It seemed that Glassnote and Republic were going to make us similar offers. Bart was the first to realize my predicament with Dixon and Omar at their respective labels. “There’s only one right answer,” he said. “Let Joanie decide.” “But she’ll pick Dixon, for the same reason I’ll pick Omar.” “OK, maybe so,” Bart replied. “Then let her agent decide. After all, you can claim ignorance and defer to the agent’s expertise.” It did seem like the least controversial way out of this. I called Joanie’s agent Taryn and let her know she had the lead, which she took a little offensively (I guess she figured it was obvious). Lastly, I called Omar. I told him all of the additional things he would need to offer Joanie in order to get a definite “yes.” He said it would require buttering up some big execs, but that he thought it was all feasible since she was gaining so much steam. I didn’t feel bad for leveraging my connection. Relationships aside, it meant that our careers would benefit from the obvious decision.
“Eric, Republic can get me an opening on Lorde’s entire tour,” Joanie said over the phone the next day. I could hear her voice crack, then the levee broke. Her sobs said that she couldn’t believe the position she was in. “How can I turn that down? And they said that they could get her on my album, plus I could get a feature on Eddie Vedder’s new album. They said he’s a fan. Eddie Vedder is a fan! And—all that plus an LP by late June, and a campaign for my new EP.” “And what about Glassnote?” I asked. Joanie hesitated: “An LP by January. An opening show for Mumford & Sons in Salt Lake City.” She trailed off. Glassnote’s offer was even less than Dixon had suggested. “Eric… Taryn says I should go with Republic. And it seems obvious. But what about Dixon?” “You’ve worked hard for this, Joanie. Throw this one hurdle in your way with Dixon, and I’m sure you two will work hard to get past it just fine.” This was far easier than I had imagined.
Omar sent me a bouquet of lilies the next day: “Thanks for the help, xO,” said the note. I thought things turned out well, ultimately. Joanie got a sensational deal—artistically and financially—, plus a great signing bonus. It’s as if Glassnote never had the ammo to begin with, and as if my meeting Omar was supposed to happen just to elevate Joanie to her rightful platform. “I had to fight to get her all of that,” Omar told me. “But I think she is gonna be huge. I know she is. It’s a win across the board. And, although it goes without saying, I did it for you.” That was both flattering and a gut punch, because I’d hate for Joanie to know I was in bed with Republic like this. Also, this wasn’t a win for Joanie and Dixon: he was so embarrassed by the offer his team put together, to the point of not wanting to see Joanie for a few days. He did, however, send her a bouquet of roses, and an apology: “What’s best for you is best for us. Forgive me, my love.”
Joanie and I went to Republic with Taryn the next day, making official their signing Saturant to the label. I mostly listened and let Taryn handle everything, trying to absorb as much music lingo as I could. It was one of those truly surreal moments, seeing one of my lifelong best friends autograph papers that validated years and years of rejection, persistence, and hard work. Republic seemed thrilled to have Joanie aboard, and best of all, Omar was there cheering the most. “We’ve got you in a South-By showcase in Austin in a few weeks, right off your EP release,” he told her. “Press announcement goes out this afternoon for all of this.” He kept looking at me, smiling. And Joanie noticed: “That Omar guy likes you, I think,” she said after the meeting. “You should ask him out. We could both date music guys, how cute would that be?” Given her blessing, I felt like an evil genius, with only the best intentions.
“Would you gamble my relationship for your own benefit?” Bart asked me soon thereafter. “Seeing as my boyfriend’s career is in your hands, I think it’s justified that I ask.” He was right to call me out, but I wasn’t about to tell him that his boyfriend Tyler once contemplated dumping him, and that I had talked some sense into the kid. “Eric, can I be blunt?” he said. I nodded, yielding to whatever criticism I was about to receive. “You’re a sociopath sometimes. You did all that because you have a crush on Omar. Yet you aren’t even committed to him. You’re still sleeping around. So if it wasn’t for him, and it wasn’t foremost for Joanie, then what was the point?” “She got an incredible deal, Bart. Better than she would have without the side talk.” “You never had that foresight,” he snapped back. “You got lucky. You’re a shitty friend.”
I wasn’t always a shitty friend. Or even a shitty person. I had a reliable moral compass for most of my life, and I still relied on it now and then. But there were a few notable slip-ups in the last couple years, after the compounding days of my New York eat-or-be-eaten outlook had finally altered my operating functions. Bart wasn’t one to preach about morality, but he had known me long enough to understand how and when I had changed. The thing was, I didn’t know if I wanted to change back. Every single day, I do what makes the most sense on that day, in each moment. Add those infinitive moments together and that’s what has shaped my decisions and motivators. If the result is that I am a callous man, then I need to be a confident callous man, since each decision along the way is or was the right one to make. Being a good friend has to sometimes—though hopefully rarely—take the backseat.