Steve Schalchlin Part 1

Steve Schalchlin Part 1 Show Notes

Steve Schalchlin is a singer/songwriter, a playwright, composer, a survivor of one of the worst epidemics to hit mankind since the plague… I’m talking about AIDS.

Steve went on to write the music and lyrics to the multi-award winning musical The Last Session  with his lifetime partner and husband, Jim Brochu  additional lyrics by John Bettis and Marie Cain. The musical is about a singer/songwriter who has decided to commit suicide to end his battle with AIDS, but only after one last recording session in the studio. It first debuted Off-Broadway in 1997.

He’s also the author of  possibly the longest running or one of the long running blogs on the internet, Living in the Bonus Round. In fact, back then, he called an online diary, because the word “blog” hadn’t been invented yet. When he began , he didn’t know if it would be 1 page or ten pages, because he didn’t know how much time he had left. As it turns out, he is still writing that story to this day and you can find it here. For context, I will link to Day One in March of 1996. There are very few stories like this anywhere else on the internet.

I hate spoilers, so I won’t say much more about. We do talk about a guy named Brett Perkins, so FYI… after finding out he had AIDS, Steve trained Brett to take his place as the West Coast director of NAS (the National Academy of Songwriters). I don’t think you need any further introduction. As they say in the biz, “Let the Show begin!”

Talking Points (Part 1)

Arrive Dallas.

Waiting at IHOP

Audition Gran’ Crystal Palace,

Nancy Boys

Loren & Chris

Baptist rock band

Show band

1st time n NYC

Diane’s couch

Waiting Piano bar


cruise ship offer




Volunteer NAS, AIDS

The Last Session

Hal at the Beach Club.

Brett Perkins

Pawn Shop Preachers

Steve Schalchlin Links and Resources

Living In the Bonus Round Home Page

Living In the Bonus Round Archive (The Begining)

Brett Perkins –  The episode where Brett and I talk about Steve Schalchlin

Tales of the Road Warriors Coffee Mug

Tales of the Road Warriors Coffee Mug

Full Transcript

Hal In Philly 0:00
Hello Steve Shakhlin.

Unknown Speaker 0:02
Well here I am talking. Here I am speaking! Here I am telling my story, my amazing, dramatic heart stopping

Hal In Philly 0:12
I have a feeling you have more than one story

Unknown Speaker 0:15
One or two.

Hal In Philly 0:18
Why all the L’s in your name?

Unknown Speaker 0:21
It’s, I think I was born in the doctor’s office and you have to cover one hand with one eye in order to read my last name.

Hal In Philly0:29
It’s funny, the L’s are silent.

Unknown Speaker 0:32
The first L is silent.

Hal In Philly 0:34
Right? Oh, that’s right. The first because otherwise I’d be Schachin

Unknown Speaker 0:40
I think probably in Europe is is like Schchhhhlinn… It’s Swiss Germanic, so by the time my family made it to Arkansas turned into “Schalchlin”

Hal In Philly 0:51
Gotcha. So you sent me some notes, some show notes t – with talking points.

Unknown Speaker 0:57
Yes, a few little talking points.

Hal In Philly 0:59
So, I guess I should just start there. The first one says, “Arrive Dallas”.

Unknown Speaker 1:08
Well, I came out of Southeast Texas and I was, I am the son of a Baptist minister. And basically, all I knew was church music. And when I was in high school, I was listening to pop music junior high and high schools listen to AM radio. So my favorite groups were the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater, and Neil Young, especially… he was my favorite, but I never got to be in a band. Because my father, drinking and dancing, I wasn’t allowed to be around drinking and dancing. So I didn’t really get to be in a band. Right. And when I didn’t, I went to a Baptist College in East Texas and was in a Baptist__ I was in a band but it was a Baptist rock and roll band.

Hal In Philly 1:58
Just out of curiosity, Did you have a little red AM radio? Did you did you have a transisitor radio?

Unknown Speaker 2:07
Probably did. I probably did. I think I remember in junior high having a little transistor radio and the song that year was For What It’s Worth… Crosby, stills and Nash

Hal In Philly 2:21
…Because my first radio was this little red transistor. I think it was AM only if I’m not mistaken, though. Yeah. And I was listening to, like, the Chipmunks doing “…me I want a hula hoop…”

Unknown Speaker 2:36
Oh, you were advanced, there werentcha?.

