SoulRide has had another good year, one that I am proud of. 2022 has shown me that the site has a strength of its own, apart from my friends and followers across social media. Vintage Leisure has gained many new followers this year and most of the site’s interactions have come as a result of its own visibility.
Case in point, I have learned an interesting truth about my social media accounts. Very few of the people I have connected with there are regular visitors to my site, as far as I can tell. People on Twitter, for example, are there because they want to see tweets, natch. They seem to care not that many of my tweets are links to my site and to more content than I can fit in a tweet.
By the numbers, readers were referred to my site from Facebook at a rate that was down 38% from last year. Twitter? Where I think I am part of the Old Hollywood community, people who might be interested in a close-up look at a classic film? Down a whopping 56%. Where the numbers are up though is people finding my site through search engines, predominantly of course, Google searches; these referrals are up 160%.
So, I am happy with the fact that Vintage Leisure generates its own power. Something I noticed as the year rolled on that was most pleasing was the number of articles that were read each day. While the total number of visits on a given day may not be particularly high, it seems that readers are spending more time at the site. Many days, anywhere between 30 and 50 articles are being read and that’s pleasing. It indicates that readers are settling in and going from article to article. I like that. The site is now more than ever before an entity unto itself. And beyond that, I’m happy to report that the content on Vintage Leisure is better than it has ever been.
Early in the year, an article on Bing Crosby‘s recorded output in the 1970’s was picked up by the fan club that the Guinness Book calls the world’s longest running, the International Club Crosby. This thorough and lucid study of Crosby’s twilight was published in print in the club’s publication, Bing Magazine. Another all-encompassing piece followed when I featured Jack Jones, perhaps the last great living vocalist from the golden era. Vintage Leisure‘s tradition of honouring great contributors to pop culture while they are still with us was perpetuated by this article that was helped out by Facebook and a Jack Jones group there.
I was prompted by two friends I have made through the socials to bring forth my thoughts on the underrated Frank Sinatra album, Watertown which I did to coincide with this record’s deluxe edition issued in 2022. I was able to tap deep into the story presented on this LP and provide analysis from the perspective of the narrator of the heartbreaking tale. I was so happy to finally honour the late Antônio Carlos Jobim with a piece issued in the summer. I lived and breathed ACJ, bossa nova and Brazil to give life to the story of this man and his music.
Another from the “Before They Go to Meet Houdini” category was my article celebrating the career of Willie Nelson. I spent much time with the red-headed stranger and highlighted what makes him so significant even though I knew I’d have no audience for such an article. The pinnacle may have came with Christmas articles on two films near and dear to me, It’s a Wonderful Life and Diner. With the former, I deconstructed several key scenes and found the significant heart of each of them. I feel like it is not only the most heartfelt but also the finest and most poetic work I have ever done. And I finally spoke about Diner in the only way possible for me – by breaking down the movie scene-by-scene and illuminating the gold to be fund in almost every minute of the film. Again, I never thought this article would reach the masses but I felt I had to report on what this film has meant to me and to pull out all the stops to do it thoroughly. The result is that the definitive exploration of this influential film is found is here at Vintage Leisure.
I am determined to review each of my all-time favourite films; my three favourites, my Top 25 and the other films that I love to watch every year at certain times. In 2022, I finally talked about many of these including Beautiful Girls, The Big Easy, Moon Over Miami, One Night in the Tropics, Tony Rome, Gidget, Bossa Nova, Barefoot in the Park, Sunday in New York and Eddie and the Cruisers.
Articles I wrote more for myself and because I want a record of such things here at my site include those on spaghetti western Johnny Yuma, blaxploitation film Truck Turner, the sub genre of R&B, Quiet storm and Keith Richards’ memoir, Life. And my 5-part series on my 100 favourite songs, Pockets of Bliss, was a particularly arduous but satisfying labour of love. It and my Christmas playlist piece, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, were both articles that were literally years in the making,
2022 brought further collaborations with some of my favourite people. One of my original patrons, Koop Kooper and his Cocktail Nation radio show, again provided me with some of the highlights of my year. Presenting my book recommendations monthly on the show is challenging but rewarding and I am very grateful to my buddy from Sydney. I can highly recommend also subscribing to his Lounge Life Magazine on Filpboard, a mag on which Koop often shares many of my articles. I was thrilled to work again with my fair brother, George Fairbrother of the DEC4 podcast. In 2022, George and I took a virtual Vintage Leisure tour of Memphis and Las Vegas and I had a great time. Stay tuned for more collabs in 2023. In September, I was given the honour of recording a podcast with Miss Donna Loren. It was certainly a highlight of my year to speak with her and her producer and she was gracious enough to let me talk about myself most of the time. Stay tuned for the episode to air in the new year.
And I must take a moment to honour the passing of a wonderful friend, fellow Toronto native and Old Hollywood blogger Patricia Nolan-Hall. Paddy Lee – the Caftan Woman – was a delightful lady and a committed supporter of mine. She passed away in March of 2022 after an illness and she will be missed by not only her family but by her many friends on social media and in the blogosphere. Today if you go to her website – CaftanWoman.com – you will see a link to my latest article though she has been gone now for nine months. I’ll always be grateful.
