Sometimes it can be a shock when you get a coveted cut, and then when you hear the record, the artist has taken it to a place you didn’t envision your beloved composition residing. I experienced this phenomenon many years ago, when my song “ Rosetta” became a huge hit as done by Georgie Fame and Alan Price, but I was resentful at the time about how it was interpreted….well, I was a young lad at the time, and didn’t know any better, but after forty-odd years of royalties I’ve got over that .
During that same period, while I was working in the publishing division of R.S.O. ( The Robert Stigwood Organization), whose flagship act was The Bee Gees, I came to realize that the parental concern one can feel for one’s song can kick in, no matter the elevated level of the composers.
One day we received a 45 acetate in the mail from Hi! Records in Memphis. In those days it was a courtesy to send singles to the publisher before a single was issued, so when we spun it, and heard Al Green’s monumental version of what was already a monumental song “ How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”, my boss John Davies and I were over the moon.
John wanted the guys to hear it ASAP, and after a few phone calls established that the three of them were at Maurice’s house, so I was dispatched by taxi to Hampstead with the acetate. Being only an errand boy in this situation, I kept the cab ticking over in the driveway, and delivered the vinyl. I was reasonably friendly with Maurice, and he being a warm and hospitable fellow, offered me a drink and asked me to listen with them. I’d already heard it twice, so number three, on Maurice’s state of the art sound system was sublime to me, but when it finished the reaction of the brothers was pretty muted.
At that time Al Green wasn’t a huge artist in the U.K., mainly known to soul music fans, and his sparse, intense reading was quite a departure from the Bee Gees orchestrated version…I finished my drink and took the taxi back into the city, where I reported to John that the fellows had seemed underwhelmed by what they’d heard. “ Oh. They’ll come around to it “ he replied, which of course they did, but it can phase a composer when other hands and minds get hold of one of your babies.
Let it be, get over it, and count the pennies!
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