Hal In Philly 2:38
Oh, yeah, that song was my earworm!

Unknown Speaker 2:41
I think I was already in junior high before I really started listening to pop music. My mother was in a gospel quartet. And so we would, you know, so it was all really Southern Southern church music.

Hal In Philly 2:58
Yeah. What part of Texas are we talking

Unknown Speaker 3:00
A little town called Buna, which is in the Southeast corner in the golden triangle area where Janis Joplin and Johnny and Edgar Winter came from. And I went to high school there, but my family had moved around a lot because, being a preacher’s kid, you move around a lot, right? And so I was born in Arkansas, then we moved out to Southern California. Then we moved back to Louisiana and then we moved to Texas. And Texas is where I went to high school and college.

Hal In Philly 3:31
And you waited at IHOP during high school or that was after?

Unknown Speaker 3:35
Well, what happened is, I was in my little Jesus rock band. And finally one day, I was doing two things were happening to me at once. One was that I was coming out of the closet to myself, and this being the spit in the mid 70s. And being in that cultural bubble. As a gay man, I had no references on how to come out or whether I could come out. I just knew that that I was going to burn in hell forever.

Hal In Philly 4:02
Well being the son of a preacher had some major impact on you…

Unknown Speaker 4:07
Yeah, my parents were not really hard, hard, tough people in that sense. But the people I was around after moving out of the house were much more fundamentalist-style evangelist that I would run into. And there was this one guy who said, “Well, you know, according to the Bible…” As soon as someone says, “according to the Bible”, turn and run, ’cause y’know it’s not going to be good. He was what they call a Calvinist. And Calvinists believe that if I was gay, admit that Jesus, or God didn’t choose me from before time. And so there was no way that I was ever going to achieve salvation. And it was proof that I would never be saved. What it led to was – I felt was I’m never going to be saved anyway. I might as well just get the hell out of town. Gonna go live a life. You know, it was one of those moments, what I did was I packed up my car from East Texas and I drove to Dallas. And when I got to Dallas, I got a job waiting tables that IHOP. And I started going down into a place called Denton, Texas. And I was living with some Iranian foreign exchange students before the revolution. And I would drive down to Dallas and find the nearest nearest gay bar and hang out and then come back up and then go back down. Somewhere in there, someone suggested to me they found out that I was a musician. And I said, hey, there’s this theater, a dinner theater in Dallas called the Gran’ Crystal Palace, and they’re looking for a singer. And I said, “Well, like I sing”. So I showed up to do this audition. Now, understanding I’d never seen any theater before. I didn’t know any musical theater. I didn’t know any jazz songs. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know like Frank Sinatra, I didn’t know anything except gospel and pop. So I stood in the corner of this piano, and I sang a Stevie Wonder song with my eyes nailed down straight to my feet. It was the worst audition a person could ever do for musical theater because I knew nothing. But halfway through the song, there was this really high note and I sang this really high note. And the old guy sitting out who was judging us said, Yeah, he can do it. And that’s how I got my job in theater. And thanks to IHOP, I knew how to wait tables.

Unknown Speaker 6:38
My first job waiting tables was as soon as I landed in Los Angeles, I specifically drove out there just to get a job as a singing waiter. So that’s where I probably met a lot of people you and I know in common.

Unknown Speaker 6:53
Yeah, so as I… First of all, I couldn’t dance at all I had Baptist – see I hadn’t ever been into a dance because I wasn’t allowed to much less dance theatrically. So they just kind of kept me in the back row. And what I what I found out later was the tenor who was kind of the star of the company – he was going on vacation, whether they hired somebody or not he ’cause he doesn’t like the way the place was run. So they hired me simply because the other guy was gonna leave and they needed that voice. And that was my entree into theater in Dallas, and I made good money, because it was a really high class restaurant. And I started writing songs for the little musical reviews. Yeah, the grand Crystal Palace. They had one in Aspen, Colorado also.

Hal In Philly 7:41
And in my notes, you mentioned Nancy boys, Lauren and Chris. Show Ben and side pop band.

