Ranting With Rick: A humourous look at the music business

Sunday 1st July 2001

American commentator and musician RICK ALTIZER looks at hair, selling records and college degrees.

Rick Altizer
Rick Altizer

What does it take to sell records in this business? Don't ask me, because I have no idea. See, in order to have a clue about selling records one must actually SELL them. Selling records was never something I was very good at. My next record is going to be titled 'Rick Altizer - Unpurchased'. I get lots of good reviews (thanks to Mike Rimmer and the like) but for some reason no one buys them. Everyone I know who actually owns one of my CDs got it for free somehow. How does that happen? Thousands of people have my CDs yet no one bought one... Amazing!

Why am I even doing music in the first place? I've been doing a lot of soul searching about this and I think it has something to do with hair. See, I never wanted to lose all my hair and I thought that working in an office under fluorescent lights would be bad for my hair. For some reason rock'n'roll bands have lots of hair. Look at Petra. They're getting older and their hair is getting thicker. Now how does THAT happen? Have you seen their hair? It's huge. I'm sure it's the loud guitar amps that do it. Look at all those "hair bands" from the '80s. They had tons of hair and they all had loud guitar amps. Michael Stipe from REM used to have hair until the guitar player started playing a mandolin. He's bald now. Play a mandolin... lose your hair. I must remember that.

I remember seeing the Beatles on TV when I was about six years old. I asked my mother, "Why are all those girls screaming?" I don't remember her answer but I do remember thinking that's what I wanted to do... be screamed at by girls. What a great job, I thought. Learn how to play a guitar and girls will scream. I knew then and there I wanted to be a musician.

My dad didn't care if I wanted to be a musician as long as I got a college degree. He would always tell me, 'The one thing they can't take from you is your college degree." Who is this "they" and why would they want my college degree? I can see it now: two robbers will be ransacking my house and one will come upon my college degree. He'll say to the other robber, "We better leave this alone, the one thing we can't take from him is his college degree." I'll lose my TV, VCR and my CD player, but I'll have my college degree.

I actually did get a college degree (University of Houston) but I didn't get it to please my dad. I got it so I wouldn't have to work. My dad wanted to pay my way through college and that was much better than working a real job, so I got the degree. And yes, it's still hanging on my wall and no one has taken it...yet.

What does all have this have to do with not being able to sell any records? I don't know. Why am I supposed to have all the answers? I don't have any answers. I have a hard enough time deciding what I want for breakfast. Cereal or oatmeal?... Cereal or oatmeal?... Maybe a bagel too? It's enough to drive you crazy. I'll just stand there in the kitchen like a dazed idiot and my wife will walk in and ask what I'm doing. I have no answer for her either. No wonder I can't sell any records. What's wrong with me?

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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