It’s ten years (and almost ten million pageviews?!) later, and I am so far now from where I was then. You’ve all been the best part of that long road, hands down. These last few weeks as the leaves change in Colorado, I’ve been listening to a lot of the new Josh Ritter album, Sermon On The Rocks. The parts of life that were withering ten years ago are growing in golden and full. The lyrics throughout this post are from his perfect song of homecoming, which has become my anthem in this season.

Lift the valley from the floor honey
little town into the sky
they’ll say that it’s a miracle
and you’ll know damn well they’re right…

Yesterday morning as the sun rose, I was driving along under golden branches that line my street and listening to Josh Ritter sing about his homecoming. I realized that this has been a sweet season for me of coming somewhat unexpectedly to a home within myself. I know Josh has been through similarly rough seas in the last few years, and this record is one where we both sing along to the idea of seeing land, of finding home.

I realized with a start that this is what I wished for a decade ago when I named this blog, even though I didn’t know it yet: Will myself to find a home, a home within myself; we will find a way. All of a sudden, I realized I’d found it — and I’d found it in the gratitude, in refusing to abandon wonder.

Nights are getting colder now
the air is getting crisp
I first tasted the universe on a night like this

So, I’m writing this from a different kitchen table, in a different house, and I am aware of how full it is to bursting. Full with the sound of clocks ticking from different rooms tracking the avalanche of a gift of moments. I hear the coffee pot whooshing quietly and the baseboard heaters gently clinking as they fill my house with warmth, with comfort. This morning I sat in the glowing dawn and stroked the still-soft cheek of my twelve year old son who is getting bigger every minute, I realized the overwhelming sweetness of living every moment as if it is the last time you get to do it. I wondered what the last time was that I picked him up and held him in my arms before he got too big.

I feel a change in the weather; I feel a change in me.


I also want tell you about how this has been a year of reconciliation for me, because I think it’s important to suture up hurts from old wounds and letting them heal. In March I was in Buenos Aires to visit a university program there and I found myself in the company of a wonderful human named Fede who has been reading this blog since back in 2006–almost the very beginning. He first found me through a Google search on Pearl Jam lyrics, and after almost a decade of following my meanderings from a different continent, he welcomed me to his city as more of a longtime friend than a tourist.

As we walked around that vibrant, gorgeous city of Buenos Aires that expansive Saturday, we kept talking about Pearl Jam, each knowing all the same details before the other person even finished the beginning of the sentence. We mused about specific live renditions of songs, the precise date of our first times seeing the band (11/4/95 and 10/25/2005, respectively) and what the first song they played at that show was, Ten Club Christmas singles album art, and the relative merits of their different drummers. We both remembered what Stone and Jeff were wearing in that picture Rolling Stone published during the Department of Justice hearings over Ticketmaster (pink button-down, backwards hat, dopey looks).

Drive east of Eden
’til we’d start to feel the west
we were never far from nowhere
you could see it from the edge…

Maybe it was just the liminality inherent in travel, but that was a wide-open day of different perspective for me. We sat at a cafe by the river and the conversation drifted towards the topic of anger in the world in general. “I don’t believe in anger anymore,” Fede mused in his soft voice. “I don’t know the point of it.”

I confess, you guys: I’ve been darkly angry and hurt for years about the falling out I had with Pearl Jam (or more accurately their management). It’s been years of letting a little sharp hard pebble of being wronged sit in my gut and burrow in and fester. At the time that all happened, I felt justified in my indignation because I really believed that fan enthusiasm was valuable and inherently good, and mine felt rejected — sealed with a legal cease and desist order. And that stunk. I felt small and maltreated in some other substantial areas of my life too at that point, and so the whole Pearl Jam debacle just got tangled up in the stinging sandstorm.

But I started thinking about Fede’s comments about anger as we walked, and the futility of it all, especially as we get older. As both of us ate helado and glowed to talk about the songs that we have both flowered up towards for so long, I remembered all the reasons why I loved Pearl Jam in the first place, the fervent and pure sentiments that made me want to name this blog after their song lyrics. They have played a huge role in my life, in my formation, in my musical raison d’être. And so in one very specific moment this spring, walking down a narrow Buenos Aires street, I decided to reconcile with Pearl Jam. I’ve carried that pebble of indignation around long enough, I don’t even recognize it anymore.

Fede and I made plans for me to find a copy of Cameron Crowe’s PJ20 documentary once I got back to Colorado (since I hadn’t seen it), and to watch together on FaceTime with a bottle of red wine each. As we watched the documentary, all my synapses blissed out. I was reminded of who I had been. I sang all the words, and remembered songs I hadn’t thought of in years. It may have been the entire bottle of Argentinian Malbec in me, but towards the end I cried.

The reconciliation, the homecoming, felt really good.


I’m winding up new posts on this blog (after we share the last couple of wonderful chapel sessions) and I don’t want to go out with jagged edges; I don’t want to go out with any part small and bitter. I’ve found more connection and open-hearted joy and insight through the process of writing this blog for the last ten years than I ever could have imagined. I found my voice here (in a million important ways), and I feel profoundly fortunate to have gotten to share music that I love with you. We’ve been illuminated together, I hope — stars against the dark of cynicism.

Fuel/Friends gave me the means, and now the amends have been made. The fiery gyre that I felt chewing up my insides a decade ago, as my big, bright thoughts about music fell silent into the abyss, has ceased– and been replaced by a flourishing community of flesh-and-blood people that I tend to talk to more with my voice these days instead of my keystrokes. I may write every now and then in the future, but I feel like the time when I needed it is more distant every day, and I’m turning inward, coming home to myself.

Would you leave me a comment if you have a story about your engagement with Fuel/Friends from these last ten years that I don’t know? Writing into the ether is liberating and lovely, and also often anonymous. Some of my most worthwhile moments of the last decade have been connecting with all the beautiful individual humans who have listened and read along all these years.

I want to say thank you for — igniting things that matter along with me, for collectively recognizing the beauty and magic in music all around us, and for being friends.

It’s OK (Dead Moon cover) – Pearl Jam
“Sing loud ’cause it’s outside / sing loud ’cause you’re still alive.”
Virginia Beach, August 3, 2000

The air is getting colder now
the nights are getting crisp

I first tasted the universe on a night like this


shows_ive_seenStay tuned for information about the final Fuel/Friends Chapel Session recording, which you are all invited to, and the Fuel/Friends Last Waltz concert that night — bringing together as many chapel session alums as want to make the journey out to Colorado. Let’s try to find a time and do this right.

ritter-sermon

69 Comments »

  • Hi Heather….been a reader since near the beginning…can’t remember how I first found your blog, but your passion for the music has kept me engaged over the years. I think you’ve probably introduced me to at least a dozen artists I don’t know that I would have found otherwise. One cold, lonely day in January of 2007 you posted about a band I had never heard of before….the Avett Brothers….specifically “If it’s the Beaches”. I was hooked on them from that point on, and I’ve spread my love for them to my wife, my brother, my friends, my family….we’ve seen them up and down the East Coast, and last year me, my wife, my brother and four other friends made the pilgrimage out to RedRocks and saw two of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen. Thanks for that, and everything else….looking forward to the next 10 years!

