I cried through most of my next therapy appointment. That isn’t as bad as it sounds. They were basically tears of relief. Even though Ziggy and I hadn’t really resolved anything, somehow, my heart still felt better about everything. Some kind of weight had been lifted. Or something.
It’s my inability to make a good explanation of what I felt–or why–that leads to those obscure songs with lots of oblique references to poetic visuals. The ones that, when you hear them on the radio in your car, that one time you finally figure out the words make you say, what the hell is this song about?
I feel a little bad about doing this, because I felt pretty good for a while, and you guys only get to enjoy it for the space of one paragraph, before I hit you with the existential crisis that came next.
Thanksgiving happened but I missed it, head down in the work, you know? I was about a week from turning in the soundtrack when Artie called. I was surprised to hear from him. Actually I was surprised to hear the phone ring in the middle of the afternoon. At least I was awake to answer it.
After we’d shot the breeze briefly, Artie said, “You know Wenco has a New Age division,” like I should know what he was getting at.
I said something highly intelligent like, “Um?”
“I want to know how much material you’ve got. Or, if necessary, how much it would cost to pay you to dump and run.”
“Dump and run?” I was being particularly thick, I guess.
Artie was pretty sharp, though, and filled in the gap for me. “Did Carynne not tell you she was sending me the demo of your soundtrack work?”
“What? No. In fact, I didn’t even send it to her.”
“Huh. Well, she sent it to me and all I’ll say is you’re probably being criminally underpaid for the quality of work you’re doing.”
“It’s not actually that difficult. I mean, I get to sit around Remo’s home studio and jack off all I want, basically–”
“How difficult the work is and how good it is are two different things, Daron.”
“True. Okay, so, what are you saying? You got wind of this soundtrack I’m doing and you want to buy me out or something?”
“Pretty much. Or at least, I think we can put together a very good solo instrumental album and I’m wondering how much more material you’ve written than what I’ve heard.”
I felt distinctly squidgy about this. “I don’t think I’m comfortable leaving a client in the lurch,” I said. “I mean, maybe a lot of people don’t have professional ethics to speak of, but I do.”
“Of course, God, I don’t want you to think I want you to screw anyone. There’s more than enough of that in this business already. And look, it’s not huge money: the advance would only be low five figures, but you know I’ve been wanting to get your name in ink for years.”
He laughed. “You know it. This would be low impact, low risk. That is, if we can put together an album and you can still get your deliverable in. Or if we can swing a deal for licensing, but I think it’s too late for that. I mean, to make it work, you’d have to pay us what they paid you, we’d take it as a licensing fee on the music we’d own because we’d pay you to put the music under contract. And they might not really want that if they want to own the music and milk it for years to come.”
“I have no idea. A guy I know out here kind of brokered the job.”
“Okay. If you’re sanguine about just letting that stuff go below value, it’s probably a lot simpler and a lot more straightforward if we don’t double-dip.”
“I’ve been writing a ton, Artie. If you’re saying you’ll consider an actual demo from me for a solo instrumental album, I have no shortage of stuff to send you. Hell, I can probably give you a complete album if you give me another couple of weeks and I fly Bart here one more time. I mean, now that I think about it, he’s been learning the cello–”
“Okay, okay. Great. Exactly what I wanted to hear.”
“No problem. For a demo, is just a cassette okay? I can dub you some stuff today and Fedex it.” I looked at the clock. “Okay actually it’s too late to get Fedex today and I need to pick through everything to make sure I’m not accidentally duplicating anything. But that won’t take me that long.”
“Great. That’s wonderful. I’m so pleased. I have a strong feeling I’m going to love what you send.”
So I sent Artie a tape, and Artie sent me back a contract, and the day after I delivered everything on the soundtrack, I locked up Remo’s house and flew to New York to meet with Artie. I signed the deal, we hashed out album concept and direction, he sent a memo to the art department, and I agreed to book some studio time at a bigger, better studio in Boston when I got there.
Then I went out on the town with Sarah.
I’m getting to the existential crisis part, I promise. Okay, maybe next time. Bask in the glow of musical accomplishment for a little longer.