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H I S     T W E N T I E S : 

The novel that would land on Spielberg’s desk with much favor … 
... the music that wouldn’t.
 A new 8-yrs-in-the-making book that would give his generation a name
 ... yet would be trashed by literary-agents 3 times the world over.
 A heart-relapse that almost killed him …
 … yet forced him to fight for disability to save him through of all things, 'The Godfather' of all of Hollywood's 2nd-generation film-directors.
 The music in a drawer … gets opened up ONLINE … (starting in Japan) ... and without its songwriter even aware of it doing so!
 A cheap dvd-player … transforms into a talked about bootleg album ... And the car-wreck that nearly caused him to take his own life.

    With the notion that his music was either no good, or was merely ahead of its time and not yet appreciated by the mainstream (who was much in love with the grunge scene in these days), having seen it get rejected by one of the few labels that was putting out adult-contemporary music in these mid 1990s (Arista Records) before the Internet would soon allow the doors to open for music downloads, Crawford decided to shelve the demos for the time being (though he would still go on to write several hundred songs, one in which was allegedly written for Ridley Scott’s possible sequel to Blade Runner and was sent to Ridley himself), and he focused with much intensity on wrapping up the epic-novel he had began at age 15; “TRUE.” Especially since his father’s funds at the time, which were funding the small apartment Crawford was using to write what later become known as one of the most passed around underground novels in history, were slowly depleting, given that his father was encountering another divorce; causing the funding of his son’s unquestionable talent … to be boldly interrupted, just when his first novel, which he had been working on for six years, was at the peak of being completed.

