Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Very Strange Skill

of mine that I developed in the music industry is my ability to get other people in the same business, but at different levels to tell me the truth. The fact that this is a skill you need to develop if you're going to survive in the business tells you a lot about how things inside music work.

Sometimes, I use it to satisfy my curiousity, other times I use it because I know that telling the truth to someone is not a comfortable thing for a lot of these folks. This morning I had an instance of the latter.

The setup for this phone conversation is that the producer involved is not someone I've enjoyed working with in the past. He tends to be very autocratic, not collaborative at all, and, worst case scenario for me, he tends to be very poor at communicating what he wants. He'll ask for another take endlessly and when you ask him how he wants it to be done he'll say things like You know, different."

Faster? Louder? Slower? Softer? What the fuck? Is usually my response. Since I view my main job working with a producer as one of giving them what they want, not being able to discern easily what that is can become very frustrating.

I've also totally scaled back all my work in the business since the writer's strike cooled off the jingle game. I noticed while I was doing other things, how much happier I was. I simply haven't gone back. I figure if I stay out of the arena long enough I'll soon be one of those forgotten folks who have no reliable answer to the eternal Hollywood question of "What have you done lately?

The phone rings first from my agent. Our conversation goes like this.

Agent: Feel like working?

Me: Nope, not much.

Agent: Look, kid, I owe this guy (insert name) a favor, you owe me and he asked for you.

Me: He asked for me?

Agent: By name.

Me: Why?

Agent: He's going to call in five minutes. Be polite.

Me: I'm always polite.

Agent: (sounds of coffee being blown out the nose) then click of hang up.

Five minute later the phone does ring. I do answer.

Me: Why did you call?

Asshole Producer: I really need your slide guitar sound.

Me: Why me?

Lying Motherfucker: Your sound is yours, it's unique.

Me: No, really, why me?

Motherfucker: Ry Cooder's wrapped up promoting that book/album thing, David Lindley's on tour, Pete's out of town, Bush is in Tennessee, I've called everybody I could think of and been told no.

Me: OK, I understand. Fax the charts.

No, I really don't miss the business end of things at all.



Blogger Angelos said...

Nice job. I, too, hate being ass-kissed or lied to.

I mean, I usually know where I stand. If I was #6 on the list, whatever. Just make sure the check clears.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ain't it grand knowing you were picked last? Reminds me of all those fucking gym classes........................

At least he told you that much (in so many words).

10:25 PM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

you are far stronger than i would be.
i doubt i could adjust to that sort of life.

i am begining to think i'd make a good hermit.

if i ever come into money i aim to be a crazy lady in the woods with animals and a computer, books, music and cable t.v.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

When you speak the truth, it is difficult for others not to speak truth to you. It sounds like the guyon the other end of the phone is not going to do too much at would be difficult. You made telling you the truth the easist thing for him to do. That does take some skill and, most of all, integrety.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I think most people do not like the truth; their egos do not allow for it. So most everyone has learned the skill of sucking up.

Which means one has to mine for the truth in an interaction, which necessitates knowing how to dissimulate even if one does not practice it. Hard work, which is why not much truth passes in dialog (or two monologs.)

I, unfortunately, lack that politesse. More precisely I lack the stomach for doling it out, which means I often offend, though unintentionally.

7:42 PM  
Blogger darkblack said...

Indeed. Sometimes, I'd f**k it up by telling them the truth.


11:05 AM  

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