    Tom — November 20, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

  • Hi Heather. I’ve been with you from the start, when music blogs were the way that we learnt about all that was new and interesting. Yours is the only blog I read now, both for your writing style and musical insight. My music collection is littered with Fuel/Friends playlists. You have introduced me to so much – Bridge School benefit, Josh Ritter, Pearl Jam’s Betterman with the Wallmer School Choir, Nada Surf’s “See these Bones”, your change of seasons playlists, and so much more. You taught me the power of a well constructed playlist.
    We share the joy of good music played live.
    Good luck wherever the road takes you. I’ll miss you and I’ll always be thankful of what you shared. We’ve never met but I feel I know you.
    Cheers.

    Terry — November 20, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

  • Heather -

    Well. I don’t know what to say. At all. I’m deeply aware that I have no adequate words to thank you for your words, your kindness, your deep sense of humanity.

    I started reading your blog in 2008? Maybe 2009. I knew I loved music, I knew I was deeply affected by certain songs – I remember listening to The Wolves (Act I and II) on repeat most of that winter. But I didn’t know what to do with that love, with that energy. Your writing, chapel sessions, and later, meeting you, your kindness – changed the course of my life.

    Without Fuel/Friends (and a few other blogs, many of which I believe were inspired by you), I never would have started writing Music Means Family. I never would have gone to 108 concerts in 2012. I never would have started hosting house shows myself. I never would have found a voice and a spirit that has carried me for much of my adult life.

    While there is a part of me that is heartbroken thinking of a world without Fuel/Friends, there is a much larger part of me that is heartened by this post, knowing that this process you embarked on ten years ago has come full circle. I’m deeply grateful to know you, and to know that you have found your way home.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

    I’ll see you in Colorado Springs in the spring. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

    David

    David Kolen — November 20, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  • Hi Heather! I discovered this blog probably 5/6 years ago now. I had started using the (now defunct) Songbird music player, and had bookmarked a bunch of different blogs to try to discover music through (mostly through clicking through those links on the right hand side of every blog saying “other blogs you should look at”). What quickly became clear was that I could rely on liking every single song/playlist/album you posted. Which I found astonishing given how diverse and different everybody’s musical tastes are – I have frequent, passionate debates with all of my most well-matched musical friends – and no other blog or service has provided such a consistent stream of gems. Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for the many years of 99%-reliable recommendations! Especially Typhoon. I love those guys. :)

    Chris — November 20, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

  • Heather, thank you. Your beautiful writing, your passion for the music, and the artists, has kept me coming back for years now. The music blogs I bookmarked ages ago are so often dead now or dying. I tried to start one and found I just couldn’t generate enough content to keep it interesting. It’s not easy. But you did a great job. You exposed me to so many new artists.And that translated into sales for them as I gobbled up their catalogs.

    We’ve missed your posts and we’ll always miss the enthusiasm you brought. I tried to like many bands because you had obviously seen something in them. Some I got. Some I didn’t. But because you liked them I gave them a listen.

    Thanks for all the hard work and letting us go along for the ride.
    We’ll miss this place you created.
    Cheers

    Roy — November 20, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

  • Hi Heather,
    I’ve been reading your blog for six or seven years now, since a music critic for Westword (I forget his name now) came and spoke to my media studies class in college. He recommended your blog and I literally started reading right there in the middle of class.

    Five years ago you gave away tickets to a Josh Ritter concert, and I was on the receiving end for his Ogden show because I emailed you my favorite lyrics from “Kathleen.” I went with my then-boyfriend, and had a near-religious experience when Josh sang “In the Dark” well…in the dark. I’m now married to the guy I brought to the concert with me, and “Kathleen” is still the song we sing to each other whenever it comes on.

    I first heard so many of my favorite songs right here on Fuel/Friends, and still constantly listen to your mixes. Thank you so much for giving me the music that ushered me into adulthood. It has meant so much.

    Jenna — November 20, 2015 @ 6:48 pm

  • Heather, this is a beautiful post. I’ve been following your blog for 6 or 7 years now, and you’ve introduced me to some of the bands and songs that have come to represent huge shifts in my own life.

    In the glimpses you’ve given us behind the music and into your life, I’ve been impressed by your courage, your creativity, and your genuine joy in life. Thank you for sharing that with us a well as the music.

    Beth — November 20, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

  • Ah, Heather. You’re just the best.

    I remember e-mailing you about Danny Malone’s cover of “Sadie,” by Joanna Newsom–and my thrill when you featured it on F/F. (It’s a miracle that I remembered “Danny Malone” right now–really–the 50 yo brain is a sieve–so that remembering also testifies to significance.)

    I found F/F while googling blogs that featured The National. Be still, my heart. I think I’ve been following along since ’07 or so. Definitely by ’08. I have a playlist in my iTunes library called “Last Mix Tape of 2009″ that includes Fyfe Dangerfield’s “When You Walk Into a Room,” Dead Man’s Bones’s “My Body’s a Zombie for You . . .,” Will Hoge’s “Even if it Breaks your Heart,” and Jason Anderson’s “July 4, 2004.”

    Sparks . . .

    F/F introduced me to Fanfarlo, Roman Candle, The Head and the Heart, Of Monsters and Men, Vetiver, Hey, Rosetta, the Tallest Man on Earth–whose new record is . . . wow! . . . Sagres (whoa). I could go on and on.

    I love this part.

    And the Christmas mixes–we’ve burned ALL to CD–and now of course can “just” stream them.

    I also absolutely love that my boys, especially (and even) my 17 yo, sing loudly along with many, many tunes that made their way to me via you. And now to them.

    I’m not alone among your commenters to remark upon the synchronicity and serendipity of finding someone whose musical tastes dovetail so beautifully with one’s own.

    And your words, your musings. “Mark the music,” said the Bard. And you have, so well.

    I hold out hope that the universe will bring us face to face some time, some place, some table, some wine, some music.

    Thank you.

    Ann Walker Phillips — November 20, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

  • Heather,
    I’ve forgotten how long I’ve been reading the blob, must be 7 or 8 years by now. I’ve always enjoyed your writing and your uncanny ability to introduce me to artists I love. Your seasonal mixes stand like signposts in my own life. It took me a while to truly understand your own reasons for the blog, and it was hard to watch you go through some challenging times. I’m so glad you’ve reached a point where the blog isn’t needed – although I will miss it terribly. All the best!!

    S — November 20, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

  • Six years ago I sent you the first fruits of a decade long project on which I had embarked. Shortly there after I was sitting at work looking at the phone on my desk ringing with some Colorado phone number. It wasn’t my cell phone, rather it was my work desk phone. The phone that never rang. In fact, I wasn’t even sure it was plugged in before then. Figuring it was an errant call, I almost let it ring. However, something said I should answer it and on the other end was “Hi, this is Heather from Fuel/Friends.”

    I remember spending close to an hour talking about music like we weren’t even strangers. To some degree, we weren’t. I had been following your writing and recommendations for years before that call. You were as sincere on the phone, off the cuff, as every post I had read. To this day, it is one of the kindest things anyone has done to me. Frequently I am reminded of that call and I return to thinking about all the steps you must have taken in order to reach me. A couple google searches, navigating some byzantine automated phone directory, and having the guts to call out of the blue.

