Category Archives: Producing

assholiness

One time someone hired me to play for their record. Could I come Saturday and Sunday afternoon? Yes I could. They didn’t offer to pay anything and so I expected to do it for free, I liked their music, thought they had some great compositions. It was a band of about 5 people. The composer wanted me to play without knowing anything about the music. I understand that sort of thinking but the music wasn’t simple, had key changes and rhythmic changes which everyone else knew and rehearsed, I felt like my improvising was very uninteresting and was clashing. I tried to honour the request but we did it over and over, I couldn’t improvise it well, wasn’t working for anyone. (also not my main instrument, was asked to play this on melodica.) Last effort to improve things asked questions again about where the changes were but the composer stuck to their concept didn’t want me to know what’s coming when.
 
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The composer smoked more hash or pot with his buddy the engineer and insisted I continue in a vacuum. The air was tense until sheepishly one of the other musicians whispered the changes to me. I played it better. The composer got into barking at the members of his band. I didn’t like any of this and decided if I’m doing this free the least you can do is not act like an asshole. He walked me to the door downstairs at the end of the day and double checked starting times for tomorrow. I said no I’m not returning. He grasped what had happened and then became a little boy trying to get permission to stay up later than bedtime, that tonality. Please please come, I’m sorry I’m really sorry, please!
 
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Said bye, didn’t return. That’s one of the ways I acquire enemies but I care more about feeling honest with myself than being ok with assholiness.

being fired

Being fired is a total shock. In 30 years it happened twice and I didn’t see it coming. It was in a way good but painful. Makes you think lots about what happened or what didn’t happen. Both times when I viewed how the pictures were completed by my replacements I didn’t hear something I couldn’t have done. Both times the final music reflected different direction than the previous style requested of me. There isn’t a simple answer about how things work or don’t work, it’s about how people talk and relate. I try to hedge my bet by making more choices than too few.

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I’ve also had to end sessions occasionally because the person I hired couldn’t execute what I wanted. One time I hurt someone’s feelings but I was paying for studio time and had to call it. It didn’t sound in tune and there was no software to try altering the problem back then. I offered to pay them anyway and they ripped the money up threw it on the ground.

muscle shoals

The film about Muscle Shoals is an amazing layered story but it felt weird when the main man, Rick Hall, explained there was no racism there, nope, never, not one spec. Maybe true but it’s not good enough to hear a white guy asserting this like as if the white people he’s associated with were always cool. Would have been more powerful if Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin or Wilson Pickett wanted to contribute thoughts about racism or freedom from it.
 
It’s like the guy in the hamburger store in Toronto at Major and College, October 1982 who started to explain to me how Jews were controlling the Canadian Government and that explains all the problems in Canada… and when he realized a little late that I was Jewish and leaving for the exit he ran for his wallet in the back room returning to show me a Jewish dentist’s business card insisting this was proof he doesn’t hate Jews because that’s his dentist. This was his get-out-of-jail-free-card but it was damage control, it was public relations, as meaningful as Jimmy Fallon criticizing Trump when anyone with a working memory saw how pleased he was to play with Trump’s hair and normalize him for America after everyone knew he was a fascist provocateur .