Friday, July 15, 2011

On tour with the Little Green Men (Part 1 of 3)

What was it like?
Everybody asks.
Touring with the Little Green Men was GREAT -- easily the best time I've ever had in this business. Certainly everything I've done since has been a drag. I've never seen ANY zonk band try some of the stunts the Men did. And I've been around the disc biz for a LONG time.
It's all over now, of course. The guys are all in hibernation, wrapped in their snug cocoons, nuzzled occasionally by warm ultrasonics. And as near as the medics can tell, it may be years before the guys come back out. There's no point waiting for them -- it could take decades. We might just as well get on with our lives and not wait up.
But I'll tell ya -- if they want to put ME in a cocoon and hold me in suspended animation 'til the guys wake up, I won't mind. I'm available, and they won't need to pay me any extra money to do it, either. I don't know anybody else who was willing to handle the guys, even when they were on top, and I'm ready for another go 'round.
Because let me tell ya -- there was nothing more fun than hanging out with the guys during the three years they had this planet on its knees. They were always relaxed, always having fun, always cracking jokes -- usually at my expense. Everything was so NEW to them. They looked at life's most boring everyday happenings in a totally new way.
And as a result, they helped me look at things in a new way too. Maybe they helped you do the same.
They weren't in it for the money -- I'm not even sure they HAVE money on Archernar 4. They did it for the music and the applause. They knew they were great at what they did. They wanted to be loved. And they were -- for awhile....
Sure you miss the music, so do I. But we've got the discs they left behind to take care of that.
I miss the guys themselves.
You do, too? Yeah, sure. Everybody says that....

When the friendly aliens from Archernar 4 landed on Earth, it was merely the biggest event in all of human history.
But we smart humans got past all of that.
When six of the aliens decided they wanted to form a zonk band, cut a disc and go on tour, that was something else.
It was the biggest shock the disc and entertainment biz had seen since The Beatles.
Jeff, Jack, Jim, Joe, Jules and Jon (without the "h" -- all names are rough translations of the original, and all beings' names start with "J" Back Home) signed with White Knight Discs because -- they said -- they liked us. Other companies offered them LOTS more money, lots more sales muscle, and better promotion, distribution and connections. We offered "a home-y atmosphere," they said. They liked our vibrations. They were always talking like that....
My boss Carl Davison assigned me to take charge of the group's initial recording and first tour. He said at the time it was because of my "hippie"-like background and because everybody knew I hadn't taken a bath or cut my hair since the 1990's. His view was pretty accurate back then, but I didn't see why that was a point in my favor. Carl just shook his head and told me to trust him -- the band and I were going to get along just fine. And he was right.
And soon enough I found out what he meant....

Carl led me into a darkened studio where the band was rehearsing. This was The Big First Meeting -- a chance for the band to meet their new road manager, and for me to size them up.
When we walked in, a barely-visible, gnarled-looking Utterly Alien Figure was busy playing some kind of horn with a huge bell on its front into a mike that stood out under a lone spotlight.
Behind this bulbous, wrinkled figure, further back in the shadows, another barely-seen figure hit a few mournful notes on a synth. The combination of the keyboard and the warm tones from whatever-kind-of-horn-it-was created a wistful, longing mood of loneliness and nostalgia.
This lovely, sad, faint, low-key melody played out to a brief silence. I'd been in the room for about 15 seconds and already my mouth had fallen open.
And then there was a rush of high-pitched chattering all around Carl and I. Little bodies began darting out of the blackness to surround the two figures who had been performing. Then the lights came up and we were surrounded by the aliens.
Of course they weren't the Little Green Men, then. Not with the capital letters. They were just six little aliens who wanted to pull-off something unheard-of. And our little company was set to help them do it.
Only a couple of problems: I already knew from Cyclops newscasts about the aliens that the band were never going to be teenybopper heartthrobs. Video and hypno-poster possibilities seemed just about non-existent.
They each stood about 3 feet tall and looked like big green, wrinkly, mushy ... potatoes. With big eyes. And skinny legs. And hair. Long, stringy, crinkly, scraggly brown hair.
They each had three or four long, scraggly strands of hair growing out of the tops of their heads ... wherever those were. They looked like they were basically All Head. They reminded me of those toys kids used to play with back in the Olde Days -- Mr. Potato Head.
They had LONG arms that dragged on the floor when they walked ... or waddled, actually. Their elbows were way down past where their knees would have been ... if they'd had knees.
They had high, whiny, keening speaking voices that issued from God-knew-where, and I couldn't tell one of them from another. Never could, really, even after all the time we spent together on the road. Still can't. I'd identify them by what instruments they played -- they always kept their instruments close by, and you never knew when any gathering might turn into a jam session. Some of their differences came out in their attitudes, but more about that later....
I already knew (as did you and billions of other humans) that -- though friendly -- the aliens were ... kind of ugly. But I hadn't heard about the SMELL....
Ever worked at an egg plant? Ever shoveled-out hog pens on a hot, humid summer day? Ever been sprayed by a skunk? Imagine a mix of all three, only 10 times worse. And I'm still not doing the smell justice....
I gagged. The smell brought tears to my eyes. It seemed to come in waves. It almost knocked me over. My first few minutes in the presence of the "band," our newest can't-miss moneymakers ... and I was already looking frantically for a window to open. Or jump out of. Anything to get away from that ... REEK. The tears poured from my eyes. My face turned blue. I saw immediately what one of my biggest public-relations challenges was going to be.
"Hey guys," I gasped, trying to be friendly.
"Greetings, Earthman," they responded in perfect, almost mechanical unison. And then they giggled among themselves. At least I THINK they were giggling. They were always doing that.
That's how I met the most popular recording act in the history of the universe.

Carl, almost immediately, officially named them the Little Green Men. He always liked to go for the obvious.

The "Earthman" tag they used with me during our first meeting stuck. Usually the guys just called me Terry, but when they were joking around or were having trouble understanding any particularly frustrating human trait, they'd go back to calling me "Earthman." I think it was intended as a kind of joke. I didn't mind it so much. And it came out at the strangest times....
One night during the band's dinner -- broiled alley cat -- in response to my gagging and retching, Jon looked up from his meal, jowls dripping with hot grease and cat parts, and said "Your primitive tastes are obviously not equipped to appreciate the culinary delights contained in even the smallest morsel of this sublime feline, EARTHMAN...."
And then he went back to slurping and munching while the rest of the band giggled.
That's what I mean.

I got a personal introduction to the band because they were about to become my full-time job.
For most humans, their first official intro to the band came through the liner notes on the Men's first disc:
The Little Green Men are....
Jon -- Lead motar, vocals, songwriting, album-cover art.
Jeff -- Keyboards, vocals, music.
Jack -- Bass motar, sunglasses, vocals, lyrics.
Jim -- Sax, flute, woodwinds, brass, percussion, vocals, songwriting.
Joe -- Rhythm motar, percussion, vocals, lyrics.
Jules -- Drums, percussion, syndrums, gongs, shakers, rattles, breakables, aluminum siding, hats, backing vocals.

(To be continued....)


Gardenhead said...

great story Tad!! It needs to be illustrated :)

TAD said...

Thanx much, G. More coming soon....