    In Chronicles, Vol 1, Bob Dylan talks about a moment in his early career where he was playing in some busy, bustling lobby and feeling completely swallowed up and invisible to all the passersby. In an instant, Gorgeous George, a famous wrestler at the time, came storming through the doors. As he passed by Dylan he winked at him and mouthed to him “You’re making it come alive.” Dylan claims that that moment of recognition and encouragement was all he needed to keep going for years to come. That phone call is my Gorgeous George moment.

    Thank you for all your words. You are fuel. We are friends.

    Eric — November 20, 2015 @ 8:07 pm

  • Okay, for starters, does spring mean late March 2016? I was already planning a trip to CO then that I was going to bug you about soon. But back to business.

    You know this story well, but if it weren’t for this blog I wouldn’t have met you. So there’s that. But before that, you put voice to my feelings about all the music that shaped my adolescence. I started reading in 2006 when I was a high school junior. I remember there was a point when the URL changed and I got super confused with all my bookmarks(.blogspot.com to regular .com?). I remember finding new music here, but more than that, finding meaning in that music, familiar or not. But, when I finally got up the guts to let my study abroad advisor now that I was actually a huge fangirl and ask her to listen to my radio show, I did not expect the real you to have such a welcoming and full heart. You are so generous with your time, your words, your honesty. If it weren’t for this blog, your passion for music, and your unique ability to bring together amazing, talented people – I wouldn’t have had some of the best nights of my life. Sharing a beer on my 21st birthday with Wes from the Lumineers and then dancing the night away to their show/These United States. Staying up until 1 am talking about religion & the South with the Tyler Lyle crew. Chili in your kitchen with Cataldo. That Head & the Heart house show on a snowy night at CC that left everyone in tears. Those nights were a few of many in your life, but you were what made those things possible for me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Also, I’m on the waiting list for your memoir someday.
    –Katie

    Katie — November 20, 2015 @ 8:45 pm

  • Hey Heather,

    I first became aware of Fuel/Friends via your posts at RyanAdams.org (later, AltCountry.org). I’ve always enjoyed the passion you put into your posts. I hope you will stick around. The web will just not be the same without Fuel/Friends.

    Jonathan — November 20, 2015 @ 10:14 pm

  • Heather:

    Been with you since nearly the beginning. I think I originally found you through a PJ forum post.

    This blog, your voice, has been my best source of cool music and musical writing for the last decade. I cannot count how many artists I first discovered here. In a world saturated with mediocre music, I could always count on you to reveal the true bright spots out there. With the demise of most music blogs, yours included, I find myself listening to less and less new music.

    You were my personal musical editor, and you were GREAT at it.

    But you asked for stories, so let me share one. In 2011, when my son was just 3, I was pretty indiscriminate with what I played in the car to and from daycare — no kids songs! Very quickly he had some favorites that he would ask for A LOT. Here’s a snippet of that playlist…

    Aloe Blacc, I Need A Dollar (Spilling our Ice Cubes On the Lawn, Summer 2011 mix)

    The Head and The Heart, Lost in My Mind. Probably from your Sasquatch write-up or your house show write-up.

    Macklemore, Can’t Hold Us — My son was raising his hands in the car YEARS before the rest of the country b/c of you.

    Those are just 3 of many.

    I want to write more. I want to think of other ways to say thanks. I don’t feel like this little entry begins to convey the depth of my gratitude.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    -Steve

    Steve — November 20, 2015 @ 10:23 pm

  • Heather,

    I have been an avid reader of your blog for the past three years or so. Fuel/Friends sparked my love for folk and Americana music. I remember spending countless hours at the library reading this blog instead of working on my term papers while I was in college down in New Orleans. Procrastination well spent. I have since graduated and moved to Northern Montana, where I now have my own radio show called “This Side of Canada” on KNMC 90.1! I play mostly alt-country and oldies, and I interview local musicians when I get the chance. Unfortunately we don’t have online streaming capabilities yet, but feel free to check out the Facebook page; I try to post my playlists during the show.

    https://facebook.com/ThisSideOfCanada

    Thank you again for your introducing me to so many artists over these past few years. Your writing has truly been an inspiration.

    Michelle Van Meter — November 20, 2015 @ 10:58 pm

  • Hi Heather
    I don’t quite recall how I stumbled across Fuel/Friends, but what I do know is that I have since bored friends, family and colleagues senseless by mentioning it and recommending it so often.

    I live in England, and your blog has given me an insight into the music that I love, the like of which we don’t breed over here. You’ve brought me the likes of Pickwick, Typhoon, The Head & The Heart… many, many more.

    This post genuinely brought a tear to my eye. I’m glad that the blog has offered you resolution and happiness; I imagine it’s also given that to many people like me, too. I am personally distraught that you will be winding up the blog, I will miss your insight, your recommendations and your gift for heartfelt, prosaic writing. It seems a suitably apt time to tell you that I’ll also miss your wonderful winter mixes, the sounds of which have marked my Christmases for years.

    Thank you for bringing new music, new sounds & new experiences into my world; it’s been richer for reading your blog.

    Toby

    Toby — November 21, 2015 @ 2:02 am

  • Heather,
    I’ve absolutely loved your blog and have always recommended it to anyone I’ve ever found with great musical taste like ours:)
    I can’t remember exactly how I first found you but I think it was probably back in ’07 or ’08, around the time those Jeff Buckley NYC tapes were discovered and all us JB fans were super excited by the leak!
    Then I found you shared my love for Wilco too, and you so often insightfully described my exact feelings about those beloved favourites.
    You introduced me to so many new artists I fell in love with, I always put your summer mix tapes on to CD to play in my car, which was extra nice because it was winter in New Zealand.
    Whenever I ‘discovered’ a new and amazing musician I would check your posts or sidebar and of course you would not only be well aware of them, but good friends of and probably had them playing in your living room!!
    God, I really wanted to be you;)
    So anyway, thanks for everything you’ve shared here, it’s been appreciated on this side of the world too.
    xox
    Kristan

    kristan — November 21, 2015 @ 3:33 am

  • Heather,

    thanks for everything. Especially for introducing me to Small Houses, I even drove to Switzerland this summer to see him play in Zurich (from southern Germany, but still). I will miss this blog very much.
    Allt he best from Friesenried
    Bernicz

    Bernicz — November 21, 2015 @ 5:02 am

  • Heather, I was worried something had happened to you as you had not posted anything for a long time. Glad you are in a good place. Thanks very much for the great music you have introduced me too (e.g. Strand of Oaks who I was fortunate to go and see in a pub in London). I saw Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats in Birmingham, UK a few weeks ago because of your enthusiastic review of their live gig. I think it’s down to you I got into Nathaniel Rateliff in the first place. I will miss your blog. Good luck from your friend Phil in Northampton England.

    phil — November 21, 2015 @ 6:48 am

  • I moved to Nicaragua six years ago to do humanitarian aid work, and ran into fuel/friends at about the same time. Walking with people as they search for hope, I’ve been in need of a lot of hope myself – more than I ever thought.

    The music you shared gave me courage. (I remember the first time I heard Sigh No More, it felt like coming out of a coma.) So if I’ve managed give someone a hand in finding hope, you played a part. Thanks.