“One of the more bigger misconceptions I’ve faced on a rather personal note, was from onlookers who knew of me at the time, and gathered my lack of getting a proper education in college, was simply being enabled by my own laziness of not wanting one and not wanting to do anything at all, period. Which I can see why they thought that, given that I had legally dropped out of high school in order to get into college earlier than my peers, then, after discovering that the town’s local college campus was a little too big for my physical health at the time, I withdrew during mid-semester, moved out of my father’s house, and worked on my novel, along with what would later be my second novel, Signature Place, and several hundred songs; the majority of which still remain unrecorded. What is not often known, is that I had decided to move off to New Mexico to attend school upon moving out of my father’s house that’s atmosphere had gotten to be a little much for me, and perhaps in his own worry of letting me go, considering what my heart had gone through, my father had talked me into staying in town, by buying me a sofa and furnishing me with an apartment. A sofa that later ended up in the want-ads in my attempt to sell it to buy food. It never sold. What can I say. His motives worked. Yet, to this day, those days are often misunderstood by my siblings. As is the funding my father was giving me then. He was looking upon me as an investment you see, and was waiting to strike oil, knowing I had already visited Spielberg’s, had recorded three very talked about songs that weren’t half bad for a once aspiring director who had suddenly become a songwriter, and was now wrapping up a novel. I knew that. And I didn’t blame him. We had decided to keep the majority of these projects a secret from the other members of my family, given that I didn’t want to instigate jealousy. The events of my heart had already grabbed quite a bit of attention. I didn’t want any more until I was financially stable enough to endure it and move away from it. I also knew that my attempts were just far too surreal to ever be believed that there was ever genuine merit in them. I mean who was I. Some kid with a heart condition who thought he could make a difference in the world of influential entertainment and would allegedly be going to work for Spielberg. But looking back, I realize that it’s amazing I ever completed such work in merely one decade. As the pressure was on, not only by my own drive and to impress Steven, but to live up to my father’s expectations of me. Though only the rent and my meds were covered, with not much being left for food, I didn’t really mind. Because I loved knowing that even if I got a little skinny, I would soon be providing completed projects that would perhaps get me in the door to gaining incredible amounts of money that would forever fund the rather expensive heart-medications that my body was requiring in order to live, in which he was providing as well, along with my grandmother back in New Mexico. But the photos of me during these days, are quite intoxicating to look upon. I was rather underweight, even more than I could have ever seen at the time because I had such a tall physique, and now know that those are no conditions in which to write two novels and several hundred songs under. But I was young and driven beyond the word, and had a sofa and my own roof over my head for the time being. I didn’t care. I had my work; even if no one else considered it work at all. Work in which I knew, given what I had already accomplished, would take me places. I knew Hollywood wanted you while you were still youthful looking, and knew I had one shot at it, even if it was a small one. Steven was that shot. But that didn’t happen either. And I imagine I’ll be puzzled for life over it. But it was obviously meant to be. Otherwise I wouldn’t have written Signature when I did.
        I had only intended to write Signature much later in life, and only as a personal hobby. As far as the Play Me recordings go, it’s incredibly bizarre, even for me, to know that they would become the most passed around demos in the entire history of the industry’s underground, yet I was so scared that they would draw attention to me by my own family, that my father and I hid them from them for several years and only unveiled them when I thought the timing was right, which it never really was. They were all working the family business at the time. I wasn’t. One can’t even begin to imagine the kind of pressures that were on me then, even though it apparently appeared as if I had not a care in the world, except for a little weight loss. Yes, I didn’t own a car. But where was I to go anyway? My roads … were in my mind, and only needing to reach their destinations in the size of my bedroom where I wrote the novels, or at the piano-bench where I wrote the songs. I had it all mapped out. Or so I thought. I would somehow have enough pennies to scrape together to buy cigarettes at the time, but I think it was because I knew they killed my appetite; as did my medication quite often. And since I couldn’t afford to get much food, believe it or not, cigarettes were cheaper than groceries then. They also kept me glued together long enough to complete the two novels which seamed to have an hourglass attached to their names that was indeed, running out of sand. Looking back, it’s miraculous that I smoked so much, and lived. I only realized how much I was smoking, when one day while thinking out the plot for a certain chapter in Signature, was I smoking a cigarette on my porch in the summertime, and looked down to see snow on the ground. Only it wasn’t snow. It was my porch full of cigarette butts. I was horrified. And I’m sure that bled into the novel’s smoking plot. As I realized I was of the last generation where children at any age could buy cigarettes for their parents because there wasn’t an age-bracket on tobacco just yet. That didn’t happen until the 1990s. I realized I wanted the next generation who read or saw this thing called Signature Place, to see what kind of affect this had taken on their forefathers. So I worked it into the plot. I wanted to curve evolution long before society thought about curving it themselves on this matter. There wasn’t a restaurant in town then that you couldn’t smoke at. Now, there’s not a restaurant in town that you can. I’m proud of that. And for very strange reasons. As it marks one of only the few examples in life, where I, personally, have felt bold enough to agree with the majority of the underground on that I was perhaps just a little ahead of my time, which might have prevented me from ever being taken seriously by the very industry that had the power to deliver my stories to the rest of the world. That’s the price you pay for writing about cutting edge topics. They’re never quite in tune enough with the time in which you’re writing them to be comprehended by mainstream society, which includes one’s family. But only in hindsight, and maybe not even then, does the work get re-examined with a different appreciative eye.

            Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Ridely Scott’s Blade Runner are the best examples I use when trying to convey to the average what it means to be ahead of one’s time, and not even know it themselves. Two movies that require a little patience to be understood, and ones that initially tanked with both critics and audiences upon their original releases. Only later, in the hindsight of about twenty to even fifty years, were they ever taken as masterpieces. Vertigo, itself, went from not being on any well-respected film list, to AFI’s best films list at number sixty-nine, then jumped to number nine only a few years later. On one hand, the artist responsible for such work, is very flattered … if they live long enough to see such work finally get comprehended correctly, the way the author originally intended. Hitchcock, who never won a single Oscar, wasn’t so lucky. He died thinking Vertigo was a bomb. Scott was more fortunate, who finally saw Warner Brothers dust off their old prints of Blade Runner, and deem them so important, that they released five different versions of the film in a briefcase set during the Christmas season of 2007; a mere twenty-five years after the film’s dismissal at the box-office; the highest selling dvd of the Christmas season, even through the briefcase set was priced well beyond $50. Time had caught up with Scott, even though the underground had already loved the film all along. That’s when I developed the term “retrospective art.” It’s all the more proof that it sometimes takes new blood … to awaken the old. On the other hand, if the author is to never see their work become properly comprehended, they can live a very lonely and isolated life. And die thinking they were so crazy as to ever believe so much in their own work themselves; falling prey to joining the majority-of-the-times in thinking that their own work basically sucked, simply to not feel so discluded.”
            But as the completing of Crawford’s first novel drew near, the financial pressures of providing rent and medication to keep him alive, got to be too much, even for those who truly believed in him. And he began to look into financial aid to sustain not just his rent, but his own life. He first filed for disability from the U.S. government in 1995. Done mostly by postal mail in those days, they denied him instantly. He received the denial papers in the mail with shock, only concluding that he must not have met the government’s requirements to receive such aid, even though his heart had once been five times its normal size, which though it had shrunk back to near normal, was forever weakened and needing expensive medication to be taken every five hours, or it would die; a lesson that would later be confirmed by the tail-end of the decade when the author, himself, almost did. Putting the depressing and worrying thought of his funds perhaps getting cut off aside, he accordingly finished True on December 4th 1995; the day before he turned twenty-one. And spent another eight months editing the complete work. Having started the book before ever visiting Amblin for his eighteenth birthday in 1992, yet having completed it three years after, its plot had now taken quite a twist; as though it’s never been shown to the public, the leading character who had been raised in a bar, had eventually run away from home … and gone to work for Spielberg himself.

            Thinking that Amblin might be weary of such a work, though knowing he had written it as an homage to the man whose most prized possession, was Rosebud, the childhood sled of Citizen Kane (Spielberg owns it!), in August of 1996, Joshua sent True off to Spielberg’s, and within a few weeks, reportedly to the author’s own surprise, his Amblin buddy called him, with much acclaim for the novel, revealing to Crawford (who had sent off two copies; one for his buddy, and one for Steven), that the other copy had been read by Amblin’s entire reading staff of fifty … and they had carefully critiqued every word of it, giving it a rather positive thumbs-up review. Though not much else is known about these events other than this, what has been made known, is that when asking Crawford what he wanted, he answered by voicing his desire to speak to people with his music, not even considering his praised first novel at all and what he had put into writing it. Though Amblin naturally already had once received Crawford’s demos from two years earlier, the demos, themselves, were thought to be lost at the time, and they asked Crawford to re-send them; informing him that coincidentally, they now had their very own record-label; DreamWorks records, which had just signed George Michael. A record-deal was allegedly discussed to be possibly inked the following January; as Amblin would be busy the following four months shooting Jurassic Park’s sequel; The Lost World; due for release in the summer of 1997.

            Thinking everything was a go, Crawford, packed up his apartment (though belief holds that only his father knew he was doing this at the time because Crawford didn’t allow any visitors who might put this together which would draw more attention to him), and he re-entered college to pass the time of the fall season, where he 4.O’d his two electives; Music History 101 … where he intensely studied the past two centuries of music and learned how the public had either received or not received it, and Film Studies 101, where he did the same thing with the entire history of motion pictures; learning what made a good film, and what didn’t; examining mostly the classics.
(His written analyzations for the films he reviewed, supposedly earned the highest merit that the college could bestow on him; impressing most of his colleagues … including the two professors who taught him the class, who accordingly later approached him to possibly teach it, seeing that the college itself was considering cutting off the class’s funding and thinking that young blood might breath new life into an otherwise not much talked about elective in the ever industrial oil-and-gas field of west Texas, whose interests in the arts, weren’t quite what Crawford thought they should be, even though they had birthed actors Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson. Naturally, his term-paper was of course, Steven Spielberg; in which by this time, having just secretly spent six years writing an epic novel about, that had been received by the director himself, he had much expertise on the subject, to say the very least. It is estimated that no one in class had any idea, that their classmate would soon be withdrawing from college, to ink a record-deal with the much loved director whom his very essay was based on. His music-class essay, was reportedly based on “We Are The World”; again, with no one probably having any idea, including Crawford himself, that he would soon name his entire generation after one of the song’s writers and their ever popular record album; Michael Jackson, who, of course, had released Thriller. Nor did any of his teachers know that he was a distant cousin to one of the college’s now-retired Texas-History professors who was in the midst of writing his own book, based on the “Midland College” itself, until he died in 1999; Jack Scannell.)

