Monday, June 23, 2008

Death Or Glory

Every now and again, when you least expect it, when you’re down with your defenses, when basically, you’re piss bored…the universe throws an interesting person your way.
It’s probably all part of a big cruel joke.
Probably much like golf - that game suckers you into self-confidence by a few decent shots; and then the next day, you can't hit the fairway if it were the size of Alaska.

But it is what it is.

So let me tell you of the time the universe threw the manager of The Clash my way.
well, if you don't know who they are, wiki fucking pedia it.
...
...
if you did indeed wikipedia The Clash, chances are that you're most likely a spawn of satan. And yes, you should just go back to daddy.

Let’s start from the beginning. So, I work in the boring ass field that is the corporate world. Nothing remotely related to the music industry. Nada.

But last week, while on a conference trip to somewhere in suburban America, I met a colleague.

It was at a bar after our conference.
He said howdy. I said hi.
We bought beers. We sighed. We looked at the tele for the match of the day.
… it was going to be the usual boring stuff..

He asked how things were in NYC. I told him I couldn’t wait to get back, just in time to catch Pearl Jam in concert (I also went ahead and air fisted at this time - it's involuntary I say).

I waited. I waited for some sort of reaction from him.
I waited some more.

He took a sip of the draught, and very slowly, very purposefully, said:

“Eddie Vedder’s so fake man. He sings sad songs but leads a glorious life.”

“How's that?"

“Song writing’s very difficult, man. Not the removed pop variety. The words of my life variety, where when people hear they go “aah, I know what that guy was feeling when he wrote that”.

“Isn’t that from the wedding singer”.

“It still applies”

“Fair enough”

“And really, nothing against that, just that it's not real, man. These bands, of your time, they don't have anything to sing for. There's no cause to rebel against, nothing to fight for. They’ve grown with AC homes, washing machines and exotic cuisines. They make flimsy causes in a desperate attempt to relate. They don’t make bands the way they used to, man. I saw real bands, the 80's were it. It’s been downhill ever since.”

I was going to groan.

And then he said...

“Did I ever tell you the time I managed The Clash? Only for a month really, but it was what it was”.

Oh he was there man. He was there when Husker Du signed up. He pronounced bands to me that have by now overdosed to their death, or just faded from memory. Yes, he's old school and that might explain his cynicism of "Bands, of your time".

He was there when Bill Graham was there. Bill was a bastard, he said. Bill was also the biggest promoter of the biggest bands in the whole world. The whole fucking world man, he said. He had Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Joplin...he had the best venues under his fist - Fillmore west, the Fillmore east...

I managed a small band that opened for Led Zeppelin one time at a Bill Graham venue. Bill was well known to swindle with the fees.

Now, the venue would take 5000 people, be packed to capacity but Bill would be at the back door, letting another 1000 through at $20 an entry. That would all ofcourse, be pocketed by the Graham.

So after this particular concert, our friend and the Led Zep manager, a huge huge English bloke, go to Bill Graham for their fair share of the booty. Bill says it was a bad show with not enough sales. The Led Zep manager, without blinking an eye, takes out a pistol and says “Bill let’s close the door and discuss this. I had counters at the back door”. Bill takes out 2 pistols and says sure. My colleague, who doesn't really have the demeanour for this type of charade, politely asks for what is due him, all the while concentrating real hard to stop that shivering. Get's the hell out he does.

I was pretty disappointed when he wasn't able to tell me what went down between Bill and Led Zep manager that night. "2 crazy guys, one room. There was no room in there for me man".

As for The Clash - they happened to him by pure luck. Being in the right place at the right time, you know. He said he got The Clash job cause he was American. The Clash being an English band had an English manger. For their US tour, they decided they wanted a manager that didn’t take the money and put it up his nose. The british were notorious for that. An American country boy with little experience seemed to fit what they wanted.
He was an American country boy with little experience.

He had a million other stories. Ok, maybe 10 odd stories. Unfortunately they came with "real" band preaching. But they were what they were.

...and that's for a later time. Maybe when you're sitting next to me sipping beers and looking at the tele.

1 comment:

Sankalp said...

in response to your comment on Seth, am leaving u the URL which has a small excerpt from Equal Muisc..in the hope tht it might push u into getting around to it

http://www.randomhouse.com/boldtype/0599/seth/excerpt.html