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Eric Carmen Goes All The Way

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Eric Carmen goes all the way again with a hit record in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

If you're one of the seven people in North America who haven't seen last summer's blockbuster movie "Guardians of the Galaxy," then you wouldn't know why Eric Carmen is so happy.
 
Early in the film, the lead character played by Chris Pratt is about to take off in his spaceship after exploring a new planet. Before he fires up the engines, he takes out an old cassette tape, given to him by his mother on her deathbed as a parting gift.
 
The audience hears the opening chords of the Carmen-written 1972 hit with The Raspberries, "Go All the Way." The entire soundtrack is a marvelous jewel of incongruity as the '70s hits bump up against the science fiction, comic book fantasy narrative.
 
"The movie soundtrack officially went gold," Carmen said on the phone from his home in Gates Mills this week. Gold means 500,000 units have been sold.. It also means a new generation of listeners are discovering the songwriting talent of Eric Carmen.
 
Movie soundtracks have been very good to Carmen.
 
"My song from 'Footloose,' 'Almost Paradise,' went number 1 dislodging Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' from that spot," Carmen said. "'Hungry Eyes' from 'Dirty Dancing,' which I produced and sang, went to number 7 on the Billboard chart."
 
The record biz and the money involved is a whole new game now with the likes of downloadable music platforms such as Spotify, and Pandora.
 
"It's really eye-opening as to what's going on," said Carmen. "Take an artist like Whiz Kalifa. At first I was like, 'What's a Whiz Kalifa?' My kids know who Whiz Kalifa is. Here's how it works on the charts with rappers like him and some popular country stars. The pattern is that they come out with a record. I still call it a record because I'm old school. Then it goes number 1 selling 90,000 in a week. Then it drops off the chart like a stone. It's as if all the fans go out right away and then the record's done. So the next week 'Guardians of the Galaxy' moves up again from 5 to 3."
 
Carmen, 65, has fond and vivid memories of writing "Go All the Way."
 
"I was at Brush High School and I remember seeing guys in the hallway, they're singing The Who's 'Magic Bus' and then pumping their fists in the air. I thought that I wanted to write a song like that," said Carmen.
 
"Then one day I was in the drugstore and I saw a paperback with the title, 'Go All the Way' by Dan McGraw. That's when my antenna went up. I thought I might be able to use that. This was at the time when the Stones were on Ed Sullivan, and they made them change the lyrics from 'Let's Spend the Night Together' to 'Let's Spend Some Time Together.' I noticed that on the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' record they could get away with racy lyrics like that because of how they looked and the melodic way they sang the suggestive stuff. They slid it by the censors. So my idea was to put those words in the mouth of the girl. It was a different approach. That made it more acceptable. So the song was banned in the U.K. but it got through here."
 
Carmen took great pleasure in the record's success. He even gained a bit of notoriety for the song's sexy theme.
 
"Our bassist Dave Smalley and I would hang out at the Mentor Headlands during that time. I remember girls coming up to me and asking, 'Are you the one who wrote that dirty song?' I would say, 'Yes I am!' very proudly."
 
Although having a song on a movie soundtrack can bring new life to the recording and money to the artist, it's not as lucrative a proposition as it once was. New music technologies like Spotify and Pandora don't pay the way terrestrial radio once did.
 
"I called a friend at BMI and asked her if she could go back through the computer and see how many downloads my song had gotten on Spotify or Pandora," said Carmen. "She said it had 979,000 hits in six months. Know how much I got paid for that? $38.00. Therein lays the sad reality of the music business today. You feel like, why bother? Making records is hard work. I'm just glad I was in the music business when I was. If I were starting out today I might choose another line of work."
 
Some artists are seeking redress in the courts. But Carmen isn't encouraged.
 
"So far the courts are finding on behalf of the tech companies. The South District court of New York recently upheld the rights of Pandora. The CEO there made $29 million last year. The artists get next to nothing."
 
When Carmen is approached about using one of his songs for a movie or commercial he always asks to know the context in which the song will be used.
 
"I'm sure people think, how picky can I be when I give a song ('All By Myself') for a Wendy's commercial," said Carmen.
 
"But the way I see it there, is that it's in one ear and out the other. For a movie I always ask to see the script to get a sense of the scene."
 
Carmen has turned movies down.
 
"I had an hour-long phone call with Kevin Spacey once because he wanted to use 'All By Myself' in his movie 'Swimming with Sharks,'" he said.
 
"They wanted to use it in a scene that involved torture. I told him I loved his work, admired his talent but that I worried about the song being associated with that visual. I couldn't pull the trigger on that one. I think they wound up using the Carpenters' 'Close to You.'"
 
Carmen has seen "Guardians of the Galaxy." He was accompanied by his 17-year-old son, Clayton, and 14-year-old daughter, Kathryn.
 
"I waited to see my name in the credits at the end of the movie," he said.
 
"Of course, they were the very last ones you see. My kids couldn't have cared less. But I get that."
 
Carmen remembers the music that moved his generation not exactly being embraced by his parents.
 
"My dad called Mick Jagger, Mick Jaguar. He called the Beatles, Lemon and McCarthy.
 
"Like I said, I'm old school," Carmen said. "It's the duty of every generation to find music their parents hate."
 
Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 9, 2014
 
__________
 
:)
 
Bernie
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AnneNR   

If the pay scale for the artist is so much lower nowadays, I'd say going Platinum is an absolute must.  Here's hoping it goes on to that level as well !!   ;)

AnneNR

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Fantastic article! I was excited seeing his name in the credits, too. (Probably not as excited as he was, but ... )

Is calling musical acts by other names something that just naturally comes along with parenthood? ;)

Cheryl

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