    Luke — November 21, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  • Heather,
    I’ve only been following this blog for a few years now, but is has become so important to me. Reading your blog helped me find my voice, and helped me form words to describe all the music that has left me speechless. I’ve contacted you a few times in the past year to thank you for your wonderful Chapel Sessions- Gregory Alan Isakov’s will always stand out, but so many of them are constantly revisited.
    This summer at Eaux Claires, as I was singing with Sam Amidon’s choir, I turned around and saw you standing there, and just as I was about to approach you, a few other people did, and it made me realize how big and important this music community you created is. It felt special to know I was experiencing some of the same musical moments with you, and when you wrote about the festival in the following weeks, your words brought me to tears. The words you conjure up to describe these moments are so heartfelt and honest, and I can’t thank you enough for that. Thank you for all you do, for all you share, and for all you create.

    Laura — November 21, 2015 @ 9:45 am

  • All the love from your Scottish sister in Jesse Malin b-sides. Your solidarity as a fellow female traveler in the world of music criticism has always been appreciated, and even when I didn’t love the music I always loved the writing.

    I’m not surprised to read that the blog is winding down but hey – that’s the beauty of RSS. I’ll always know whenever you have something to say.

    Until we finally meet..!

    Lis x

    last year's girl — November 21, 2015 @ 10:52 am

  • I remember that Joe pug was sold out in Denver. I reached out to his management, in desperation, to see if they had any tickets. They said no, but there was a secret house-show. I showed up and this boy was marking people as they came in: you could get an X on your hand, or he could write his name. I met Joe that night. And I’ve met other great friends at subsequent shows. Thanks for that!

    Jon jon — November 21, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  • I am a relatively new reader – I found Fuel/Friends in August 2014 after I saw The Head and the Heart at Red Rocks and proceeded to scour the internet for all the live recordings and videos of them I could find. Imagine my dismay when I learned of the show they played with The Lumineers at Moe’s – only a couple miles from where I was living at the time. I would pay a lot of money to travel back in time to tell myself to go to that show! And I can’t even wrap my brain around how awesome those house shows were.

    My love of live music started when I was stopped in my tracks by the television commercial for the movie Closer playing The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice. I immediately purchased tickets to his next show in Minneapolis and he sparked something in me that I’m so thankful for.

    The National is one of my favorite bands and I was also at the September 2013 Red Rocks show. I remember reading your post with that quote about how it feels like Matt Berninger crawls inside of our heads, and I thought it was such a peculiar statement but also exactly true!

    Because of you I saw Shakey Graves perform at Ivywild. What a night! I saw you post about the show and bought the tickets without telling my husband (I do that more than I should) and he was initially not happy about commuting to and from Colorado Springs on a work night, but of course we had an amazing time and now it’s one of our favorite memories. When I saw Shakey again at Red Rocks this summer I kept imaging a direct line coming from his guitar right into my heart – pumping it up as though I were the Grinch.

    I sometimes struggle with my mental health and music is my refuge and one of the things that helps me keep going. Musicians have such a special way of articulating our battles and through this remind me that I am not alone. Music makes me believe that there is good in this world and helps me cling to the hope that people are inherently good.

    Thank you for this blog and for creating a community that I can feel like I am a small part of.

    XO

    P.S. Gregory Alan Isakov’s cover of The Trapeze Swinger is one of my favorite things ever.

    Tracy — November 21, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

  • Reader since at least 06, and my love for The Head and The Heart is directly due to you. (Thank you, by the way.) “Rivers and Roads” has been one of my favorite songs for years, thanks to you.

    Your seasonal mixes have been playlists for me for years, and I’ve done my best to support the artists whose work I’ve learned about (again) thanks to you.

    Thank you for sharing your passion and intelligence (and good taste) with us.

    Brian — November 21, 2015 @ 10:13 pm

  • Heather,
    I only discovered your blog a short while ago yet I’m so sorry to see you go…….

    It’s been a huge pleasure over the last few years to be introduced to varied and wonderfully new talent. I can’t even begin to list the ear worm wonders you’ve dropped me over these years following Fuel/Friends.

    I’ve grown to love and look forward to the seasonal mixes, and the Chapel Sessions, and I’ve been supporting artists that have really grown on me through these sessions and playlists.

    I can’t thank you enough for your good taste, your passion for these artists and the music they plough.

    Please take care, live well, and enjoy all the time we have left..

    Dave

    DaveK — November 22, 2015 @ 5:44 am

  • Heather,
    It’s funny to feel a connection to someone you haven’t met. Like many above I’ve been following your work since 2006 or so. I’ve checked up on your blog from at least 3 or 4 continents through out the last decade and it’s always been a bit of home for me. Music has that way of centering us to a sense of self and place, and for me being able to access your content and musing from worlds away meant that if I could find an internet connection I could find my way, even for a few short minutes-one article or one streaming song (Ryan Adam’s “Follow the lights” comes to mind).
    I’ve never actually sent an email to you, though I’m sure I’ve started a half dozen, but the writing was cathartic, if unactualized. Until writing that previous sentence I don’t know I would have believed it and I think that speaks to your ability to reach some deep parts of other’s through your candor and creativity and make them feel connected, even if it isn’t so.
    My hope for you is that you’ve found home, but also that home is a moving target in a direction you keep heading.
    Thanks for sharing pieces of you, here, for last handful of years and being a bright spot in the internet mosaic of music culture. It’s been a gift.

    Earl — November 22, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

  • I’ve been following / reading since ~ 2007 and want to thank you for sharing your passion, beautiful writing and impeccable taste with all of us.

    My biggest thank you is for mentioning Gregory Alan Isakov so many years ago. This post (http://www.fuelfriendsblog.com/2009/04/10/gregory-alan-isakov-brandi-carlile-that-moon-song/) led me to listen to That Moon Song on repeat for weeks and then to gobble up everything of his I could find.

    Gratitude for all the rest of it too — my life soundtrack would be entirely different (and lacking) if your blog didn’t exist.

    Sara — November 22, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

  • Heather,

    It is my hope that my story brings you as much joy and fulfillment as your blog has brought to me over the past 8 years of following…

    A month or two back, my girlfriend and I had at the privilege of seeing and meeting Tyler Lyle on a couple of occasions after he had moved to NYC. After one show, I had mentioned that I had discovered his music after stumbling upon the Fuel/Friends blog. Upon hearing this, he immediately smiled and mentioned that you were a dear friend and that he was incredibly grateful for the things you did to help his career…

    In that moment, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly grateful, as well. I’m not sure how many nights were spent staring at my screen in awe of the unbelievable artists you had introduced me too. I’m also not sure how many seasons, fall or winter or summer, were spent with your mixes as soundtracks. And I absolutely couldn’t tell you how many stages of my life were molded by the music that you introduced me to.

    What I can tell you is how you’ll continue to have an impact on my life, despite this blog ending. Within the next couple years, I will officially become the luckiest guy on the planet when I get to marry my girlfriend. I never knew it was possible to love something as much as I love her. Early on in our relationship, we connected with music. Some of the best nights of our lives were spent with music found right here on this blog as inspiration. These are nights I’ll never forget, with music I’ll always remember. Whether it was going to a show or pouring over lyrics or just simply listening – all of that started right here, and I will never forget that.