            It was during this timeframe that while trying to find We Are The World on CD for his oral final report that would close the semester, he had come across a rare unique import doubled-disc set of NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL 1983 (long before the Now series ever started releasing their own single-disc year-end gatherings of top single in the U.S.) So he bought it:

“It cost like 30 bucks! Probably the most expensive CD I’ve ever purchased. But there were some really rare songs on that CD and I really wanted it.”

            On that very CD, was Toto’s AFRICA, and upon hearing it, after not having heard it in years, he got inspired and a little motivated to perhaps write another novel based off the song; something in which had already done with True, and its song that ’s sung by Spandau Ballet.

Here are the main set of lyrics for Africa’s chorus:

“It’s gonna take a lot to get me away from , there’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do, I bless the rains down in Africa.”

            He started to envision Texas being Africa, and a mystical woman (in which much time would be spent trying to clear one’s mind of her image) that would be a key analytical element to a father and son’s troubled, but close-knitted, relationship. (Africa opens the Signature Place novel, and the song is considered perfect for such an opener; one that’s very generational and somewhat of a tear-jerker about the misery of youth, growing up being the first generation who had common single working parents, many of which were going through divorces in record numbers; propelling an entirely new kind of forced self-reliancy in their offspring; the thrillerbabies.)

            Withdrawing from school once he turned in his term papers, he placed a call to the director’s office in January of 2007 as he was instructed to do.
It was never returned.

Though speculation has arisen as to why, Crawford has hinted here and there that he has tried to move on with his life, yet seems haunted by the events that would naturally lead anyone to such high hopes. Particularly, hopes that his entire life seemed to be depending on. He soon fell into a severe depression in which he allegedly, to this day, has no memory off, other than what pulled him out of it; Signature Place.

            Though the depression would cause him to forgo showering and shaving for several weeks at a time, he seems to also have no memory of eating much, and only managed to snap out of it, once he awakened to a broken jar of pickles on his kitchen floor, realizing he must’ve dropped the jar, shattering it, and had conked out, only to be greeted by its shattered glass on his chin, sometime in the month of April 2007; a mere four months after the call had been made. He allegedly got up, looked in a mirror, and realized how far he’d let himself go, then, after needing a shave and having a razor but no shaving cream, being a strong fan of Jell-O and whipped-cream, he found a small tub of Cool-Whip in his freezer, microwaved it to unthaw it a little, and applied it to his face to see if he could substitute it for shaving cream, and get the job done. This is where the origination of Chase Stevens … the leading and most stable (if not desirable) father character throughout the epic novel of Signature Place ... seems to have been mostly inspired from. (Towards the end of the book, in a very memorable scene during the book’s closing pages, Chase greets a neighbor while wearing whipped-cream as believed shaving-cream, whom the neighbor only uncovers, after kissing him and tasting its sweetness which she assumes “may have been planned” in an attempt to manipulate her; as she initiates the kiss on him, and not the other way around.)