So, onward into the new year. I hope you’ll follow the website to not miss an article and I have to thank you all for your participation. I have tried to stick to the notion that I would do this whether or not anyone read these pieces – and I would – but it sure is nice to know that my work is resonating with so many of you. Check me out across the socials and follow our page on Facebook at Vintage Leisure. Come on and join me in partying like it’s 1973. May God bless you and yours in 2023.
COUNTRIES: 123, including Belize, Sint Maarten, American Samoa and the Isle of Man.
TOP COUNTRIES: The top four remain – for the third year running – the U.S., Canada, the UK and Australia. Germany, Finland, Ireland and France again are in the top ten joined this year by Brazil and the Netherlands, countries replacing Sweden and Poland.
TOP POSTS OF THE YEAR
10. Check This Out: Gardner McKay From the spring of 2020, you could say that this article is the prime example of what you get from Vintage Leisure. A guy like Gardner McKay is the type of subject we specialize in. There will be those who know him and who will be glad to see him highlighted. Others will have missed him completely and will be fascinated to learn about a cat who was a dude. Check This Out: Gardner McKay has been in the top ten each of the last three years and is Number 7 on this site’s all-time list.
9. King Movies: Live a Little, Love a Little From Elvis Week, summer of 2020, this piece makes its return to my top ten after a year on the outs. I’m thrilled this review is still getting read as the film I feel is a real hidden gem. One of my favourite of his movies, one of the first I ever bought and one of the first King Movie reviews I ever wrote. Near and dear to me in many ways.
8. Red West: One of the Good Ones Something happened this year to this article from Elvis Week, summer of 2017. Through the end of 2020, it had been read only 80 times but by the end of this year – well, here it sits at #8 for the year. This, too, makes me happy. Robert Gene West is a player in Elvis World who is worth writing about and knowing about and I’m glad the word is spreading. He really was one of the good ones.
6. The Ping Girl: The Carole Landis Story One of a clutch of pieces I have offered that tell tales of tragic females gone too soon. Still near and dear to me, Carole was one of the first Vintage Leisure players that I tackled in depth and it was a dramatic experience for me. Number 3 all-time here, this piece and this lady resonate with many. Again, I’m happy to have sent people to the premiere Carole Landis site on the internet through this article.
7. A Leisurely Look @ Jack Lord One of the cornerstones of the website is this profile of a good example of the type of subject we tackle here. The thing I like about this one is the traffic it has driven to the excellent Jack Lord sites that I reference. Those sites deserve visitors. It certainly helps that Jack had such a connection with Elvis Presley. Only nine articles here have been read more than this one.
5. A Leisurely Look @ Shelley Fabares This article is perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise for me. It thrills me to know that many, many people across the ether want to know about this lovely lady. Shelley has vaulted into the upper echelon here in terms of views in only 23 months. This one makes me think that the most accessible and the most thorough look at the career of Shelley Fabares is found right here. This article was my fifth most-read last year, as well.
4. Elvis Week: Blanchard E. Tual – Hero I’m particularly fond of this piece on Memphis lawyer Mr. Tual. Elvis fans the world over seem to want to know about him but perhaps more importantly, they are keen to know the facts of the case of the estate vs. Col. Tom after King’s death. This article, though, is more about Mr. Tual himself and author Alanna Nash who provided me with much of the facts stated therein.
3. The Top Ten Elvis Presley Songs You’ve Never Heard Elvis People no doubt have helped this one into the Number 3 slot this year. I like it, too, that it’s a piece that digs deep into Presley’s amazing catalogue for some deep cuts. Nice too that it sheds some light on the men who wrote these lesser-known songs. I’m still trying to come up with a similarly-themed sequel article but I’m scared it’ll go over like Grease 2 and not The Godfather Part II.
2. Check This Out: Edie Sedgwick Little Edie, still the all-time champ of Vintage Leisure and this article is only 21 months old. She may be an even deeper cut than, say, Jack Lord or Carole Landis but her tale spreads far beyond simple Hollywood lore. I’ll always be proud of being one of Edith’s champions.
The Reputations of Marty Robbins
I used to write the monthly oldies article for Norwood Media’s The Doo-Wop Express radio station’s website. I’ll always be grateful to Mr. Norwood for being one of my first sponsors. I remember when I offered him this article on the man from Glendale, Marty Robbins. After four weeks, he contacted me to report that, sadly, only ONE person had been to his site to read the article. A month later, though, he told me that the numbers had gone through the roof. The same thing happened here at my website. It has only really been since March of 2022 that readership vaulted. Elvis Presley has fans everywhere and people want to read about him. Old Hollywood people want to know about Carole Landis. Where the numbers come from for Marty, though, I don’t know. And this pleases me. People the world over must be searching for info on Robbins and are landing at my site, plain and simple. It’s so organic! I love it. Again I can say that – like with Shelley Fabares, for example – here is a cool dude that you really should know about. People agree and flock to Vintage Leisure to get the skinny. I know that when I search for info on Marty, nobody’s article comes up, only music site results, but people are finding mine. This may mean that here is the best place on the internet to learn about this legend. I love that.