a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure

11/16/10

Speaking of John Lennon’s haircut, Apple (the computer company) finally made a deal with Apple (the record company) and the entire Beatles catalogue is now on iTunes. Even as one of the world’s biggest Beatle fans, I will go on record to say Apple’s teaser page was a mistake:

Apple.com Main Page November 15_0.jpg

Claiming you’ll “never forget” news that big is kind of crazy, especially given the kind of batshit culture we’re in, but I took it as part of Steve Jobs’ personal love for the band. By the way, I figured it had to be the Beatles announcement because of the “another day” reference… Another Day (1971) was Paul’s first solo song, derided savagely by John on How Do You Sleep? later that year – basically, two geniuses having a spat that ended in reconciliation, a little like the two Apple companies themselves.

But what was the reaction to the Beatles finally coming to iTunes? Unmitigated, cast-iron, vituperative SNARK. You’ve never seen such cockful disdain amongst the digiterati, and surfing the comment sections of articles like this or this show how angry your internet-dominating friends are about it. From “A Bajillion Hits” we get this piece of comedy and the always-too-cool Gawker has an article called Why You’re Too Cool for the Beatles on iTunes, in which they make fun of people who are too cool for it, while also stating why they’re too cool for it.

Before I begin my rant, I’d like to go back to “A Bajillion Hits” and copy, verbatim, their self-description from the site:

BajillionHits.biz is the Internet’s leading social media and tech lifestyle site for influencing influencers with engaging, next-gen strat that’s disrupting the traditional paradigms of innovation… @BajillionHits will help you learn how to win the Internet many times over.

Okay, fine. I’ve had to write paragraphs like this for companies as well. Catchwords, energy-driven text, outside-the-box fetishism, I totally get it. And yes, I also understand all the internet techno-fanboys wanted something “better” from Apple, like “streaming from the cloud” and “iOS 4.2 for the iPad”.

But what is lost is this: the Beatles are exactly what started all of this in the first place. Long before the internet reduced all creative writing, music and art to the word “content”… there were the Beatles, four broke lads living inside themselves, unwittingly erasing the blackboard of modern music and rewriting it with absolutely no musical training.

They weren’t the only ones, of course, but they brought rock music into the realm of art, and indirectly (or directly) spawned almost every band you love today. Either way, they helped make pop music important enough to carry around on… well, your “content” delivery device, be it a Walkman, an iPod, an Android, or the Next Big Thing everyone was waiting for.

Bajillion Hits might be “disrupting paradigms with next-gen strat”, but without the actual creators of beautiful things, all of this tech shit is empty, rare-earth-metal sucking garbage. Without artists, there is nothing to put in the “cloud”, there is nothing to download, there is no reason to get version 4.2 of ANYTHING.

Without “Modern Family”, “Hey Ya”, “Mad Men”, “Inception”, Wilco, Phoenix, “Wall-E”, and the White Album, there is no goddamned reason in the world to own a fucking iPad, or an iPod, or any media delivery mechanism. These internet commenters, with their high dander and seen-it-already boredom, are the definition of spiritual death.

They don’t understand that the Beatles being on iTunes is a big deal to those who aren’t sprinting alongside them, a whole generation of kids who aren’t interested in the dice-roll world of torrenting, and are happy to buy things if they are available and inexpensive. They are the massive part of the market that perhaps Steve Jobs understands, and if the entire decade-long catalog of Beatles songs are now available to them, then maybe it will be the same as when my brother Kent gave me Rubber Soul when I was 11 – a day I will never forget.

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0 thoughts on “a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure

  1. Anne

    I was 13 when the Beatles emerged on US top 40 radio. To say they changed my life is a gross understatement. You are right, Ian: They changed EVERYTHING for my generation and those to follow. Pop music became rock music. The guitar band became the foundation for so much head-rattling amazingness in the decade to follow, it’s a wonder any of us can hear at all today. (“what?”)
    So I was thrilled that on my birthday yesterday, I got such a wonderful, awaited present from iTunes. Haterz to the left, as they say. No room for cynicism or snark on this occasion — for the true music lovers who GET IT.

    Reply
  2. kent

    As much as I like the Beatles, I don’t really listen to them because it’s redundant — I can push play in my brain and hear them any time I want.
    The Beatles coming to ITunes is a non-event. No reflection on their music, more on their pervasiveness. I can love and respect their art, but honestly how many times should we re-buy the same music? I have nearly every album on vinyl, I have the CDs Mom gave me when they came out on the last ‘revolutionary’ media. Is there really anyone that doesn’t have access to their music that wants it?
    Oh and by the way, if you want to hear the Beatles here’s the hierarchy of sound quality:
    1. Vinyl. This is the format it was originally mixed and mastered for. I don’t want to debate analog vs digital, but if you want to know how the music sounded in context, it can’t be beat.
    2. CD. I don’t know which generation of remastered CDs sound best; but in terms of raw resolution, it doesn’t get any better than this.
    3. Flac — already bought the records or CD? Bit torrent the lossless versions. You already bought it, why pay for a format change?
    4. 320 KBS MP3 files. Mostly indistinguishable in double blind tests from uncompressed audio.
    5. iTunes — why give Steve Jobs any more money? Have you READ the license agreement to which you’re acquiescing?

    Reply
  3. jason savage

    hear hear, Ian. let the goat-teed d-bags have their Vampire Weekend (and even that reference is, I’m sure, way past due date).

    Reply
  4. cd

    I am utterly thrilled about this. My dad chucked his albums years ago — but he kept the photos from the White Album, thank god — and we don’t have a CD player. How were my kids going to know the sublime joy of hearing Revolver for the first time? Gawker and their ilk can suck it.

    Reply
  5. Carla Sumka

    I don’t get the big deal on this one, but that’s because I already have every Beatle song I want on CD or Vinyl. I guess it’s just a good marketing vechicle for iTunes to promote their store just before the holidays, but yeah, BFD.

    Reply

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