Two Kinds Of Hits

Written by Dan Schwartz

We have a hit. We’ve been hit. Both are true.

Everybody wants a hit record; everybody. It’s money, it’s acknowledgment, and it means more work, all those things.

The  Tuesday Night Music Club record sold about 12,000,000 copies worldwide. It made gobs and gobs of money. A&M, having wasted nearly $500,000 on Ms. Crow so far, were very reluctant to spend any more, and only gave up about $200,000 for the record we did. But it was justified. I say we believed our bullshit. Some of us truly felt that if A&M didn’t blow it in their marketing, that the album had at least 5 hits on the record.  And it looked like they were blowing it, at first — things started to go wrong very quickly. But nothing was going to stand in its, and their, way.

To begin with: three of us, — myself, Bill and Kevin — were booked to appear in the video for “Run, Baby, Run”. A wardrobe stylist called on a Tuesday and asked if I was comfortable in jeans and T-shirts. “Do you know any musicians?” I asked her.  When we went to meet the director the following day, he didn’t bother coming into the room; he just sent someone to take our pictures. We were told to leave Friday available. Afterwards, we went to meet Brian at a bar at the foot of my hill, and Bill asked, “Did that whole thing smell funny? They don’t put people who look like us in videos.”

Sure enough, the next afternoon, Thursday, we were told we wouldn’t be needed. This director, whoever he was, felt sure that the people who played that song must look just like the Allman Brothers on the cover of Live at Fillmore East. And he was hedging his chances by having actors booked to fake it. Wigs and costume were pulled from one of the wardrobe houses on Tuesday, just to make sure they could look the part. How do I know? Because my wife is a wardrobe stylist and she was in the place that the items were pulled from on Tuesday. (This was the first hint I had of the massive disrespect that was on the way; a sort of divide and conquer strategy.) And although all this was on the “artists’” dime, MTV refused to play the results.

The video “came out”, so to speak, and the album sales went nowhere. Meantime, I found out, about 6 weeks after it happened, that Sheryl called Bill and her manager to a meeting, fired the manager who had gotten her to this point, and yelled at Bill –– the day after the album was turned in to A&M. She reportedly said of the album, “This is all I have.”

I called Sheryl to ask what was going on, and she said, “Dan, you and I are too good friends to talk about this.” That was the last time I spoke to her with any substance. Since my allegiance was first to Bill and the album and second to my friend Sheryl, I suppose the conversation gave me cognitive dissonance.

A number of years later, an author named Richard Buskin came to interview me about the record and my perspective on Sheryl for a book he was writing[1]. I had learned to not talk to the press after being severely misquoted in the San Francisco Chronicle (in fact, the “quote” attributed to me was nothing I had said, it was a pure invention). But since Bill was willing to talk to the guy, I would too, and I’m glad I did — we became friends. Richard heard what Sheryl said to me that day very differently; maybe he had a perspective that’s taken me years to get. He suggested that it was her way of avoiding what would have been highly uncomfortable for both of us.

I was to find out in the coming months and years— well, given my talk with David Baerwald a couple weeks ago, I’m still finding out — about the, machinations, I guess we should call them, that Sheryl was put through to get those performances out of her on the album. And in hindsight, in context, once I knew everything that had been done, those two statements, to Bill at that meeting and to me when I called her, make some kind of sense.

I took the role of Sheryl’s defender in the process of making the record, which is an absurd position to be in, or to even find necessary – but I felt that it WAS necessary: to protect her from Baerwald’s aggression, and Bill’s seeming lack of concern regarding that. What can I say? It’s how my mother raised me. I wasn’t successful, not entirely, but at least she had an ally, while it lasted.

In hindsight, I had no clue what was going on. Maybe I was intentionally kept in the dark, and maybe I wasn’t. It’s easy to imagine Bill as the guy sitting back pulling strings, but I think he set some things in motion and that was all. The most he could do was record or not record what ensued and then do his best to shape the results. He definitely had a philosophy that “creative tension” gave you better results than otherwise.

A&M’s marketing department got the right ingredients together for the next video, “All I Wanna Do”, and the album began its ascendancy.  Bill’s philosophy was borne out. But we paid a price for our part of it — in how we related to each other, how each of us individually related to Sheryl, and how we related to other artists.

But that’s a tale for another day.


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