The Sunday Series:
Sunday June 28, 2015
Till very recently I lived in Los Angeles, to be more specific, in the Silver Lake area, and I decided to move. I feel I have been good for the city, but in return Los Angeles has been total shit to me. I held a job for 25 years, and then suddenly, without any prior warning, was let go. Damned for doing the right things and damned for the wrong. I have always tried to do the right thing, but alas, like George Raft flipping one of his gold coins, I have to take the bad with the good. Being human, I couldn't take the bitterness that started from my mouth to the stomach area, I just had to move and start a new life in a new location. Also living in Los Angeles I felt like I wasn't in America, due to Japan and the rest of Asia was across from the large pond and my occasional visits to New York City, felt like I was visiting Europe. It was then that I decided to move to Detroit, Michigan.
I got a job as a receptionist in a little recording studio on Grand Boulevard called Hitsville U.S.A. My job there, is to take care of their treasure trove of signed dated contracts, photographs, posters, and correspondence. The thing is I want to make music and I found myself drawn to the recording studio on the first floor. It is a very small studio, but I have seen the space crammed full of musicians as well as the singer. In the neighborhood, I found a girl group called "The Primettes. They were singing in front of the Fisher Building on Grand Bouvelard. As they were passing the bucket for donations, instead of money, I put in my business card inside the bucket - it read: Tosh Berman, Hitsville U.S.A.
Me and the three girls that make up the Primettes had coffee at Stella International Cafe, located on the ground floor inside the Fisher Building. Since I was the record label guy (of sorts), I paid for their coffee. For some odd reason, I can still remember how they liked their coffee. Florence and Mary like it black, but Diana insisted on fresh cream and one little pack of sugar. Diana stirred her coffee in a very slow and thoughtful manner. I started to hum a melody in my head, and Florence sort of did a counter-melody to it, and Diane started to make up lyrics right there at the coffee shop. I thought up of the title "Tears of Sorrow" which strikes me as a good dynamic and dramatic title. Diane agreed and she started to play with the lyrics against the melody.
"A fresh cream in the tea
In a building of gold,
Can never take you away from me
Tears of Sorrow, Tears of grief
I do follow my heart"
From the coffee shop/Fisher Building, we walked to the Hitsville U.S.A. office & recording studio to see if we could record the song. I found Earl in the studio and asked him to round up the musicians. He got Joe, James (an incredible bass player), Papa Zita &Pistol on drums and Joe on guitar. The beauty of America, is even though I was practically chased out of Los Angeles, but still, I was able to get a job as a receptionist here in Detroit, and there is even possibility of making a hit record. My gut instinct tells me on I'm on a roll here.
After the successful session (my very first as a producer as well as a songwriter) I rushed the tapes to Archer Record Pressing on Davison Street. I had to walk there, because I don't drive nor do I own a car. This I feel is information I should keep secret from other Detroitians. Within hours, we had our seven-inch single, backed by another song I wrote "Pretty Baby" on the flip side. I went to the big boss Barry's office to show and play him the single. Since I was not only an employee at his company, I was also a non-musician composer - in fact, I'm just the receptionist and I don't even have pretty legs if you get my drift.
There is something about Detroit that inspires one's soul - is it their water or air? No, I think it is due that there is so much manufacturing in this city. Cars, and of course music. It is like Cupid took his bow out and the arrow hit bulls eye on the entire landscape of Detroit. I could never tell if I arrived at paradise as it is opening up their arms to me, or is it the end, and I'm just seeing the rays of love leave the town. Nevertheless, I'm here with a seven-inch single in my hand and I'm in Barry's office.
First thing he said to me when I entered into his office was "Who are you?" Which comes to mind, that is a very good question. Who are we all? I told him that I'm the new receptionist, but I made a record with a new girl group and used the Funk Brothers as a back-up band, and that I co-wrote the song as well as produced it - all of course at Hitsville U.S.A. He's impressed of course, so he OK's the release. Barry as he sat behind his big oak desk, looked a lot like Che Guevara. Since I worked here, I have seen him drive a diesel van, and I know he kept his gun in quiet seclusion - in many ways a humble man. He has caused a panic in the air, or at the very least in Detroit. I greatly admire him. I wanted to tell him this, but he's not the type of guy to hear compliments from guys like yours truly. He went downstairs to the studio with me, to meet the gals.
When he saw Diana, he froze. I got the feeling something happened between them, but as I mentioned, Cupid for sure has his arrows pointed towards Detroit. If you got that notion, I second that emotion.