The Next Seattle

The Next Seattle: Chapter 10

The Dog Theory…

Two-thirty a.m. found me back in Mr. Ketchum’s car, being taxied back to my hotel. Apparently, Mr. Ketchum, excuse me, Mark, picked up Samantha every night after the close of the club. I had been able to get through the evening without alcohol, but now I felt pretty darned sleepy. I must have been zoning out a bit because I was startled when Samantha suddenly called out to me from the back seat.

“The record companies… It was those types who missed out on what was going on in Seattle—I mean the city Seattle. They thought the whole scene was a hopeless bunch of amateurs until it became something so big that they couldn’t ignore it anymore. Then suddenly it was the greatest thing since sliced tomatoes.”

“That’s true,” I admitted. I wasn’t sure where that conversation thread had come from and I wasn’t sure what she was expecting me to say. I suppose that I could have told her that I didn’t think that anyone in the music business could tell you what was good or what was bad. What they are looking for is “star quality,” — not actual quality, but the ability to have people clamor after you.

You see, I’ve studied this rock star thing. Some people study chemistry. Some people study philosophy. Some people study Italian. I’ve studied the rock star thing. I listen to the stars and I listen to those who make them stars. I suppose now would be as good a time as any to go into my “dog theory,” so here it goes: I have this theory about the business people in the record companies. They’re like dogs. A dog doesn’t know the difference between a good person or a bad person. Hitler had a dog. All the dog knows is which one of those people goes, ‘Here boy!’ That’s all it knows. And the people at the record companies are like that dog. They wouldn’t know a good band from a bad band to save their lives, but they take notice of whoever stands up and loudly calls out, “Here boy!”

“So,” I said, coming back to Samantha, “you think that like Seattle, Terre Haute is just waiting for the record companies to wake up?”

“Well, for someone to wake them up,” she answered, “Now that’s where I see myself as coming in. The bands, they shouldn’t be worried about promotion and all of that other crap. They should be concentrating on becoming the best bands that they can become. I see it as my job—my destiny—to be the one who stands up and shouts to get everybody’s attention.”

“Funny, I thought that’s what managers and publicists were for,” I said.

“We don’t have a lot of those in town yet. But somebody’s still gotta do that stuff.”

I laughed and said, “So armed with a telephone with automatic re-dial, Samantha sets out to conquer the world.” I sat for a moment and that one thought led me to another: “So that’s why I’m here?” I asked.

“Well… yeah,” she said smiling, “But that’s not so different from what the record companies do with you, is it? They don’t give you interviews with musicians and stuff because they think it would be a swell thing to do. They do it because they hope that the publicity will sell records. I’m doing it because I hope that the publicity will sell these bands and sell the whole Terre Haute music scene.”

I turned to Mr. Ketchum, who had been driving along Ohio Avenue without making the slightest contribution to the conversation. “And what do you think of that Mark?”

“What I think,” said Mr. Ketchum, “is that she’s just like her mom was at her age. Tenacious and driven as all hell.” Mr. Ketchum quickly glanced at his daughter, then quickly brought his gaze back to the road, “and I hope to God she doesn’t let anybody ever talk her out of that.”