The Glorious Corner

The Glorious Corner
G. H. Harding

SWIFT FEUD — Taylor Swift‘s feud with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta is going into the “Red.”

 In a statement published Thursday night to her social media channels, Swift writes:

“Guys — It’s been announced recently that the American Music Awards will be honoring me with the Artist of the Decade Award at this year’s ceremony. I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show. Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.

“Additionally — and this isn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news — Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years. Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.

“Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.”

Swift also asks her fans for help:

“Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this. Scooter also manages several artists who I really believe care about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this — I’m hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote. I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men.”

Swift’s appeal to the other artists managed by Braun, 38, is an oblique reference to Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber.

The 29-year-old’s statement ended on a dismal note: “Right now my performances at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.”

Sources close to Big Machine Records say that Braun wasn’t part of AMA negotiations and rather Borchetta had been dealing with them with Swift’s attorneys.

Our sources also tell us Swift owes Braun and Borchetta $7 million and agreed to sort out the finances afterAMA negotiations settled, but when negotiations fell flat, she threatened to publicly blast them — hence the statement Thursday. Big Machine didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Swift has been embroiled in a public feud with Borchetta and Braun since the latter acquired her masters. She has maintained that she discovered the deal “as it was announced to the world.” Borchetta denied the allegedly false claims, posting screenshots of messages that show she was well aware of the deal and stated her father, Scott Swift, was on investor calls. In September, New York’s Page Six exclusively learned that Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift, also texted Borchetta prior to the deal’s closing asking to discuss it.

My take: This has all gotten way out of hand and put them ALL in a very bad light. Stop all the social-media posting, sit down, have dinner and work it out. It’s really all about millions of dollars. Everyone can be happy. They all look like over-privileged customers. This is not cool at all.

Debbie Harry Face It book cover

HEY DEBBIE —Debbie Harry is a certifiable pop culture icon. Here’s just a fascinating interview with Harry fromRock Cellar Magazine:

As the frontperson for Blondie, the chart-topping New Wave group that grew out of New York City’s fabled CBGBs-fueled punk scene, she became known worldwide as not just one of fashion and style symbols of her era, but one of the most arresting lead singers of late-1970’s and early-80’s, and certainly the premiere female artist of the fertile, post-punk musical landscape.

Her new memoir, the no-holds-barred Face It, is both a love letter to her early days fighting for attention amongst the litany of bands trying to make it on the New York punk scene, a life lived in the extreme, and a how-to (and how not to) for aspiring musicians and artists.

With Blondie’s 2017 album Pollinator proving that the group — and especially her collaborative partnership with guitarist Chris Stein — is still as fertile as ever, and in the midst of a grueling promotional tour for Face It – also available in fantastic audiobook form, narrated by Harry herself, and with original music by Stein – Rock Cellar caught up with Harry, to talk about the old days, why she wanted to write a memoir, and the state of the music scene and the world at large, as she sees it.

Rock Cellar: The response to the book has been great. Tell me, how’s the book tour going, from your perspective?

Debbie Harry: It’s been going really, really well. It was a little bit hectic over in Germany, and in the U.K., because I was covering a lot of ground in a short period of time. But it’s been good. So far, knock wood.

Rock Cellar: Have things in the book resonated with fans, or even critics, that you didn’t expect? Were there surprises, from your point of view?

Debbie Harry: Well … no, not especially. I’m used to people having opinions. It’s something that we deal with. Everybody sure has their opinion, and even more so today, because everybody has a voice and a place to express themselves. So, you know … I appreciate people’s opinions and comments, at least to some degree.

I think we all have learned that we’re entitled to express ourselves. That’s one of the basic concepts of our form of democracy; that we have a freedom of speech. And it comes very naturally to us. But I think one of the things that really stands out for me is that people say that they can really hear me, and that it’s not a contrived voice.

So I really like that. That makes me very happy.

Rock Cellar: That’s the one thing you absolutely want as an author, after you spend all this time, for your own personality to come out. It’s interesting, though, that you say that. The last time we spoke, the Washington Post review had just come out, and the response, especially from your fans, was pretty vehement, that the author had treated you like an object, yet again.

It’s not that you’re blasé, but you write in the book about seeing David Bowie’s dick, and being raped, and other pretty awful things that happened to you, almost as just things that you lived through and dealt with. How do you relate to the #MeToo movement, and do you understand the vehemence? And how do you see it in relation to what you lived through, back in the day?

Debbie Harry: I think we all survived in our own way. Fortunately, for me, I had a really good partner who did not condescend or discriminate against me after some of these things happened. Very supportive.

I also had a really indestructible interest in doing music, and I’m so driven, that my values were in my favor. To go through any kind of trauma is awful, but I sort of felt like it was part of the game, in a way. I think I also have in my personality a great deal of tenacity and stubbornness, though I don’t express it in a real sort of stubborn way. I’m flexible, and I’ve learned to appreciate working in an ensemble situation, which is really valuable.

