My P2P Adventure

I love to download music.

There, I admit it.  I’m not a recovering P2P-aholic, I’m a binger.  And Monday night I binged.

You see I’ve got a list of about twenty five things I always search for in my P2P application.  And, at least once a week, I fire up the app to see if I can find them.  And Monday, I did.  I got Wendy Waldman’s "Sundown", from her third album.  I haven’t heard it in THIRTY YEARS!  Sure, sure, I could buy the newly-released CD…  But there’s a guy on Amazon bitching that each and every one of these re-releases is cut SO LOW that they shouldn’t be bought.  Here, I’ll quote him:

"So I was thrilled to see all Wendy Waldman’s albums get reissued on CD. But the sound on all of em is TERRIBLE. The levels are so low…gotta crank up the stereo to hear anything. what’s up with that? So so disappointing."

So, I’m not about to drop all those bucks.  I’d rather have an original ripped from the vinyl.  But what was noteworthy was, THE GUY I TOOK IT FROM HAD A FAST CONNECTION!  So I looked inside his hard drive.

Same deal with the guy who had the new Dolly Parsons album.  And the one with the obscure tracks from Al Kooper’s "Easy Does It" (hey, I own it on vinyl Al, and I felt ripped off THEN, so don’t ask me to buy it AGAIN!)

You see P2P isn’t only track to track.  You get to peek inside the COLLECTION of another person.  And take what you like.

I took 81 tracks.

Here are some of the highlights:

"Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend"
T-Bone Burnett

Best thing T-Bone’s ever cut.  Makes you believe all the hype.  The laconic way he sings it, like he’s sat in Texas so long getting drunk that all he can think of is making music, RESONATES with the listener.  Like your best friend knocked on your door just shy of midnight and started to regale you with his adventures.

"LSD Commercial"
Country Joe and the Fish

"Now if you’re tired or a bit run down
Can’t seem to get your feet off the ground
Maybe you oughta try a little bit of LSD"

I haven’t heard this since the sixties.  "I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die" was one of the first albums I ever listened to on headphones.  Most people prefer the band’s first record with "Sweet Lorraine", but I always loved this one.

"Suitcase"
Badfinger

Completely forgotten, in retrospect a classic band.  It’s not only "Day After Day".  I LOVE "Perfection".  And, NEVER forget they wrote "Without You".  The day Mariah Carey writes ONE song as good as this one she covered for a hit is the day I believe she’s a major talent.

"The Modern Alchemist"
Blodwyn Pig

I already have "See My Way" and "Dear Jill".  True classics you can now only hear on XM.  Sure, Mick Abrahams’ half of Jethro Tull wasn’t as inspired as Ian Anderson’s, but "Ahead Rings Out" is collection-worthy.

"Ice Cream For Crow"
Captain Beefheart

All these years later, the Captain sounds MAINSTREAM!

"Eight Miles High"
Chris Hillman

Who even knew he cut it?  The mandolin is mixed way up high, the harmonies are perfect, and with Hillman’s next door neighbor vocal instead of McGuinn’s nasality, you can listen again.

"Blues For Billy Whitecloud"
David Ackles

Did you buy "American Gothic"?  Based on the reviews?
Took me a couple of plays to get into it.  I’ve still got the vinyl, but I haven’t listened to it in thirty years.

"The Jealous Kind"
Delbert McClinton

Oh, I bought this album after I’d broken up with a girlfriend and was drinking too much.  He doesn’t quite live up to the rep, but there’s SOMETHING in his voice.  And, if you’ve never heard "Sandy Beaches", you’re in for a treat (and I found a LIVE version of that P2P!)

"Tigers Will Survive"
Ian Matthews

How many times did I see this album in the store and never buy it?  I’ve never even HEARD this track.

"Let It Be Me"
Karla Bonoff & J.D. Souther

LIVE!  This is what the majors don’t understand.  We fans LIVE for this shit.  Don’t dole it out in bits and pieces, give it ALL to us.  Fuck all this rap about the dying album, a true fan wants EVERYTHING!  It’s only the CASUAL fan who cherry-picks.  Used to be everybody was a fan.  Now, video games are more important than music.

"Prince Of Peace"
Leon Russell

Also live.  Was this on "Leon Live"?  That three album set I played once?  God, was that a rip-off.  But just one track all these years later resonates.  Buy Leon’s very first album, with his take on "Delta Lady".  It even tops Joe Cocker’s cover.  It’s almost Spector-esque.  With everything but the kitchen sink thrown in.

"Sitting By The Window"
Moby Grape

You’ll be stunned how good this sounds all these years later.  Despite the hype, Moby Grape WAS really talented.

"Girlfriend"
Modern Lovers

I LOVED that first album, with "Pablo Picasso".

"Lady Jane"
Rotary Connection

Talk about a forgotten band!  You do know that Maya Rudolph, from "Saturday Night Live", is Minnie Riperton’s daughter, right?

"Working On The Road"
Ten Years After

Admit it.  You got fucked up and listened to Ten Years After.  The best album was "Cricklewood Green", but "Ssssh" was listenable too…

"Stephanie Says"
Velvet Underground

Nobody bought the albums back then, but VU’s work has lasted longer than all the bands that sold millions.

"Crimson and Clover"
Dolly Parton

I read a great review of Dolly’s new album, "Those Were The Days", in the "Wall Street Journal".  They singled this track out as the apotheosis.  Actually, "Me and Bobby McGhee" is better.  I took that one too.  Along with, well, I got the whole ALBUM!  I was never going to buy this record.  But, I’ve got a newfound appreciation for Dolly ever since I downloaded her cover of Collective Soul’s "Shine" from an earlier album.  It’s pretty widely available P2P.  And, if you dig that, be sure to take the LIVE version from Letterman, performed on 1/30/01.

The major labels are history.  Nobody even CARES anymore.  They’ve gone from protecting intellectual property to protecting their BUSINESS!  Yes, it’s a death spiral.  I don’t know if they could have survived, but by squandering the opportunity of new technology, by not realizing that the game had irrevocably changed, they’ve turned into TiVo.  A company so busy playing along with the powers-that-be that it was left behind.  The future comes, as time moves inexorably forward.  If you think I’m about to destroy all my MP3s, delete my P2P app from my hard drive, you’re fucking NUTS!  It’s not about stealing.  Hell, I can get all this stuff for free (except for that which is unavailable at ANY PRICE!)  But, by time I send an e-mail, and wait for the FedEx, I’m no longer interested, the mood has passed.  That’s what music is all about, mood.  What sounded great ten minutes ago, what interested you yesterday, sounds positively AWFUL right now.  It just doesn’t square with how you feel.

We live in an instant society.  At a giant smorgasbord of entertainment.  Isn’t it funny while record companies are holding their product back, television producers are jamming it down our throats in all kinds of incarnations.  Not only are there downloads, and deliveries on demand, you turn on the damn box and you’re confronted with 300 channels!  Asking us to go back to the CD model is like asking us to go back to three networks!

My life has been enriched by my downloads.  Hearing stuff I never knew existed, that I wasn’t going to buy at any price.

That’s the way it is today.  You can deny it, but it’s reality.

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

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