Friday, July 17, 2015

So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star

If you weren't a writer, what would you be professionally?

by Paul D. Marks

What would I be doing or what would I want to be doing? Probably two different things.

Children's Books -- Paul D. Marks
What I’d probably be doing is teaching or being a lawyer or working in the film biz in one capacity or another, which I did do for many years as a script doctor. But at least it was writing.

What I’d want to be doing, well more on that in a minute.

When I was a young kid, I had a little book called: “The How and Why Wonder Book of: Atomic Energy.”  So I wanted to be a physicist, an atomic scientist.

Then I read a book of my mom’s called “Little People Who Became Great,” (her edition published in 1935, though there are earlier ones—and I did say it was my mom’s book, right?), which tells the story of Helen Keller, Jenny Lind, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie and more. And I wanted to be like Andrew Carnegie. Though today I’d prefer being Edison, even with all his flaws.

Then I read a book called “They Met Danger,” stories about real life Medal of Honor winners, and I wanted to be like Audie Murphy, World War II’s most decorated hero.

Somewhere in the mix I wanted to be an architect, but that actually came later. But at some point, after the three books mentioned above and before wanting to be an architect, everything changed.

Somewhere around February 1964. It was a Sunday night. My dad called me into the den. Wanted me to watch something on TV. What could that be?
The-Beatles-with-Ed-Sullivan-1964 D2a
Click here to go to a YouTube video of Sullivan/The Beatles.

Ed Sullivan came on. He introduced a rock band from England: Yeah, you know who—or should I say “yeah, yeah, yeah,” The Beatles.

My life changed. The lives of almost everyone I knew changed. Eventually everything changed.

They were fresh and effervescent, and their music was boisterous and happy. They were witty and clever. And those harmonies. It was only about three months after JFK’s assassination. The country needed a shot in the arm—a shot of rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll to help it out of the doldrums after Kennedy’s death.

I hated my first name, Paul, until February 9th, 1964 (and I didn’t have to look the date up!), the date of the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan. I had wanted it to be Jeff, named after the Tommy Rettig character on the original Lassie TV series (before the Timmy/Jon Provost-June Lockhart version). After that day, uh, something changed. I liked the name Paul. Wonder why?

Byrds Rock n Roll Star D2a
Click here to go to a YouTube link of the Byrds doing this song.
And I wanted to play guitar and bass guitar. Who didn’t after that day? So I wanted to be a rock ‘n’ star. Who didn’t? Who didn’t grow their hair long and buy a guitar and an amp and shoot for the moon?

Paul D Marks bassI was even in a few bands, playing guitar and mostly bass. Singing a little, but something happened to my voice over the years and it’s a nightmare now. Kinda like what Keith Richards talks about with losing his voice.

I had fun, but I knew I didn’t have the talent to really make it. And since I was born in Hollywood and grew up in L.A. I had always wanted to be in the film biz. After driving around the city with my parents, past the Fox backlot in what is now Century City or by all the other studios, it was a natural thing to want to do. And I was lucky enough to have a career as a script doctor. No screen credit, little glory, but still fun and even fulfilling sometimes, even if my dad could never quite figure out what I did since he never saw my name on the silver screen.

But ultimately I’m glad things worked out the way they did. I got out of the film biz because I wanted less chefs over my shoulder. I like writing novels and short stories and I’m having a hell of a good time doing it.

***



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8 comments:

Susan C Shea said...

Just catching this this morning, Paul, but what fun! My kid sister was the one in our family to "get" the Beatles first. I remember they were all she could talk about and I, so adult and sophisticated of course, made snotty big sister comments about her crush. Then, the boys in the band - John mostly - seeped into my heart and I was hooked too!

Thanks for the memories and the post.

RJ Harlick said...

I remember that evening too, but I don't think I realized how big the Beatles were until I went to Europe a year later. Their music was everywhere. And now I have all their songs swirling through my head. Great post, Paul.
P.S. I am not a robot...at least I think I'm not.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. Well, at least you came around eventually. :) And they said it wouldn't last.

Thank you, too, Robin. Their music was everywhere here in the states too, of course. At one point they even had the top 5 songs on the Billboard charts. And I'm very glad to hear that you're not a robot. :)

GBPool said...

I was in France when the Beatles did Sullivan's show. Elvis lived three blocks away from our house in Memphis, but when teachers had us say what three careers we wanted I said: writer, writer, writer. I worked as a newspaper reporter and a private detective and in a doll house store and a bank. All of those jobs have turned up in my books. They were just research. I couldn't have been anything else. Same with you, Paul.

Paul D. Marks said...

That's so cool that Elvis lived so close to you, Gayle. Did you ever see him? And I think you're right, neither of us could have been anything else ultimately. But anything we did beforehand was good research, not fun always, but good. :)

GBPool said...

Paul, Elvis and his crew would rent Graceland Elementary School's playground on the weekends to play football. Only once did I go over there with a few other neighborhood kids to watch. Elvis came over to us and said hi. I didn't realize what a big thing that was until years later. We had lived in another neighborhood in Memphis before moving to Whitehaven. Elvis's first place was a few blocks away from us there, too. I still think he was a very good singer... spangles and all.

Paul D. Marks said...

That is so cool, Gayle! I had an Elvis encounter or two as well,k but I'll save those for another time. But that is really cool that he came up and said hi.

lisaljohnljc said...

Hey Paul
Just curious, what did u do as a script doctor???
It sounds like a fun job, even tho I'm not exactly sure what it is....