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Tell me the music aficionado - okay, fine, music nerd - that does not secretly dream of the following:
You're walking down the street, headphones on. A man in an Armani suit and expensive sunglasses catches up to you from behind, and grabs your shoulder to stop you. You spin around to face him, and before you can say anything, he says:
"I am producing a movie. We want to put you in charge of the music. Money is no object, so you have free reign to use whatever songs you want. Whatever is going to work best, that's what we want you to use."
This would be your chance to put all of your vast knowledge on display, and to good use. The chance to give people a taste of just how eclectic and eccentric your tastes really are. The chance to expose a mass audience to something different, to those nuggets in your collection that you've been saying all along people should really be listening to.
It's the ultimate fantasy - you could be the next Quentin Tarantino. The next Cameron Crowe. The next Wes Anderson. It's what the inner DJ in every music nerd screams out for - the chance to be a musical Pied Piper, the audiophile prophet to lead the people down the righteous listening path.
You know you've been secretly keeping a mental Rolodex of songs for situations, one you've been filling every time you listen to something new, to a record you hadn't listened to in a while, to a song that you hear in the car this time instead of your house. This song would be perfect for the opening credits. That song would be just right for the slow-motion scene where the guy triumphantly walks out of the casino. Maybe this song would perfectly compliment that moment when two people realize they're completely and hopelessly in love with each other. Perhaps for that part where he walks down the street after facing yet another disappointment using this song would turn the scene from ordinary to transcendent.
Just imagine it. Can't you just picture yourself sitting in the back of the theater, smiling to yourself each time a song punctuates the scene just right? Wouldn't it be so unbelievably satisfying to watch how everyone responds to those careful musical choices that have enhanced their experience of the film, knowing that you were responsible?
Then the people, recognizing just how well you appreciate the importance of the right music, would start to celebrate your genius. Music journalists rush to praise your impeccable taste. Hip celebrities start to name-check you, hoping you might work on their next film. You get invited to be the guest DJ at a couple of hot New York City lounges. Drinks are no longer something you pay for. You're occasionally gracing the gossip pages, being seen with the who's-who. Photos emerge of you and a famous young starlet kissing on the beach in Maui.
Then there's the backlash. You suffer from overexposure in the press. The pressure to have a similarly successful follow-up builds. You work hard to recreate the magic, but inevitably the expectations cannot be lived up to and your next effort flops. Music journalists savage you for being one-note and for having fallen off. The celebrity press moves on to the next hot new thing. People who you thought were your friends pretend they've never met you before in their lives. The starlet no longer returns your calls. Your parents keep calling to make sure you're not feeling suicidal; eventually convincing you to move back home for a little while.
You take a job for some mid-sized corporation working in human resources, mindlessly staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day. After a few months, while you're sitting alone at a diner eating a cheeseburger, you get recognized by someone who says, "hey, weren't you that guy that used to be famous or something?" You smile and nod, and then they say "yeah, I think saw someone talking shit about you on VH1 the other day. That's rough, dude!" You resist the urge to drown yourself in the restaurant toilet bowl.
Several years later, while sitting in a motel room in Milwaukee, you catch the movie that spawned your original success on TNT. You watch for a while, and revisit what made you so special in the first place. You smile as you recollect when your love for the music, as opposed to any fantasies of fame and delusions of grandeur, inspired your work. Then you fall asleep, for a second forgetting how lonely you really are.
Well, maybe it would be easier if that Armani and expensive sunglasses guy never does show up. But at least we know we'll be ready, for the good parts anyway, if he ever does. Right?
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.
See other articles by Dan Filowitz.
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