Unknown Speaker 7:51
Some of that’s in LA, but in Dallas, there was a show band. The place is coming apart. It was falling apart. I got a job as a musical director in a like Vegas style show band. And as we traveled around doing mostly we did hotels, like roadway ins and bars and stuff like that. One of my favorite really horrendous road stories, or sad road stories is that we were at the roadway in in Columbus, Ohio on the night John Lennon was assassinated. And we were doing a set in a bar in the snow for one person. And we went back to our rooms after like the third set. And I got the news about John Lennon and I, we came back out and by then the band said, Steve, just get on the piano and sing nobody’s here doesn’t matter. And I got on the piano, and I sang “Imagine” all the way through without ever having sung it before. I just remembered the way I just remembered it in my head. Wow. And it’s one of those magical moments as it means For you just can picture the song in your head. And I just sang it. And

Hal In Philly 9:06
I’ll never forget that night.

Unknown Speaker 9:07
Yeah, I was actually. Yeah, go ahead.

Hal In Philly 9:10
I was tending bar that night at the Blue Lagune Saloon. And I think Moon Martin was playing that night. But anyway. Yeah. And his song was on the jukebox and Elvis Costello’s song Accidents will happen was playing when I heard the news.

Hal In Philly 9:29
that was always one of my favorite songs. But all the sudden it took on a new meaning. Just the words Accidents will happen, because obviously that was no accident, but

Unknown Speaker 9:43

Hal In Philly 9:43
I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to 10 bar after that. It’s like, I can’t do this, but

Hal In Philly 9:48
I powered through.

Unknown Speaker 9:50
Yeah, it was a tough night to get through. It was really was. I remember I called my best friend Diane who lived in New York and I just said and we just commiserate and over it.

Hal In Philly 10:03
Yeah, she’d be the one with the couch.

Unknown Speaker 10:06
Yes. Yes. After the band broke up, I moved to New York and I lived on her couch. And I had I came to New York with $50 in my pocket and a microphone, a leftover microphone. And that’s all I got from the band.

Unknown Speaker 10:20

Unknown Speaker 10:26
Yeah. (laughs) So, so I was living on Columbus Avenue and I decided to find a job waiting tables, and I got a job at a fish restaurant called Dobson’s, and it is, and also, I had gone to a gay bar, a piano bar called bullguard. And on a Friday night, I was listening to the piano player and I made in between sets and I said, Oh, other animal planet singer and I’m new in town and the next day, he calls me and he says, I’ve got laryngitis Is Do you think you can fill in for me tonight? Well, I didn’t have a set. But then I hadn’t played in songs in a long time. I still didn’t know any musical theater. Just a few things that we that I barely remember from Dallas. And I it was one of those one of those moments where I thought, well, I can either say yes, or I can say no. And on the way to the gig, I bought a bunch of fake books, and sat down open a fake book and just started sight reading music.

Hal In Philly 11:31
Did you already know how to sight read?

Unknown Speaker 11:33
I knew how to read music. And so, but I didn’t know the names of the popular song. So I was just kind of picking things at random. And I got my first set. I remember I could do Moon Dance. Yeah, I could do a few, like just bar standards, some Beatle songs, some Neil Young songs, stuff that I already kind of knew some of them were in the books. And but I remember one One moment, I stopped I was just talking to somebody taking me seems smoke in her eyes and I thought, okay, so opened up and I found Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. I started to sing it. And I got to the bridge. Now if you know the bridge of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes? It’s impossible. It goes off into a key that is unbelievable. And since I hadn’t heard it before, I didn’t know where I was going. And I just stopped.

Hal In Philly 12:28
Songs like that where the bridge throws me might not have been that one. But there’s other songs that we get to the bridge and that happens and you just fall apart and just go, Okay, next.

Unknown Speaker 12:39
Okay, I’m not going to do that. Well, I got through two sets and that I repeated by first and my stomach, I was so nervous. My stomach was hurting so bad I could I couldn’t even breathe. And I just told the bartender and I said, Look, I gotta go home. I’m sick as a dog. So I went home. I thought, I have blown it. This is the worst thing in the world… and they call me the next week. They wanted me to start doing Monday nights and Tuesday nights, you know, go slower nights. Yeah. So I ended up getting a regular gig. Well, anyway, I was waiting there at the restaurant during the daytime. And, a guy came in to sit at my table and it was the musical director from Dallas, from the theater. Oh, and, and he said, Oh, hey, you want a ship gig? And I was he just,

Hal In Philly 13:24
He was just visiting there at the time?

