THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Steve Jobs

"I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
Like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening"

If Steve Jobs were alive, he'd be going to work.

Because the mission was just that important. There were no excuses, nothing could hold you back.

That's just one of the many lessons Steve taught us. Go for greatness and never give up.

And unlike the athletes he was not one-dimensional, there was no expiration date on his career, he kept on keepin' on, disproving conventional wisdom at every turn.

There are no second acts?

Huh?

No one knows anything in the movie business?


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

Then how come each and every Pixar movie was a blockbuster?

Steve did it his own way, and that's why we revere him. He was like the rock stars of yore, beholden to no one. The rules didn't apply to him.

But unlike Hendrix and Joplin and so many musical legends, Steve didn't O.D. He hung on. And went out at the top of his game.

Huh?


That's not the American story. Usually way past your prime we give you another go 'round, another shot of publicity, a thank you for past efforts. Look at today's Tony Bennett hype for example. Does anybody believe this duets record is worth listening to? Does it compare to his best work?

Don't make me laugh.

But the iPad was an even bigger triumph than the iPod, which eclipsed the iMac. Steve just kept getting better and better. It's as if the Beatles never broke up and every few years they dropped another album that made our jaws drop.


Meanwhile, people are tearing you down. They don't like dominance. John Lennon is revered now, but people were saying he was toast before he was tragically shot. It's hard to soldier on in the face of all that naysaying, it's hard to go your own way, it's hard to stay the course.


But Steve did.

I'll read the biography, but I really want Malcolm Gladwell to do a book, to explain how this happened.

Was it the adoption?

Was the success of his second tenure at Apple due to his being blown out a decade before?

I can usually see the thread. But not with Steve Jobs. He was sui generis.

And he touched everybody.

This is not only my pain, this is the whole world's pain. Eclipsing the death of any rock star, akin only to the death of JFK.

It's almost sacrilegious to be typing. This is his machine. Without him…

My life would be much less rich.

He willed himself to live through Tuesday's presentation.

Then his work was done.

But he lived so long after stepping down as CEO we all had a glimmer of hope, that maybe he could continue to make it.

So I was shocked when I looked at my phone and read that he passed.

I called my girlfriend, my best friend, I needed to touch humanity, I had more questions than answers.

And I still do.

It feels like a death in the family.

Last night I had no words.

And right now I barely do. My beacon…the light has gone out.

"Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easy it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
(The world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound"

"For A Dancer"
Jackson Browne


Spotify: http://bit.ly/qNcvD5

YouTube: http://bit.ly/ppuRSe

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I wrote the following in August just after Steve stepped down. I wasn't happy with it then and I'm still not thrilled with it now. But it's honest, it's how I feel:

STEVE JOBS


I bought a Mac Plus.


When the computer revolution was igniting, I ignored it. My constant refrain was I'd buy a computer when you could speak to it in plain English. But when I decided to write a newsletter and investigated the options it became clear there was only one, the Mac.


I became infatuated. Suddenly there was enough stimulation on my desktop to keep me from going out. I was not held back by others, I could go at my own speed, like someone discovering a band on its fifth album I delved back into history, I wanted to know the derivation of this fine piece of equipment, I learned all about the Homebrew Computer Club and the Sinclair and the Apple II and Steve Jobs. Not for pay, not because someone told me to, but because I was passionately interested.


By time I purchased my Mac Plus, Jobs was gone.


I continued to bleed the Apple colors, even buying a series of hats with the logo, but in the middle of the following decade Windows 95 put a serious dent in the Cupertino company, it looked like Microsoft, the evil empire, was going to bury Apple.


Defectors were rampant. Some of my best friends switched sides. The company hemorrhaged money, was run by doofuses. And then Steve Jobs returned.


We all need something to believe in. A place to put our energy, a guiding light. For some it's religion. But it's hard to believe those hokey stories. It's easier to believe in man.


But now more than ever those men are duplicitous. We elected a man exhibiting passion in speeches and found out he was not a leader. That he was so busy trying to be liked he couldn't stand up for anything, never mind what was right. That's what we loved about our rock stars. They took stances, sometimes unpopular ones, and to quote one who hasn't completely sold out, they didn't back down.


Everybody's playing the game. Even though they neither created it nor believe in it. They're kissing butt to get ahead. Giving people what they want. Holding focus groups, taking no risk unless it can be quantified.


Steve Jobs runs on his gut. And he can be a mercurial asshole. And it has to be his way. If it can't be done right, he doesn't want to do it at all.


That's my kind of guy.


Sure, it would all be meaningless without the products. But behind them is a uniquely American character, standing for everything right in this country, to the point where those on both ends of the political spectrum can embrace him, Rush Limbaugh is a Mac fanatic.


I was devastated by the news that Steve was giving up the reins as CEO. I had that pit in my stomach like I got when my dad died. They were both sick, but I was not prepared for what came next.


And I don't know what comes next. I knew my dad was a goner when he gave up the wheel. Literally. When he pulled over and insisted my mother drive. My dad would drive when the highway was buried in snow, barely able to stay awake. Some of those late night rides were more horrifying than any movie. If Steve Jobs gives up being CEO he must be pretty ill.


I don't want to believe it.


Yesterday's photo on TMZ seemed to prove it.


But today's blowback, pointing out Photoshopped elements, gave me hope. Maybe he could survive, come back.


Pixar has never had a failure. William Goldman famously said "Nobody knows anything." in the movie business. It appears that Jobs and Lasseter claimed secret information.


And Apple is firing on all cylinders. It's America's most valuable company. It's at its peak. To point out the failure of the Cube is to nitpick. This guy didn't care what anybody said, ignored Michael Dell's exhortations to liquidate the company, and invested when business was bad. Yup, Apple doubled-down in the last recession. The result, the iPod.


And I almost wanted to turn off my computer, not use my iPod on Wednesday. I bought 'em, but Steve's fingers are still on 'em. I had the opportunity to inherit some of my father's clothes when he died but I passed. It was too creepy. I needed to be my own man. How could I get over Jobs's illness when I was still using his products?


If Steve Jobs ever had media training, it didn't take.


As secretive as he was, if you e-mailed him, he could get back in minutes. He didn't overthink, he followed his first initial feeling, kinda like in that old Fleetwood Mac song.


We may have cars and televisions and computers but we're really no different from the human beings of ancient times. Just because you can poll people and tailor products to the results doesn't mean you should. That's what's wrong with Pandora, it gives you what it thinks you want. Great deejays gave us what they knew we needed. Same deal with Steve Jobs.


And that's much more fulfilling.


I guess I just get frustrated. With so many people telling me I'm doing it wrong. That I should play nice, network, not worry about details, fit in. It's hard to go against the grain.


But Steve Jobs did and he won.


He's an inspiration.

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