Happy Sanchez does his happy-Sanchez dance and jumps up and down upon his mattress, for his birthday wish has come true! Some goofy rock critic finally took the bait and wrote a pissy letter to Sanchez! Whereas smug know-it-all Sanchez could’ve guessed that a couple of crazy women from Manhattan and Piscataway would have responded to his tearful plea for hate mail the week before last, Sanchez could barely dream that an actual writer would be dumb enough to take Sanchez on! The poor girl—who brags about having been in a moving vehicle with Chuck Eddy—a namedropping just a couple rungs down from Sanchez’s friend who claims to have met the guy from the “time to make the donuts” commercials at a train station in Peekskill—wags a scolding finger at naughty Sanchez for skimming an Eddy review and drawing broad conclusions from barely examined fragments of text. Honest Sanchez swears he was only trying to be as rock-critic-like as he could possibly be—taking things out of context, being “mean-spirited,” barely digesting the material he was reviewing and generally paying more attention to the word count than his own half-assed, hastily conjured opinions that might (sniff) hurt Chuck Eddy’s feelings—why, meticulous Sanchez insists he was only following the manual!
However, solemn Sanchez accepts being berated for his blatant ripoffs of righteous poet of the ages Jo Jo Dancer. From now on, repentant Sanchez will eschew all phrases minted by Dancer, including “phoned in,” “yank your chain,” “for the love of mike,” “three sheets to the wind,” “shit for brains,” “up the cornhole” and “put up wet.” Having taken his lumps, though, benevolent, free-advice-distributing Sanchez patiently informs the letter-writer—who signed her note as Zsa Zsa Dancer—that the presence of two opening acts—the Roots and Santana—at the Dave Matthews show that Eddy condemned so savagely does not a “concert by three bands” make. Sanchez can’t blame the lady—after all, what professional critic would sully their reputation by actually attending and becoming familiar with the ins and outs of live gigs attended by the general public?—but advises that the next time Matthews sells out a stadium, she drop by the parking lot and ask one of the beer-addled yobs in attendance who’s playing. The answer may be shockingly uninformed by the hardcore brainpower of the Voice‘s critical think-tank! Why, the yob in question may never have read Mystery Train at all! Woeful Sanchez wonders what this world is coming to!
As for the rest of his birthday, Sanchez plans to sit around and wait for the rest of his dreams to come true, namely, that the Wookie and the Lumpy Lass and a gaggle of their furry, pudgy friends will mob Sanchez, rip off his clothing, grease him down with Wesson, force him to dance for them and then staple dollar bills to Sanchez’s chest with staple-guns! Giddy Sanchez can just feel that his ship is coming in!
Lucky Sanchez found even more rock-critic goofballery neighboring his own column in the NYPress, week before last! Rob O’Connor, writing about perennial singer-songwriter sob story Ron Sexsmith, wrote that the babyfaced tunesmith “caught the ear of a guy…at the publishing division of Interscope. Sexsmith was originally signed as a songwriter, but once it was figured out that he could deliver the songs himself, he was given a shot.” Head-shaking Sanchez cannot believe a colleague would be so ignorant of the nature of publishing deals!
Pedantic Sanchez gathers the children around him and tells the story very slowly: Nobody outside of Nashville hires songwriters simply to write songs, particularly songwriters of Sexsmith’s arty ilk. A publishing deal gets the artist a chunk of change, and then the publishing company collects the mechanical royalties—to grossly oversimplify, the author’s cut (the incomprehensible mess that is the mechanical royalty system is not something that lazy Sanchez is going to take on explaining to the likes of you)—until they’ve recouped their advance—still
collecting a percentage if recoupment actually happens. The optimum scenario from the publishing company’s point of view is to get the artist into a three-record deal for $15,000 a pop and then drag the tape around to all the labels, trying to get the artist a deal with a $250,000 advance. Which nearly always is spent actually making the record. Given that once the videos are made and the tour support checks are signed it’s near impossible for the artist to recoup, that publishing check is more or less the artist’s income, period. Big artists with multi-platinum hits rarely recoup; usually they get paid by renegotiating their contracts—for instance, those REM and Janet Jackson multimillion-dollar deals that happened earlier this decade—of which scribes pointlessly debated the wisdom—weren’t meant to gamble on the artists’ future releases, but rather to pay them for the hits they’ve already had.
Sanchez’s favorite thing about publishing deals is that even though there is a federal law establishing the rate at which the writer is paid, the writer’s lawyer still has to negotiate for the percentage of the legally defined rate they’ll get. An artist is lucky to win three-quarters of what the law says is his! What does this mean to you, attentive consumer? Well, if the next Billie Holiday shows up—she didn’t write her own material—in order to actually make a living as a singer she’ll have to be a songwriter! Lip-licking Sanchez hopes that future legal convolutions force singers-forced-to-be-songwriters to also play drums on and mix their own recordings, thus ensuring that even less good music makes its way into the world!
Inelegantly-segueing Sanchez asks: Just who the fuck is Dan Ingram anyway? Sharing a cab with the Wiper, curious Sanchez inquired with the cab driver, who launched into an irate tirade about how his dispatcher has no idea either, how he continually asks fellow cabbies and no one can answer him. Nervous Sanchez was more than a little scared by the cabby’s banging his fist on the dashboard and yelling and had the guy stop a dozen blocks before his destination! And what’s with the ultra-deep-reverb on the Cindy Adams buckle-your-seatbelt-and-get-your-receipt speech? Did they have to tape her in the bathroom because she refused to get out of the tub? Or is she just a big Lee “Scratch” Perry fan, who happens to know a thing or two about an echoplex?
And now that Sanchez has furiously banged out his column, he is ready for the birthday celebrations to commence! Why, surely some friend of Sanchez is gearing up for a big surprise bash that will fill the heart of Sanchez with joy, joy, joy! And all certain Sanchez has to do is just sit right here, Buddha-like, on his mattress for a few hours and wait to be showered with love sweet love!
Profuse, tearful thanks from Sanchez to his readers for pooling all their money and buying him a pony!