The Flexible Nature Of Currency.
for most of my adult life I had rarely seen the money I make. unlike someone who gets a paycheck each week, my fees and royalties were filtered through a terribly sluggish pipeline and into the hands of a manager, an attorney, or an agency. sometimes the process could take more than a year and when a check did finally arrive, reduced by commissions, percentages, tax withholdings, etc. it then went straight into an account. unintentionally or not, this kept the artist, in this case me, blissfully unaware of the flexible nature of currency.
all of that changed when I began to manage my own affairs.
in september of 1997 ken and I traveled to argentina to do a series of solo concerts. ken mixed the sound and I played acoustic guitar and sang my songs. we asked the promoters to provide a sparse living room set. a couch, a lamp on a table, and a tall plant made the concert seem like the audience and I were sitting together at home. it helped diffuse the language barrier. I think we did 6 concerts in 10 days around parts of argentina. the fee was $10,000 with all expenses (flights, hotels, etc.) paid. simple enough.
I didn't yet know the argentinean music business still works on a cash basis and is famously corrupt. one story from the krimson annuls of the 90's illustrates this point. at a concert in a large theatre the audience was virtually packed in to hear the double trio. our tour manager was at the back of the theatre when the fire marshal arrived to condone or perhaps cancel the show.
it was obviously packed beyond legal capacity so the fire marshal began by commenting on how awful it would be for him to have to close the theatre down. our tour manager then handed him an envelope of hundred dollar bills. "it's a shame," said the fire marshal, "you had such a poor turn out."
still, I was surprised at the end of my solo tour when on the morning of our departure the promoters showed up at my hotel room with a bag of cash! it took me a very long time indeed to count out $10,000 in mostly twenty dollar bills. it was the first time I touched the money I made!
the flight home was disconcerting. as you can imagine there are laws about going through customs with large amounts of cash and coming from south america it would be easy to be mistaken for a drug runner. but I was actually more concerned about another large bag I had.
just before leaving the hotel that morning a man had shown up with a strange gift for me. he didn't speak a word of english but judging by my interpreters' excited response it must be something good. the man was a die-hard krimson fan who loved the song dinosaur. he was also a paleontologist who spent the last 3 years in patagonia collecting dinosaur bones. he presented me with a bag of them! now, the problem is the international transportion of dinosaur bones is highly illegal!
armed with a large sum of cash and a bag of illegal artifacts I had reason to be worried. but after landing at our first stop in miami, the nice customs man let me through with no questions asked. phew.
so I arrived home unscathed and with a lovely bag of million-year-old bones. martha was still unaware of the money I had. I went into our master bedroom, took off my clothes, and laid on the bed. I spread the 10,000 dollars worth of bills all over our bed and all over myself.
then I shouted, "hey martha, come here for a minute."
when she came into the room I threw my arms wide open and said,
"how much do you love me now!"