Not many journalists write from their own perspective, and very few articles are printed with their personal emotion.
Jim Walsh is an exception. When he started writing about music and culture in 1988, the writer and musician from Minneapolis took that rule and threw it out the window
“You want to be artful with it, you want to be thoughtful with it and you want to be intellectual with it — as well as heartfelt,” Walsh said. “You have to have enough guts to write from the heart and know you’re going to get punched in the face maybe for it.”
Walsh thinks writing thoughtfully and honestly is essential. Music has the power to create connections and emotions, so he tries to do the same.
“I think if there’s anything cheesy about my writing, it’s a constant attempt at being as hopeful and optimistic and liberating as the music itself,” Walsh said.
Walsh mastered his craft while writing for the Minnesota Daily, City Pages, The Pioneer Press, MinnPost and the Southwest Journal, among other publications.
So when the idea for an anthology of his columns and articles arose, it wasn’t long before “Bar Yarns and Manic Depressive Mix Tapes” was born.
The book features personal thoughts on the freedom and joy within U2’s “Beautiful Day,” the significance of blasting Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” during Barack Obama’s inauguration, and the timelessness and power of a Bruce Springsteen show.
“For some people, live music is a social thing. For me, it’s soul food,” Walsh said.
Walsh finished and published the book. Then Prince died in April.
To Walsh, Prince Rogers Nelson was like a brother. The author, who saw Prince’s first show at Sam’s and his last show at Paisley Park, immediately started looking through archives to compile his history of the Minnesotan legend.
“He’s my age, and he died,” Walsh said. “What if these stories die with me?”
He put together “Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ’90s” — a collection of stories from his time covering The Purple One — in about a month. The book was published in January.
The book’s stories range from discussions of spirituality in swivel chairs to 4 a.m. performances and private conversations at the artist’s “laboratory” in Chanhassen.
“I was fevered putting it together,” Walsh said. “These were nights I spent with him, and interviews I did with him and things he said that I think people will find interesting and history should be aware of. I’m really glad it exists.”
Walsh’s career has been, in part, translating music’s impact on life onto paper. Now, some of that history is bound together within these two books.
“Music is timeless and writing is timeless,” Walsh said. “It’s a once in a lifetime moment that you’re trying to capture as a scribe. That’s the gig.”
What: Meet local author Jim Walsh, a reading and signing
When: Wednesday Feb. 22 at 4 p.m.
Where: University of Minnesota Bookstore at Coffman Union, 300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis