Don Henley


Subject: Don Henley's letter to Hits after they superimposed his
face in post-Grammy party photos (April 2002)

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 seaside restaurant. 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. It's 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 plansof 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, Blazing Saddles)

     "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,

Don Henley

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