Letter from Don Henley to HITS magazine
Dear Loathsome Trade Hacks,
I was terribly amused by your series of fantasy scenarios detailing my
supposed crawl through all the post-Grammy "company store" parties. In
truth, I opted for a quiet, candlelit dinner with my beautiful wife at a
You see, I didn't want to attend any of those sumptuous bashes and be the
guy who ordered that one extra glass of champagne that shifted the delicate
balance and sent the industry careening over the edge into the abyss of
total bankruptcy (although Sony's music group shows a profit of $203
million for this past fiscal year). In retrospect, though, I probably
should have made the scene and kissed some record-company ass. Perhaps I
could have gotten my own label deal. Maybe, while standing there admiring
the ice sculpture filled with shrimp, I would have had an epiphany, seen
the light and been converted: There is no God, there is no government,
there are no individuals. There is only THE CORPORATION. The sovereign,
almighty, world-governing Corporation - and we are all here to serve It.
Having thus come to my senses, I, too, would then be able to sign fledgling
artists to unconscionable, long-term contracts with all those juicy
deduction clauses like the one for breakage that dates back to 1928, when
the records were made of shellac and would shatter if dropped. Tried to
break a CD lately? Why, you couldn't break one if you wedged it
horizontally between Zach Horowitz's butt cheeks and told him that all his
master copyrights were about to revert to the true owners, the artists. But
never mind that now. Then I could stick those stupid artists with at least
50% of the independent-promotion costs, even though they had nothing to do
with allowing that practice to become institutionalized. For an encore, I
could whack 'em again with "free goods," packaging deductions, video costs,
etc., etc., ad infinitum.
"Sit your temperamental, flaky, naive ass down here, artist. Disgruntled
about your deal after your third album sold 5 million copies? Sure, we'll
renegotiate with you. We'll just give you what basically amounts to your
own money, which we've been holding in the pipeline and collecting interest
on, but we're also gonna start the clock all over again and tack on three
more albums at the end so that you're essentially starting all over again.
a beautiful thing. You're gonna love it here-for the rest of your career,
which actually could be over in five minutes, but hey, that's not our
problem (we own your master copyrights, you boob). So you can just sell the
house in the hills and go back to that crappy little town you came from,
and the world 'will not long remember what we did here, etc...' We'll just
write off any losses we may have incurred (although we really haven't
incurred any). It's just the cost of doing business. Then we'll proceed to
the next gullible sap with a dream. You came from diddlysquat, and you'll
get used to diddlysquat again.
"Meanwhile, here at media-mogul headquarters, we've got to lock up the
house in Santa Barbara, as well as the one in the Hamptons (plus the
vacation pad in Acapulco) and rush off to get the corporate jet serviced.
It's in dire need of a tune-up after all those trips to France, and the new
one won't be delivered until we find the next Flavor-of-the-Month and bring
in some serious profits (or prophets-we could really use either). After
all, we've got to fund our mass-production assembly line somehow. You
know-all the crap we sign just because some 21-year-old A&R man tells us
it's brilliant. You can't expect us to sacrifice our bottom line just for
the sake of culture. We don't give a shit about culture. That kind of
starry-eyed idealism doesn't fit in with our plan for world domination,
much less the plans of our board of directors and our major stockholders.
We've got quarterly reports to file, and we've got a 90%-plus failure rate
that screams out, 'We don't know what the fuck we're doing."" ("Gentlemen,
gentlemen! We've got to protect our phony baloney jobs!" -Mel Brooks,
"I mean, who would have thought those freakin' hillbillies would have sold
over 3 million albums and won five Grammys!? And no tits, no ass, no
cursing, no nothing! Just...uh...musicianship and soulfulness. We don't get
it. Is there something we're missing? Is there some hunger out there for
authenticity? We're so confused!
" Meanwhile, back in the real world: In order to finally settle these
escalating disputes between artists and the record companies with the
dignity and class indicative of these times, I have come up with a plan.
Hilary Rosen and I will engage in a bout of nude mud wrestling, which will
be broadcast on that paragon of good taste, the Fox Network (if Fox doesn't
want it, then we'll do it on The WB). If I win, she has to sleep with Zach
Horowitz. If she wins, I have to purchase a lifetime subscription to HITS
magazine-and actually read it.
Love and kisses,