    It is, for me, bittersweet to see the end of such an amazing project. I cannot explain how happy I am for you to have experienced all of this – the music, the artists, the house shows. Most importantly, I want you to know that you have inspired, have impacted, and have shaped SO many people. I am but one of the many. I wish you nothing but success, fulfillment, and joy…

    “If I never had met you
    You couldn’t have gone
    But then I couldn’t have met you
    We couldn’t have been
    I guess it all adds up
    To joy to the end”

    -Josh Ritter

    Thank you. Thank you so much. – Louie

    Louie B — November 22, 2015 @ 9:41 pm

  • Hi Heather,
    It’s funny to me that the theme of this post is homecoming and making amends. It’s funny because I am from the Springs and yet I never feel more like a stranger than when I am in the city. But for a bright, ever-so-brief moment in Christmas of 2012 (2013?), Colorado Springs became the place I needed it to be. That’s when I met you and some friends to participate in a music video for Night Beds. It was disjointed and awkward, fun and scary, and totally refreshing. I felt protected from the slow slide toward indifference and that was something. Something real.

    For the Chapel Sessions, the wit, the inspiration, teaching me to know Josh Ritter, Typhoon, Lemolo, and Noah Gunderson, the mixes (the perfect mixes!): thank you so very much.

    More importantly, thank you for the voice you had the courage to share with this blog and with me.

    Shawn — November 22, 2015 @ 10:07 pm

  • Heather,

    Je vais essayer de ne pas faire trop de fautes… ;)
    I’ve just searched in the archive section to find out when I first came here. I knew with your recent post about Springsteen’s Main Point show that it was more than 8 yars ago. Now i would say it was in the summer of 2006. But I still can’t remember how I came here.
    What is sure is that I found music I loved and even more important, music I’d be happy to discover.
    I can’t tell how many bands I had never heard about and heard for the first time here. Of course, one of them is Josh Ritter (“Snow is gone”live from Vicar Street, maybe). I even saw him live for his first time in Paris, with Glen Hansard, a few years later (at Le Bataclan, known for so sad reasons lately).
    It would be interesting to find out what part comes from you in the music of my computer, ipod and every way I’m using to listen to music.
    Even if I’m already too long, I’d like to say a word about the magic of it, as we are so many miles distant (or kilometers for me), using a different language…
    Merci Heather et à bientôt à Paris.

    Fabrice — November 23, 2015 @ 2:53 am

  • Heather,

    Thank you. Your blog was with me from the start of 6th form to now. 8 years later. Chapel sessions boiled music down to exactly what it needed to be. I remember getting so excited about them, it’s going to be a bittersweet listening experience with these last few.

    Your posts, some how manage to give me that sensation in my eyes where they’re on the brink of welling up, but then they just stay there and make it hard to read sometimes, and I thank you for that.

    You’ve been with me from Wales, to the US and back, all over, to Milan where I currently sit, and you’ll be with me when I get home.

    Thank you, all the best.

    Jake

    Jake — November 23, 2015 @ 8:02 am

  • Heather,

    I remember finding your blog through a blog about children’s music back in March, 2006 (I cannot even find it – is it still out there??) where you posted a lullaby album that I had done similarly, which we shared.

    I have looked forward to your insightful words and outstanding mixes ever since. I have most of your mixes on my hard drive and the only reason I probably don’t have all of them is neglect on my part. I’ve included more songs of yours than I care to admit on mixes that I’ve given to others and passed them off as my own. Your blog has always been somewhere to come and feel a closeness to music that I only otherwise feel when I am at a small concert venue, in a independent record store, or a close friend that cannot stop talking about their newest favorite song/band. I cannot count the amount of songs I have fallen in love with because of your enamored words. When I confess to friends where I stumbled across some new piece of music, I usually have to correct myself from saying: “My friend Heather….”, because that’s always how it’s felt coming here and sharing a conversation about music like it’s some Cameron Crowe – Nick Hornby exchange.

    I hope the music continues to move you the way you have moved others with the music.

    Steve

    Steve — November 23, 2015 @ 9:46 am

  • I can’t remember exactly when or how I found this blog but I can speak to the profound effect it had on me and still continually does.

    For too long a period of time I had no real identity of my own. I was so desperate not to be seen as anything different or controversial, that I formed all my opinions and tastes based on what others liked or what was “in” But, as is often the case with growing up eventually I found myself looking for something else, something that wasn’t just amiable and agreeable but would be mine and I found that in music and partially (but not insignificantly) because of this blog.

    So many new artists I picked up. So many new songs. So many new stories and characters that I could see myself in and still be able to say Im not defined by this or that. Suddenly I was bringing something new to he table whether it was one of the seasonal mixes from here (GOD, I miss those) or just being able to talk about the amazing talents of unknown singers like Tyler Lyle or Pitchfork who owned a piece of my heart with their first couple lines and tunes.

    My small little top 40 world was revealed to me to be only an island not a continent and I a free traveler allowed to go forth and learn and listen and grow from different cultures, climates and sounds. I stopped worrying about what everyone else liked and started asking myself What I liked? and once I started asking myself that question about music I soon found myself applying it to every aspect of my life.

    I grow and change like the songs on the radio and yet i still hear myself in older tracks that speak to that person I once was. I realize now that we can always be, at least partially, the person we were, the person we are, and the one we still haven’t gotten too. Life is like artistry it changes as we do. I also learned that we’re never alone. In our stories, in our tastes, in our experiences. We’re all bonded through this great gift of music and this great platform that you created that allowed us a place to find camaraderie and friendships.

    So thanks Heather; for the stories, suggestions, experiences and mixes. They’ve meant a lot and still do

    Trevor Newman — November 23, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

  • Heather
    Thanks for all the delight you’ve given to me, and I assume others. I’ve been with you since near the start. For a long time the daily music check was you and Said the Gramophone. Thanks for the bands, thanks for the songs, thanks for the honest writing.
    Whereever you go from here, enjoy yer kid, enjoy yer life, you deserve the payback…

    J — November 23, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

  • Wow, there is so much (greatly deserved) love out there for Heather as I read through these comments that maybe mine will seem small and insignificant. But that’s what blogging is about I guess, not worrying about what will happen with your post, but just getting the release of putting it ‘out there’.

    I started following Fuel / Friends around 4-5 years ago in a dreary office when my life was in total turmoil and we were struggling as a family in many ways. I discovered music that I would never have heard since I am in South Africa, where radio stations do not play these types of music. Many are now my favourite artists – Gregory Alan Isakov, The Head and the Heart, Typhoon, Tyler Lyle… and many others.
    I still rate Rivers and Roads as the best Chapel recording EVER – those closing moments that echo so beautifully are best heard at full volume while driving towards the mountains…

    Like you Heather (and I am sure, many others), music has given me strength to overcome, persevere and reach beyond, so life has turned around. I now work from a home office in an inspirational place and the music keeps me company all the time.

    I am not sure what I will do at the loss of a second favourite music blog in as many years, but will have to take the advice and life lessons offered here in so many heartfelt posts over the years and press on.

    You will be sorely missed, but the posts and music will stay with us, and for that especially, we thank you. As they say in Zulu here where I live, Hamba Kahle (go well).

    Anton — November 23, 2015 @ 11:18 pm

  • You know how some odd moments stick with you years later? I still remember being at a party 6ish years ago and hearing a stripped down version of “November Blue” (it was on the wind-down list). I had been singing that song for YEARS hoping to finally find a version like that, and at last I had come across it. I ran over to the shuffling ipod and wrote down “Fuel/Friends version”, determined to look up whatever Fuel/Friends was.

