What would you say is better – karmic-ly speaking? To steal music through illegal downloads or to sell one’s consumer soul for free tunes?
I’m not sure I should be pleased or ashamed, but I’ve just signed up for some free downloads courtesy of Levi’s Pioneer Sessions.
On the one hand, the music is kick ass – current bands like The Kills and She and Him doing retro tunes. On the other hand, I had to give them my email address, so God knows if my inbox is going to start filling up with Levi’s-ad-crap.
Disclaimer: I do not buy, endorse or even wear Levi’s jeans – never been able to find a pair to accommodate my figure. Unless you count that faded, torn pair I inherited from my now ex-brother-in-law. I like to wear those jeans on chilly Sunday afternoons when no one’s around i.e. not for public consumption!
But that seems to be the way things are going – free ain’t really free. Like iTunes’ ‘album only’ songs. Why do you say ‘album only’ when most of the time you can just search the artist and buy his/her song individually. I want ‘I Never’ by Rilo Kiley, not the nine other lame-o songs on the Must Love Dogs soundtrack.
But back to the Pioneer Sessions – I just love that word ‘pioneer’. Like ‘eco-chic’ ‘indie’ or ‘boutique’ (as in ‘boutique ad agency’, ‘boutique label’), ‘pioneer’ is designed to communicate instant credibility – as the dictionary says, “a willingness to accept something as true”. In turn, I, the consumer, will look beyond this banal adspeak and feel an instant connection to these products or labels, because they reflect my values and who I think I am.
Pioneer music conjures up images of Ma Kettle strumming a banjo on the back porch while 20something indie kids in skinny jeans rediscover their supposed roots so they can exploit them later on for commercial purposes. Hey, do you really think Zooey Deschanel and Jason Mraz listen to The Carter Family songbook? Have you tried listening to The Carter Family?
Ah, but my No Logo tendencies are obscuring the fact that the Levi’s tunes are pretty damn good. Of the five songs I’ve downloaded, the soul retro tunes are the best. Raphael Saadiq covers The Spinners’ ‘It’s A Shame’ and John Legend and The Roots cover ‘Our Generation’, originally by a little-known soul singer named Ernie Hines. Soul classics do carry instant authenticity – they age well and they always get your booty moving.
The other bright spot was my beloved Shins covering a Squeeze tune, ‘Goodbye Girl’. The Shins and Squeeze have a lot in common, mainly the ability to make depression sound happy and cheerful.
I will avoid Mr Mraz’s offering at all costs, and I will tell you why. (1) I’ve never liked his folkie-sensitive-acoustic-guy schtick (don’t be fooled, it’s as much schtick as a stand-up comedian in the Poconos); and (2) He has chosen ‘Spirit in the Sky’ as his cover tune. AAAAARGH! BLECH! BLAAAAAH! Please, please, please can we get past this tune? It’s been used in over TWENTY feature films and covered way too many times. With all due respect to Norman Greenbaum, enough already!
There are more tunes to discover, and no doubt I will check them out.
But will I pay a price for feeding my music jones through the false idol of commercialism?
Or will I continue unashamedly to sell out my email inbox for free tunes?
And finally, will Levi’s ever design a jean that flatters my child-bearing hips?