Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) & Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)
Here's one of mine...
When I first moved to Hollywood, I thought I was ready to get a record deal. (I didn't have a clue how.) I'd made a good living at playing clubs until that move, but there were just NO paying gigs within miles, and actually, I learned that most clubs here were "pay to play", i.e., you guarantee (with your own bucks) that your band can sell XX amount of tickets. I couldn't believe it. I played all the free showcases, and everyone liked my stuff, but I never really met anyone who offered me a living, and I had to get a job.
I found this job at a company called "Moveable Feast", that basically required you to (with your own bucks) guarantee that you could sell XX amount of sandwiches/salads to office workers out of your little wicker basket you had to carry. Fine. If you could sell all your wares, you made ok money. If you didn't, you ate well, but made about enough for gasoline to get to a club that night and back to work the next day.
The real reason I took the job was because they had "career routes" (so Hollywood!) and the day I applied, the "record route" on Hollywood Boulevard had just opened up. Oh, was I happy. Motown, RCA, Capitol... here I come. Needless to say I had tapes in the basket with the sandwiches. (Mostly I found the offices to be comprised primarily of secretaries who were behind in their work, and had little to do with any of the music aspect, but more with contracts and P.R., etc.)
However...one fine day, while treading around in the little office cubicles at Motown, I meet one of their very famous Staff Writers, who had a ton of gold records around his desk, and he was somewhat funny, and as I recall bought some lunch (which made me even more happy), and we talked and he asked me if I could sing, as I had a nice speaking voice. He proceeded to tell me that he had just written a song, and he thought that if I could sing it, it would be perfect for me.
Ok. Now, I had been playing bars and clubs for the last few years before this. I recognized when someone was serious or flirting. I assessed him as the later. I said thanks, that would be great, whatever, and started to leave. He started with this big to-do about how, "You don't think I mean it??" First, calling his secretary in to verify that he doesn't lie about business, etc. He whips out a hand-written sheet of this (even today) great song. His own personal lead sheet. He says, "Go home and learn this, we're going in the studio on Friday night at 7:00 and cutting this, ok?" I think I asked him if he was serious, and he said yes, dead serious, and I'd better be ready, on and on.
That was on a Tues., I think. On Wed., he wasn't in, and when I asked his secretary where he was, she sort of rolled her eyes and said she didn't know. On Thursday, I waited on Motown's premises about an hour, just trying to look busy, and discuss salads with jaded secretaries, but no good. On Friday, THE Friday, the "be ready to cut this Friday night" Friday, I came in with my little basket, saw a cigarette still burning in an ashtray on his desk (I bet he left skid-marks, but I was too surprised to check), and when I inquired THAT day, the secretary said (yes, really said), "uh... he's in a meeting".
Ugh. I took the rest of the sandwiches home, and my roommate and I had a weekend's worth of eats. I quit the Moveable Feast. I cursed (Staff Writer's Name Here) for the next two years. I could understand no one wanting to hear an "outside tape". I could understand someone sort of half-heartedly offering to hear something, or hear your rendition of a specific song... but this guy had gone on for ten minutes, building up every hope and dream I had. I still have that (insert curse word here) lead sheet he wrote, too. (And yes, the song's still good.)
That was also the day that I realized that things in Hollywood didn't quite work like they did in KCMO. None of that "my word is my bond" stuff here.
Feel free to send me your story.
©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Janet Fisher Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP), all rights reserved worldwide. No reprints without written permission.