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