0. Introduction

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By the grace of some considerable luck and the unendingly astonishing support of a whole lot of people, I’ve been able to work full-time for pretty much my entire adult life as a traveling musician. I write and perform instrumental music and drive around the country more or less all of the time in order to do it. It's unclear whether this is an effect of this peripatetic lifestyle or a cause of it, but most of what I write about is landscape: the vast majority of my music has come directly from thinking hard about what it's like to be a person within a particular geographic situation, or about the ways in which the places we pass through or spend time in might influence who we are and how our lives go – and vice-versa.

On the side for the last few years, I’ve also been collecting interviews, about roughly these same ideas, with people around the country as I travel back and forth across it. Some of these conversations are with close friends of mine, some are with people I’ve admired from a distance for years, and many are with total strangers whose work just happened to interest me. They vary pretty widely in length, tone, and subject matter. A lot are with writers, artists, and musicians, but there are a couple conservationists, scientists, activists, and others in there as well. I found that as I traveled around, I was having all these cool conversations with people about what it was like to live where they lived, and about how the geography around them had shaped their lives and their work. After about five years of that, I realized that it couldn’t hurt to try and document a few of these talks, and around 2015 I started recording them.

I've continued adding to this stack of recorded conversations pretty steadily in the years since then, and recently found that almost three dozen of the things have piled up, all just sitting on my hard drive and making me feel increasingly guilty for not doing anything with them yet. So I’ve finally decided that maybe I’ve been being way too precious about these this whole time. Rather than try something fancy, like a podcast, essay series, audio collage, or anything like that, I thought that maybe I should just type these conservations out and deliver them to you one by one. 

I'm not a great typist and so not unexpectedly, it's been a real pain trying to transcribe these, but it's also been deeply edifying in a certain way. In the middle of any single one of these conversations, they can seem fairly simple and straightforward, but when I looked at them all together, I found they really do seem to say a lot about how we think about, move through, and are changed by the places in our lives. As they gradually make their way out to you, I hope you find that too.


Ben Cosgrove