This past Friday I saw Bob Seger at the Civic Center.  (Yes, I know it’s  called something else now, but it’s changed names too many times and now they’re talking about tearing it down, so I’m  sticking with the familiar, thanks.)  Have you ever listened, really listened, to this guy’s music?  Wow.

I am perpetually awed by what a very small number of people  can do with words and chords.  Not chords, even.  Sequences of notes.  How???  How do they do this???  And it’s not as though somebody lucky happens upon a good song once in a blue moon.  Dylan wrote “Like a Rolling Stone” and kept going.

Seriously, how do you write something like that and not say, “Well, that’s one for the ages, now I can catch up on my Netflix queue?”  (Yes, I know there were no Netflix queues in 1965, don’t you ever quit?  Jeez.)

You will be shocked to learn that I play a little trumpet – an instrument that is bombastic,  brassy, and of fairly limited range, who would think?  – and my experience of music playing is sufficient to assure me that I am not one for music writing.   I’m not wired that way, and neither, I suspect, are most people.  Songwriters are a rare breed.  But they do need to eat.

If we wish to avoid a world in which all songs are written and performed by Rebecca Black [shudder], we must address the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and soon.  Passed in 1998 when we were but Internet babes, this statute has laid waste to the music industry (meaning the people who create the stuff) while fattening the coffers at Apple and YouTube and Google.  Robert Levine takes on these and other media distributors in his new book, “Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.”  He argues that in Europe, policies that American conservatives ridicule as protectionist have nevertheless saved independent book stores without restricting content.  Basic market principles, he states,  favor the sale of blanket licenses  to users, rather than distributors, a step that would eliminate the parasitic middlemen.

Which leads me to another point, since the holiday season has begun:  you’re going to buy things and give them away, so please consider supporting your local arts community when you shop.  If you can’t make it to a gallery or show in person, here are a few sites worth checking out:;;;

And now for the hearsay part: