Jimmy In Rolling Stone

You’ve got to read this.

Maybe Jimmy’s sick, maybe that’s why he’s taking this victory lap, because normally he works behind the scenes. Suddenly, he’s being feted at the Village before the Grammys, he’s in "Rolling Stone", "The Hollywood Reporter"? Really smart, rich people are not like musicians, they stay out of the public eye. Or at least they refuse to speak with reporters. Because reporters have an agenda. And reporters get it wrong.

What did my buddy say? That Jimmy went to UCLA and told his class that he’s got all these people under him who think they work for a record company who don’t realize they work for a branding company? That recorded music is at most a piece of the puzzle?

Give Jimmy credit for Beats.

And give him a demerit for the Farm Club.

But unlike too many musical artists, he comes up to bat, he’s willing to make a mistake, to ground out, to even commit an error. Because the victories far exceed the losses.

And you get a recitation of Jimmy’s greatest hits in this article, but that turns out to be the least fascinating part of it.

First, you find out about the man.

Or the boy. That’s what he was when he began.

Jimmy was a charmed figure, the star of the family, his dad said the room had to be better for him being in it.

Think about that… When you arrive, do people shake their heads and say "Oh no!" or are they thrilled to see you? Do you make people happy? Are you funny, do you do favors? Not only is it a people business, it’s a people world. You’ve got to do more than get along to get ahead, you’ve got to add something!

So Jimmy’s clueless. Except for the fact that he can ingratiate himself with others and fake it. You always fake it. If you don’t lie to get the chance, you’re shooting too low. And Jimmy’s ascent was not linear, not every gig worked out. But he had one big skill. He could tell good from bad.

Funny, most people on the inside say everything is great.

Everybody on the outside says everything sucks, except what they’re working on. But can you speak the truth and have people accept it? People want to hear the truth, their asses are kissed every day, but you’ve got to make it palatable.

Jimmy says U2’s last record wasn’t done. And that they shouldn’t go out on the road again until the new record is right.

And he talks about assembling Stevie Nicks’s band and admits that "Hard Promises" wasn’t as good as "Damn The Torpedoes", but the best stuff has to do with Springsteen.

He just didn’t give a f___.

I’m not spelling the word out because too many spam filters will kick this e-mail back and I want you to read this, so you’ll read Jimmy’s words.

Bruce was broke, abused, he needed to do it HIS WAY!

Today, everybody is willing to compromise, to do it THEIR WAY!

And here’s where we get to the meat of the story, why I’m writing this.

Because at the end of the interview, Jimmy says music is done. He wonders if we’ll get a new Springsteen, a new Tom Petty, because the best and the brightest are not going into music.


If you want to get rich, if you’ve got something to say, is music the right place?

Chalk it up to income inequality. Chalk it up to a mature business. But the days of hearing a cutting edge record that changes the world…are few and far between if they exist whatsoever.

There’s no revolution on Top Forty radio and the rest of the business is laden with crybabies fighting for attention.

I’m not sure how it plays out. Whether we have a spontaneous revolution or music is permanently relegated to the second class. But it’s a problem. One that Doug Morris and Lucian Grainge won’t talk about. As for the touring industry, it’s all about the money.

So Jimmy’s trying to push the envelope.

Beats are inferior to Sennheisers and other mainstream headphone brands but give Jimmy credit for convincing the hoi polloi to upgrade to much better sound.

Jimmy’s trying to move the ball at the top. My eyes bugged out when he said record production was too small a hole for him in his life right now.

You want to get Jimmy’s attention and he doesn’t want to give it to you. He’s got filters, gofers who’ll hip him to stuff that’s great that he might miss, but he’s got his eye on the prize. He’s not exactly sure what it is but this hunger is a lot more interesting than those who keep claiming the business is healthy and are fighting petty wars over whether Universal can consume EMI or not.

Jimmy’s an American success story. I saw him driving down Santa Monica in his Rolls-Royce the other day… Does anybody even need one of these vehicles? Performance can be eclipsed by automobiles costing so much less, but nothing makes the same statement.

And Jimmy wants to make a statement.

But Jimmy is also the character in "What Makes Sammy Run?" Ultimately it’s all about him, he needs to win to fill a hole inside.

And now he’s changed his look from a baseball hat to a knit cap. Does Lloyd Blankfein worry that he’s follically challenged? If Jimmy owned his baldness he’d lose not an iota of power or respect, but the fact that he refuses to do so illustrates his insecurity. No matter how rich or powerful we are, we’re all human.

"Rolling Stone" hasn’t mattered in music for years. Sure, Matt Taibbi is a star, but the rest is fanboy stuff written by those who don’t really care. But I can’t exactly blame the magazine, because the stars got small, they stand for little and are uninteresting.

Jimmy is neither. This is not a fluff piece. The real person comes through. We still don’t see enough of the Jimmy inside, but we see more than we have of any other top-drawer music exec. And to the degree the rest of them talk, everything is groovy.

Everything is not groovy. And the first step to fixing this is admitting it.

Jimmy admits it.

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