Thursday, 19 January 2012

Can't you read the signs?

I first came across this tune when I was idly searching the web for tunes that had been sampled by Fat Boy Slim. I'm not the world's biggest fan of Fat Boy (or FBS, as I'm sure he's known to acronym-loving trendy yoof types) but I do like a lot of his tunes. He's often sampled snatches of tracks that I consider classics; the Just Brothers' Sliced Tomatoes & Take Yo' Praise by Camille Yarborough being two that spring to mind immediately and what he produces is certainly a cut above most sampled efforts. 

So, anyway, I was listening to Fat Boy's Don't Let The Man Get You Down and looked up where the sample came from. It's from Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band, a bunch of late 60's / early 70's Canadian hippies singing about being frustrated by 'the man' and his signs telling them what to do & what not to do. I like it - the lyrics are clever, the tune catchy & I've got some sympathy with the sentiment.

I also think it's got some relevance today. The hippy era of flower-powered idealism seems to have given way to a  more cynical and apathetic world view from the majority of people, yet there are still those who rail against 'the man' and his life-restricting signs. The majority of internet users will blissfully carry on posting pic's of their lunch on Twitter ("nom nom"; possibly the most nauseatingly pointless tweets you will ever read), or spreading gossip & flirting on Facebook. There are many, however, who are tweeting, posting, virtually screaming against SOPA - 'the man's' latest attempt at getting us to follow the signs & behave ourselves. 

I'm no expert on SOPA; lack of time and a similar lack of intellect prevent me from understanding the complete legal implications of the Stop Online Piracy Act being pushed through what passes for 'justice' system of America. But it does seem to me that if this bill is passed, what I'm doing here - sharing a bit of music with you - will be illegal. The bill seems designed to prevent people from sharing, not just targeting those who make money out of ripping off record labels & film studios through piracy, but also those of us with a passion for music or film and who just want to share that passion with like-minded people. I've knocked up a few videos from time to time and put them on YouTube; not to make money (I have resisted their repeated invitations for me to 'monetise' my account) but just because I've found & enjoyed something and wanted to show it to others. Does that make me a criminal? I don't think so, but 'the man' pushing SOPA would disagree.

The really ironic thing about it all in my opinion is that the people who seem to be pushing hardest for this bill are the very people who have been getting rich for decades by ripping off bands, actors, writers and the public. I try not to be too pessimistic, but I've got a feeling that there's too much big money behind this bill for the protests of internet users to hold any sway, but I would urge you to sign the petitions, tweet & post your objections, involve your online friends and acquaintances, but above all, don't stop sharing. The bands who made the music we love didn't make it to line the pockets of record company executives - they made it for us.

So let me share these two with you - my small act of defiance against SOPA!

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