Unknown Speaker 13:27
Yeah, he was just sitting at my table. I was just waiting on. It was like, pure accident.

Hal In Philly 13:31

Unknown Speaker 13:33
Yeah. And he says, Oh, yeah, I remember you. Yeah, but yeah, you’re good, you’re good. He said, look at they wanted me to ship kick, but I don’t want to do it. You want to do a ship gig? And they were okay. So I got on this cruise ship. And they started doing put New York they started doing these cruise cruises to nowhere. Well, basically, it’s a gambling cruise where they go out past the three mile limit and all these hoodlums

Hal In Philly 14:03
So this wasn’t a Regular cruise we were gone for three months at a time. This was like a local cruise?

Unknown Speaker 14:08
Yeah, it was. It was it was a ship that they had just refitted. So they were testing it out. And they were they were going out in the middle of the ocean. They were gambling and I mean by the time we got back, they stripped that ship bear every plant was gone. It was hysterical!

Hal In Philly 14:29
Is there a particular story you remember from from working on the ship because the cruise ships always have some kind of mishap.

Unknown Speaker 14:37
Well, yes, about a month or two. After we started doing that all of a sudden I got on the ship to go because we were coming in every day. So I was staying, you know, I was living at home. So we got on the ship and they said oh, we’re not coming back for five days. We’re going to Bermuda.

Unknown Speaker 14:55
Nobody told me. I had on my tux. That’s all the clothes I had!

Hal In Philly 15:01
Nice… Thanks for the heads up.

Unknown Speaker 15:04
Thanks for the heads-up. So we went to Bermuda, we came back we started down Florida and everything. Well, the ship was… it was an old beautiful liner from the 40s. And it got purchased by a Greek shipping company who were… This is 1984. And they decided they wanted to break into the shipping industry because it was kind of new. Nowadays, a lot of cruise industry is gigantic. It’s one of the biggest industries in the world. But back then it was just getting started. The revival of it. I mean, they they had pick it on a get the ship in their agreement with the Italian government if they hired an X number of Italian crew. So they put Italians in the, in the casino, and in the restaurant, as waiters and cooks, the Greeks, this particular ship that was run like a military dictatorship, they didn’t really know how to do modern cruising. So it was a run like a Like the military, right? And they were being really mean to all the passengers, not passengers, they would shout at the crew and they would kick them and they would curse at them and they would hit them. And it was just an incredible experience. I was the only American on board. Well, at one point, a Greek officer came in one night into the restaurant late at night, and he, he confronted this Italian cook and said, “Make me Make me You’re making me something to eat!” And the Italian was cleaning up and he said, “No.” I don’t know what the deal was. But anyway, anyway, the Greek guy hit the Italian cook. Oh, my goodness! cook was a huge man and he picked up the Greek officer and threw him across the kitchen, put a huge gash in his head. So they decided to fire the cook. Well now, we’re cruising now to Nassau. in the Bahamas. Right. All the Italians decide that they’ve had enough and they decide to MUTINY. So picture this: You’re, you’re a passenger on a beautiful cruise ship. And you’re Nassau and you’re descending the stairs on to the port. And down on the dock. There are 160 Italians, screaming and yelling and rioting; Yelling, “Down with the Greeks! Down with the Greeks!”

Hal In Philly 17:24
Hah! You’re in the the middle of the Greek – Italian War. Holy shit!

Unknown Speaker 17:28
It was fantastic… Well, the one thing you don’t do in a military dictatorship is upset that Captain, is embarrassed the Captain.The Italians won, because what are they going to do? Not sail without, with, you know, restaurant and casino crew? And so the Italians won the fight and the next the next step, the Greek officer got thrown off off the ship at the next port,

Unknown Speaker 17:56
So… they kept the cook.

Unknown Speaker 17:57
They kept the cook.

Hal In Philly 17:58
Oh, good, burgers for everyone!

Unknown Speaker 18:05
So I did that for like 13 months and that’s what a Jimmy, my current husband current husband. I say current… We together now for 35 years, I guess.

Hal In Philly 18:14
Yeah, congratulations! Now, that’s where you met him on that cruise or during..?

