Matt McHugh
Matt - Blog - September 2006


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'Tunes Screws Moons
September 26, 2006

Little by little, I'm getting more and more into using iTunes. I've had an iPod for about a year and mostly used it to listen to songs from my CD collection (certainly not any ill-gotten Napster gains... no, siree...). Anyway, bit by bit, I've started buying songs, even albums, from iTunes. I recently discovered the "Gift Music" feature--a fantastic function they keep strangely obscure--which has definitely kicked my addiction up a notch. For 99-cents a pop I can force my friends to listen to songs I like... be my own personal podcastin' eJay? Sign me up!

This is all good--except for tonight's experience. I was hunting for "moon"-themed to send to a friend and three solid gold '70's oldies immediately leaped to mind:

  • "Moondance"   -   Van Morrison
  • "Moonlight Feels Right"   -   Starbuck
  • "Dancing in the Moonlight"   -   King Harvest
      (not to be confused with a Thin Lizzy song of the same title)

So guess what? The iTunes Music store has none of the original recordings of these. I couldn't believe it. They have fifteen freakin' versions of "Brown Eyed Girl" (the most overplayed, overrated Van Morrison song), but for "Moondance" there's only a hideous swing band cover and a saxophone instrumental. They have nothing on the King Harvest song, and--worst of all--what seems to be the demo tape of Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right." It's definitely the same group but the recording sounds amateurish, with a chintzy electric piano dominating the mix. Nothing like the hypnotic synth-swoosh of the 1976 hit we all know. Interestingly, iTunes has karaoke versions of the latter two songs that are moderately close to the originals at least musically. So, if you trust your voice, I guess you can get a taste of them as they were.

WTF though? Really. I guess it all comes down to who owns the rights to which recordings and I've heard many other old fogies such as myself complain about iTunes shallow backlist, but still, it irks me. I was so ready to give them my $2.97 for eJay privileges and they blew it.

-- mm

9/11 5
September 11, 2006

On a recent weekend trip to the Poconos, a swath of wooded mountains in a corner of northeast Pennsylvania that--where I come from--is affectionately referred to as "Pennsyltucky," I picked up a freebie magazine called Our Town at a diner. Here's the main image from the cover:

Our Town 9/11 cover

Aside from the few stylistic snickers here (an attempt to copyright "9/11" ? ... the sans-period use of "vs" for versus instead of the currently favored "v." ... the redundancy of "Islamic Muslims"), certainly the blunt polarizing (and snazzy graphics) caught my eye. The editorial the above introduced was essentially a serious of ponderings over why Americans seem reluctant to recognize that the 9/11 attacks and longstanding, ongoing conflicts between the West and Middle East are intrinsically connected to Islam (a point, by the way, I would concur with to a fair degree), however, it was laced with enough factual and philosophical errors--not to mention a lot of "I may be just a good ol' country boy" rhetoric--to make considering it with any depth an odious task.

Still, I have to comment that the fundamental "Us v. Them" posturing, equally popular in Pennsyltucky and Pennsylvania Avenue, does bug me profoundly. The notion that there is some clear enemy to be engaged here, that a lasting resolution is possible by the exertion of might, is simply misguided. Forget the strategic ineptitude of the Bush Administration, the idea that any military solution (short of genocide) will quell half a century's worth of pointed hatred toward Western incursions into the oil-rich, Muslim-dominated Middle East is pretty short-sighted. And the fact that movements in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, etc., etc., have effectively managed to stoke that polarizing hatred into a popular force that can transcend generations-old local animosities just proves to me that Us v. Them posturing works quite well on either side to inure the masses to perpetual conflict. Goose v. Gander, if you will.

I am not so foolhardy (in my quieter, more reflective moments) to say that I know how the very real conflict can be best resolved. I am not so foolish as to think that naively extending the proverbial olive branch has a hope in hell. I am not so complacent as to advocate we reduce our vigilance (perhaps even our pre-emptive vigilance) at this point in history. But I tell you truly, good people, that unilateral victory of Us over Them is not possible. We are irrevocably intertwined with Them and, even if We took it in Our heads to do so, would have a pretty tough time even figuring which of Them to eradicate. At some point, We are going to have to seriously consider what They want and figure out what compromises We are willing to make. Our security? Not something to be compromised. Our unwavering sense of moral rectitude? Well, that one might have to bend a bit at some point.

We shall see. In any case, may you find some peace today.

-- mm

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