How It Works, 2004 Edition

Start off with the fact that the chances of me buying an entire John Fogerty album approach zero. This is for many reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that Fogerty is a singles guy to me — from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days, I like one or two songs on an album, but not the whole album (this is why the CCR album I own is Chronicles, even though I know he gets close to zip in royalties from it. Sorry you had a bad contract there, John).

Anyway, back to my thesis: I’m not buying a John Fogerty album, including the new one, Deja Vu (All Over Again). If I were to see it in the store, I’d say “Huh. Look, a new John Fogerty album,” and I’d pass it on by. Since Fogerty is roughly 48,000 years too old to be played on commercial radio, the chances of me hearing anything from this album also approach zero. MTV played John Fogerty videos back in 1985, when Centerfield came out and the people running the joint didn’t have their Logan’s Run mojo rising, in which a band (or least MTV’s interest in them) explodes when the lead singer reaches 30 years of age. Someone would get fired for playing a John Fogerty video on MTV these days. Bad scene for Fogerty.

However, when I saw the new John Fogerty album on Rhapsody, the streaming music service to which I subscribe, I said, “Huh. Look, a new John Fogerty album. I wonder what it sounds like.” And then I clicked on the “Play Now” button and listened to the album while I did some work on my computer.

And listening to the album, I discovered there are two songs I really like: “Deja Vu (All Over Again),” the album’s title track, in which Fogerty intentionally reheats the CCR tone and instrumentation (right down to the “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” bass line) to deliver a mournful protest song that parallels the war in Iraq with the one in Vietnam. Normally the “Iraq = Vietnam” meme drives me batty, but it works all too well here.

The second track is “I Will Walk With you,” a sweet love note from a father to a daughter, which of course gets me like a sucker, because I have a five-year-old daughter, and I can just see myself playing this the night before her wedding, blubbering like a damn fool as I look at all my pictures of her when she was daddy’s little girl. Please, shoot me now.

So: Two songs. Off I went to the iTunes store online, pulled up Fogerty’s new album, and clicked on the two songs to buy them. And while I’m there, I also clicked on “Centerfield,” the 1985 Fogerty song about baseball. I love that song. Why didn’t I have that one already? Oh yeah, because I don’t buy entire albums when I just want one song, and in 1985, I didn’t have the instant gratification device known as the Internet to give me what I want, how I want it. Well, now I do, now I want it, and now I’ve got it.

And there you have it: One hour after finding out John Fogerty has a new album, Fogerty and his business associates have $2.97 of my cash. On one hand, it’s less than the $11 that they would have preferred I shell out for the CD. On the other hand, it’s $2.97 more than they were actually going to get from me otherwise. $2.97 in the hand is better than a CD sitting in the racks, unbought. This is how it gets done today.

Does this mean I won’t buy entire albums? No: I downloaded all of kd lang’s simply sublime Hymns of the 49th Parallel recently because I would listen to that woman sing a phone book. And I still buy CDs: I got the Everyone is Here CD by the Finn Brothers off of Amazon, not only because I wanted a physical copy but because when I ordered the CD, Amazon provided a stream of the album that I could listen to until the CD arrived.

What it means is that now I have the means to buy exactly the music I want, no more and (this is the important point) no less. By streaming his album on Rhapsody and selling its songs individually on iTunes, John Fogerty and his people made money they weren’t going to get, and I get the songs I wouldn’t have bought. Someone tell me this isn’t the way things should be done.

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