Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I was driving down The 5 to LA from Oakland today. I stopped at the HWY 58 exit, at the Starbucks, and after ordering and paying, I picked a copy of the new Coldplay album up off of the counter, and turned it around in my hands, checking out the packaging, the song titles, the placement of the FBI warning and label logo.

"Wanna buy that?" The guy making my drink asked.

I sort of laughed.


It was already leaked a couple weeks ago and my friends and I have already heard it, and though it isn't on my iPod, I know it wouldn't take more than an hour to find it and download it in CD quality, but I already know it isn't worth the trouble.

Then I grabbed the new Jakob Dylan and looked it over.

I love Bringing Down The Horse, and I like other Wallflowers stuff. I don't know. I could have bought it right then and there, but I figured I should wait it out. I'm listening on Myspace right now in another browser window. There's no chance I'm picking it up.

When I was a kid a CD purchase was always a big one. I mean, a new one was 17 bucks, that was a couple weeks allowance. I never would buy something unless I was sure. My old CD binder, now probably sitting all dusty in a closet in my parent's house, was full of meaning. I can remember the exact day, the exact store, the anxious rush waiting in line at the counter. Now it is so casual. I have entire discographies from Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, REM, Weezer, Counting Crows, Radiohead, and on and on and on, that I can't even say I really collected, and if my iPod were lost, I'd be bummed, but I'd know it would only cost me a little time to replace all of that.

Hell, my car was broken into this weekend and they didn't even take the CDs in my glove compartment, just brushed them onto the front seat in search of the stereo face-plate that was locked safely in my trunk. For the risk of smashing my window, all they took was a bag of receipts that I had been diligently saving over the course of recording.

When I was a kid, there were only a couple dozen bands that I had to choose from, now there are a couple million. Sure, less people are actually buying music, but maybe that is just because they have so many choices, can find just the right music for them and sink their support into that artist, or maybe it is because after the gates were broken wide open, the flood was mostly of mediocre music, there is just the same amount of great music as before, I think. Cream rises, and all the excess just drives the price down. It doesn't matter, though. Music is free now, unless you really want to show support.

Anyway, I got my coffee and drove only about block down the road and stood in the sun with a bunch of Spanish speaking workers outside a taco stand. I waited for my order and looked at their clothes. A couple of the guys looked like MTV thugs, all urban fashion, dew rags, huge jeans. I wondered if that fashion would have permeated into such a rural farm community without music.

I listened to rough mixes of the album for a while as I got back on the highway, and I shifted between country stations as I climbed up over the grapevine.

There was no traffic getting into the city, and in no time I was walking across those stars in the sidewalk again, and outside the bar, where I could hear the voices roaring to the pulse of the Lakers game, I was told that it was at capacity.

"My friends are in there," I told the guy, "They have a seat for me."


A guy standing beside him, looked at me, and with in all seriousness said, "Hey Man, This is Hollywood."

He walked off, and I laughed as I dialed my phone to let everyone know I'd just be seeing them tomorrow, and headed back up to my sublet, looking at the tourists and the names on the stars.