            Thinking about what might motivate him to “shift focus”, if only to rise above such drowning odds that were causing him to crumble, he remembered the story he had started three years earlier, that remained buried somewhere on the hard-drive to his computer; one of two early lap-tops his father had given him to write on during his turbulent teens, long before his father knew he would take to writing so much.
And he printed it out.
*(The first computer laptop model he had wrote Play Me on, had died on him by this time, and the second model would later die right in the middle of the chapter entitled Howie in Signature Place, in which he had to re-write because the replacement parts for his computer, were no longer being made at the time, and this forced him to resort to a huge old-fashioned hard drive and monitor; which he would nightly place on, and off, his bed mattress because he felt “inspiration would be least interrupted there.”)

            Just five pages in length, the story opened at an average elementary school on what appeared to be one of its final days before summer-vacation, where a young boy sat at his desk, bored and bothered by all the other classmates around him, who seemed so caught up in themselves, instead of their work; paying careful attention to each of his classmates’ own hobbies and behavioral characteristics that caused them to stand out in a rather obnoxious crowd:

another boy who seemed to have his own clique of thuggish bullies …

a self-absorbed beauty queen who had entire flip-flop photo albums of her alleged boyfriend which spilled out of her wallet for her onlooking jealous friends to marvel at (this character would later be named Barbie Francheska; a nine-year old snob that is apparently so rich, she has her limo arrange to pick her up at school to take her to her orthodontist appointment!) …

a teacher who seemed like an impatient chicken with its head cut off …

and the voice of a rather boring and unenthusiastic principal giving the morning’s usual announcements over the school’s outdated intercom system … in which no one, of course, was paying attention to. With even more meticulous detail being paid to the ways in which all of these “animal crackers” (as the book states) sign their yearbooks with their trying-to-be-cool silly slogans such as the following:
You’re 2 cool
            2 be     
           4 gotten !
Barbie Francheska!

            The boy who would be witnessing all of this, would, of course, be a nine year old bright-eyed lover of movies and music, named Toph (pronounced Tauff) Stevens, who to his own disgust, often stood out like a sore thumb even more so, by everyone continually mispronouncing his name upon first meeting him.
(His mere entrance into the school, already near the end of its final semester, halfway through class, gets embarrassingly introduced over the intercom as “Please welcome COUGH STEVENS” for the entire world to hear! And he arrives in class with his fly accidentally undone!)

            In the spirit of The Little Rascals and The Wonder Years (except a much more adultified and grimmer version to the likes of 1986’s Stand By Me), Crawford saw the need for a documentary of sorts for not only whomever else might exist out there like him, but also, having noticed that most of the people his age were “grown children of divorce,” he felt that an entire generation had yet to be understood by their own parents; the very cause of the many divorces that had launched their latchkey lifestyles; the Baby Boomers.

            Where the theme of the novel had once apparently been to merely loosely novelize the most pleasing days of his childhood where he briefly lived at the real Signature Place, the author now felt the book held and deserved much more importance than that. Since his original 5-page premise had obviously already attempted to document and satire his cookie-cutter peers at school that every American school seemed to have, why not re-locate that same gritty-documentary-mixed-with-wit style … to his peers away from school, amongst his own neighborhood, where an entire block of kids felt ostracized by their public schoolmates as well, and because so, felt more in tune with each other, even though they were all of different ages; Signature Place. An entire generation of “leftover from another marriage” kids who were often "forced to fit in to whatever pick-of-the-month their parents currently had on the dating scene" (sometimes, it was BOTH parents!), "simply to not get grounded for appearing disrespectful."

“What writing material indeed!” he thought.

            And since this specific concept was much more grittier than just a typical day at school, he decided to push the 5-page school scene forward, to where it would be “the new school” that every “new kid on the block eagerly hates to await!” And he backed up the story’s initial beginning to a prelude of having witnessed this new kid’s previous surroundings, which perhaps caused him to be deemed rather mature for his age, that would therefore imbed in him such anti-established thoughts and ideas amongst the average everyday world, and force him to be rather shy in public amongst an entire generation … who had been raised in this first escalated divorce-rate; a death of his mother.

