Recently, I have spent most nights chronically unable to sleep. Lying there awake I analyze the situation I have found myself in but never quite find a solution. I actually think I may be losing my marbles — as the saying goes.
I had always considered myself quite hard-boiled and emotionally prepared for anything obscene, offensive, and outrageous that the music business could throw at me, but, for the moment, my life seems to have choked on a piece of bad news.
It turns out that my record label has for some time concealed its financial situation from the likes of me — the artist — once considered the backbone of this industry. Now, as they scramble to restructure or sell the label, depending on who I ask, there seems to be no one who can, or is willing to, provide any satisfactory counsel.
Let’s assume that I turn around and say to them, “Listen, I am physically and emotionally spent from having been on the road for so long promoting this record, and now I have just met with the legendary producer Peter Asher who is willing to produce my album for free because he loves the new songs. It is really important to the band and I, and to Peter, to begin the recording in October, as we had planned to, because we feel the band must keep its momentum. Now, since there is all this talk of the label folding and what have you, why don’t you either promise me that we can get on with the recording of the next album this October or let me walk.”
I wonder what they would say, except it is not even worth asking. In this industry even hypotheses can be conjecture because getting someone on the phone who is willing to take responsibility for their answer is as unlikely as waking up one day to a New York city without any rats.
So there it is — my dilemma. Not exactly what I thought of when I dreamt of musical stardom, or even just a musical life. Some nights it seems entirely reasonable that I walk from all of this and get hired in a normal industry, work with normal people, and earn a normal living. It all seems possible until I wake up and realize we have simply achieved too much to walk away from it now.
It would be nice to one-day walk on ground that doesn’t feel like it could break under my feet at any time. It would be nice to lift this overbearing feeling that no matter how hard I try some jackass somewhere could screw it all up, without warning.
I have to admit: I don’t anticipate such a time; not in this industry, not anymore. Gone are the days when the artist mattered. Today we seem to be nothing more than an appendage to an entity of much greater importance which in my case, I am sure, is the board of directors, or the shareholders, or the bondsmen.
I wish for them nothing but a soothing and serene sleep.