MP3s and How They’ve Changed My Buying Habits

When I first started buying music in earnest, it was LPs as the big purchases, with Cassettes as the second choice (and choice for copying music). It was obvious: LPs were permenant, plus at 12″ they came with artwork for a cover and the ability to pick and choose which tracks you wanted to play. Cassettes were small and convenient for copying other’s LPs with, but could easily be broken and had the aura of tackiness (some of the layouts of the period didn’t help). And I bought plenty of both, especially since Cassettes were the main salvo of local groups putting out their Magnum Opuses.

Then I watched as LPs were eventually cast aside, first by Cassettes (turned out the portability was a big plus, with the expansion of car cassette players and walkmen, plus they started putting effort in the Cassette releases including different mixes and extra cuts), then by CDs. Cassettes had their glory days, but soon had disappeared from everything except garage sales and eBay. And I shifted with the tides, buying Cassettes between the “death” of the LP and finally giving in to the CD craze in 1992.

I still have plenty of CDs that I bought in the nineties and early oughts, both pop and classical (had a classical phase in time for Classical to die out on the radio).

Then came mp3s. I dipped my toe in them at first (did Napster once before Metallica crushed them), then eventually embracd them. Why not – they cost almost nothing, space-wise, and the iPod takes up the same amount of space no matter how much you have packed into it (and how much space, in GBytes, that the thing has).

And now for CDs, Cassettes and LPs? I found that now I have to justify their purchase in some way. Either I can’t get them via an mp3 form, or they’re a band that I’d feel stupid buying in an mp3 format, or some other reason.

Note that I’m still buying music. After all, I still believe in supporting the acts. It’s the physical item that I find hard to swallow anymore. Especially when they cost so much (compared to MP3s, even when paid for) and you can’t sell them at the record store anymore (because there’s no more record stores anymore).

Okay, So It’s My Birthday…Here’s Volly Number 3, I Guess.

(whoops! this is being published late)

Well, on January 1st, I panned the past year with the thought: “Let’s Not Speak of 2009.”
On January 20th, I looked at the present and responded to Obama’s 1st full year in office.
Now, since it’s my birthday, time to look towards the future.

But first, something from my past…

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I remember when I was 29 that I had a vision of my life during my 44th winter. It was me walking through New York City nearly naked during a blizzard (at least shoeless) for miles and miles up those overbuilt streets and feeling nothing…and making it to my apartment. Safe and sound, though still a bit loopy in the head.

Well, I just made it through my 44th winter. And while I haven’t been back in NYC since 2002, I’ve heard all the stories about the megasnowstorms up and down the East Coast so I’m sure NYC got an ungody amount of snow. I just got over probably the worst cold/flu I suffered since my pneumonia bout, so the fever part came through. And the loopy part…let’s just say I’ve just spent six years overfocused on my finances, to the detriment of everything else in my life.

So while the big picture had NOTHING with my life, I can honestly say the details were all there. I won’t say I saw my future back then, but I definitely saw something that had the details in place. The whole was a lie, but the truth was definitely in the details.

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Of course, it could have been a view of my life had I continued on the trajectory I was at the time:

I’m 44 years old, single and losing it. I think I’m in NYC – or somewhere more interesting than where I am, and I’m so poor I can’t afford a coat or anything warm to make it through the winter. So I try sheer body heat. Maybe I succeed, but then who knows…maybe my goal is to die and go to the light. I just know I’m walking a long distance and it’s snowing and cold and I’m underdressed and I don’t notice it.

And the dream turns out to be a warning of what COULD happen. Something to avoid, in other words.

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Now it’s interesting that I have been able to say “no” when I’ve needed to, though to be honest “no” when needed is nothing new when you’re sick and your job allows you to take the occasional date off when needed/sort-of-wanted. And I have other things I want to do which would require saying “no” without an immediate “responsibility” coming up.

However, there IS an issue of how much time I have. I remember Xmas and New Years with me looking into the future with fear and fright; now I don’t see much different going on until the 2010 elections, then…something happens, which I don’t have any idea of. I just sense that I don’t want to know what it is.

I’m probably afraid to see what it is. Whatever it is, I get the impression that it will be irreversible and damaging to what the American Way Of Life ™ has been all these years. And I get the idea that stuff not taken care of before then will cause severe troubles for those with unfinished issues.

Anyway, have a good year. As much as can be had, anyway….

Dissecting “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon

Ever since December 1972-January 1973, people have been trying to piece together the meaning of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” The problem is that everyone wants to know WHO the song is about, as if everything in that song is so straightforward that all that’s needed is the final clue to know what it’s about.

I would suggest instead that maybe people pay attention to the chorus. It brings out a definite color to the words, and gives meanings that have been missed for many years.

(but then, I’ve been way off before. I took one word that was meant to be a filler word, took it as intended and totally misread the lyrics; so take this blog with however much salt you feel safe with).

(Note: All lyrics come off the song page on The Official Carly Simon Website)

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf – it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner

If you notice, it’s about a guy who seems very much focused with impressions. His focus on his entrance, his dress, the scent (or is that color) of his scarf, his movements; everything calculated to impress. He even thinks that he’s impressing the girls, as well. (or, if we’re talking with Geffin, with the guys and Carly Simon felt the need to edit so that everyone could understand her).

Then we come upon the chorus (yeah, I transferred the “and” from the verse to the chorus):

and….
You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

And the songwriter is smirking. At the guy.

The song isn’t about HIM, it’s about WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT HIMSELF. We don’t know if the guy was actually a dud, but from the above verse, it’s obvious the guy’s a bit too taken with himself. And the song’s about that. Not Him, but what he thinks about himself.

On to the next verse:

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
and that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee and….(chorus)

Was this some boy she dated for a while in the past? Warren Beatty (who WOULD wear an apricot scarf and know how to Gavotte)? David Crosby? David Geffin? Some guy who thinks that if he writes enough lovesick letters that he’ll win this woman? Her father, maybe (remove “you said that we made such a pretty pair” and you have the picture of someone whose ambition led him to give away everything for the sake of success. Include the line, and you have a record of her parent’s divorce, maybe?)? Herself?

Of course, she’s always said this was a composite, although it’s likely that she used one person as the main inspiration for the song and sprinkled other people’s foibles into the mix to make things harder.

Next, the third verse:

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all of the time
And when you’re not you’re with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend, and…. (chorus)

This reminds me of Charles Bukowski’s self-characterization – Better than everyone else, and thus deserving his good luck. Granted, Charles made no attempts at self-aggrandization; indeed part of his pose was that he knew himself and kept to his strengths: Finding jobs when he needed them, always good with the ladies who saw underneath his exterior, smart with the horses (and knowing that horses were the best way to gamble), no nonsense with his poetry, loved his drink, had good taste in various things he could afford, and lived to write (of course, the guy worked for the USPS so he was able to do all this without the constant seeking of work that would have wore him down in truth). Add in the idea of always being at the right place at the right time (unless you chose to do something else), and you have the perfect self-image of someone who thinks everything about thmselves.

Hence, again, my thought that the chorus skewers the subject of the song by basically saying “What you think of yourself is SOO mock-worthy.”

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That, of course, would leave the question of WHOM Carly’s talking about up in the air, but it would make for the possibility that the guy was some small-potatoes person who thought of himself as more than he was. Not exactly uncommon.