My phone rang the next morning at noon. It was Andreas, the real tenant of my studio apartment calling to tell me he was coming back–finally–in six weeks. He was in Belgium. I left him on call waiting while I went to get a second call coming in. This one was Watt, wondering if I was free to have lunch. I told him to give me half an hour and we agreed to meet at the Chinese restaurant about two blocks from my place. He seemed instantly likable and we chatted a few minutes more. When I hung up with him Andreas was gone.
I don’t have to spell out the fact that nothing happens in the music business without connections. No one gets anywhere without them. So of course I was going to meet Watt and not only make a connection with him, but find out what connections he had.
And boy did he have them. I listened to him talk for two hours in the restaurant, and then we walked out on the fens, around the rose garden and the basketball courts. Turned out this “Janitor” was a former big-time exec who’d got fed up a few years back and moved to Boston to start his own small-scale label. We sat on the war memorial and shared a joint and he told me how he hadn’t really known that small labels were going to start peddling greater influence in the biz; he mostly got lucky. Right place at the right time. Charles River Records, although it was small, was distributed by one of the majors, and Watt had gone to school with a bunch of people who were now at MTV. He said all of this more or less like he might have told me about his family or his dog or something, part of getting to know one another, not like he was trying to convince me of anything or suck me in.
At some point he looked at his watch and seemed to remember he was supposed to be somewhere else. He loped off across the grass toward the street and I sat with my feet hanging over the edge of the marble watching him go. Bart would be there soon to pick me up and go over to Christian’s, but I couldn’t make myself get up right away. The breeze was warm and blew my hair up and down as it curled around the statues of the memorial. Ducks and geese and seagulls made bird noises from the waterway behind me and I took a deep breath of autumn air. My fingers tingled like something was about to change. Something big. Everything.
(Michael Hedges, another one we lost too young.)