Neil Young, the New Steve Jobs

Orchestra Pit
05.10.2012..

Steve Jobs died a year ago. Condolences. We still miss him. The world founds itself bereft of one of the greatest pioneers of modernity. On my part, I would not be here, to live, work and write, if the Mac, which I have been using since 1985, were not invented. By the way, in the photo gallery aside, I want to remember him with the eyes of those years, at the times of the launch of his first global success.

 

Apple’s co-founder has bequeathed a huge fortune that also the audiophiles can share: iTunes. With the first and currently the biggest musical shop in the world, we can listen to much more music of what we can actually consume or purchase. We have at our disposal a virtually limitless world library. Besides, the pressures and the far-sightedness of Steve Jobs in person, have led to agreements never seen before among the biggest record Majors worldwide. Who knows how much difficult was to accede to the music until a couple of years ago, also knows how much grateful we must be to him, ever.

 

And here comes into play Neil Young. He has recently launched and presented to the press – see video – an innovative system of musical reproduction based on standards higher than MP3. It was not so difficult. We all agree that the MP3 is practically trash as far as the musical audio of quality is concerned. In this sense, Neil Young seems eager, in his own way, to pursue a best future a la Jobs. When Jobs spurred his collaborators to seek and get the best, maybe he did not think exactly or nowhere near to Neil Young. But a bizarre irony has overcome the reality. As someone said, we are dwarfs on giants’ shoulders and sometimes we can see further than they do. And sometimes a songwriter can hear better than a prophet of the industry.

 

This is the paradox. The standard that has open the music to an universal and democratic consume, making us richer, in reality has closed it in a ghetto of lower quality, making it poorer. But we are still in time. We can do something, more than something, actually, to get out of this ghetto. We have to start from the MP3, the currently conceivable lowest standard, cross the scientific base of the 16 bits/44 kHz to get to an effective “market” high resolution. It is not a utopia.

 

And here, again, Neil Young fits. He has declared far-back a personal war against the quality of the poorest modern format of sound compression like MP3, FLAC, Ogg, M4a, etc., and has launched a format for the high quality audio files called Pono. He was so convinced to have patented a platform of distribution online of music, a hostile alternative to the landslide superiority of the more known iTunes and, generally, against the entire selling services online of low-resolution audio files. Starting from the new audio format and passing through the virtual online shop of musical tracks, you can have now a new digital music player – an anti-iPod in its prototype stage – provided with a software to convert exclusively the tracks of the musical CDs into the format Pono.

 

All this might seem a naive overconfidence, the fruit of a premature senile delirious of a newly turned sixty brave rocker. But Warner Music, Neil Young’s record label, is agreeing with other several labels, to insert in the catalogues online the tracks in this new format at high resolution. On the web there is also the positive opinion, although currently the only one, of Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist, real name Michael Peter Balzary, who has been, it is said, the first artist to test a recording in format Pono and to define “abyssal” the gap in comparison with the most common zip formats.

 

Young, like us, is not down on the digital. On the contrary, the future of music is here. But it does not put up, like us, with its ordinary new versions. Will the visions of a dreamer be enough to confirm the success of this new and umpteenth audio format? The missed diffusion, if not the premature disappearing of formats like SACD and the audio DVD keep not hoping. This is not a “grassroots revolution” as happened with the MP3 “music for the masses”. But this makes us remember Jobs’ “stay hungry, stay foolish”. As these are the most significant words of intentions, desire, will of doing and keep going that Jobs stated at all costs, we are here today, in occasion of this said anniversary, to thanks him again.

 

To go on and get better music for everybody.

And he would surely have approved.

 

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011, grateful memory

Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
Steve Jobs, Norman Seef, 1984
by Giuseppe Castelli
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