Monday, February 17, 2014

If I Hadn't Been So Focused on Becoming the First Taylor Swift, I Might Have Invented the Internet

When I was 13 and firmly in the clutches of that ultimate mean girl, puberty, I discovered poetry. Months were spent producing emo ballads exploring my obsessive crushes on various high school seniors, pop stars, and, bewilderingly, MacGyver.  It eventually occurred to me, probably during a lucid dream also involving a Maxfield Parrish painting and a unicorn, that these poems should be set to music and shared with the world.  That's how good they were.

But how to do that? How does one reach out to the Titans of the Music Industry when one does not know who those Titans might be, nor their mailing addresses?

If only I had focused on that problem and invented the internet, this tale might be very different.  For one thing, I would be writing it from a much warmer locale while my good friend, Richard Branson, orders another round of tropical rum beverages with a mere twitch of one blond hairy eyebrow.

I decided to shelve the accessibility issue for the time being and set myself immediately to writing a hit song,  The  lyrics roughly matched the rhythm and word structure of, "Leaving on a Jet Plane".  This  song was, to me, the ultimate in romantic sophistication.  In my imagination I was at times the leaver and at times the left, depending on my erratic emotional state.  Mostly I was the leaver because I had never flown in an airplane and badly wanted to, plus I liked the idea of someone keening over me, for a change; someone handsome, resourceful and mature who always had an extra stick of gum to share.

After a few late nights, fueled by root beer and Hershey bars, I finished my masterpiece. My song focused on a lover reminiscing over trips to the zoo and holding hands on the train.  How could that once colorful love-filled world have become this barren, lonely landscape with only one sad-eyed gorilla and some screeching monkeys to bear witness to his brokenness, asked my MacGyver, as he walked along singing softly to himself while a solitary tear rolled down his stubbly cheek and into his popcorn.

And here we have yet another shining example of how the right focus-connecting music to video-could have landed me in an exclusive gated community saying things into my phone like, "Get me Bono!", instead of the more pedestrian, "Yes, half cheese, half pepperoni, please.  Yes.  I'll hold."

Now that my  hit song was ready for delivery, I began my search for Titans.   I remembered that in the back of my mother's True Confessions magazines there were ads inviting people to get rich submitting their stories for publication.  I pilfered an old copy and found what I was looking for; a company looking for people who wrote lyrics, music or both.  I submitted my song and waited.

Now, you might be thinking, "Oh God, how good could it have been?  The kid was thirteen!", and I wouldn't blame you, although I might remind you that Taylor Swift got her start at around the same age.  A few weeks after I sent out my inquiry I received a response from Nashville.  They wanted to publish my song!  Truth be told, I was a little surprised. I didn't know things worked that fast in Nashville. You can't blame me for assuming that they must really be in a hurry to sign me on.  There was just one teeny problem-Nashville needed a hundred dollars in up front money.  There were logistics, you see.  They needed to find someone to write the music, find a top notch vocalist to record it, and circulate copies to all the radio stations to get the word out.  If I would just send them $100, they would take care of all this for me and then forward a copy of my record for personal use.  Once the radio stations started playing my record, the dough would  start rolling in and we would have to move to Nashville, probably, so that I could be closer to my people.

I'm not sure exactly how this happened-I believe there may have been a lot of back room negotiations to which I was not privy-but my step mom and father actually pulled together $100 dollars and sent it to Nashville on my behalf.

Thankfully, my parents were not taken advantage of and just one month later my record arrived in the mail. We put it on the record player in the living room and listened.  I was disappointed in the music.  It wasn't what I would have chosen. The clarity seemed a little off, too. Maybe they actually recorded it at the zoo for authenticity?

Once I heard my song, or Nashville's version of it, rather, my ever objective inner voice said, "No one is going to pay for this record except your mother", so I gave Vi my copy to save her the expense and decided to become an artist.  I began creating complicated wall-size murals, copying the style of Maxfield Parrish but adding unicorns.

