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Dear Mother Maple: The sincerest form of flattery?

Mother MapleDear Mother Maple:

I love music, and I particularly like small concerts or house concerts because you get to interact with the performer.

A few weeks ago, I was at a house concert, and I got to talk to one of my favourite performers. I mentioned to her that I had all her records but one early one that’s not in production right now.

My friend who was there as well piped up and said “Hey, that’s OK – I have that one. I’ll burn you a copy.” I was MORTIFIED. What should I have done?

Miles to go before I weep

Dear Weepy:

First, please don’t take on more than your own behaviour. Yes, your friend was a bit gauche in suggesting what he (or she) did. But that only reflects on him, not on you. To be sure, music copying is not something to be celebrated. But at least your friend wasn’t thinking of it with malice, but to do something nice for you.

Did you read that book Misery by Stephen King? When Annie explains to the writer she’s ‘rescued’ that she named her pig after his character, she says “I wasn’t trying to be funny in a mean way when I named my pig Misery, no sir. Please don’t think that. No, I named her in the spirit of fan love, which is the purest love there is. You should be flattered.”

If you had taken your thoughtless friend by the shoulders and shouted “what’s wrong with you, you blithering flibbertigibbet?” or, even worse, gone all Annie Wilkes on him or her, your hero performer might have thought less of YOU for your reaction than of your friend. She also might have found the involuntary amputation a bit much.

What would I have done? Likely said nothing at the time. But afterwards, I might have had a word with Mr. or Miss Lipsunzipped and explained that illegal copying hurts musicians and that you’ll keep trying to find a legal copy.

And feel free to let Mother know who you’re looking for. Perhaps I’ve got it in my record collection. But if it’s my copy of the Stampeders’ “From the Fire”, forget it. If I don’t hear “Manitou” every morning, my bursitis acts up something awful.

Mother wants to help. Send her your questions: mothermaple@rootsmusic.ca

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2 comments

  1. avatar
    Sarah J 28 May, 2011 at 01:22

    I have spoken to countless musicians on this topic, and their answers are always different.

    If I burn an independent musician’s hard-to-locate CD for someone, and it inspires them to go to a show, recommend it to ten other friends, and/or eventually purchase a copy of their own (which is often the case!), I can’t really believe that I’ve done something that’s not to be celebrated!

    Of course, when an artist solely relies on music for their livelihood, this becomes a touchier subject… but perhaps spreading the music-love however possible will benefit them most in the end.

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