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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Thinking different(ly)

"Think different" used to be Apple's (arguably ungrammatical) slogan, but it emphasized the company's nature to innovate in both software and hardware in dozens of ways I won't bother to enumerate here. Yesterday was the kick-off of MacWorld in San Francisco. Arriving in time for the opening of the exhibits (I don't need to hear Steve Jobs opening speech in real-time; it's online a few hours later), as I neared the building I first found Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and a companion whizzing by me on his Segway (illustrating one of the flies in the Segway ointment, by the way; the Woz could use a bit more exercise), and less than a minute later, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom walked by. Inside, the major sighting was Apple's literally unbelievably thin new MacBook Air. But, as Arlo Guthrie says 15 minutes into "Alice's Restaurant," that's not what I came to talk about.

No, the real jaw-dropping celebrity moment came that night when I watched the keynote on my computer (Mac, of course). And there, at the end of the video, just before the end of the video, was, not the "Group W bench" (if you're not getting all these references, you need to re-listen to "Alice's"), but Randy Newman singing "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country." At least, that's the title of the song. The words? Well, they're a different story. The last chorus begins with this:

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
(The online lyrics I found say "ending," although I hear "ended" in this version of the song). Anyway, if you can name me any other billion-dollar corporation that would have someone singing this song at their major corporate event, an event in which they are trying to convince millions of people to buy their products, well, I'd like to know about it. Letting Randy Newman sing this song at your corporate event? That's "thinking different(ly)."

Anyway, here's the video, taken from the online webcast, and subtitled by me (using iMovie, of course), with some modifications from the lyrics posted online to match the actual singing. I've left in the Jobs' introduction just to emphasize that this isn't Randy Newman singing on Saturday Night Live or on his own video, but at a major public corporate event.

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