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In simpler times, contemporary music provided an escape from ordinary life. Think “California Dreamin’,” “Purple Haze,” and “I Am the Walrus.” But these days, the recording biz is rocking and reeling with all-too-real troubles of its own. Free online music is torpedoing CD sales. The U.S. Department of Justice has probed the major recording labels on antitrust charges. And thanks to Napster and other digital technology upstarts, subpoenas are now more commonplace in the industry than breakthrough singles. Still, music can inspire, and even transform. As proof, I’ll play legal DJ. Sifting through the Billboard pop charts, I’ve cherry-picked some recent hits that hold life lessons for in-house attorneys. I know what you’re thinking: Pop doesn’t speak to my profession. Well, what about the Bobby Fuller Four’s 1965 classic, “I Fought the Law”? Hmm, not exactly a paean to justice. Then again, the tune’s refrain is “And the law won.” You can bet that line was negotiated. Seriously, a good song mix is like a good settlement. Once it’s over, you keep replaying the best numbers in your head. And like it or not, lawyers are integral to the music world. I mean, where would the Beatles have been without representation? Together, perhaps. Anyway, let’s go to the jukebox . . . An up-to-the-moment celebration of the surf-and-sand ethos first mined by The Beach Boys, Crow advises her listeners to indulge in sun worship “while it’s still free.” (Note to energy company lawyers: Check with feds on current regulatory status of solar power.) In any case, the song is an excellent late-summer anthem for in-house talent who find themselves between jobs in the wake of the accounting scandals, with plenty of time to lounge by the pool. The potty-mouthed Caucasian rapper from Detroit can teach in-house lawyers a thing or two about the duality of “keeping it real.” On this seminal track, the misogynistic, homophobic rhyme-master waxes lyrical on the role the First Amendment plays in a free society. With his knack for self-reflection, Em deftly reflects on the paradox that the very community that reviles him is the one that made him popular. In-house attorneys should relate. Old guy goes the distance and ends up taking the prize. Sound familiar? If not, don’t count on occupying the chief executive suite. Country fans are still trying to figure out how Stanley, a septuagenarian bluegrass legend, captured the ears and hearts of America with this doleful, Grammy Award- winning performance, featured on the top-selling O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Type-A GCs know the answer: Predict the worst and sport a cowboy hat. Best bet for others is a sensible anti-aging diet and an irrational devotion to indefatigability. A haunting pop ballad sung from the perspective of the legendary crime-fighter. Turns out Clark Kent’s alter ego is “just a guy in a silly red cape,” a human just like you and me. Holy Kryptonite, what a letdown! Then again, this song suggests a good strategy for in-house counsel trying to shake responsibility for a deal gone souract like you momentarily lost your superpowers. Just don’t follow the example of Five For Fighting, which in reality is just one musician, John Ondrasik. Remember: delegate, delegate, delegate. This prematurely bald descendant of Herman Melville not only looks like a lawyer; he operates like one, too. For his last CD, the modern music innovator licensed each and every track for use in television commercials. On his latest single, a soothing, ethereal dance number, Moby sings in a passionless monotone: “Nothing can stop us now/ We are all made of stars”inspirational words for uncertain, unsettling times.

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