Jameson Ketchum, host of the Godspeed Podcast and freelance contributor for several alternative publications, has managed to capture a unique side of the entertainment world within the pages of his new autobiographical book, Name Dropping: Seeking Creative Truth through Trendy Altruism and Punk Rock. The work is a fantastic combination of humor and encouragement combined with a sense of growth-through-experience, a storied truth of stories where expectations turn out to be much different from reality.
As a fellow Oregonian who has also experienced coming-of-age in a Baptist Church in the early 2000s, reading the book, there were a number of parallels I identified with: I felt a part of the same well-meaning, misled, very confused tribe that had a lot of spiritual work to do as adults. From Ketchum describing Oregon bands or the Baptist sentiment on subjects like speaking in tongues to “listening to a Christian replacement for mainstream bands,” his anecdotes will be very familiar to children of the Baptist denomination whose caretakers experienced the Satanic Panic.
I haven’t laughed as hard as I did (without guilt) about these subjects as I did when reading Name Dropping. Ketchum’s ability to leverage blatant honesty that others might avoid for fear of embarrassment creates a more intimate experience with the reader, and it allows the reader to plow through chapter after chapter of his stories. Beyond the unique culture of 2000s/2010s Christian youth, he touched on the deconstruction and reconstruction of faith in a way that was non-threatening to the ego. It can be a touchy subject, and it was fascinating to read about how different celebrities and artists he has interviewed in his career felt about the subject. This comes up frequently on Ketchum’s podcast, and being able to read the director’s cut of these interactions is what makes the read worthwhile.
The story the book opens with sounded so familiar I had to check in the storeroom of my brain to find that it was a different perspective on the same incredible experience that Chad Johnson wrote about in One Thousand Risks. These wild stories about spiritual warfare and healings thrill and send chills through your emotions. Ketchum addresses them from more than one side of that three-dimensional cube, and, when recounted in such a real and authentic way, the anecdotes are a reminder of the power of the God I believe in.
If you are part of the same cadre of artists and follow the same music scene, you will feel seen and heard in the body of this book. Ketchum’s ability to relate to the experience of simultaneously being a fan of an artist you get to interview is something that he succeeds at despite the difficulty in relaying that to others. (In those situations, you can make a complete idiot of yourself, but Ketchum owned up to that in a unique way that speaks to his writing style.)
Honestly, I walked away from Name Dropping only to be drawn back into it for the love of the subject matter, its intersection between life, God, and music. Reading Ketchum’s writing was encouraging creatively, and I found myself frequently putting down the book to focus on using it to finish some of my own writing. As a core theme of the book, finding the inspiration to finish what you start creatively resonated heavily with my own interests, and it will for you, too. As a result, it took me longer to finish than I would have liked. And, if that’s the biggest issue with a piece of work, I’ll take that every time.