Unknown Speaker 18:19
That’s where I met him. It was, in fact. I used the cruise to learn the American Songbook. I got all my fake books. And I had to play five hours a day. At at different hours, you know, like before lunch after lunch cocktail hour at night. So I learned all the musical theater and I learned the American Songbook and it was a great year of just sheer learning music in front of an audience. Because most of them don’t pay attention anyway. Right. They’re drinking their coffee.

Unknown Speaker 18:55
Yeah, I’m just background.

Hal In Philly 18:56
Yeah, I call it musical wallpaper because I do that. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 19:00
And it was a fine gig for me because it meant that I could learn all of this music that I never learned before and get better as a musician too, because you play five hours a day, you can get better at it. But after 13 months, Jimmy, I met him and we left the ship. And we eventually moved to New York. I mean, we we were living in New York. And then he wrote a script. And we ended up going out to and moving to Los Angeles. And it was a it was a script that he wrote that Disney option.

Hal In Philly19:29
Was it a movie or a TV show?

Unknown Speaker 19:33
It was going to be for a TV show but Disney development, Hal. It never worked out. But anyway, we moved out to LA and I didn’t really know what I was going to do. Cuz, it I didn’t really know anyone in LA. And that’s how in as the National Academy of Songwriters happened shoutcaster, the songwriter who was a friend of Jim’s, so we should go to NAS and learn about the music business. So I showed up at the front door. And I had never really had a desk job before. I certainly didn’t know anything about the business, right? They put me on the front desk. If you remember we had an 800 number that anybody in the country could call if they had a question about the music industry. That was one of our deals. So they put me on the 800. Me who knew nothing?

Hal In Philly 20:25
The 800 guy

Unknown Speaker 20:26
I’m the 800 guy to answer all the questions from everybody out in the country who calls in. Well, what a great learning experience for me because I didn’t know the answer. So I had to look up the answers or ask other people the answers, or call and ask the answers. So by by being the guy on the information line, I learned about music publishing, I learned about lawyers. I learned about song pitching. ASCAP and BMI… that was usually the question – which one’s better? ASCAP or BMI? Or how do I get my song listened to? You know, that’s usually what people want to know.

Hal In Philly 21:00
Well fortunately back then you could just refer everybody to John Braheny, because he’d be the best person to listen to anybody’s song at the time, I think.

Unknown Speaker 21:09
Right, and we also had some listening things so…

Hal In Philly 21:12
Yeah, pitches and cassette roulette ‘n stuff.

Unknown Speaker 21:14
In fact, once I learned aboutJohn and there was kind of little rivalry between LASS (John’s group) and NAS, and I said “rivalries are stupid.” And I called them up immediately my first week in town and I went and met with him and said, How can we work together?

Hal In Philly 21:33
So YOU did that! Good good on ya!

Unknown Speaker 21:36
well cuz I don’t understand rivalry. Rivalry’s stupid. Yeah. And it may be the other people also did that. But I I definitely did that.

Hal In Philly 21:45
See, when I got to LA, the to organizations were still separate. And I didn’t understand the difference. I didn’t know if they were connected. Like I never could figure that out. You just, you just solved it for me. Just now!

Unknown Speaker 21:59
Yeah, I mean, I think probably they were they were rivals mostly because there’s the songwriter down where they have to survive. So

Hal In Philly 22:07
right then they were both membership organization.s, so they were kind of competing for your for the buck.

Unknown Speaker 22:14
Yeah, exactly. So I understood why there would be a rivalry but I didn’t. I didn’t go in there having an understanding of the history of the two organizations, right. All I knew was they helped. My job was to help songwriters. How can I partner with them to make sure that songwriters get help because I just didn’t really care about having rivalry. I just thought it was stupid. Because if you feed each other, actually, more people will get involved in both. Right? Because what you want are opportunities

Unknown Speaker 22:49
and where did you stand with the Songwriters Guild?

Unknown Speaker 22:54
I didn’t really have much contact with them at first. They were a little standoffish.

Unknown Speaker 23:01
Song Writers Guild at that time especially, they were more of a professional lobbying organization out of Nashville. And I think they kind of were doing their own thing that I could tell.

Hal InPhilly 23:15

Unknown Speaker 23:15
And LASS in any us For more on this on the street. So I honestly I didn’t really have an awareness of them very much.

