Who ever asked a music publisher for his autograph?
Music publishers are corporate types who live in the shadow of the singers and chartbusting rockers. They get no ink, pack no coliseums, trash no hotel rooms, grope no groupies.
The publishers' end of the business is the nuts and bolts, the contracts and royalties. They promote songs, issue sheet music and hassle over international rights.
To outsiders they lack the glamor that lies in rhyming June-moon-spoon. It's the composers and lyricists who are acclaimed as romantics and creative geniuses.
An image problem. In an effort to grab some glamor and gloss, the publishers sit up late dreaming up distinctive handles for their enterprises. The kicky corporate names of some of the country's 6,000 music publishers indicate there are artists, hippies, animal lovers and cowboys behind the men and women of commerce. A sampling:
DOWN TEXAS WAY -- Abilene Music, Alamo Music, Brother Texas Music and Mother Texas Music, Texas Lady Jane Music, Texas Plains Music, Tex Mex Music and Texas Red Songs, not to mention Cowboy and Saddle Song Music.
THE PSYCHEDELIC ZOO -- Green Owl, Red Dragon, Orange Bear, Purple Cow and Electric Mule.
PET NAMES -- Drunk Monkey, Crocked Fox, Reindeer, Roaring Fish and Broken Bird. Also Talking Beaver, Tiny Tiger, Wet Bull and Wooden Bear. Cheshire Cat, Crazy Cow and straightforward Ptarmigan and Sea Owl.
DRINKABLES -- Tequila Music, Champagne Music, Daiquiri Music, Sherry Music and Sour Mash Music.
EDIBLES -- Lucky Pork, Crazy Bagel, Eggs & Coffee Music, Fish Fry Music, Cornbread Music, Sherbet Music and Spaghetti & Co.
HEROINES -- Lots of female names in honor of wives, sweethearts and daughters, Angela through Windy Jenny -- even Sylvia's Mother.
ALTERED STATES -- Stoned Bunny and Barking Spider Music.
UNCLASSIFIABLE -- Dog's Breath Music, Gall and Wormwood Publishing, Horse Diaper, Rubber Frog and Monkeyfist Enterprises.
The latest firm to join the National Music Publishers' Association, according to NMPA President Leonard Feist, is Melissa Manchester's Rumanian Pickleworks Music -- an appellation with deli appeal.
According to the NMPA publicist who stays on top of such things, the longtime favorite among those in the know was Screaming Chicken Music of Beverly Hills. "Not any more," he said. "The current champion is Screaming Naked Chicken Music, another California creation."