Sky Blue Sky

I’d been out of bed just three minutes, but already I’d dropped a ten spot.

Sleep was fitful again, at best. Maybe it’s the loratadine. Maybe it’s the blue agave. Maybe it’s all this change I keep talkin’ about. Either way, I was wide awake and clock watchin’ at three o’clock. I lay there tossing, turning, and trying to blot out the clamor of traffic and the din of my worries. I even turned on Abbi’s white noise machine. Nothing worked.

So, at 4:38 this morning, I poured a glass of water, sat down on the couch, and began reading John Sellers’ “Perfect From Now On.” The memoir is something of a Chuck Klosterman David Eggers mash-up. It’s intensely readable, even at 4:38 in the morning. Sellers is almost exactly my age, so our reference points are the same: from John Denver to Star Wars and Duran Duran. Like me, he remembers a time before email, and iPods. Unlike me, he’s a bit of a grouchy Luddite, but it makes for some funny stuff.

I sat there eating grapes and reading until about 5:30. The lights in the surrounding apartments were snapping on one by one. The sky was growing slowly brighter. My usual wake-up time edged closer and closer. My eyelids grew heavy. So I walked back into the bedrrom, climbed beneath the sheets, and slept for exactly ninety-minutes more.

I woke to the sound of the shower, and lay there planning my day. I told myself that I’d get out of bed as soon as the water stopped running (the kind of bargain I strike with myself all the time). When it did, and I heard the telltale sound of the ball bearings on the shower curtain rings sliding across the rod, I popped my legs over the side of the bed, and touched down on the floor.

I stepped right to my Mac remembering that I hadn’t donwloaded the new Studio 360 and This American Life podcasts. I’m a pedestrian for at least forty-five minutes most days, more on Tuesdays. I like to maximize my time with the wise and humorous companionship of Kurt Anderson and Ira Glass.

Launching iTunes, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if that Wilco album’s out yet?’

Not only Wilco’s “Blue Sky Blue,” but also Rufus Waineright’s “Release The Stars.”

You’ll recall that I’ve recently pruned a healthy amount of books, CDs and clothes. I’m a reluctant consumer these days. I don’t want more stuff. We have plenty. And nowhere to put what we already have. Anyway, media consumption feels like a treadmill of diminishing returns. I can’t tell you the last time I purchased a mainstream record that knocked my socks off. (Come to think of it, maybe neither Wilco nor Rufus are mainstream. Discuss.) Moreover, Abbi and I are supposed to be saving. And heck, I can usually find every damned record ever released at my office.

But I dropped ten bucks on the Wilco album anyway. And here’s why.

At that conference I went to last week (and keep writing about), everyone was talking about giving music away for free. They say that young people don’t want to pay for it, that they’re used to Napster and Kazaa. And they say that copyright is dead, that DRM is totally 20th Century.

But here’s the thing. Without iTunes, I have no music career. I don’t play a ton of shows (and they’ve never been lucrative for me anyway), I don’t sell much merch, and I’m certainly not liscencing anything to anyone.

I’ve always said you have to vote with your wallet. That’s why I go to Paul Thomas Anderson movies on opening weekend. That’s why baught Stephanie’s book the day it came out. And that’s why I dropped a ten spot on “Blue Sky Blue” this morning.

It’s already been money well spent. I stepped onto Tenth Avenue, kissed Abbi, pushed play, and headed to work. Midtown glistened beneath a sky blue sky, and Jeff Tweedy sang.

Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will blow away
Maybe I won’t feel so afraid
I will try to understand
Either way

I will. Either way.

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