It wasn't the first time my parents supported one of my dreams nor would it be the last.  I may not have become the first Taylor Swift or the inventor of the internet but I have been lucky in love.

MacGyver aside.

Chicken out



A real hit song:  Little Feat singing Dixie Chicken


24 comments:

  1. Your parents are/were special people.

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    1. Hi AC. They really are/were (mom and dad are gone, but step mom is strong and well.

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  2. I love your parents already- no wonder you're so creative!

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  3. Do you know what comes up as an ad at the bottom of the video?
    "Become A Better Singer. Breakthrough Method Releases Your Inner Voice ... www dot thesingingzone dot com" .... there's still time, Chicken!

    I agree with the comments above - how supportive of your folks to help your dream along. It must have been cool just to have your song on a record, no?

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    1. Hey Jenny_o, really? How come I can't see that ad? I played the whole thing again, but it didn't appear. I would love to be a better singer so I'm going to have to check that out. Maybe my mom will get me singing lessons:-) kidding. I tried to find the record-I thought I knew where it was-but I couldn't find it. Not that I could have played it even if I did find it, though, come to think of it:-)

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    2. Okay, this time I got "Your Computer Is Slow. Repair Your PC Before It Gets Worse". It's a Google Ad, and the other one likely was, too.

      You could send the record to me - yes, we still have an actual turntable. I'm weeping a little, admitting that. There is only so much clutter one can get rid of when one has to consider one's spouse.

      Or ...... I could send the turntable to YOU :)

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    3. Hi Jenny-maybe you could just host a party once I find the record. We could all come over and eat little hotdogs in puff pastry and chex mix. Then, after the record playing festivities, we could play spin the bottle. I can't wait!

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    4. Far out, man! You know how to party!

      Let me know how the search goes :)

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    5. Mayhaps we could have a party even if it doesn't t urn up. That could be fun!

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  4. I'm looking into the wayback machine like Sherman and Peabody! Thanks for another cool story!

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    1. Sherman & Peabody. hahaha. I had to stop and think about that

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  5. There is so much I love about your post.

    I love that you had such a great imagination combined with initiative. At 13 I was worrying how high I could tease my hair and how much blue eye shadow I could manage to load onto my upper eyelids...well more that eyelids really. (it would of been 1965 which was an interesting time for fashion)

    I love that your family supported you. My family most likely would of set me straight on my complete lack of talent. I would of believed them and gone back to teasing my hair.

    And your resiliency to bounce back and start a new goal. How long did your ambitions on being an artist last?

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    1. My family wasn't shy about setting me straight, either, Cheryl, no worries. Particularly when it came to my own makeup choices. That's what family is for, no? My artist ambition lasted about a month or so, until I realized I was born to write Harlequin Romance novels.

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  6. That is so sweet. What wonderful parents!

    True confession...do they even print those anymore?

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    1. Meee-chellleeee Ma Bellll how you been? Yes, they do still make True Confession. I looked it up. I'm thinking of a new sideline career.

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  7. Gee, I was hoping to hear the song.
    Nice rap. . . . .

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    1. Hi Goatman, so was I. Jenny_o is having a party once I find the record. She's the only one who still has a turn table. I'll make sure you get an invite. Keep your expectations to a minimum. Thank you for visiting.

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    2. Oddly enough I also have a turntable and a slew of vinyl sitting vertically in my record case. In fact, just played Abby Road to see if Ringo actually had a drum solo. He did!

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  8. I can't believe you had the gumption to do this, but you did. And now, what a story.

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    1. Hi Alexandra, I wouldn't call it gumption as much as naive optimism

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  9. lol

    At 18 I wrote to Geddy Lee (yes, THAT Geddy Lee) telling him that the next time he/Rush was in town, that I would make them spaghetti and meatballs because hey? Who wouldn't want to come to my shitty little apartment for spaghetti and meatballs?

    I'm still waiting for a response, because I'm sure as soon as we meet that we will become lovers.

    Pearl

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