But nevertheless, I try to keep it going, and that’s given me sort of a backbone or something to fall back on. It has been heartbreaking, and it has been difficult, but I guess I’m a fighter. So I’ve got some things in my personality that are really in my favor. I’ve got some things in my personality that are totally not in my favor, too, of course. But I think maybe the music thing has really been the biggest thing, that I get this real incredible satisfaction from.

Deep, deep, deep satisfaction. I’ve been able to do it my whole life. And I didn’t really expect that. I knew that I loved music and I knew that it did something for me in a very important way, but now I know for sure that it’s really played an important part in my life.

Rock Cellar: You mentioned this, but you clearly had, in Chris and others close to you, a network of people who were really supportive. And you had within yourself a reserve of self-reliance. There’s a gang mentality in a band. Social media, in some ways, has taken that away from people. They tend to vent their anger, or they look for acknowledgement of their ills and pains and whatever, in the world at large, rather than seeking help from their partner or somebody close to them. Their network. Do you agree with that? Do you see that, and world we live in now, as having that as a downside, compared to what you went through? Because clearly things could have turned out differently had you not had Chris and that gang to help you through?

Debbie Harry: Well, in particular, yes, as far as Chris goes. I think that I definitely would not have done the whole band thing without Chris.

I think in terms of the Internet, and people’s isolation, there’s this very real isolation. It’s odd, isn’t it? Isolationism in today’s world, and the world of politics and economy and culture, it just doesn’t work.

It’s over. Isolationism is an old, old story. And cooperation and interaction is the true value; it holds the biggest value. Often, of course, it’s the most difficult to achieve. But the thing that strikes me about it is that people want to have a voice. They want to be heard. They’ve been ignored, or they haven’t been heard, so it’s very exciting and they get to vent and do all this stuff that gets them heard. But what you’re saying is true: After you do that, then to go over and try to be part of a team. That is really a huge challenge.But everybody likes sports. Everybody likes teams. But the principal players on a team are nothing compared to the manager or the coach. That’s my experience.

I don’t think I would have Blondie today if it wasn’t for my management team.

Rock Cellar: So while it’s good to be able to vent, true collaboration is really the thing that’s ultimately the most satisfying, and that will save us? I know you follow politics, so let’s put it in political terms: The resistance and the relentlessness of that resistance is what has led us to this impeachment moment. So it’s not just in the arts. It’s not just in business, for that matter. It sounds like you’re saying that true collaboration is the thing that will save us, ultimately.

Debbie Harry: Yeah. Totally, totally, totally. I’m sure that when I was younger, I didn’t really think of it like that in any way, because I was just trying to get ahead, trying to find myself and find what I was capable of. So I think athletes really get it right, for the most part. They really learn how important that is early. Because having a physicality that is reliant on other people is a real mind fuck, you know?

Rock Cellar: Sure. But in a good sense. I get a sense of a lost New York from the book, and yet you don’t seem to over-glamorize it, or even maybe miss it. What does New York City mean to you in its current state? It’s very different now than when you were first making music, in the early days. 

Debbie Harry: Well, I miss my youth. I think that that was the excitement of it all. We were all of a certain age, and trying very hard to have a band, and be part of the music scene. But it was intimate. It was a small scene, basically. Everybody was sort of turned on by everybody else and what they were doing.

We all helped each other, in terms of inspiration. I think it still exists today, but it’s probably a little bit more sophisticated. And also, the value has changed. The monetary values have changed.

Back then, we weren’t expected to make any money, and everybody was just shuffling along. Everybody wanted to make money, everybody wanted to have a career or a profession, but it sort of didn’t happen immediately, and we all knew it wasn’t going to happen immediately, so we just sort of kept on going anyway, and kept fighting for it.

In a way, I think you’re right about it being over-glamorized. The past always looks a little bit rosier than perhaps it really was. For example, there’s so many of those great musicians and artists and performers that are dead. That didn’t happen because it was so dire. Well, I guess a lot of it was drugs. But some of it was the illness, too. It was just a pressure cooker.

Rock Cellar: Paul Weller always jokes to me that he’s only become a legend because he’s alive.

Debbie Harry: But he’s right! If you can live, you keep on going. That’s something!

Rock Cellar: It’s a lot of the game, isn’t it?

Debbie Harry: It’s a lot, yeah.

Rock Cellar: John Doe and Chris did an event here at City Winery a couple of months ago. I was talking with Chris, and it amazed me how he was really into a lot of current music that I would not have expected. I mean, of course he is, because that’s his thing, and that’s what he’s always been known for, but it made me curious: What do you listen to? Do you listen to music these days? What piques your interest, or do you just listen to playlists from growing up, or the seventies and eighties?

