With ten days to go before we hit the road, the phone rang at 10:30 in the morning, which is a little early but not so early that I felt justified complaining about it. It was Carynne.
“Get some coffee in you ASAP,” she said. “The shit’s about the hit the fan.”
“Whuzzat? Huh?” I was already trying to pull on a pair of jeans, with the cordless phone tucked between my shoulder and ear.
“BNC has a bug up their ass now about the video–”
I missed the next word or two as Call Waiting beeped on the phone. “I’ve got another call coming in.”
“If it’s Mills, don’t talk to him!”
“Got it.” I pressed the hang-up button and on came the other call as I went down the stairs.
Digger. “I need to know if you have time to film a video tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? What the hell is going on?”
“Some stupid shit I didn’t want to have to bother you with, but they’re being dicks about it.”
“Okay, back up. Can you fill me in on the situation?”
“Actually, could you talk to Cary-baby about that? She’ll give you the lowdown. But I need an answer. What are you doing tomorrow?”
“Rehearsal is the only thing on the slate. But we can’t make a video in one day.” I was in the kitchen by then, and digging around for the instant coffee.
“One day, that’s all I ask. Can you do it?”
“Sure. But what the fuck is going on? Do we need to do a three-way call or something?”
“I’ll call you back if we do.” And he hung up and Carynne was still there.
“Okay, fill me in please,” I said. I found the instant coffee in the refrigerator. I was pretty sure that wasn’t where it usually was kept, but I was too distracted to really notice. “Actually, wait a sec, the water’s running.” I filled the pot and started it going. “Now go.”
“I knew Mills and Digger were talking about the next video, but I didn’t know they were locking horns over who was going to pay for it. Mills thinks we should, but at the same time, he’s the one insisting we get another one into rotation ASAP.”
“Remind me, who paid for ‘Why the Sky’?”
“They did, mostly. But that came out of a promotional budget that was tied to your signing. That’s out of the picture now.”
“Okay. So who should pay for the next one?”
“That’s kinda the big question.”
“Digger told me to reserve tomorrow for filming. Can a video be made in one day?”
“Sure. It won’t necessarily be the world’s most elaborate thing, but–”
“Do we even know what song we’re talking about?” The water boiled and I turned it off. “I can’t even remember what’s on what right now.” I sat down and leaned my head against my hand, holding tight to the phone with the other one. I think I had a right to be confused. Candlelight, which was on the first album, the one that BNC re-released, was still charting, and Why the Sky was still in regular rotation, too. 1989, the first all-BNC album we’d worked on with Jordan, was supposed to be our hot new thing, but no one was talking about it yet. And I had all these songs in my head that Zig and I had been writing recently.
“Well, that’s the other thing. You know there’s been an ongoing debate about which single to release.”
I laid my head on the table. “Actually, I only have the vaguest idea about it. Have you not been telling me or have I not been listening?”
She was quiet a moment. “I’m only the road manager, remember.”
She was right. I was supposed to talk to Digger about this kind of thing. “Yeah, but I want you to be more than that.”
“There’s only so much idle chit-chat with Digger I can take, you know.”
“All right, point taken. I should talk to him more. But so what’s the story with the single?”
“It’s been a big internal fight from what I hear. Jordan Travers himself is on record saying he intended Windfall to be the radio-ready track, but Mills wants Wonderland.”
“We weren’t even going to do Wonderland in the live set,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, well, if they make it the single, you’ll have to,” she said. “Here’s the thing. Promo copies of the album already went out, and the AOR stations are playing what they want to.”
“Really. I’ll bring over this week’s trades after rehearsal tonight. A lot of them are going to Windfall because it’s first on the album, but interestingly enough, about one in four is picking Wonderland, instead.”
“This is weird, right?”
“Kinda, yeah. This should’ve all been settled weeks ago and the record reps should have been giving marching orders to push something specific. But it’s a fight. I don’t know what to do about it, either.”
“Why is it bad to have different stations playing different things?”
“Because then the songs won’t chart.”
“Oh.” I rubbed my forehead. “Okay. Well, anyway. What am I supposed to be doing now?”
“Sounds like you’re supposed to be making sure the band is available to make a video tomorrow. Other than that… I don’t know.”
“Right.” I heard a click.
“That’s my call waiting. I’ll call you back later.” She hung up.
I put some coffee grounds into a mug and dialed Ziggy’s number.
He picked up right away. “Hello?”
“It’s me. If you had any plans for tomorrow, cancel ’em.”
“Oh but tomorrow is my day to spend in meditative retreat with my guru and my positive visualization specialist,” he said, completely believably until he snorted at the very end. “Rehearsal is all I have on the calendar. Why?”
“Apparently, we might be shooting a video tomorrow.”
“Yeah? Which song?”
“I have no idea.”
“We don’t have a song by that title,” he joked.
“Quick, write one,” I joked back, and hung up. I’d meant to call him right back, but then the phone rang in my hand. It was Digger.
“Okay, so here’s the deal,” he said. “I got everything we wanted.”
“Great,” I said. “Remind me again what it was that we wanted? Because I have no clue.”
“They’re footing the entire bill, for one.”
“Okay. So which song are we doing?”
“I thought we wanted Windfall?”
“Windfall will be next. Wonderland’s already got underground legs, plus they can film you on the Blue Line.”
“That’s where the song title comes from, you know. From seeing the name of the T stop all the time but never going there.”
“Well, you’ll go there tomorrow, I guess. The crew’s arriving late tonight. They’ve got a suite at the Copley Plaza Hotel. No wait, Copley Place. One of those. You’ll need to meet them bright and early.”
“Like nine. They’re from LA so they’ll be all jetlagged to hell. It’ll feel like six to them.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
He laughed like I was joking. “I’ll get you the name of the guy you’re supposed to meet. I’ll call you back.”
I was dialing Bart’s number while I climbed the stairs up to Chris’s room. When I got up there I could hear distinctly female giggling coming from behind his door, though, so I was tiptoeing back down when Bart answered.
“Hey, you’re up early.”
“I know, but tomorrow’s going to be worse.” I went back down to the living room and lay down on the couch while I filled him in on everything that had gone down that morning so far.
“Wonderland isn’t even in the set list,” he said.
“I know. But I guess now it’ll have to be.” I sat up straight suddenly. “Wait. I know. It goes in the encore! It fits perfectly. Candlelight can stay where it is, in the set, and now we have a kicker for the encore. Finally.”
“Yeah, that works. That totally works. We can work on it tonight.”
“Yeah.” I stared up at the ceiling, then remembered I never actually put the hot water into the mug with the coffee crystals. “I think I’m going to take a nap. Save up some sleep for tomorrow.”
“Okay. See you tonight.”
He hung up. I dozed off on the couch. When the phone rang again, it was on my chest and startled the bejeezus out of me.
It was Ziggy. “Here you go, motherfucker,” he said with a laugh, and I heard him press play on a tape recorder. The sound was tinny through the phone, but I could tell perfectly well what it sounded like.
Pretty good for a “joke” song.
“How’s that?” he said, when it was over.
“Great, but now I’m going downstairs to write you a joke song, too.”
“Yeah? What’s it called?”
“‘Needs A Bridge,'” I said.
That made him laugh. I liked hearing him laugh. I really did.