JULY 2012 IN


Def Leppard is recording “forgeries” of some of its biggest hits. The note-for-note reconstruction of a song such as “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is an example of rework: redoing work that has already been done.

In Def Leppard’s case, the new recordings give the band a chance to finally earn some money from the digital downloads market. That’s money the record company keeps when the original recordings are sold, but will go almost directly to the band when a listener purchases one of the new recordings. In spite of the financial motivation for the rework, the new versions are artistically valid too. They are almost indistinguishable from the originals, yet are made with an updated sonic palette that makes them slightly more acceptable to the modern ear.

I am following Def Leppard’s efforts with interest because they are doing something I have been meaning to do. When I re-record my 25-year-old songs, I will focused more on improving them than on keeping them the same, but it is still essentially the same idea.

In truth, there is a great deal of work in the world that ought to be done over for one reason or another. In my neighborhood there are roads from the 1880s that could fit much better into their modern uses if taken back to the drawing board. I sometimes wonder if it would be better to disassemble my entire house and rebuild it, taking the time to replace the foundation along the way. That would take months of work, but it would substitute for months of repair work in the house that is not so easily done with the house intact.

I faced similar questions this year as I prepared the third edition of one of my books. Wouldn’t it be good enough to just reprint the last edition? Could some chapters be kept unchanged? What changes would make the most difference? How far should I go in improving the quality of the writing?

There isn’t time to revisit everything that was done badly. In an idealistic frame of mind, though, it is no trouble at all to find work that ought to be done over in order to produce a better result.

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