When there were only six days left before Ziggy’s thirty were up, Remo’s phone rang and I answered it, figuring it was the pool cleaning crew or something. But no, it was Michael Chernwick asking me if I could “show my face” at a meeting that afternoon. It took me a minute to remember Chernwick was the producer at the party from the other night. I said, “sure” because it wasn’t like I had something better to do.
I took a shower and got dressed in rock star standard and told J. I was going to a meeting.
“What kind of a meeting?”
“I’m not sure, really. Chernwick wants me to meet someone to talk about music,” I said.
“Yeah, I guess.”
If it’s sounding to you like I was really underprepared for an actual meeting, that’s because I was. It turned out that Chernwick was consulting on a documentary project where the music direction had gone off the rails some time earlier, and they essentially needed a rescue job. They needed someone who could write and record incidental music for the scene changes ASAP. At first I figured they were trying to hire Chernwick to compose and he wanted me to play on it. But the more I nodded my head and said yes the more it dawned on me, no, they were trying to hire me to do the whole thing. People kept coming into the meeting and sitting down and each time it was someone more important than the previous one. It was like being at the highest pressure job interview ever. All that bullshit I’d said the other night about creating emotional states with different kinds of guitar playing and musical modes? It came back to haunt me here. I basically said it all again with an extra layer of bullshit and they bought it. Except who was fooling who, here?
Looking back on it now, it’s clear to me they figured they had a rube on their hands. They were offering me almost no money to do something in almost no time. I probably should have said no, or at least asked for more, or to keep the copyright or something. But they also needed something almost impossible and the only way to get it was to hire someone who didn’t know any better, who didn’t know it was impossible. I said what the fuck, why not give it a try? “There’s no money in documentaries of course,” they said, but it wasn’t like NO money. It was a couple thousand dollars, kind of just enough to justify saying yes. I mean, why not? What else was I doing with myself right then? And besides, the deadline was so soon, I figured it would be out of the way soon enough, so no matter how much it sucked at least it would be over with.
I got the shakes on the drive home, though, and had to pull over and get a drink. Not an alcoholic drink, I’m not that dumb. I went through a drive-through and got a milkshake and sat there in the parking lot drinking it thinking what the fuck have I gotten myself into? I don’t know the first thing about what I’m supposed to do. Who am I kidding?
I went to a payphone and used my calling card to call Remo’s answering service, and then I felt better. Then I called J. at the house and asked him if I should bring home take-out. And then I got back in the truck and drove back around the restaurant for a second trip through the drive-through, which prompted a double-take from the cashier.
I loaded up with burgers and fries and took them home to my lover, who appreciated my panic. “They’re doing the same thing to you that they’re doing to me,” he said with a laugh. “Movie people. They’re all crazy.”
It occurred to me to call Digger and tell him what I was doing. I left a message. When he called back he didn’t even sound put out that I hadn’t had him negotiate for me. “Sounds like a great foot in the door, kiddo,” he said, and then told me about another party I should be at in a couple of days.
Remo called a little later and I told him what I’d gotten myself into, and he laughed and said not to worry, and gave me the number of the producer who’d been here the other day, whose name I’d forgotten but I wrote it down this time: Cadmon Molina. Then he walked me through the steps of what I was going to need to do, pointed out that the reason there was a TV and a VCR in the studio was for just such gigs like this, and explained that there was no way they expected me to be involved in the post-production. “Just give them sixty-second chunks, maybe one or two that are two minutes, and make them easy to fade in and out, and they’ll do the rest.”
“You make it sound like it’s not that hard.”
“Not if what you’re doing it some new-age-y guitar stuff that you can lay down yourself. Did they tell you how many transitions they need?”
“About two dozen. Oh, by the way, I bought you a computer.”
“What? Did you say you’re commuting?”
“No no. I’m using your studio here. I said I bought you a computer. It talks to the DX7.”
“What does it say?”
“Beep, don’t beep? No seriously, with the Yamaha sound library I can probably make it sound like I have a whole orchestra if I really want to.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
“Which is why I’m probably going to stick with mostly new-age-y guitar. They want the roughs in three days.”
“Well, what the hell are you doing talking to me on the phone, then? Get to work,” Remo said, although we stayed on the phone a little bit after that, shooting the breeze about Germany and international touring and stuff. I didn’t get around to mentioning Ziggy, not that there was anything more to say since the last time we talked anyway.
I dove into it, playing around with bits of songs, making composer’s notes, and sticking snippets on tape but not laying down anything formal yet. I cooked up three different themes and a few possible motifs. I cribbed some riffs from my warmup routines. It felt good to be working.
At two in the morning J. stuck his head into the studio, looking tired and rough around the edges. “Hey.”
“Hey.” I yawned.
“This is your… uh… what’s the opposite of a wake-up call?” He ran his hand through his hair, which was all standing up like he’d been pulling on it.
“A booty call?” I said hopefully.
He laughed in surprise. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Because you’re thinking about your book. Screenplay. Whatever.” I stood up and kissed him. “Come on. If you’re really tired we can make it quick.”
“I’m suddenly feeling more awake,” he said. “But we probably should make it quick.”
(If you don’t recall this one from 1989, it might be because it charted in the UK but not in the US… But the video is too weird to pass up!)