Sunday, August 23, 2009
(part 197) ENOUGH BLAME TO GO AROUND
Looking back now at the RCA deal, and all the money spent by my girlfriend's father, I can see clearly that it was a bad idea. The original amount of $15,000 was as far as it should have gone.
I was newly sober, and the first check allowed me a real opportunity to have some choices I would not have otherwise had. It was a generous and well meaning gift.
What occurred, subsequent to that, changed the dynamics and took on a life of it's own. When RCA bought the first four songs I recorded, and gave me back the initial money I'd spent in the studio, those of us involved found ourselves in the midst of an alteration in perspective.
The future seemed more clearly defined as to the possibilities that lay ahead, once the label bought the four songs. My investment in the studio, with the money I'd been given, had paid dividends.
There had been no plan to invest more money, and I hadn't asked for any. The kicker was that a record company came into the picture and things changed.
None of us knew about DP, or his association with Bob Summer, the president of the label at the time. We did not learn of his involvement until later in the unfolding sequence of events.
My belief in 1977, which was shared by my girlfriend and her entire family, was that I was being guided by a "higher power" because I was sober and in AA.
This may look somewhat preposterous now, but back then it was as concrete a scenario as we could imagine. Three of us were in AA, and the rest of the family was in Alanon, so this thinking was not odd whatsoever.
Each of us, in our own mind, had reason to believe. We wanted to rely on such a thing, and so we did. We collectively and individually convinced ourselves of what we wanted to be true. That was what led to the idea of further investments.
I'd gotten my money back from RCA, so I wasn't walking around with my hand out. I had $16,000. The second investment was proposed by the family. It was a way to construct jobs for my girlfriend and her sister.
I saw nothing wrong with the idea, and so it happened. Both of them were in L.A. and needed a way to make money, and their father decided this was what he wanted to do. Again, it occurred prior to any knowledge of the problems that arose later.
Following the second check, four significant things came into play: the appearance of DP, his involvement with RCA's president Bob Summer, DP's desire to manage me, and the internal politics at the label itself.
As I have already said, none of these things were known by us at the time of the second investment. In fact, the president of RCA, my girlfriend's father, and I, all sat together in Bob Summer's office in New York, at one point, talking about how well the whole deal was going to go.
As a result, we all felt the future was bright, and that what was being done by everybody made complete sense. It was extremely positive. It is only in hindsight that 20/20 vision comes to such a critical view of those day's decisions made by us all.
It is seemingly logical now, after the fact, to offer up opinions and conclusions that were unclear and unknown then.
For my part, I was guilty of believing that I had put my past behind me. I was guilty of trusting God, sobriety, and myself to accomplish that which I had never accomplished before, a successful outcome.
Had I been more cynical, and used what I had learned from my own past experience, I would probably have fared better than I did.
But back then, I was enraptured by my belief that sobriety and life would be a celebration, and not the wholesale slaughter of emotions and dreams that it became.
To fault me now, as I tell this story, for believing that a better life was possible then, is a very dangerous judgement for anyone to make about what drove me.
I was as honest and forthright as I had ever been, and sought only to write songs and make recordings of them. I never asked for money in the first place, but once it was given, I managed it as best I could for all concerned.
I paid bills like rent, salaries, and recording costs. I did not throw money around. I drove a used car and had an apartment. I informed them all of each thing that I was doing. I did this because it's what I learned in AA.
When human beings are disappointed by what happens, and the outcome is not the one they hoped for, possibly those same human beings attempt to assign blame on others for the unwanted result.
I assigned blame to myself, RCA, Bob Summer, and DP. The rest of the blame I heaped on God, for not protecting me and a family of people who trusted me.
I could handle the up front knowledge of failure in the music business, because it was all I'd ever known, but this had been different. It happened in sobriety. It had gotten so close, only to be swept away in the end by a tidal wave of deceptions and manipulations.
I spent a great deal of time talking to God about this. It was said that God talks through people, and I heard every chicken shit answer I ever want to hear about why this happened from too many on the program.
Some were highly successful people in the music business, who had never spoken up at all until the end. And when they did speak, it was only to offer criticism.
I told them I had trusted God, and they laughed at me, saying, "You need more than God in the record business."
At another point, following the collapse, I sat in a tax auditor's office with my girlfriend and her father while we heard the amount of taxes that were owed.
My girlfriend's father made it quite clear in that office that he blamed me for getting him into a financial bind, and that he was not happy about it. I suggested he put it all on my back instead of his, to which he scoffed, "What are you going to do about it, you don't have any money?"
I felt like a child being annihilated by their parent. Later I had an argument with him saying, "You didn't invest in me. You used me as a means to give your daughters money, because you felt guilty about failing them as a father when they were growing up, because you were drunk."
His wife later made sure that I knew this was true, and for that I am grateful...