Unknown Speaker 23:29
Also, I think their membership is, was I don’t know how it is now, it was a little more inclusive, you know, you had to be a member and you had to do all kinds of things. We had open door policies and so to LASS, right. So I, I just didn’t really know that much about them. And I think their corporate headquarters in Nashville didn’t really like the fact that we were there. But that was my recollection. But anyway, after I was there for about nine months or a year, and thenw we had the big the Salute to the American Songwriter concert was how we made a lot of our money and that was the year. Kevin Odegard, the old, the old guard of everybody who had been there before Madeline Smith, Marc Spears. Kevin had made this big deal with VH1 and they were gonna they videotape the salute. And that’s the first one that I went to. Well, that was a six hour taping that everyone hated. Ended up

Hal In Philly24:29
I volunteered at that one.

Unknown Speaker 24:31
Oh, did you?

Hal In Philly 24:32
Yeah. And you know what happened? I got sick as a dog. I was. I realized while I was walking down that I was showing Jimmy Webb to a seat. That was my first assignment. And while I’m walking into a seat, I started to feel the flu like I like I knew I was getting sick. It was just like suddenly, and the next person they had assigned me to escort to a seat was Graham Nash. And my head was swirling from the fever and I probably would have passed out, even if I was – well, because it was Graham Nash. But I didn’t want to make him sick. And I don’t know if it was you or Dan, I don’t know, whoever reported to I can’t remember. But I just remember

Unknown Speaker 25:13
it was probably Dan, I didn’t have much to do with that first when I was kind of the volunteer. Yeah. And I didn’t know everything that was going on. I think mostly I attended. My recollection is I send it as, as just a person in the audience.

Hal In Philly 25:28
So anyway, they sent you know, he said, Well, if you don’t feel good, you know, go home. We’ll cover it, but I was so upset that I missed that. You know, that I was so looking forward to that day. But I honestly I panic when they said Graham Nash. I don’t want to make Graham Nash sick.

Unknown Speaker 25:45
Right. Well, it ended up being a great show, but it was a disaster for the organization for NAS financially I think, cuz I never got all these stories directly. I’m sort of presuming and the place was way, way under into debt, almost $60,000 in debt and they had to let all they had to let everybody go. So Kevin went, Madeline went, Mark went. And in other words, everybody around there who knew anything, except for me and Dan Kirkpatrick and Paul solo on the newspaper. Paul was basically taking care of the newspaper. He wasn’t involved in everyday business. And so Danny and I got in a room. He went to talk to the board and the board said, “Well, look, we don’t have any money. The place is really gone. Kevin’s gone. Why don’t we just close up all the offices, go down to a phone. And we’ll just say goodbye. So Danny, and I had a meeting between the two of us and we said, “What if we not do that? What if we don’t follow the board’s advice and instead, keep it open? And I said if you will handle the money, and the corporate, I will handle the services and now we’ll figure out a way to get this place going again.” And he said, “All right, if you’ll do that, I’ll do this.” And that was my, really the beginning of the revival of NAS.  I started getting people to volunteer in the office to all the work. And I started setting up a workshop or seminar of something almost every night of the week. So I was working up there 12 and 14 hours a day, and I was I was working all day long, and then I would run the workshop night and we would charge $3 $5, whatever for people to come to these seminars have produced the workshops.

Hal In Philly 27:40
Yeah, I am on one with Barbara Jordan.

Unknown Speaker 27:43
God, yeah, the way I kept it going, and this is just pure instinct is I told all the volunteers I said, “If you will volunteer here or intern here, whenever anybody calls our office from the industry, I will, if they’re looking for interns in a legitimate business,” because we were nonprofit, but like if a if a publisher or a lawyer or a songwriter, somebody wants an intern, whoever is the best worker for me, “I will give you a way that will let you go to the best job.” That way. It gave incentive for people to work really hard for in my office, knowing that I wouldn’t hang on to the best workers, I would give the best workers away. And I really think that that that was a very smart move, because we got good people in there. And then they moved on and they started working for other people. And so NAS became a supplier of, you know, for people who wanted to get into the business. But after a year, we were 50 – $56,000 in debt after a year, we had brought all the way up and got us debt. And I’m very, very proud of of having done that. And it was just through sharing one of the things that I did was, I decided to turn that into a learning experience for myself, whoever I wanted to meet in the music industry, like a famous attorney or or an A&R person or producer, I would call them and say, Hello, I’m the services director at the National Academy of Songwriters, would you like to come and do a seminar? Well, everybody in the business loves to be, you know, the Go-To Guy, the expert in the room. And so they would come over and I would sit on the dais with him and we would do these workshops. And that’s how I made all of my music industry contacts, as well as getting a first hand look at learning how the industry works from the inside out. So it was an education for me. It was, it gave great services to our membership, and it attracted people to NAS so that we had a more robust you know, membership and membership services,