    I followed the blog vehemently from then on, and on the 2012 Summer mix I heard a song that would stick with me for years – “Hello My Old Heart”. The journey of a heart finally opening up after hard times resonated deeply with me. Enough so, actually, that I apparently talked about it with my then-girlfriend quite a bit, because when I finally proposed, she revealed that she had already been secretly and hopefully choreographing our first dance to it. It was crazy stupid magical, and I would never have heard it if not for you. Thanks!!!!

    Erik Bobbitt — November 24, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  • Heather,

    I found your blog many years ago searching for Pete Yorn cover songs… lo and behold, a link of a link led me to you. I immediately bookmarked F/F, and have checked in regularly ever since. I must say, that your blog always seemed to hit the mark with important events in my life. The birth of my daughter, death of my father, etc. There is a song from this blog that I link my emotions with. I can only say thank you. The music posted here let me express what I could not. I will miss the discovery of music and artists, but I understand that people need to move on. I am not ready to let go, but I will. Thanks.

    Orly

    Orly A. — November 25, 2015 @ 5:19 pm

  • I have been reading your blog for almost eight (!!) years. I discovered it in college when I had all the time in the world to find music that filled my soul. I would spend hours diving into the back-log of entries and discovered so much music that suits my particular love of heart melting song-writing and acoustic sounds. Reading your blog I always felt that you were my long lost music twin. More than once I came to your site and found the perfect song that matched a particular season of my life. I also discovered so many artists that have become a part of the rhythms of my days/weeks/months. You have a knack for finding musicians who are connected to their humanity in a way that makes us all feel a little bit less alone in the world. Thank you for all of the work and dedication you put into making this a safe, connecting, beauty seeking destination.

    Jenny — November 25, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

  • Heather,

    I don’t recall how I stumbled across your blog. A few years ago I went through a digital music hoarding phase – trying to locate and download as many free quality recordings on the internet as possible. Daytrotter continues to be a weakness, though over time I’ve become more discriminating and I don’t obsess over needing to have my own digitized recording of Dr. Dog or Titus Andronicus.

    As I trolled through your blog for the first time a few years ago and followed it over time, some of the recordings you’ve shared have become dear to me. The Head and The Heart performing “Rivers and Roads,” Nathaniel Rateliff covering Townes Van Zandt, and my personal favorite: Gregory Alan Isakov’s sublime version of “The Trapeze Swinger.” These are specific recordings that I return to often. Thank you for them. Also, like you, I’m a fan of Josh Ritter. His songs are pure and his live performances are an ecstatic experience of humanity at its most glorious.

    I’ve appreciated your writing and your personal mission to share your experiences, both of personal life and in the music which has deeply affected you. I wish you the best.

    -Paul

    PS: In a weird cosmic confluence of fate, it turns out my daughter is dating the first cousin of Nathaniel Rateliff. I was able to meet him when he was opening solo on a recent Gregory Alan Isakov tour which made its way through St. Louis. Super nice guy. Not that that’s important, I just appreciate the syncronicity of it all.

    Paul — November 26, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

  • I’ve been reading and listening to this blog for the last 6 years, maybe more. I am sad that you are wrapping it up but sounds like you are at peace with your decision and I wish you nothing but the very best.

    Keep on rocking Heather.

    Bijan Sabet — November 27, 2015 @ 4:28 am

  • Heather,

    Been reading since the very beginning. We had a few email exchanges, and I remember very clearly the NPR story on “bloggers” in which you were clearly featured. Thanks for the great music, but more importantly, for being yourself. You’ve never shied from talking about the realities and ups and downs of your personal life, and it’s made what is often a cold reading experience a more engaged, warm, personal thing. Though we’ve never met, I feel like I know you.

    Best..

    JEFF — November 27, 2015 @ 8:04 am

  • I first discovered your blog around 2006, looking for some PJ covers. Discovered lots of other great music from you, and really loved your writing and watching you evolve this into so much more than a blog. Good luck with your next chapter.

    Daryn — November 27, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

  • Hi Heather,
    I have left the link open for a week trying to form the perfect comment. All I can say on my and my sisters’ behalf is thank you for your wonderful writing introducing us to innumerable artists which then snowballed into great concert and festival experiences we wouldn’t have sought otherwise. We’ve missed you this past while and will happily follow whenever/however you decide to move forward. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Phoebe — November 28, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  • Heather–I found your blog in late 2005 or early 2006 while my now exhusband was deployed to Iraq. I spent a lot of time awake at night, looking for distractions on the computer. I am thankful for your blog and the music that you introduced me to. Josh Ritter is just one of the artists that I can directly link to you. Thank you for that introduction!

    Best wishes to you and in all your future endeavors.

    Anne — November 28, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

  • Beyond all the great music I’ve discovered through you:

    Several years ago, when I started a blog called Small Things Stupid Packages, I emailed you and asked for advice. You were SO gracious and supportive. The blog only lasted about 6 months or so but it was a lot of fun. Mostly, it got me through a hard time in my life and I thank you for your help.

    Life’s much better today. My family and I moved to Denver this year and whenever we go to Red Rocks, I keep an eye out for you. Hope I run into you sometime- I’d like to buy you a beer and say thanks in person!

    Brian — November 29, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  • Heather,

    I find myself a little sad but not-at-all surprised to see the wind-down of your blog – which I have been following from the first almost – found initially, I think, as a crossover from the folk community coverlaydown blog. With your characteristic astuteness – you express so beautifully the – why – of the phaseout and that the blog has been the means of the renewal of your life…which is continuing on in other media forms. That is as it should be and I wish you all the best with that continuing process.

    My list of gratitude to you is long and it makes me smile reading all the others. There are new_at_the_time artists to me – Josh Ritter, Ryan Adams, Brion Riborn many more – wonderful lyrics – the art of crafting the playlist (seasonal). Biggest — I am grateful to feel I have learned from you something about writing to express feelings. You helped me through the lowdown of losing my husband. And to top it all off – I even enjoyed some of the books that you had mentioned you liked in the sidebar.

    I would say that your blog has also been an important element of the renewal of my own life over its decade of cyberspace building. I will miss it – but the renewal is well underway.

    Maybe I will even make it to the spring session and say hello – but will always remember your gifts. Thanks so much!

    Susan Hollingshead — November 30, 2015 @ 9:49 am

  • Heather,

    Congrats on 10 years. I haven’t been with you from the very beginning (but close), but discovered your blog looking for Pearl Jam rarities. However, I continued to check in based on your great mixes and music discoveries. Some memorable first hears for me include Elliot Morris (putting out the best Counting Crows album of 2006), the Alternate Routes and the Lumineers.

    Thanks again and hope to see more posts from you soon….

    Ben — December 1, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  • Hi Heather.

    I have been following your blog for so long I can hardly remember. This oddly enough is the first time I’ve left a comment though. I’m not usually inclined to do so on blogs for some strange reason. I remember you’re falling out with Pearl Jam years ago. I have had similar issues with the bands management over the years. I run a blog dedicated to sharing every live performance of PJ from 1990 to last week. And I have suffered the same cease and desist letters from their legal team. But at the end of the day it’s the music that keeps me loyal to the band. And I’m glad you were able to rekindle your passion for them.

