Aug 102012

"What's your problem now?"

The inclusion of the original web source of this article that recently appeared in the print edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer does not do this piece justice. Imagine, if you will, coming home from a long day at the office, being the Elvis Costello fanatic that I am, and seeing Elvis’ face peeking out above the Entertainment section that was loosely buried in the middle of the pile of the day’s newspaper.

“Hmm,” I said to my wife, as she put the finishing touches on dinner, “this looks cool.”

“Yeah, I meant to show you that,” she said, somehow knowing which article I was turning to as she stirred the zucchini and tomatoes from her garden in the saucepan.

The title of the piece was something like, Everyday I Write the Book: Elvis Costello’s Memoirs Are Among the Best by Any Rock Star. There was nothing specifically in the headline about this piece being picked up from Slate. That detail was only listed after the author’s byline, which I did not notice until I had read two thirds through the article and was, regrettably, fairly annoyed.

But good luck finding them. After the Rhino reissue series, Universal Music bought the rights to Costello’s first decade of recordings and reissued them yet again, essay-free, under their Hip-O Select label. Rhino has since stopped releasing even the other ’80s and ’90s records that included Costello’s writings; if you want to own them now, you’ll have to find used copies or pay anywhere from $30 to $80 for new ones on Amazon.

I read the first column of the piece, which ran through the “Books by Eric Clapton, Gil Scott-Heron, Jay-Z and Bob Mould …” paragraph that appears online.

“This thing’s taking a while to develop,” I mumbled across the kitchen as I waited for the piece’s surely buried lead to emerge.

Halfway through the second column I asked, “What is the purpose of this article? What’s the newsworthiness? What’s the commercial angle?”

“I thought it was pretty good,” my wife said, still not realizing the antisocial zone I was entering. “You can buy it now on Amazon.”

“No,” I said as nicely as possible, knowing exactly what antisocial zone I had entered, “the article says you can buy the out-of-print reissues with the liner notes on Amazon.”

I had entered the Rock Nerd Zone, that place where not even sane lovers of music like my wife want to enter.


  One Response to “Content for Sale: All Views Fit to Print”

  1. misterioso

    Mod, no doubt context matters. I saw this article yesterday as a link (to the actual Slate article and not the phony-baloney lame-ass Philly Inquirer repackaging) on the Dylan news site Expecting Rain. My initial disappointment over the fact that EC has not actually written a memoir led to seconds of pleasure when I remembered that I bought and still have all or most of the Rhino reissues.

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