Hal InPhilly 29:58

Unknown Speaker 29:59
Well anyway, after I got sick,

Unknown Speaker 30:01
you know what happened went down and…

Hal In Philly30:03
when did you first find out

Unknown Speaker 30:04
I tested positive in 1993. And then in ’94 is when I got really sick.

When I tested positive… Now Brett told, told this story on your on your podcast. Oh, you got the day that I came in and told everybody, right and Brett had… Well, he had confided in me that it’s a personal thing.. And, and so when, when I told him I was gay. Before I told him I was had AIDS, the year, it was probably in the year before. I told him… We got a room together and he said “Look, I want to tell you, I have a little have a little problem with it. I’m uncomfortable.” And I said to him, “I completely understand. I’m good with that. I liked the fact that you told me and we can be just fine together. And if you’re uncomfortable, you don’t have to do or say anything that makes you uncomfortable. But I’m completely good with it.” And from then on, we had a great working relationship. But the day that I told him that I was HIV positive, he rushed up to me and he planted a kiss right on my lips. And I think it was the, one of the greatest moments of just pure love from one human being to another that I’d ever experienced because I knew how far he had come. Not just fear of kissing, so with HIV, but the whole gay thing and all of that And I was really moved by it. And I was moved by everyone in the office. I didn’t hold back a single detail. I told everybody on like, the day after I tested positive I told everybody and then I started getting sick and I knew I had to leave. Now, Brett, tell the story. I want you to know, I don’t. I didn’t beg him to stay. I begged him not trying to make a joke about it’s like, Are you kidding? I said from the table. I told you. No, I don’t want you to take over. That’s not really true. He was I thought he was the best qualified to because he could stand in front of people and talk. Yeah. You know

Hal In Philly 33:01
You definitely made the right choice there. Brett was great. He’s still great

Unknown Speaker 33:08
Brett’s Pawn Shop Preachers

Hal In Philly 33:10
Now the Pawn Shop Preachers… He told you, that I told him, that I didn’t like his, his, his accent on that record. And then he just finished saying that it was the Oh, that’s where he comes from. Well, no, here’s what I told him. I said, first of all, nobody sings like that. I said, that is not an he’s been in Europe too long. That is not an authentic Southern accent. by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a cornball accent or in the voiceover industry. They call it a “Foghorn Leghorn”. The reason I said that to him, is because I thought the songs that he wrote were really good. Yeah, they are. There’s a couple of things. songs in there that I said there’s one I mentioned, I forgot the name of it now, but there was one that I mentioned to him that I wrote it back and I said, this is incredibly incisive, brilliantly intellectual song. just unbelievable, unlike anything I’ve ever heard him right because mostly he writes like, like pop, which is fine. But this is a really deep number and II can’t remember the one it was I he, I could go back and try to find out. But my point to him was the songs too good to treat it like a joke. When when you’re doing a fake Southern accent, you’re telegraphing your punch line, you’re telling everybody Hey, everybody, look, I’m telling the joke. When you can’t, you can’t do that. Because then you undercut the seriousness of what you’re writing. And it’s not funny anymore, right? You don’t telegraph a joke, or you don’t telegraph a punch line, and that song has a punch line in it. So that was my criticism of it. College because we spent all that money on recording it. So I basically go back and do it again.

Hal In Philly 35:06
Yeah, right. So, so they went,

Unknown Speaker 35:11
but I took it as a compliment, because the thing is music,

Hal In Philly 35:15
right? No, I understand. I understand what you told him. That’s

Unknown Speaker 35:18
the way I took it from is that look, I’m saying really good things about your music because I don’t think you should undercut what you’ve written by putting on cornball singing. Yeah.  And accepting an accent that that’s not your own. That’s not your role and exactly, you know, so you can defend it all at once, but I’m still not gonna give up.

Unknown Speaker 35:44
I like Brett.

Unknown Speaker 35:45
Everybody loves Brett.

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