That’s Showbiz

From the journal of Julian Joyce, songwriter and singer.

21 March, 1972

Nearly finished the song about the Vietnam War.  Hoping I can get Lucy to sing it for the record; it really needs a girl singer.  Odd how Lu is so picky about being alone with me in the recording studio, although she must know by now I’d never cheat with my brother’s wife.  Good old Harry – for all he worries about me and Lucy being together, he still promises to get his cousin-in-law to push it with the advertising agencies.  It won’t really matter if I don’t make it.  I’m still riding on Dad’s fame, which makes the groupies think I must be good too, and Dad’s money, which lets me take as long and be as picky as I like.  Just need to get Lucy!  See, I want her, so I’ll get her eventually. 

22 March, 1972

Oh, this song is simply too marvellous for words.  I adore it already. It’s about a girl, whose brother is in ‘Nam, and she’s singing about how she misses him and how awful it is over there, and all that.  In between verses, there are some bits of the ‘brother’s letters’, just read, not sung.  It’s quite – well, radical I suppose, but I think it will make a nice effect. After all, radical is what Julian Joyce is all about.

23 March, 1972

Song finished, but no titles spring to mind as yet.  I guess I use up too much creativity on the lyrics to have much over for the title.  Not going to get Lucy after all – she’s in hospital with something awful.  Harry says it’s throat cancer, but I expect he’s being over-dramatic.  Lucy doesn’t smoke half as much as he does, and he’s all right.  Honestly, he treats that girl as if she’s made of gossamer.  Nothing is too good for her in his mind, and because she’s married to a banker who just happens to be the son of one of the world’s greatest rock stars, she can afford to indulge her champagne tastes.  Not, of course, that I think Lu would marry just for the money, but it must have been a deciding factor.  The important point is, though, that she won’t be able to sing, and I want her to.  What on earth am I going to do?  I don’t know any other girls whose parents aren’t so stupidly stuffy and Victorian they’ll let their daughters in the same studio as me.  You’d think the money would open a few doors, but apparently not.  Where I got this reputation from I don’t know, but really I suspect Jenny, the cute kid with the angel voice I found last year.  Jenny was totally unreasonable.  I picked her up from a low club, gave her a song to sing, and the glamour of being Julian Joyce’s girl, and then just because I said her voice was wrong for a particular song and I wished she’d do something about her crooked nose – even offered to pay for it myself – she walked out and started spreading rumours that I’m some sort of philanderer.  Good grief.  You’d think I had the right to ask that she make improvements, even if it wasn’t exactly kind to go out in public with Carrie the day afterwards.  That’s life.  Girls are supposed to make changes for the guy they love, aren’t they?

24 March, 1972

Heard from Gary today.  Best friend, now in Vietnam.  His letters are always inspiring; in fact, that’s what my data for the new song is based on.  Never thought I’d still have a pen-pal at the age of thirty…well, thirty-something, but we always were good buddies, so we keep in touch.  Gary says a pal of his has a kid sister Stateside, who wants to be a singer, and would I consider giving her the break she needs? I don’t know.  I’ve never worked with an eighteen-year-old before, but if she’s all Gary says her brother says she is, it might be worth the trip from New York to Minnesota to hear her. 

26 March, 1972

I heard Miss Kathleen Sister-of-Gary’s-Friend last night at a school concert, of all places.  Teeny little hick town in the middle of nowhere, and the old bird telling me about Kathy said that as she was the best singer in town, she very kindly volunteered to sing at the school fundraising concert.  Waste of a good voice, but I can soon change that.  She was doing one of last year’s songs, ‘Dancing in the Streets’.  It’s a lousy song, in addition to being Motown, which I hate, but the kid kind of made it come alive.  Wrote Gary to tell him I’ll definitely ask her to sing for me. 

27 March, 1972

Yes, she’ll do it.  I mean, Kathy sings perfectly; she even looks perfect for the publicity stills.  She has that cobwebby blonde hair I’ve been searching for everywhere, but I think she must dye it, because her eyes are dark brown and huge.  It looks striking, but not quite real.  I’ll have to work on finding not-too-tall backing singers, because Kathy is tiny, only about five-three.  I wonder how she looks in green satin.  Jenny was about her size, and left behind all the dresses I’d given her.  Most of the dresses still look good enough to be taken for new and all the necklaces and so on certainly do. Girls are insane.  A guy can shower them with gifts: dresses, jewellery,  champagne, caviar, perfume and all the rest of it, take them to concerts,  give them fame by letting them sing, and they will still refuse to do the simplest little thing for him, or even stick around more than a few months.  I’m sure Kathy will appreciate having a friend who is so much more experienced than she is in the big city.  Only this morning, she was telling me she’d never been further from her little hick town than Minneapolis. 

28 March, 1972

I had the most absurd letter today.  It was from Miss Kathy’s brother, of all people, writing from Vietnam.  He must have heard about Gary’s letter, and wrote to warn me that if I was to ‘take advantage of Kathleen’s innocence and impetuosity’, he would come and find me and make me sorry I ever saw her.  Well, really.  As if I’d ever do anything ungentlemanly toward any girl.  If I’m honest, I suppose letting Jenny know I was planning on going with Carrie after all, or cutting Carrie off without a cent because I got tired of her, or getting Lucy to sing a love-song-type duet, might not be, in the strictest sense of the word, nice, but a man gets nowhere by being nice to everybody.  And I made it up to all of them, what with the gifts and the fame and the money and the glamour. Those girls were the most famous females on the Eastern Seaboard, in their turns.  Kathy will be too, and there’s nothing her brother can do about it.

