It’s a heartache………….
The offer from the record company seemed pretty reasonable. Our band, recently formed to back singer Bonnie Tyler, was offered either session fees for three days recording of the new single, (around £300, a not inconsiderable sum back in the 1970s) or royalties, based on record sales.
I had loans to pay off, having purchased new musical equipment, and the thought of the £300 was tempting. So I listened to the demonstration tape of the new single, in order to make up my mind about what decision to make.
I listened – my wife listened. It was going to be a rubbish record. Bear in mind, the demo tape had one of the songwriters singing the melody (badly), accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar (slightly out of tune), and was recorded in his front room on a 1976 Dansette cassette machine……..
My mind was made up. Gimme the session fees please! (Mrs B has just reminded me that her actual words were: “Don’t you dare take the royalties!”)
So, 17 silver disks worldwide later, and an appearance of the song on almost all compilation albums from the 70s, all I had to show for it was a few TV appearances and a paltry £300……..
Which is why I now write blogs for nothing instead of lounging in my millionaire’s mansion, where I would still be collecting royalties, over 40 years on.
Wish I hadn’t done that
It seems to be pretty hard when it comes to pick just one decision that I regret I’ve done in my life. Actually, I have plenty of them so I’ve got a fantastic choice. So I decided to choose probably not the most emotional one, but the most influential one.
June 1994, I had just returned from Baylor University, Waco, TX. I’d spent a year there as an exchange student. I was coming back with a clear desire to become a journalist. Mostly it was because of Dr. Loyal Gould’s impact, a charismatic Professor Emeritus of Journalism, former head of Baylor’s department of journalism. He got me involved into the world of journalism and I still feel very thankful to him: he was really a man who changed my life getting me to a new direction.
He taught “Introduction to Mass Communications” class and was very popular among the students; the auditorium was always packed with the people. In the 60s he was the head of United Press International Eastern Europe, so he was telling numerous stories about his experiences back then. Sometimes he could exaggerate something so students already knew that. They used to call it ‘Gould travels’. Certainly, most of it was true.
Some of his tales were really things to remember. For example, he once told us a story, back in 1964, when he rented a brand-new Mustang, just released that year, and drove it across the border to Eastern Germany, meeting there a Soviet convoy and trading cigarettes with the Soviet officers.
Inspired by Dr. Gould (with his letter of recommendation in my pocket) I entered the Moscow State University’s dept of journalism with a clear intention to join its international division, leaving behind my former institution that was seducing me with a breathtaking career of being a manager. I passed all the tests and was admitted. Now I was looking for a career of international journalism, just like Dr. Gould wanted me to.
My dream coming true?
At the last moment I said: “Please transfer me to the advertising division.” My thought was that as Russia’s borders were open now, you can travel anytime you can. The economy was changing fast and the advertising industry was booming and being a part of it seemed to be very promising. It was something new at the moment of history and it’s got its magic.
I skipped the international division and joined the world of advertising. I could take any path then and chose this one.
Years after I kind of regret it though it maybe not wise to do so. I joined an American advertising agency (as a manager – the thing I wanted to escape), then moved to TV commercials production, then to documentary films production then to copywriting and, eventually, to journalism. I’m not an advertising man and I know it now. It took years for me to get where I belong to professionally and, most of all, mentally. I could have walked this road much faster.
So yes, I regret the decision I made in June 1994. That’s life…
Mistakes Were Made
Sergey and I were chatting on Facebook Messenger a while ago and decided that having a few things you would like to do over in life is a good thing. Think about it, if you’ve never made any major mistakes, you never took any chances. You never stepped out there and went for it.
Of course there must be balance; we all know that crazy guy, normally an uncle, who runs off and does stupid stuff. Yeah, don’t be that guy but please have something in life you would like to do again. Oh, and several great adventures where you just said to hell with this and took the leap.
My do-over involves two weeks before my first day of College. We had to sign-up for classes which obviously meant we needed to declare some major. I love astronomy; as a seventh-grader I had a small refractor telescope and read college-level astronomy text books for fun. I knew shit that would never get me a date and I didn’t care. I love space and science fiction to this day.
Later, I also had a job at a big, 50,000 Kw radio station. People knew who I was and it was an ego stroke. I could go to the drive through at any burger joint and my meal was free. Funny thing, if I went inside and ordered in person I was never recognized.
So it was time to sign-up for classes. At that point I had two options: communications or astronomy. For me, this is the difference between lust and love. The radio thing is uber-cool but I love space.
So I got there and all these seniors were sitting at tables and they were supposed to help us newbies fill out our forms. They would advise us and help set us on the path to a successful future. I was thinking astronomy, then I met this guy and of course he wanted me to stay in radio.
It was this fifteen minutes that changed my life and I was so young and foolish I didn’t even understand the gravity of what I was filling out. Yeah, I enjoyed broadcasting and spent twenty years in the business. But for much of that time it was a job. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong, but it was still a job. I have a friend who is a Trauma Nurse: She says it’s not what she does, it’s who she is.
Had that fan not been there I would have done something space-oriented. I have no idea: an observatory, NASA, or perhaps a research professor. But my entire life would have followed a different path. Would I like that fifteen minutes back? You betcha’.