Second instalment in a series of more personal posts, in which I try to share inspiration for projects I'm working on for 2010. *(deleted here: a long, windy, boring paragraph about 'selling out vs. 'keeping it real')*
The following is a letter from J.D. Salinger, one of my all-time heroes (Franny & Zooey, For Esmé - With Love and Squaler, books that changed the way I use language in day-to-day life...), explaining to Hollywood why he won't allow a film version of his biggest seller 'Catcher in the Rye'.
"...could at best only be pseudo-simulated, if there is such a word (and I hope not)"
That's the quote I'll remember from this letter. Don't go for the pseudo-simulated. It won't look right.
Read the second part of the letter + the full transcript below. + You've heard from the celebrated novelist. Now what would Dizzee say?
Ready for the ironic bit?
You can buy this letter for 54.000 dollars. Right HERE.
R. D. 2 Windsor, Vt. July 19, 1957
Dear Mr. Herbert,
I'll try to tell you what my attitude is to the stage and screen rights of The Catcher in the Rye. I've sung this tune quite a few times, so if my heart doesn't seem to be in it, try to be tolerant....Firstly, it is possible that one day the rights will be sold. Since there's an ever-looming possibility that I won't die rich, I toy very seriously with the idea of leaving the unsold rights to my wife and daughter as a kind of insurance policy. It pleasures me no end, though, I might quickly add, to know that I won't have to see the results of the transaction. I keep saying this and nobody seems to agree, but The Catcher in the Rye is a very novelistic novel. There are readymade "scenes" - only a fool would deny that - but, for me, the weight of the book is in the narrator's voice, the non-stop peculiarities of it, his personal, extremely discriminating attitude to his reader-listener, his asides about gasoline rainbows in street puddles, his philosophy or way of looking at cowhide suitcases and empty toothpaste cartons - in a word, his thoughts. He can't legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique. True, if the separation is forcibly made, there is enough material left over for something called an Exciting (or maybe just Interesting) Evening in the Theater. But I find that idea if not odious, at least odious enough to keep me from selling the rights. There are many of his thoughts, of course, that could be labored into dialogue - or into some sort of stream-of-consciousness loud-speaker device - but labored is exactly the right word. What he thinks and does so naturally in his solitude in the novel, on the stage could at best only be pseudo-simulated, if there is such a word (and I hope not). Not to mention, God help us all, the immeasurably risky business of using actors. Have you ever seen a child actress sitting crosslegged on a bed and looking right? I'm sure not. And Holden Caulfield himself, in my undoubtedly super-biassed opinion, is essentially unactable. A Sensitive, Intelligent, Talented Young Actor in a Reversible Coat wouldn't nearly be enough. It would take someone with X to bring it off, and no very young man even if he has X quite knows what to do with it. And, I might add, I don't think any director can tell him.
I'll stop there. I'm afraid I can only tell you, to end with, that I feel very firm about all this, if you haven't already guessed.
Thank you, though, for your friendly and highly readable letter. My mail from producers has mostly been hell.
(Signed, 'J. D. Salinger')
J. D. Salinger
Same topic, tackled by a more contemporary ponderer:
[youtube n4p0H8ED1cY nolink]
Hook:] Hard back, stern face Play your position and know your place Only move when the money's calling Take my advice, you'll be balling You need a hard back, stern face Play your position and know your place Only move when the money's calling Take my advice, you'll be balling
[Verse 1:] First up it's important that you keep your shit original Try and keep that copycat shit to a minimal People want something that they never heard before If it's been done, leave it, they don't wanna hear no more Secondly here's another clever thing that you can do Find yourself a good manager who's really got a clue Cause there're so many to choose from, they all look the part But it's difficult to come across the ones that's really smart And can stand firm and steady when the label's talking shit Well-respected, keeps it gangsta, but does everything legit And dependable, you can trust to handle your biz And can really make sure of what the situation is Next up, find a record label that ain't full of pricks One that lets you breathe artistically but makes you come with hits Congratulations, now you got your a deal, you're set to go Let me fill you in just a couple of things you need to know
[Hook x2] [Verse 2:] Next up, change your number, change your phone and change your chip Cause there's gonna be a lot of people ringing talking shit Whether bredrens wanting money, cause now suddenly you're rich Or some dumb hating fassies trying to take you for a bitch Yeah I know it's minor now and you can handle it, it's nothing But eventually you're really gonna wanna do something And that's counter-productive, beefin over bullshit You can never stop them dumb-bredrens tryin to pull shit Plus you're in the limelight well-paid verbalist Which leads me on to my next subject - journalists These are the people that can put your name about So be careful what you're saying when you're talking out your mouth Aand avoid being ignorant, tone down the thug shit Come to interviews buzzin, tone down the drug shit Keep your eye on the ball, mind on the drop And before you know you had the whole world on your knob
[Hook x2] [Verse 3:] Here's something that I should've stressed early on Don't go spending all your money till it's gone Cause the tax man's gonna want his paper when it's due And there's nobody above the tax man, especially you And another thing, buy a house before you buy a car Don't tell no one where you are, even better if you're far Everybody knows you're a gangsta and that Porsche looks great But do you really want it sitting on that council estate Differently watch where you choose to socialize Keep an eye out for trouble, watch for devils in disguise And please don't be fooled by no pretty females Play it safe, never let them know your full details I ain't saying be para', I'm just saying be sure You can never know if that bitch would brag you what she saw And aside from makin money keep lovin what you do I aint saying nothin what cause the rest is up to you
Yeah, you done know Just a little guideline there for all my real man dem from the roads trying to get into this music ting, yeah Big shout out to my bredrin DJ Semtex Hang tight Cage Big-up the Newham Generals, yeah We do it liveo Hang tight UGK It's a London thing International, worldwide, you don't care, you done know UK, Dirtee Stank is the label What! Run through this industry