Sunday, November 15, 2009
(part 207) LAWYERS, CONTRACTS, AND PUBLISHING
Out of the four songs recorded, "The Sun Don't Shine In Barrooms" was another of the studio tracks. I was screwing around with the vocal, and just kind of fell into a straight country performance as a joke, but it worked so well we decided to pursue it seriously in the studio.
Rather than shy away from the strict country lean of the song, we followed it. With Dave Pearlman's excellent steel guitar playing as the guide, and Ben Benay's spot on Les Paul licks, the song started playing itself.
Aided by Colin Cameron's steady hand on bass, and Jim Ponder's drum work, the studio performance surprised us all. When I listened to the track playback I had no doubt as to the way the vocal should be done.
It hung together so well that it invited the vocal, as opposed to trying to figure out how to do it. It just said, "lay it down country like you mean it!" I overemphasized the twang, but again, when I heard the playback it sounded tight and natural.
Without planning any of this in the beginning, it became for me, a lesson in recording. Sometimes what happens naturally is better than your original plan, if you simply ride along with it.
"Barrooms" was exactly that, we just went along for the ride. Dennis, being somewhat of a country oriented person wearing a suit and tie, thought it was a hit record, and we all tended to agree with him.
It was not the direction we'd set out to achieve, but "Barrooms" and "Outlaw" set their own course, and for the most part we just went along on instinct.
It was then up to Dennis and George, in large part, to prove to themselves they could pick up the ball and run with it, something they were never able to do.
Wanting to be, and even believing you are, in the music/record business does not suffice for hard work toward that end. Dennis's problem was that he was a lawyer, and he thought like a lawyer.
Instead of pursuing a label so the record could be released, he concentrated on creating an iron clad contract for me to sign. He was a studier, so he went to other music attorneys, and asked them their opinions about what was important.
The end result was a contract that gave him and George control of all the songs I had written for the past two years, and all the songs I was going to write for the next five years.
This would have included the songs I'd written for the RCA recordings, which I said I couldn't do. Those songs were in RPJ Music, my company, and were partly owned by the family of my ex-girlfriend.
Dennis said he didn't care about my previous arrangements regarding the publishing of those earlier songs, and continued to pursue his plan to control the publishing rights.
I continued to refuse, because the man who had made their existence possible, to a great degree, as recordings, was now dead. His family had a right, in my opinion, to partial ownership of what had been created when I'd been involved with them.
As usual, my standing on some principle I believed in, led to the eventual demise of the entire deal. Dennis and George became convinced that controlling the publishing was what was important.
This of course was true, in one way, but was the catalyst, as it is in many cases, for the destruction of all else. it served to place Dennis and me at odds with each other, and led in time to the collapse of any further agreement after the one year expired.
When's It Gonna Be Tomorrow....Demo 1980-81