...is one of my favourite songs
Nobody ever takes me seriously when I tell them how much I love this song by Kenny Rogers. But I do. I’m not really a country & western fan, though I would be as long as someone offered me money to work on it. The Gambler has a story, a killer chorus, and even a gear change. The production is pretty awesome on some of the more modern stuff, too, and if you call it Americana, then I am all in - one of the genres I am enjoying most lately. So now we know I like many things musically and am a total mercenary. Unfortunately the life of the mercenary is to live and die by the sword, and sometimes, we will lose. So. I’d made it from small studio, to bigger studio, back to small studio and so on a half dozen times, and the grind was finally paying off. I finally had a real manager which meant I had access to the juicy projects, and there was a new artist on the industry’s radar, and there was a little bit of a shoot-out between a few producers, and I kind of got down to being one of the last two, having beaten out some Icelandic guy, and some other English team. Needless to say my nemesis got the gig, his star currently very much on the ascendant. I knew this as I sat in the A&R office as the A&R manager started to play me a song with which I was very familiar.
“Didn’t he do a good job? So fresh.”
I listened to the whole song. “Well no, not really, he didn’t. That’s MY track, actually.” Oh! said Mr A&R. Hey Charlie - did you know this was Adam's production? No, really? Oh, we love it! I still didn't get the gig, of course. This was a frustrating time. Being good enough, but for whatever reason - not quite there.
Soon after this I spent time in the studio with a band that was successful then became decreasingly successful to the point that it was a real on the ropes situation. We did some tracks, and they turned out very well. They got sent back to do more tracks with me. They turned out well too. The label weasels started to get excited. By the third round, the actual head of EMI’s A&R came and said to me “I really think you should do this new record.” You can imagine how thrilled I was.
Next meeting, “You know…Rick Rubin could do it!” I slunk into the corner and sighed as the names of famous guys were bounced round the room. The project was alive again, and I was back to being the help. I guess Rick was busy as they went with the guy that gave the band it’s biggest hit previously using what they call in the industry “a safe pair of hands”. I even asked the producer if I could be part of the team, he complimented my drum sound…then never called again. It was only later as I stood in a queue at the Tesco Metro supermarket hearing a shit version of something I demoed I felt a bit better, and then again a teeny bit better as the record tanked. I know, not very zen and something I had to work on. At least it didn’t tank on MY hands, but then again, that’s the universe for you. Maybe it wasn’t the right project to hang one's hat on after all. You know the answer when you don’t succeed? Keep going. But, even mercenaries are human. I had three of these near misses in a row, so needed a little break. I went and did something else for a while and made a load of money. I hated it. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em as Kenny says.