While Traveling

Mariner was traveling along the Kansas Turnpike a few days ago. It is a lovely stretch of highway that runs from near Topeka to Oklahoma City, mariner’s drop off point. For hours on end, traffic was light and the drivin’ was easy. As many road travelers know, long periods without distraction can put one to sleep – not a good thing behind the steering wheel. Mariner decided to think about what to write in the next post but decided to be more creative and write a treatment for a light movie.

SO what to write about. Mariner decided to write a story about three young men who wanted to start a pop trio. One was a Latino who could play the guitar and sing; the second, also a Latino, played the keyboard and had written a few songs for friends and the third was an Asian who was a drummer; he had played in a band that played at informal high school events. The boys decided to call themselves the “LLAMAS.”

They practiced diligently for almost a year. Occasionally, they would get a small gig at a big party or a talent contest. They felt they were respectable and decided to go for the big time – go pro. The LLAMAS decided to write a couple of songs to play for a record agent. They practiced diligently and enjoyed the experience and anticipation of a show business future. Their hopes were high. They even bought matching outfits with a hot maroon jacket emblazoned with “THE LLAMAS” across the back, a white shirt and black pants.

The big day came and they met with a record agent. They played three songs they had written. The agent was impressed and showed special interest in one of their songs. “Would you be interested in selling a song to get started? You could make serious money if you sold the song.”

No, they wanted to bring their own sound and image to the market. “Buying our song means buying the LLAMAS”, they said.

The agent left, still encouraging them to stick with their dream but if they wanted some good money to get started, let him know about the song.

They went on practicing and honing their songs. About a month later, the LLAMAS had a dry spell, getting only a few gigs and they were far enough away to drain their meager funds. Around that time, the record agent called to see if they had changed their mind. No, they said, they were a package – the LLAMAS.

Six months went by. The LLAMAS couldn’t scare up scratch. No agents were interested and the gigs were insignificant. The boys had taken jobs to make ends meet. They made a fateful decision. They called the record agent to see if he still wanted to buy their song. “Of course,” he said. “It’s a great song. I’ll sell this to a headline singer and maybe get some cover acts, too.”

The boys received a nice check for selling the song. Three weeks later, the record agent called them to let them know Barry Manilow had contracted rights to the song and was singing it on a national TV show.

The boys watched as Barry launched into their song:

“Can’t Smile Without You
You know I can’t smile without you
I can’t smile without you
I can’t laugh, and I can’t sleep
I don’t even talk to people I meet
And I feel sad when you’re sad
I feel glad when you’re glad
And you must know what I’m goin’ thru
I just can’t smile, without you”

They knew they had made a mistake. It wasn’t about money – never would be. The song wasn’t Barry’s creation; it was the LLAMAS’. It was the reward and recognition for creative success; they belonged on that stage, not Barry. It was the attention and respect that their talent would command. It was big time show business. It wasn’t about the money. They should have held out and been true to the glory of the LLAMAS. . . .

We’re in Oklahoma City, now. Traffic demands mariner’s attention.

PS: In reality the song was written by CHRIS ARNOLD,DAVID MARTIN,GEOFF MORROW © Universal Music Publishing Group

Ancient Mariner


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