There’s no doubt that anyone and everyone on the planet can relate to the hurt of rejection. Unless of course you’ve got a screw loose and have no concept of E.Q.
I don’t outwardly show a ton of emotion, but that doesn’t take the sting off of any rejection. Here’s one of the biggest stings I ever got in my music career…
As a fan of the show Heroes, I ended up writing a song called Hero Unexpected. This was a turning point in my songwriting and production chops. I knew I had a really awesome chorus. But the verses initially were translating to people if they didn’t know the TV show. I agonized over that and had nine rewrites of them until I was finally happy with it and other people could relate to it without knowing the show.
The recording process went equally as painstaking for me at the time. I really spent time thinking thru the arrangement. Making sure every layer of every sound I put into it would fit nicely with all the others. Most of the time up to that point I was winging it and sticking to primarily a two guitars, bass, drums, vocals thing. Expanding my potential was the goal.
What made the recording even more fruitful was having a good friend of mine, George Leger III, who wanted to help me record the vocals. He really wanted to produce the vocal recording. He felt he could draw the right performance out of me to really make the song shine.
We spent an afternoon into an evening as his Glendale studio where he guided me thru recording the vocals. Take after take, part after part. The lesson I learned from that session was valuable. He had a sheet of my lyrics and as we were recording it, he’d be taking notes on which take had the right inflection for each word, or phrase. Mind you I didn’t see him doing as I was singing in another room. I saw it after.
When we finished, I took the tracks back to my studio and spent a good deal of time working on the comps and mix of the song. I may have spent close to a week, then took a little time off and would come back to it.
As fortune would have it, in the months leading up to the finished mix of Hero Unexpected, I had befriended a mastering engineer who had won several Grammys. If I haven’t written about the lead up to that friendship, it’s probably being saved for a book on my career because it’s pretty damn random.
Gavin Lurssen and I spoke about the song for a rather lengthy bit and talked about what I was hoping to get out of the master for it. However, the best bit about the conversation was his reaction to finding out that I not wrote and performed it, but that I had also recorded and mixed it [minus the vocal producer George]. It was a two word response that started with F and ended with U.
Gavin did a marvelous job with the master and I was super happy with the end result.
Fast forward some months later when I find out about Iron Man. Since people up to this point were telling me how awesome the song was for anything superhero related, I made a valiant effort to get it in front of the music supervisor for that movie. Major brownie points to the lawyer that helped make that happen, Steve, you know who you are.
Anyway [enough of the long preamble], we were fortunate enough to get a phone call with the the music supervisor. He proceeds to tell us that he really loves the song and that it would be perfect for the movie. But… [here comes the brutality and I will quote this]: “You are not famous enough for us to be able to use it.”
Zing. Bang. Pow. Zowie. OUCH!!
Up to that point, I had never given a moment’s thought to a song getting rejected due to lack of fame. Usually they will pick a song because it’s the right song for the part. Then to be told that it is essentially the right song for the part, but you lack the fame?!? Oophff. That stung.
It came back to sting me again when the movie released and multiple industry people told me Hero Unexpected would have been the better pick over the famous song they did use. There are things you can’t control. I still hold out hope that it will one day get used for a superhero movie.
That moment really taught me rejection can hurt, but I can’t take it personally. No matter how much it hurt, I had to soldier on.