"It seems that to be a fan of The Hold Steady, or at least a guest writer in the quite culty and obsessively—both traits required to be a fan of the band in the first place—enjoyable coffee table book/oral history, The Gospel of The Hold Steady, you have to one, know how you discovered The Hold Steady in the first place and two, know where you saw them first.
"I can relate to that.
"There are bonus points if it was somewhere in Brooklyn near the early part of the century.
"I can’t relate to that.
"The band and their fans by and large—especially those invited to write the interstitial entries that fall between the chronological passages of oral history comprising the book’s framework—also talk about being part of what The Hold Steady considers the Unified Scene.
"That’s more tricky for me.
"So, let’s start with what I can relate to and isn’t tricky for me.
"The pleasure The Hold Steady always brings is there on the pages in both their words and the photos—it’s palpable—and you feel like you’re part of something just by reading what’s in front of you
"My first exposure to The Hold Steady was not a live show, or the music itself. I read a blurb in The New Yorker about them, which I loved. It was something about the literary nature of the writing and something about rock and roll and bars, accompanied by a photo of Craig Finn in a suit. This would have been around 2006—post Separation Sunday, their sophomore album, and pre-Boys and Girls in America, their massive third album—and it was enough for me to become interested in whatever they were up to. I went to the Tower Records downstairs from my office the next day, bought the CD of Separation Sunday, brought it back up to my office, and let her rip.
"And it really ripped."