Every writer has the proverbial “side hustle.” You know, the random job that pays more than actually writing, but when you explain what you do, you close it with, “…but actually I’m a writer.” I’ve had many a side hustle throughout my tenure in music writing (you’ll learn about every single one of them soon enough). My first one though was as a Paralegal. It was the wild card I loved throwing out into random writing situations like I was Jay-Z in “99 Problems” telling the police officer why he can’t check his trunk without a search warrant (Well, I ain’t passed the Bar, but I know a lil’ bit. Enough you won’t illegally search my shit). It’s excellent dinner party conversation fodder, and sometimes more…
The female singer/male producer relationship had everyone so testy after one of their own was caught with underage girls. It made everyone so incredibly neurotic about the moves their teenage female singers would make, yet no one had a problem still sticking these girls with 40 year old producers to help them write songs about getting their asses slapped. I had the unusual honor of interviewing one of these girls. She was still in high school about to release her first album. Her single was all over the radio. When we first started the interview, she wouldn’t stop giggling. I asked her if she was okay. “Of course! I just love doing these types of things.” Awww…I guess.
The first question I asked her was, “How does it feel to have a hit single on the radio.” She replied, “It feels great! Yay!” I continued, “Do your friends at school treat you differently?” Her response, “They sure do! Yay!” This conversation was going nowhere fast. Trying to get her to talk about something, I asked what her favorite subject in school was. “Well, I’m actually a really big fan of cheerleading (that’s a subject?), would you like to hear a cheer?” I didn’t exactly have a choice, because she proceeded to “cheer” the lyrics to her single. “Isn’t that your song?” I asked. “It sure is! Yay!”
We continued on like this for a cool 25 minutes until we got into a discussion on the music. I asked about a particularly graphic song I heard on the advance of the album. “Oh that one? I wrote that when I was 14 with my producer.” Wait, what? I was surprised Chris Hansen didn’t show up while her producer was shaking a fucking margarita in that studio session, but I let it slide. When I wrote the piece, I referenced the oddness of that little love equation.
Months pass, and the magazine hit the stands. Then one random day my phone rings. It’s the artist’s manager. “I read your little article, (1,500 words is NOT little, asshole) and you accused my artist of sleeping with her producer. Who do you think you are?” Then he hung up on me. Five minutes later, my editor called me: “We have a little problem.”
So two things had to go down: One, the lyrics of the song had to be presented to prove it was creepy as fuck that a 14 year old was singing about sex with her 45 year old producer. Two, the transcript of the interview had to be presented. I included every “yay” in that conversation to drive this point home. The publisher of the magazine called me and asked if she really “yay’ed” that many times. No one has ever yay’ed as much as she did in the entire history of yay’ing. I was eventually told I was in the clear because the song was fucking disgusting. I knew it.
A week passes and the manager calls me again. “I’m suing you.” Oh good. “For what?” I asked. “Slander,” he replied. “You mean libel,” I responded. “What the fuck does the Bible have to do with this?” “No, I said libel. If you’re going to attempt a lawsuit, get your terminology right, and while you’re at it, train your seal. She says ‘yay’ too much.” We exchanged about an hour of these pleasantries, and he ended the call telling me to wait for the lawsuit where he’s suing me for Bible. Eight years later and I’m still waiting. That song never made it to the release of the album, by the way.
I ran into the artist about four years after that interview. Her career hadn’t gone incredibly far, but at least she graduated high school. “Don’t I know you?” she said. “Um, yeah, I interviewed you many years ago.”
She had no idea who I was.
“Oh, yes! I remember you! That was a great day. Yay!”
Previously: The Chickenhead Convention