You Oughta Know

Do you remember that Flea played the bass part on "You Oughta Know"?

Actually, I’m not the biggest Chili Peppers fan.  I find Anthony rarely sings
on key and their rock/funk sound…well, it’s not exactly my thing.  But I’ve
seen them a couple of times, and when Flea stands there in his diaper,
pulling the notes from his bass, you get the feeling that they’re one, that the
instrument and he have MERGED!  Oh, he’s got his own unique style, where he’s kind of dancing around the melody, with his own peculiar rhythm.  It’s
unmistakable.  And you hear it in "You Oughta Know", it adds an element of DANGER!

I want you to know, that I’m happy for you
I wish nothing but the best for you both

What’s great about these introductory lines is Alanis doesn’t feel this way
AT ALL!!  In an era wherein closure became the cultural norm, wherein you were
supposed to be FRIENDS with your ex, Alanis went on to VENT!  All the anger
she felt about not only being dumped, but REPLACED!

I was hiking deep in the mountains last night listening on my iPod to a smart
playlist of my 200 most played songs in my iTunes library when I heard the
orchestral version of "You Oughta Know" from the Grammys.  I’d just descended
from the peak, the entire Los Angeles basin was laid out beneath me, and it was
as if I was getting a phone call from a friend.  One thing I hate about adults
is they obfuscate, they’re worried about their image.  But when "Jagged
Little Pill" was released, Alanis was only 21, the world was still new to her, she
sang what she felt.  It’s better than any book, you don’t have to imagine
anything, rather it’s about hearing the story and THEN being in a mood.  I was
stunned.  I had to play it AGAIN!

For sixteen weeks straight, movie grosses have been substandard, off from
last year.  Oh, now they’re saying it’s unfair, last year "The Last Temptation Of
Christ" skewed the numbers!  The film business is looking for an EXPLANATION!
 One that will paper over the truth.  Which is the movies suck and the people
know it.

That’s the story.  The MPAA isn’t saying that downloading is killing their
grosses, but make no mistake, the Web, NEW TECHNOLOGY, is hurting their
business.  From the days of P.T. Barnum, the key to show business was WHAT’S BEHIND THE CURTAIN!  Pay your money TO SEE WHAT’S BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

But now everybody knows what’s behind the curtain.  Kids in theatres text
friends to state a movie sucks.  Websites say films suck before they even HIT the
theatre.  Used to be you had to wait til MONDAY to know if you had a hit. 
Now you know FRIDAY NIGHT!  And it’s not only the BUSINESS that knows, it’s the
public too.

Of course, people can spread the word on GOOD STUFF, it’s just that there’s
none of it.  I mean does your dick get hard for "Bewitched"?  Elizabeth
Montgomery radiated this suburban sexuality Nicole Kidman can only DREAM of.  But
we’re not going to see this film, those of us who remember the original series,
it would be SACRILEGIOUS!  And, we’ve lived through trash remakes of "The
Flintstones" and "The Beverly Hillbillies", we KNOW the film can’t be any good.  As
for kids…they don’t remember the original and unless word spreads it’s
FANTASTIC, they’ll stay away.

You see, "Bewitched", which has actually gotten some good reviews, is a
marketing exercise.  It starts with the title/concept.  Then you insure it with
star power.  And, it’s a worldwide business, so you believe these recognition
factors will play overseas, and you’ll make money.  Only this paradigm no longer
works, the public is burned out, movies don’t even REPRESENT what they used
to.  They’re lame thrill rides at best, they’ve got no SOUL!  But studios don’t
want to make soulful pictures, because inherently the audience will be
LIMITED!  They won’t play overseas.  They’ll appeal to kids not adults, or vice

The same philosophy has been employed in the music business.  By playing to
the grandstand, the cheap seats, the people down front, paying attention, are
now disgusted, they’ve left the building, and no number of LAWSUITS is going to
bring them BACK!

Yes, the major labels are PUNISHING the audience for not liking what they’re
selling.  Not only are they suing them, but copy-protecting discs, as if the
problem is that people want to pirate the music as opposed to NOT WANTING THE
MUSIC AT ALL!  Oh, MAYBE for free, but the tracks aren’t even worth a buck…as
for the entire album, are you KIDDING!

This week Starbucks sold in excess of 61,000 acoustic remakes of "Jagged
Little Pill".  Think about that, it’s RIDICULOUS!  This material has been recut
MORE than once.  There are acoustic versions of all these songs available.  The
album is not even for sale in traditional retail outlets.  Why are people

Because they remember "Jagged Little Pill" as the last hurrah, the last time
they heard something different, INFECTIOUS, on the radio, so HOT that they had
to rush out and buy the album, which they found out was every bit as good as
the single.  They studied the credits, back when they used to follow the
careers of musicians, they were INTO IT!

Think about it.  What have we gotten since "Jagged Little Pill"?

The boy bands.  I don’t want to give them too much shit.  Some of those songs
were FANTASTIC!  I’d rather listen to "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)"
and "I Want It That Way" than ANY System Of A Down or Fifty Cent track.  They
just SOUNDED good, they were EAR-PLEASING, but ultimately meaningless.

The Backstreet Boys were the Four Seasons.  But, after "Big Girls Don’t Cry"
came "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "Satisfaction".  We GREW UP!  There’s been
no growth in the music business, rather it’s become a lowest common
denominator enterprise where Ashlee Simpson is flogged and the fact that people
lip-sync in concert and don’t play an instrument is met with a shrug, as de rigueur,
as irrelevant.

But it’s the MUSIC that’s irrelevant.

And I’m here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It’s not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

The music business is an old girlfriend who not only dumped us, but we don’t
even recognize anymore.  It’s like Mia Farrow in "Crimes and Misdemeanors". 
After revealing her truth to Woody Allen, after the two bond, reveling in their
skewed view of the world, she leaves him for the dashing but vapid Alan Alda.
 Woody’s disgusted.  How could she do this to him?  He can never forgive her.

Furthermore, she’s not coming BACK!

The major labels have abandoned those of us who truly kept them alive.  The
fans.  Who bought not one or two albums a year, but at least that number PER
WEEK, who went to all the shows, who spread the word.  We’re on strike.  We’re
buying almost nothing.  And the younger generation, since they’ve only KNOWN
this lowest common denominator industry, is searching for music elsewhere, on
MySpace, trading files of bands you’ve never HEARD OF!

The major labels have ruined THEIR OWN business.

Oh, they’ll never admit this.

But it’s too late.  They’ve alienated their core, there’s no trust left.  In
an era where information is freely available, their games have been revealed. 
That they’re not interested in art, in soul-fulfillment, but only MONEY! 
They’re constantly swinging for the fences, but without a spray hitter, a
baseball team can’t WIN!

But you don’t have to be George Steinbrenner to have a record company today. 
Everybody’s got the means of production, a computer, and the means of
distribution, the Web.

The ship is unmoored.  It’s never coming back to the dock.  It’s left for
greener pastures.  Where those are, we’re just not exactly sure yet.

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