Where Paris tops 'People'

ANDY COWAN is a writer, producer and performer. His credits include "Cheers," "Seinfeld" and "3rd Rock From the Sun."

IF YOU'D LIKE to behold the ephemeral nature of musical taste, try visiting a Tower Records store these days, where the live human beings are starting to outnumber the recorded ones.

As its going-out-of business sale enters its last throes, 40% off on all CDs has given way to 70% off. Prices may go even lower before the flagship store closes its doors for good, perhaps as soon as this weekend.

Even in this era of cheap downloads, how can anyone pass up such bargains? Some of you have. What do your choices say about the "bargains" that still remain? Much like the neglected fruit in supermarkets, squeezed and left behind for someone else to squeeze, these musical orphans still clamoring to find a home apparently don't have enough juice.

Oh sure, Frank Sinatra has been picked clean. As has Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee. But languishing next to the empty David Crosby bin is that other Crosby, "der Bingle," one of the biggest musical stars of the mid-20th century. We may still hear Bing dreaming of a white Christmas, but I'll wager he never dreamed of "Cowboy Country Crosby Style" begging for takers.

When it hits 90% off, I'm bringing my checkbook.

And then there's Ricky Nelson, the teen idol whose hormones raged in sync with millions of "Ozzie & Harriet" fans. He performed music videos 30 years before the first music videos. Couldn't any of the Mary Lous out there draw a measly six bucks out of their Social Security checks to bring him home today?

Sergeant Pepper and Captain Beefheart made clean breaks. But the same can't be said for the Captain & Tennille. Love may not really keep us together, but you'd think the love of the almighty dollar would have helped keep them out of the bargain bin at Tower.

Why is Michael Buble's shelf stripped bare and Barry Manilow's chock-full? Did Buble write the songs that make the whole world sing? Imagine getting a hip replacement and being replaced by some hip replacement. Oh well. In the volatile world of pop music, you have to be strong. You have to be invincible. So why is Helen Reddy still up for grabs?

Barbra Streisand -- available!

Paris Hilton -- sold out! (In more ways than one.)

People who need people are the luckiest people in the world -- particularly if that need has been spread all over the Internet. Still, in this case, I doubt Bogie was right when he said, "We'll always have Paris."

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