Debbie Harry: Actually, I’ve been on a grunge kick for a while. It’s been sort of like my re-education or something.

But I’m starting to branch out again. Chris and I have always been different on this point. I don’t play music in the house. I tend to watch movies. I don’t know. I listen to a lot of music. I love music. But mostly I listen to it in the car. I really like being in, like, a sound booth, because I’m always analyzing everything. I went to see an artist last night, Steven Sayeed. He’s working with Hal Willner. Our keyboard player, Matt Katz-Bohen, was backing him up, so I went out to see them.

So I don’t know. It’s just a part of my routine. It’s what I do. I go out, I see music. I like live music. I like going on the road. I like going to festivals and seeing bands.

I went to the Afropunk festival in Brooklyn. It was so fabulous. It was great. I got to see some artists that I hadn’t seen in a while. Santigold was there, people like that. So I think really what I enjoy is live stuff. When I listen to recorded music, it’s always because I’m listening to how it’s done, and what the sounds they used are.

I’ve turned into one of those people who watches movies and thinks about how it was shot, except with music. Some people listen to music and they go off into the mood of it. That’s a different kind of listening. Maybe it’s just a phase I’m in, I suppose. But to answer your question, I like Chopin, and I like some of the classics. Occasionally I’ll listen to some of the arias, some operas that I really like. Sometimes I listen to jazz.

I don’t have real leash.

Face it, Harry’s a certified icon. Great interview! Kudos.

 J. Robert Spencer

SHORT TAKES —TONY-nominated J. Robert Spencer, from the original cast of Jersey Boys on Broadway and now the Midtown Men, has a new holiday single out next week, “Waiting On Christmas.” We’ll have more on this terrific effort Wednesday as he’s here in town next week …

Brian May and Micky Dolenz 

Micky Dolenz, about to begin the second leg of the 50 Years Ago Today tour, was thrilled to have Queen’s Brian May backing him up at last week’s James BurtonFoundation-event in Nashville. Micky did “Johnny B. Goode” … Rupert Holmes, performing “Escape: The Pina Colada Song” at last week’s stellar Rockers On Broadway, had a reunion with Rockers-PR man David Salidor, who worked for the PR-office who handled the PR-on the song. Holmes remarked at was almost 40 years to the day .. and, that they both looked pretty good all these years later. Funny! … Saw former Newsday-music writer Wayne Robbins at My Father’s Place. Now teaching at St. John’s, it was great to re-connect. Back in the day, a good review from Robbins could make-or-break an act …

Mark Bego with Philippine DeSmedt

Celebrity author Mark Bego sat with TV producer Philippine DeSmedt at the taping of a new documentary on the life and legend of Aretha Franklin, for the European Artenetwork.  Bego is the author of the Number One best seller Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul. The program is scheduled air in February of 2020. Steve Walter’s Cutting Room holds a cocktail-reception for Bego’s book with Surpeme-Mary Wilson (Supreme Glamour), tonight …Jazz-artist Nicole Henry is at My Father’s Place, January 16. Our super-spy Mr. Fisch says this highly recommended. Check her out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abXr06kstOI&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0y9-i9SFvPXkBurD1C2hj5WBuUCscplbKFsuakBPa8eU6SDa6YnGDYseg … Billboard yesterday announced their Top 125 artists of all-time, in celebration of the magazine’s 125th anniversary. On that list, Chicago is ranked #10, which is so well deserved and amazing at the same time. But after analyzing their list, it dawned on me that Chicago is the Top American Band of All-Time!  Just think of the bigness of that title! Well done lads!!! …

Bob Lefsetz

Interesting piece from Page Six, on blob-blogger Bob Lefsetz and Sharon Osbourne. Lefsetz should have left years ago. What a bore. Here it is: https://pagesix.com/2019/11/15/sharon-osbourne-rips-into-music-blogger-in-savage-leaked-email/ … What ever happened to Eagle Rock Entertainment? We used to be serviced with news and sometimes even DVDs, of their latest releases … many of which were rather splendid.  Have they gone Chapter 11? … I’ve always been a fan of Eddie Murphy. Sure, he’s done some real questionable movies, but his appearance in Dreamgirls and that first Beverly Hills Cop were both miraculous. I saw his newest Dolemite Is My Name and it’s a rip-roaring smash … just terrific. A true story based on Rudy Ray Moore, its just sensational and Wesley Snipes almost steals the movie. I have to admit, its now in my top ten of the year!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Eppy; Barry Fisch; J. Robert Spencer; Donnie Kehr; Bar 9; Cori Gardner; Keith Girard; Markos Papadatos; Claire Mecuri; Maritime Music; John Reid; Tony King; Magda Katz; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; and, Ziggy!


G. H. Harding is a four decades insider to the entertainment world. He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production companies and several cable outlets. His anonymity is essential in bringing an unbiased view to his writings on pop culture. He is based in NYC.

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