    Through your blog I have discovered great bits and pieces that have helped shape and develop my musical scrapbook. If it weren’t for you I would never have found The Damnwells all those years ago. Living in Canada we don’t get to hear about great indie bands like that, especially living in a small northern city that isn’t Toronto or Vancouver. I’m also a big fan of the Chapel Sessions series you post, many of those songs and artists would be lost to me if not for your hard work and dedication to this site.

    It has helped me through some dark days that I’m currently living. Battling severe depression, a failing marriage, and suicide have left me a shattered man, but music has and is saving my life. So thank you Heather, hopefully your blog is around for another 10 years and more to come. I will be here to read it.

    Jordan — December 2, 2015 @ 2:44 am

  • Hi Heather,

    I’ve been following along since 2011 (I think, at least!), and I owe so many music memories to you and your site. From Tyler Lyle to Typhoon to Gregory Alan Isakov, you’re the reason I’ve fallen in love with (and gone to see) so many different artists. While I never knew exactly what I would get when listening to a new artist or mix, I did know I would love it all the same.

    Thanks for all that you do and have done — and sorry for not letting you know sooner how much F/F has meant to me.

    Cheers,
    M

    Melissa — December 2, 2015 @ 5:33 pm

  • There are so many things I want to tell you about this amazing place you’ve created. Music soothes my soul in so many ways and I found you and your love for music at a time when my soul needed it most.

    Over the past few years, when I need a reset, I turned to this place and looked/begged/longed for music that would capture the moment I needed to be defined; it was one of heartache and sorrow, but over the years I turned looking for so much more: love, birth, death, hope, renewal, just to name a few. Through you, I have found so many new ways to love music and so many ways to define my own moments.

    Like so many others, I am so grateful that you no longer need this outlet, but it does make me shed a few tears . Thank you for unknowingly being there for me in moments where my soul needed a recharge, through heartbreaks, through the birth of my son, through the hard times of being a single mom, through the discovering of who I am as a person in all its beautiful glory.

    I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but man I am sure grateful for this place and the proof that music truly does connect us all.

    Rebecca — December 3, 2015 @ 10:42 pm

  • Hi Heather,
    Wow. I read this post and was immediately as involved as I always am when you write. As I read on, and saw that you’re coming to an end of sorts, I started saying out loud ‘no, no…no..’ and scrolling back to see if I’d misunderstood.
    Anyway, like everyone else here I am happy for you – such an intimate telling of your life, of your changes, of your moving on, can only be congratulated and cheered.
    I’ve been reading this blog and taking recommendations for about six or seven years. I’ve bought music from so many of the artists you celebrate here (all those lovely cds wending their way slowly to my little village in Ireland), and they’ve become a soundtrack to keep my flame lit even on dark and windy days. I keep going back to your piece about Phosphorescent’s Muchacho De Lujo (about two years ago?) and man, I keep playing that album. Every single time I cry; every single time I sing my heart out; every single time there is redemption.
    You’ve gifted me with The Changing Colors, Typhoon, The Head and the Heart – wow, too many to mention. I will MISS your insight. I will miss your generosity to artists, I will miss those Chapel Sessions.
    I wish every joy for you, and wish that each treasured moment of music you’ve given to all of us be reflected right back.

    Thank you so much.
    Síle

    Síle — December 7, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

  • Hi Heather

    It is so odd that tonight I thought I will look up Fuel For Friends and find that you are ending the journey you started on ten years ago. I found your blog through a Nick Hornby recommendation in The Observer and instantly connected with your passion for music. During a time of damage and pain it linked me to a wonderful purity of expression that reminded me of being young.Your soul just sang out in your words, touching so many readers with that burning desire to share and connect with the world around you. Thank you for writing. Thank you for talking about the passion as Michael Stipe might have said. In the words of the great heartbeat that is Bruce ‘Good Luck , Goodbye’ and ,whenever you hear Clarence’s scorchingly elegiac solo,think of your readers’ respect for you.

    Russell

    Russell — December 8, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

  • Heather! Like many of your readers, I’ve been following your posts for many years. I think I began in earnest in 2006, but maybe it was early 2007.

    There are gazillions of music blogs out there. I’ve read a portion of most of them. Yours has been the one that continues to captivate me. Post after post. It’s not just the generosity of you and the artists for posting the songs to listen to, or download. That surely is appreciated. I know my trips with little or no wifi have left me very thankful for that. It’s not just those seasonal mixes, but man those are killer.

    I will even venture to say that it’s not even the fact that you have helped introduce me to artists that, even in my job as a radio DJ at a pretty cool station, I have overlooked or somehow missed. That’s been great, too.

    No. What I have admired most are your posts themselves. You definitely had a voice from the very beginning. You may have felt like you were working toward it, finding it, or something. But you had it. Your brilliance of writing, the passion, the excitement for what was to come helped reignite a passion in me for discovery.

    Like many people do, I had allowed my life to wander away from that time when I used to wander to the record store simply to comb through the imported 12-inch singles and albums just looking for something that might turn out to be interesting. Reading your blog all these years has kept me thinking about what might be around the next bend, where my next favorite artist may be hiding, or that special song that will mean so much – even if just for that moment in time when I hear it for the very first time.

    Your love of music has been met with the unbridled enthusiasm it deserves. I hope you never take down all the posts and comments that have accumulated. I still go back and read posts at random when I’m just wondering about music. It’s like combing through the record stacks at Home of the Hits in Buffalo in the early 80′s.

    Like those who have posted before me, and those who will likely post after me, I’m sad to see you discontinue the blog. It’s been a source of comfort for me, and I love your insight and enthusiasm for music. I hope you’ll keep sharing it somehow, but I get that maybe it has become a bit of a burden, too.

    Life. We’ve all got a lot of it going on. Just know you have touched us all. You have ignited our passion. You have made a difference.

    Thank you!!

    Chris — December 12, 2015 @ 6:05 am

  • Heather-

    I have been following the blog for a little over seven years now, and have loved the music that you have introduced, the life that you report, and the style you author. So much of the music that my children (7,3) enjoy and ask for has come from you, and for that, I am forever greatful.

    THANK YOU FOR ALL OF IT!

    Oren — December 12, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  • Thanks for sharing your love of music.

    Thomas — December 12, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  • A little more – your posts have introduced me to some music that I probably would not have heard if not for you – thanks.

    Thomas — December 12, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

  • I discovered a lot of great music over the many years reading your Blog. Thank you and much continued success.

    - Jeff

    jeff — December 15, 2015 @ 8:22 am

  • I have to admit that I am sad to think of things wrapping up. You introduced me to a great deal of music that has since become my favorite songs, my favorite bands. Your autumn playlists get played year round, and they are the first things I share with new friends. There is a passage in the Dave Eggers memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius that talks about the need to build a lattice of friends to support you and look after you. Through music you have helped me achieve that. Through music I can talk about my life, and my joys and hardships. Your role in that can not be understated. Other than a sincere thank you, I am not sure there is a way to really express my appreciation. I guess maybe by sharing music with you? If/when you get the time, I would encourage you to listen to 4AM – by Richard Buckner, the album Devotion and Doubt probably my favorite of all. And for something more recent, Kitty Winn, from the new Advance Base album Nephew in the Wild. Combined, the listen will take 8 min and 49 seconds. I am going to go on record and guarantee you will find it a worthwhile investment. I wish you the best in everything. David

    David — December 17, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  • Heather, I came across your blog not long after you started and have subscribed to your RSS feed ever since. I recall it was Pearl Jam that helped me stumble upon the blog, but it was your energy and enthusiasm that kept me reading…and listening. I had recently begun to expand my musical interests after 5 or 6 years of only listening to bands from high school and college. It was fun, but the snarky elitism and detachment from most music criticism was off-putting. Your work and Paste magazine were my refuges from that elitism and I Iearned about many bands from you along the way. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that we populated the Toad list serv together in the mid-90s and I loved reading your interviews and reviews of my favorite singer of the last 10 years–Josh Ritter who, of course, is featured in this post.

