“What you got for me, kid?” Big Jake asked through the smoke of the cigar he’d tucked away on the left side of his mouth, as he leaned over his mammoth wooden desk to shake my hand. Then, he reclined back in a leather chair large enough to accommodate his 6’ 5”, 240 pound frame.
“Yeah, okay,” I handed Big Jake the demo I’d recorded in my dad’s basement while he was out of the country on business – just me and an acoustic Yamaha on a four track recorder. It was slow, melodic, and lyric-heavy. Nearly monotone. Something different entirely from the honky tonk sounds I’d made my name on – less about the way women will break your heart and more about the way life does. “So, I’ve written 12 new songs. Never done anything like it. Take a listen to this shit, Jake!”
Big Jake loaded up the CD and started to listen. He took about thirty seconds with each song, scrolling through to the next one until he reached the end. At first he looked confused, but eventually seemed to warm to the sound. I avoided looking at his face so he wouldn’t see that I was about to shit myself from fear. I chewed on my thumbnail and looked at the pattern in the emerald green carpet while walking rapidly in a figure eight pattern from one end of the office to the other.
“Well, hell, kid – that sounds great,” Big Jake finally said after cutting the sound. “Didn’t know what the hell I was listening to at first, but your has never sounded better. Not sure it’s gonna work with the mucky mucks, but maybe if we add some more guitar. A little bass. You know – make it sound less like you wrote it after drinking a bottle of whiskey in a cemetery. What are you calling it anyway?”
I replied, “I left my father’s shirt at the end of a pier in Santa Monica stabbed through the heart with a stake and flapping in the wind like a flag of surrender.”
There was a pause as Big Jake struggled to understand. Then, slowly, he said, “Jeez, Danny. I’m sorry to hear about your troubles with your old man. That’s…that sounds tough. So… what are you going to call your album then?”
“No, Jake, that is what I call it; that’s the title. See?”
“Run that by me again,” Big Jake said.
“The album is called: I left my father’s shirt at the end of a pier in Santa Monica stabbed through the heart with a stake and flapping in the wind like a flag of surrender.”
Big Jake stared at me. Then, “What do you think you are, one of those emo kids who support PETA or chain themselves in trees? You gonna start wearing skinny jeans and skull caps and move to one of those granola cities on the west coast? Shit, kid – we can’t sell an album called My father’s shirt was flown by a pirate ship, or whatever the hell.”