Add up the million-plus words Glenn McDonald has written in six years for what he demurely calls his "music review column" and you get something far grander--the liner notes to the soundtrack of his life.
McDonald, 33, a Cambridge, Mass., software designer and obsessive assimilator of pop music, is sole proprietor of the War Against Silence (http://www.furia.com), a weekly installment of billowy prose that mixes self-realization and three-chord appreciation.
For 318 consecutive weeks, he has chosen material from his collection (more than 6,200 albums and CDs and counting, none of them freebies) and, splicing in his intensely personal reflections, composes digressive essays in a fashion "High Fidelity" author Nick Hornby would love.
He writes "to settle arguments with myself," he explains, and to better understand his own passion. And he writes to share a gift for describing what moves us about music, occasionally eliciting passionate response. "Sometimes I'll get a burdensome emotional outpouring about how I've seen into people's hearts," he says. "It's just a record review."
Maybe, but not every reviewer:
* Evokes poignant memories of a childhood family vacation as a parallel to the warm performance given by ensemble performers on a Nanci Griffith record.
* Disputes the contention by author-sociologist Neil Postman ("The End of Education") that it requires a higher sensibility to appreciate classical music than pop--then segues into a discussion of an Everclear song.
* Champions underdogs such as L.A.'s Smart Brown Handbag, writing after the band's sixth album: "A career this long, often carried on in thankless obscurity, deserves to have its aesthetic encapsulated."
* Documents an evening playing Tori Amos' "From the Choirgirl Hotel" 10 consecutive times, finally confessing: "All we want is to hear your voice. In our secret lives we dissolve into the sound of it."
His is quite possibly the sparest site on the Internet--no links, no MP3s, no photos, no ads (and no revenue), only words, in a font too small, punctuated at the bottom of the page by a drawing the Harvard graduate did of himself in the days he wore his hair in a Mohawk.
"Many of the bands you've never heard are a lot better than many you have heard," he writes, explaining the principle on which his War was started. "All you have to be is curious."
Kevin Bronson can be reached at email@example.com.