    I can understand that it’s time to move on, but as you can see, you’ll be missed! I look forward to any posts and/or mixes you are able to share in the future. Be well!

    And, yes, my name really is…

    Jeremy — December 18, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

  • Found you years ago through PJ. Discovered Josh Ritter, Head and the Heart and many others. My iTunes thanks you!

    J — December 20, 2015 @ 12:36 am

  • Heather,

    I’m sorry to hear you’re wrapping things up with Fuel/Friends. I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve provided to me (and tons of other thoughtful, appreciative readers, if the above comments are any indication). I’m not sure how I discovered the blog, but the Stomp. Clap. Stomp. Clap. mix is the first Fuel/Friends product I recall loving. In going through my Gmail to trace a timeline of my F/F relationship, I realized just how many people I’ve shared that mix with –- it remains one of my favorite mixes of all time.

    You’ve introduced me to the artists who have soundtracked my life for the last five years plus…where would I be without Typhoon, Josh Ritter, Tyler Lyle, Hey Marseilles, Frightened Rabbit (saw my first live FR show the night of a break-up -– terrible, wonderful), The Lumineers, The Head & the Heart, Bon Iver, Walk the Moon (how fun to have been loving their live shows since they played to about 20), Noah Gundersen, Caroline Smith (and on and on and on)? So many of my relationships have been enriched by the music you introduced to me. I can think of stories to accompany all the artists I’ve mentioned, and many more, but I’ll share this one extra-convoluted anecdote:

    You, of course, tipped me off to The Lumineers in the early days, and I shared word of their greatness with my friends. A few of my NYC people hung around four weeks in a row for The Lumineers’ residency at The Living Room, and one night my friends sent me a shitty phone video of the band covering “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).” Some time later, I believe in the summer of 2011, I finally got to see The Lumineers play live at a tiny venue in Fort Collins. When they finished their set without an encore, they apologized for not having any more than one album of songs to play for us. But thanks to that shitty phone video, thanks to my friends, thanks to your blog, I knew better. We shouted for “This Must Be the Place” and Wes was all “Oh yeah! We do know that one!” Getting to hear one of my favorite songs covered by one of my favorite bands (from and in my favorite state) by my direct request is a pretty special something that could never have come about if not for you and your blog, and the way its influence has seeped out into and improved the universe.

    Thanks for improving my universe. New content or not, there’s plenty of fuel in the blog’s ten years to keep me (and my friends) going for a long time to come.

    All the best,
    Mallory

    Mallory — December 23, 2015 @ 11:12 pm

  • Heather,

    I discovered Fuel/Friends one snowy January day about 7 or 8 years ago. That one afternoon exploring, reading, smiling, laughing and crying changed my life. Your mixes are so inspired. Such class. Such grace. I used to take long rides just to listen. So many good songs. So many good stories. I wish you well. My friend in Colorado I haven’t met yet.

    Dave — December 26, 2015 @ 12:14 am

  • Heather,

    A recent transplant to Kentucky, I was introduced to Fuel/Friends by a new co-worker in Summer 2012.

    My wife and I were expecting our second child, while still deeply grieving the loss of our first.

    And your blog. Your blog was salve. It was needed.

    I contacted you a few months later to enter a Josh Ritter Album Club contest. Our daughter Naomi was a four months old by then, and I had danced her to sleep countless times listening to your mixes.

    Mike Clark’s “Smooth Sailin’”, Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” & Edward Sharpe’s “Better Days”.

    “Swim Club” by The Cave Singers, “Late July” by Shakey Graves, and “Must be in a Good Place Now” by Vetiver & Fruit Bats.

    I wore them out.

    Thank you for sharing music and your story with me.

    With all of us.

    I wish you only the best.

    Matt E.

    Matt E. — February 1, 2016 @ 9:27 pm

  • Heather,
    I found this blog about 7 years ago – through hype machine, I think. I have loved your playlists and chapel sessions and they have helped me find new favorite songs, artists, & albums as well as solidifying my love for others. I can’t thank you enough for contributing as much as you have to the soundtrack of my life.
    -Gill

    Gill — March 17, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

  • Hi Heather, I am just seeing this post now because in my FB feed, on this day, was a link I shared with your 2011 Springtime mix. What a great mix, it is. In any case, I believe I stumbled upon your blog via Google way back and thank the heavens I did.

    You have introduced so much meaningful music to me because that is what you post. Music that has meaning and emotion to you and you articulate so well. Sometimes in an esoteric way and sometimes in the simplest ways. And I relate to it.

    So I thank you for spreading your passion, emotions and musings through music by way of I am Fuel, you are Friends…

    michael

    Michael Kim — April 18, 2016 @ 6:16 pm

  • I somehow missed this post in the craziness that was my somewhat selfish and miserable SF existence but I’m glad to be reading it today and thinking about you and your graduation this week and all of the things you’ve accomplished in the time I’ve known you. I still remember what feels like a hundred years ago in Boston, reading a “battle of the songs” of sorts on Dainon’s blog and clicking through to read about his opponent. She was cool and interesting and she liked the Counting Crows with the same unabashed emotions I felt about them. When I weirdly got a job in the place she lived and he offered to put us in touch, I felt like I was going to get to hang out with the head cheerleader. You are wonderful on the internet but you are better in real life and MY real life has benefitted more than you know from the circle you opened for me in C Springs, and the things beyond music that you brought into my world. I love you girl. So much.

    Katie — May 17, 2016 @ 11:02 am

  • I saw Nada Surf last night in Washington, D.C., and of course thought of you because Fuel/Friends introduced me to Nada Surf back in 2008. I completely fell in love with that band and have seen them several times since then, including one unforgettable night in Berlin when we magically were in the same place at the same time in a foreign country. But they were only one of many musical artists I discovered thanks to you, and I thank you so much for your suggestions. I also got the chance to meet you a couple of years ago at a Joe Pug concert, and I still have the picture of you, me and Joe.

    I haven’t monitored your blog as closely I used to–kids going off to college, a marriage failing, and a crazy job all combined to consume me for the past few years. I’m saddened to hear that you will not be writing as much but happy to know that your journey of the past 10 years has led you to a good place. I wish you nothing but warmth, happy days, and prosperity.

    Best,

    Kevin

    Kevin Porter — June 2, 2016 @ 10:36 am

  • I’m still in denial (hence the lapse between your initial announcement and this comment). I’m hopeful something more thoughtful will come someday, as you have had a significant influence over my musical choices the last few years (I can’t even remember how long). But in case that day never comes, THANK YOU — for all the music and the words that expressed what I felt but couldn’t say. Good luck. Come back and see us sometime.
    -David

    David — June 20, 2016 @ 8:32 am

  • Thanks for the music – I wish you well in your future pursuits.

    Thomas — August 7, 2016 @ 3:01 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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