Saturday, August 21, 2010
Won Out was released in 1979. Our intention was to release it in 1978 but due to some typical last-minute change-my-minds it was held up. Arlene and I did all of the mailing and marketing ourselves. I remember buying the LP mailers from Tharco, writing the letters to disc jockeys around the country - each one was typewritten by Arlene on our IBM Selectric and hand-signed by me. We aimed mainly at college stations because back in those days college stations were free-willed creatures that would, could and did play anything that struck their fancy. The big-time commercial radio station were pretty snooty and for the most part would have nothing to do with us even though most were still locally-owned and operated. These were the days before some fat rich guy bought all the stations and made them all play the same 3 songs over and over again between commercials for the other companies that the fat rich guy owned. We got a lot of positive feedback from the station managers and the jockeys themselves - each album went out with a stamped return envelope for comments. I wish I still had those letters! We were working pretty much without a blueprint because there were almost no other independent (indie? Did I invent indie?) artists/labels out there doing their own footwork. It was frustrating sometimes because we'd ask someone to play us or carry us in their store (yes, there were many independent record stores then, too! Not like now when some fat rich guy...you know), and it would go something like this:
Q: What label are you with?
"Wa" is still one of my favorite pieces. To this day I believe that in the right circumstances - the right chain of events - it could very well have been massive. It is a very unusual song, kinda nursery rhyme-ish but at the same time subtly subversive. Kids loved it. Adults would admit that it was catchy but for the most part just raise their eyebrows and back away. The radio stations that happily played songs from the Won Out album, despite letters and phone calls from the Sparlene Records publicity machine, generally ignored it. I was surprised and disappointed. I knew "Wa" was unusual, but I thought that the independent-minded program directors and disc jockeys of college radio stations would like it for its uniqueness (it was only later that I learned that "Wa" means "harmony" in Japanese). Boy, was I wrong!
("Wa" was released in July of 1980 as a single a-side)