The Fault Is Not In Our Rock Stars, But In Ourselves

05/25/2011 12:35 pm ET
  • Sal Nunziato Music journalist, active blogger, New Orleans devotee, handsome cat

Some years back, one of the major television networks -- I don't remember which -- had a great slogan for its summer reruns. "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you." I loved this! When I was a record retailer, I dreaded the summer. People left the city, spending their weekends at the beach or elsewhere. Business was slow. New releases were few and far between. But the faithful record buyers would still visit and talk shop. Yet for some reason, they'd buy less, claiming, "I came here to shop, but there is nothing new out."

As a longtime record collector I can tell you, there is always something to buy. Always! You just have to want to. Cue rerun slogan. "Have you heard this Alejandro Escovedo CD? No? Well, then it's new to you." I can post 100 titles in this blog that I am sure the majority of you readers will have never heard before. And I'm not talking about some obscure Klezmer band from Poughkeepsie that just released a CD of Buffy Saint Marie covers. Have all you readers had the opportunity to listen to every Alejandro Escovedo release? Assuming you're a fan of Mr. Escovedo, why stop at just one or two of his CDs? Why not go deeper? There is plenty to choose from.

There have been countless articles on the record industry and it's foibles. So many in recent months that it has become exhausting and downright boring. It's like watching clips of Lenny Bruce go from important stand-up to a sad shell of his former self, reading from transcripts of his court case. The same way the crowd just wanted to laugh, music lovers just want to hear music.

My last post was about a group of philanthropists called the Threadheads, who for no other reason than the love of music, started a record label. It seemed no one else wanted to release the music they wanted to hear, so they decided to do it themselves. You can read about that here. Through all the changes, firings, downsizing, lawsuits, major-chain closings and downloading, people still listen to music. We shouldn't let the so-called bigwigs, everyone from Metallica and their common practice of suing their fans to the boarding up of the sorely-missed Tower Records stop us from buying CDs. Just ask Mom and Pop. I'm sure they'd agree.

We can still moan about how the major labels were charging $18.99 for Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears CDs, but no one put a gun to our heads and made us buy them. At that time, when CD sales began to decline, there was stlll plenty of affordable music to buy. How about thousands of CDs on the Warner Bros. label that were $11.99? Or Sony's back catalogue at $9.99? (Do you all have Bob Dylan's "New Morning?" It's a damn good record.)

The major labels may have soured the consumer into buying less and caring less, but come on people, we are adults. Just because we thought it was ludicrous to charge $18.99 for a CD by some boy band with one or two good pop tunes, we didn't need to fold our arms and pout and decide to not buy the thousands upon thousands of great affordable CDs that were still available.

As for Alejandro Escovedo, I must admit, he is an artist I never really explored. His new release, "Real Animal," which hits the streets/interweb on 6/24, is a killer. Produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie, Thin Lizzy, T-Rex) "Real Animal" is a welcome surprise for me. Mr Escovedo has been making music since the 80s and it was this new release that made me want to explore his past. If nothing "new" is released in the next three months of summer, I know have plenty of Alejandro Escovedo to get me through the dog days. So how about starting with Alejandro Escovedo? Then, you can move on. Do you all know the catalogues of John Cale, Ian Hunter, Richard Thompson and T-Rex? How about John Boutte, Stanton Moore, Bonerama and Dr. John? Little Feat? Joni Mitchell? Tom Waits? The Posies, The Byrds, Jason Falkner? R.E.M.? Do you have EVERYTHING? Buy some CDs. It's not too late to save the music industry, one "super-saver" at a time.