31 March, 1972

Today I finally got Kathy into the recording studio.  She was seriously nervous, and didn’t know the basics, like, how far from the microphone to stand.  Eventually I gave up on the idea of getting the new song recorded today, and started by getting my new favourite girl in New York used to the studio, asking her to sing something she knew really well so I could show her how to handle the electronic stuff. Oh, and she has a talent for titles.  The new song now has a name: Kathy suggested I should call it ‘A Long Way to Cam Ranh Bay’. Kind of cute, really, that being her brother’s current location. 

3 April, 1972

Got the first try at the recording done.  This girl really is a marvellous actress – she sings with such feeling, as if the emotion is real, which of course makes for a far superior sound than if Jenny, say, had sung the song.  The sound tech had an interesting idea – why not add some battle-type sound effects into the letter parts of the song, to make it sound like the situation the brother is in?  Kathy later made a suggestion of her own, namely that I should record the letter parts.  Really, I think this business partnership will be very successful.  I only hope our personal relationship progresses as well.

5 April, 1972

The final recording is finished.  The day after tomorrow I’ll take Kathy to the photographer’s studio to get some shots for the single cover.  The poor child is nervous about that as well, so we’ll spend tomorrow and a few hundred dollars on new clothes and a decent haircut for her and so on.  It can hardly hurt her to dress like a New York lady instead of a Minnesota farm girl.  I mean, jeans and sweaters and Converse are hardly suitable clothes for any girl of mine.  I’ll see if I can get an emergency appointment with one of the salons to tidy up those ghastly braids of hers, and maybe do something about some makeup.  I cannot believe that any girl can be eighteen years old and not wear makeup on a daily basis. 

6 April, 1972

Well, the makeover has come out very well.  Kathy looks at least twenty-two, and terribly sophisticated.  I told her time and time again that it is just unacceptable the way she dresses, but I still couldn’t get her into any skirts shorter than knee length, however much I slipped the salesgirl to convince her of how dowdy long skirts look on young girls.  Shirts were another problem; I could not get her to consider any neckline lower than practically throat height. After much convincing and much champagne over lunch, I managed to get Kathy looking a little less like a nun.  I’m dreading tomorrow – the photographer I work with is adamant that he will not work with any female who does not look ‘right’ which to him means teasingly attractive.  I anticipate a significant tussle.  Must remember to order more champagne – it makes her much easier to manage.

7 April, 1972

As expected.  Kathy was frightfully difficult to coerce.  For goodness’ sake, how hard need it be to take a few photographs?  Would she undo just one more button, which would barely make half an inch of cleavage?  No she would not.  Would she smile appealingly for the camera?  No she would not.  Would she so much as look seductively into the distance?  Not a chance.  I really think I’ll have to get a professional model for the photographs, which will of course mean running into hundreds more dollars in costs.  One more try tomorrow, and if that doesn’t work I swear I’ll pack her off back to Minnesota.

8 April, 1972

Well. That went badly.  Finished doing the photos to both our – almost – satisfaction.  ‘Almost’ meaning that she still looked like a prioress, but had to be practically tight before she’d do anything at all.  It’s okay.  I can get it doctored so Kathy looks more like a singer and less like a nun, and by the time the song comes out, she’ll be home in her stagnant little backwater.  We finished work at the studio a little late.  Okay, about midnight.  I suggested that Kathy stay the night at my flat, as it was absolutely pouring with rain and ghastly weather for her to have to go back to her hotel in. I even offered to sleep on the sofa and let her have my bed.  Could I get her anything?  Pyjamas?  A glass of Madeira before bed?  What do you think the stupid little prude said?  ‘You can call me a cab.’ Good grief.  Called the cab, and when it arrived, parted – well, not on the best of terms. 

9 April, 1972

Called the hotel this morning, expecting to hear that Kathy had checked out. Well, she had.  ‘She’s left a message for you, Mr Joyce.’ Would I like to hear it?  Kathy had apparently said I was the kind of lustful creep her mother had warned her about, and if she never heard from me again she would be sublimely happy about it.  I did not think that mothers said that kind of thing anymore, I honestly didn’t. Called Carrie after I got off the line with the hotel and asked her out to dinner tonight.  Had to apologize hugely to her and promise that I hadn’t meant a single word of our last quarrel.  I might try Damaris’ store to see if I can get a ‘sorry’ present to give Carrie this evening.  

20 April, 1972

Back with Carrie, who is doing the photos for the cover of ‘A Long Way to Cam Ranh Bay’, and having a simply lovely time.  Dug out the old love-song inspiration board to write one for Carrie.  Noticed in passing, on the classifieds yesterday, that Kathy has vanished from Mission City.  It looks like the silly child’s eloped with some hick-town farm hand, if the letter the studio got from her today is anything to go by.  She says (to the recording tech) that she’d rather her name wasn’t mentioned in connection with the song, as she has married (Married! Good Lord) someone who cares about her and that she would like to leave the brief New York chapter of her life closed.  It’ll probably end in tears.  Heaven knows I hope I never see her again.  I have to move on with my career, however many young fools get hurt through not thinking things through.  Nobody can blame me for what’s happened.  I let her go because she wasn’t what I wanted.  Live with it. That’s showbiz. 


About coruscantbookshelf

"A writer is an introvert: someone who wants to tell you a story but doesn't want to have to make eye contact while doing it." - Adapted from John Green
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3 Responses to That’s Showbiz

  1. I don’t like the person who’s journaling this. Then again, you probably wrote him to be unlikeable. ;-P Still, I think it’s a good story, highlighting some realities of life without being too graphic. Well done!


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