While I was mired in the task of preparing responses to some disclosure and production requests that seemed to have mistaken a cause of action sounding in defamation for the Spanish Inquisition, I heard the distant ding of email. My computer is on silent, which I believe may delay my admission to the Institute of Living, but the iPhone, which also receives email, to my mixed chagrin and relief, makes a sound when it registers incoming communications.
The email was from Mark, a member of my former band. It invited me to perform at a benefit concert. I would get to impersonate Emmy Lou Harris, singing "Evangeline.’ Even if I look nothing like Emmy Lou and certainly sound very different, we now have exactly the same color hair.
I said I’d do it. It was auspicious to be invited back for a guest appearance in the music business.
We had one rehearsal, at the church where Mark is employed as music director. Gone are the days when nobody in the band had a day job; now everyone has grown up, had kids, and started working in the questionably real world. When I arrived at the church, Mark was on the phone. It was a conference call with the band’s manager, and the members of, hold on to your hats, folks, the band’s Limited Liability Corporation.
I was stunned. Conference calls? LLCs? What happened to handshake agreements, agents who took all our money without ever getting our imprimatur, payment in cash? Back in the day, we were low tech on the corporate ladder, driving broken-down band cars, using PA systems in homemade boxes. We saved pennies in vodka bottles to afford studio time.
No question, the band had entered the New Millenium. The members were embroiled in discussions about whether to involve themselves in an agreement with a California company which would hawk their music, recorded in and out of the studio, paraphernalia, photographs, memorabilia, artwork and clothing online, in places I had actually heard of, like Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes.
It occurred to Mark during the conference call that I had a law degree.
"Hey," he said, half to my former colleagues and the manager of the band, and half to me, "Amy is a lawyer, now!"
I remembered, even if they hadn’t.
We had the rehearsal.
Some mediation skills were required.
The website devoted to how the benefit concert should be performed featured a number of stipulations. It required that "Evangeline" be played in the key of G.
Mark thought it sounded better in the key of A.
I didn’t really care.
We went back and forth about this approximately 400 times in the time-honored, "after you, my dear Alphonse" method, leaving the issue unresolved after running through it four times in A, and five times in G. On the night of the performance I still didn’t remember all the words to the third verse.
I also got to take a look at the contract under consideration by the band. I was able to discern some things about it.
It had definitely been written by a lawyer.
The lawyer who had written it was without question younger than me.
The lawyer who drafted the contract almost certainly grew up, or had at least practiced law in California, where the company was located. It just had that laid-back, non-confrontational feel to it that revealed its geographic origins, so different from the cold, rainy language one would find in the same type of agreement, had it been drafted in Connecticut.
I wondered about a couple of the provisions, which would have worried me, if I had still been a member of the band.
At the performance, I was introduced to the promoter and the music director of the benefit. Mark proudly announced that I was a lawyer.
The music director looked relieved. "Great," he said, "We’ll probably need one."
This turned out not to be true.
We played "Evangeline" in G. •