July 17, 2006

"I used to be the tight one/the perfect fit/funny how those compliments can/make you feel so full of it."

That's the precise point in the CD when I realized I had to write a post to give The Dresden Dolls the Althouse seal of approval. I was already completely taken in by the time I got to "Coin Operated Boy," but something about that line made me laugh out loud.

And that website is really nice. Here's their hate mail page. And they're offering up some downloads here.

The singer, Amanda, should remind you of the great Nico, and she also reminds me of the great Val Haynes, whom you may not remember, who sang the lead in a band that Spin Magazine, with the help of Elvis Costello, once selected as the best unsigned band in America. The band -- The Units, AKA Fear of Strangers -- remained unsigned, and that was back around 1980, when you didn't have the internet to let you leap over the obtuseness of idiots.


Gordon Freece said...

Jeez. With all those illiterate oubursts of blind homophobic rage and violent threats, I thought for a moment you'd accidentally linked to DailyKos. But then I noticed the scatological fixation was missing.

I like the responses to the letters:

"We also thought you might like to know that we bite the heads off bats and, occasionally, snort ants."

Dude, I would so totally pay to see a chick with stripey legs snorting ants. Especially one who can punctuate. Is she single?

Wade Garrett said...

Ann, I think you're absolutely correct about the internet delivering us from the obtuseness of idiots. I would never have heard of half of my favorite bands if I hadn't discovered their mp3's on the internet.

On a related note, here is a YouTube clip of Bruce Springsteen pulling Sting out of the crowd to join him on a duet of 'The River,' one of the great coming-of-age songs in all of rock music.


How did this sit in a vault somewhere for 20 years, unreleased? If this was available on VHS, or as part of a concert movie, I can name four people in my nuclear family who would have lined up at the record store the first day it hit the shelves. There are dozens of other great unreleased concert performances on YouTube -- for very little extra work or financial risk, the record labels could have made a fortune selling stuff like this.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wade Garrett said...

Ruth Anne - Thanks, its probably my favorite clip on all of YouTube.

There is a ton of this stuff out there - Bruce singing with Bono, Bono singing with Johnny Cash, Cash singing with Bob Dylan, Dylan singing with Springsteen, you name it, and the public only gets to see it on YouTube. Why don't the record companies release this stuff? Every one of the above-mentioned singers has enough fans that almost any live recording will sell a million copies or more. Who knows how long the Springsteen-Sting footage sat in a can in some warehouse?

Its probably not authorized for internet release, but my attitude is "so what?" If watching that clip leads even one person to purchase a cd or buy a concert ticket, then both the artist and his record company are better off than they would have been otherwise. Where's the harm in releasing this stuff? I for one would pay to see more of it, and I know I'm not the only one!

Ann Althouse said...

One big harm is that the artist doesn't control which versions of things are widely heard. Some performances are better than other. An artist chooses which takes to put on a recording, just like a writer chooses which drafts to use. Picking what not to use is part of authorship.

In fact, I just wrote something here and then deleted it. That was my choice.

Wade Garrett said...

Ann - I generally agree with you, but this isn't quite like an unused draft of a novel. It was an arena rock show that, if I had to guess, 80,000 people saw in person. Almost everybody who has seen it on video has enjoyed it. I don't want to put myself into his head, but I can't imagine that Bruce or Sting or any members of the E-Street Band would feel as if this performance was anything but their best work.

Furthermore, they can take it down off the internet any time they want to. NBC regularly takes its own stuff off the internet, if its use was unauthorized. Springsteen took his songs off of Audiogalaxy and Napster, and he can take them off YouTube if he wants, but he hasn't yet, despite the fact that music magazines (and at least one sportswriter) have written about about his videos on YouTube.

For decades, the argument against bootlegs wasn't that the artists couldn't control access to their work; it was the opposite. The artists had already authored this work and tens of thousands of people had paid to consume it. The worry was that bootleg sales would take away from official sales. However, if you ask most people with an ipod, they will tell you that they bought cds and concert tickets they wouldn't have otherwise bought because they got turned onto some band via the internet. I for one had some Sting cds collecting dust which I have now returned to regular rotation.

If I had to guess, some record company stiffs either couldn't get their act together, or else (mistakenly) thought that its release would somehow jeopardize their other sales. But we know how often the record companies guess right, and its very rare.

Ann Althouse said...

Terry: First, this one may be great, but others surely are not. You made a general point about fans deciding to release things without the artist's approval, and much bad stuff comes out too, sometimes deliberately to ridicule.

Second, the greatest clips might be kept for a concert film, perhaps something already in the works. Maybe this clip would be the showstopping moment, the highlight of a film that would draw people to the theater and make them want to buy the CD. Now, the profitability of the film is changed. The best thing in it is well-known.