S-Town

I am an avid podcast admirer. Something about the medium really speaks to me. Whether it be the intimacy of conversation or the simplicity of audio only interface, podcasts and I just click. I have written at large about Podcasts in the past, so i’ll direct you there if you’d like a little more podcast history.

Recently, I re-experienced ‘Serial Season 1,’ a stellar Podcast from the people at “This American Life.” ‘Serial’ revolves around the mysterious death of a young teenager, with her ex boyfriend, Adnon Syed, as the main suspect. Throughout ‘Serial’ we are privileged with speaking to Adnon from prison and hear his side of this amazing story.

Serial was a fascinating cultural phenomenon, though. Before its release, I dare to say podcasts weren’t on the mainstream radar. Maybe a few of us lonely 3rd shift workers (at the time I worked for Home Depot, 3rd shift) but for the most part, podcasts were an unknown medium. But then Serial, and boom! Podcasts started garnering mass market attention and here we go. Corporate America took notice.

Right around the time my re-listen to ‘Serial’ ended, This American Life announced a new Podcast entitled: “S-TOWN.” They would release ‘S-Town’ all at once, all 7 episodes from the start. I was intrigued, but to be quite honest I wasn’t holding my breath for a masterpiece.

I’ll be up front about it, ‘S-Town’ isn’t a masterpiece by any means. It does however have all the ingredients for something special. There were moments of shock, awe and complete disbelief. Not the murder mystery ‘Serial’ is, ‘S-Town’ is its own breed.

You will meet a man named John B. McLemore, a quite obvious genius. As the story went: John B calls ‘This American Life’ to come investigate what he thinks is an unpunished murder in a small town in Bibb County, Alabama. That gets you in the door. But, ‘S-Town’ is so much more than words could express.

It won’t be long before your completely entangled in John B’s rants on current world issues, the shortcomings of a youthful generation and his complete disdain for his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama. Brian Reed is reporting for ‘This American Life’ and I couldn’t help but connect with so much of his thoughts and opinions as he navigates through this small Alabama town and deepens himself into this unique and bizarre world.

I have so many thoughts and conflicted ideas about how I’m supposed to feel about S-Town, John B. McLemore, Bibb County residents and the story that unfolds. Thats a very foreign feeling for me. Usually I have a decent hold on a piece of art I experienced. S-Town is different though, mainly because so much of it rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn’t stop listening. It was engrossing to hear John B’s total hatred for his home, but how he felt so connected to the people and surroundings, he just can’t bring himself to leave.

Check it out if you like podcasts. S-Town progresses like a novel. The character of interest, John B, will stamp a lifetime place in your mind. I constantly find myself thinking about him, his actions words and his tireless contempt for his local surroundings and the world itself. He uses vulgarity far more than I am comfortable listening to, but some of his words rang so true, It was hard to turn away.

As uncertain I am about John B. McLemore and S-Town, I know for a fact they will create a unique escapism for listeners. S-Town is no Serial, but its a worthy listen if you have the time to experience something new and the energy to withstand John B’s rants on pretty much every subject in the entire world.

If you do decide to give it a go, I would love to hear your impressions and thoughts.

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