While His Guitar Gently Weeps
Scott Baxendale is fretting over Qwest.
Article Published Mar 9, 2006
Guitar-maker Scott Baxendale couldn't believe what he was seeing -- or hearing: a new commercial for Qwest service, with "Got to Get You Into My Life" as the soundtrack. "At first I was just appalled because it was such a lame version of the song," he says, "but then I started thinking about it and thinking about how they were using this song of Paul McCartney's to sell cell phones." And not just any song, but one McCartney had written as a tribute to his love of smoking pot.
Then Baxendale thought some more, about how Michael Jackson now owns the entire Beatles collection and "no doubt sold the rights for the commercial to either pay his legal fees or to support his current harem of little Indonesian choirboys. I was literally screaming, I was so mad."
So the next day, he called Qwest and asked the person on the other end of the line if the company knew what it was doing. Maybe so: That anonymous Qwest employee transferred Baxendale to the technical department, where he was put on hold for thirty minutes, then cut off.
That night, Baxendale shared his outrage in an e-mail sent to friends. "To have today's kids thinking of that song as a lame cell-phone commercial should be considered as criminal as it would be to take Babe Ruth's bat he hit number 600 with and cut it up into commemorative popsicle sticks," he wrote. And Baxendale knows all about criminal: More than a decade ago, he went on a two-year, crack-fueled crime spree that could have earned him ninety years in jail if a judge hadn't given him a second chance and sentenced him to just two years in rehab and eight years' probation.
Baxendale isn't about to show Qwest the same mercy. "I understand the pros and cons of using classic music in commercials," he says. "But the Beatles were adamant about not having their music used for commercials, from the days of Brian Epstein up until today. Now when you pay your Qwest bill, you're paying for Michael Jackson's sexual deviancy. That just drives me crazy."
But Qwest wasn't thinking about enriching Jackson -- or smoking pot -- when it authorized the commercial, which debuted last month. "We love it because it's an upbeat, popular song that shows how you can connect," says Qwest spokeswoman Kate Varden. "Our services fit all aspects of customers' lives."
Not including Baxendale.