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When I was VP of Publishing for Barbara Orbison’s Still Working Music, we had the chance to pitch some songs to Rodney Crowell for his wife, Claudia Church’s new album. Barbara had me put together a package of about twenty cassette tapes of songs for consideration for the project. The package was going to be to be couriered to Rodney’s house.
At the same time, I was managing singer songwriter Mike Younger. I had been wanting Rodney to hear Mike’s music in hopes of Rodney producing some demos for us. After contemplating the move for about, oh, five minutes, I decided to place one of Mike’s tapes in the package with only my phone number on the tape.
Thinking the only three possible outcomes were:
1. Rodney would like the song, get back to me and want to work with Mike.
2. Rodney would not listen to the unlabeled cassette.
3. He would tell Barbara and I could lose my job.
At the time it seemed worth it so I added the cassette to the package and summoned the courier.
The phone rings and Rodney’s number appears on the caller ID. With a lump in my throat I answered, “Hello, Chris Keaton,” and he said, “Oh, hello, I wondered whose number this was. What is this tape in the package with just this number on it?” I explained what it was and he said, “Well, we listened to everything. Nothing really fit for Claudia, but I’d like to meet this guy.” He finished by asking me to call his manager to schedule a meeting.
And Then Again
At the South By Southwest music conference in Austin TX, Mike and I met with Rodney and his manager, Bert Stein, at midnight at the bar at The Driskill Hotel. Rodney said hello to Mike and then said, “I want to produce your album.” he and Mike carried on a lively conversation while Bert and I sat politely and quietly like two forgotten characters in a movie scene.
The rest of the story is Rodney produced Mike Younger’s first album, “Something In The Air”, later that year.
Sometimes, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And in that case, for my artist I took a bold step outside the lines. And it paid off.
Reach out to me. Let’s find out what bold steps we can take together.
Photo Credit: Cover, 2017 Pinterest