            Yet to allow, as well as educate, a reader, who might not be familiar with either his (nor his parents’) generation in the near future, why not try to document why the baby-boomers, themselves, might have escalated the divorce-rate ... which had created such an offspring of survival-to-the-fittest children? And explain how such a nine year old child prodigy could ever exist? So he carbon-copied the nine year’s older father (who is coincidentally twenty-nine in the story), and had the father’s mother die as well. Causing both father, and son, to be unanimously joined at the hip, whether they wanted to be or not, making it all the more difficult and confusing if the father ever decided to move on with his life … and another woman.
A rather interesting,
if not somewhat graphic,
Then again.
His entire ThrillerBaby generation had grown up a little graphic:

“I thought they could handle it. It would’ve seemed too conjured and picturesque if I had shied away from the realisms of the 1980s and its heavy endorsement of cocaine and pre-Aids single-parent lifestyles amongst the many double-incomed parents of my generation. Turns out my generation, now currently being parents themselves who want to explain “how mommy and daddy were raised” to their own kids some day and don’t quite know how to, could … indeed … handle it. It were the parents of this generation, the baby boomers themselves, who currently run most of the publishing industry, that couldn’t. Go figure. As with most of the interesting curves of intelligence I’ve studied in life, I’m currently in what has been a very long wait to see new blood enter the industry, in order to find my work marketable enough and interesting enough to finally publish it. Whether the wait will end during my own lifetime, however long or short that may be, remains to be seen.”

            Better put, when Crawford used to try and sum up his novel to baby-booming publishers in exactly one sentence that they could comprehend, he would simply state,

“Take everyone in the movie The Big Chill … and focus just as much attention … on what their lifestyles … are doing to their children … who are standing by in the shadows, witnessing every move they make from their bedroom window … and you get Signature Place.”

            Many (at least many of his generation) agree, that he could not be more precise and on target. The Big Chill and its double-disc-soundtrack, after all, is the very movie that first tapped into grown-up baby-boomers in a very large way; causing it to become so much of a hit when first released to theaters in 1983, that it turned its soundtrack into mandatory-encyclopedias for baby-boomers, inspired the hit TV-series Thirtysomething in the latter part of the decade, and made superstar-careers out of most of its cast, which was then unknown, and included the following:

Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, JoBeth Williams, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, William Hurt, Meg Tilly, and a dead Kevin Costner … whose face is never shown. (Just the dead body in the very beginning of the movie; as his bit-part, a “flashback sequence”, was cut out of the final print due to being deemed unnecessary.)

            In the summer of this year (1997), Crawford also decided to send True off to James Stewart as a thank-you for writing him a few years earlier; with Stewart’s influential part in the novel highlighted for him to see. But when the novel got returned a few months later with a letter from Stewart’s affiliates, stating that Stewart was no longer looking over material, Crawford grew puzzled? And wondered if the beloved actor who looked like his own grandfather was in poor health?

Sadly, the author turned on the late night news a mere few weeks later, only to see images of Stewart’s obituary.
He had died just days after receiving the novel.
Crawford was beside himself.

            With a desire to capture the fullest extent of 1980s Texas life that he possibly could (and the impact this might have on two foreign California neighbors who were new to the neighborhood in his novel), Crawford had often heard about the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” by continually coming across its soundtrack in the many record-stores he had visited throughout Texas with his mom as a youngster (she began taking him to used record-stores in his youth, beginning with local garage-sales where she bought many of his early clothes, yet made sure he always had new shoes), and by catching a spoof of the film that its leading actress, Debra Winger, had done for Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s as promotional material for her movie Betrayed. Yet to his surprise, finding any prints of the film during these mid 1990s, was virtually impossible, even though it had been a modest box-office success upon its original 1980s release.

            By making calls to the real Gilly’s Bar in Pasadena/Houston Texas (where the movie was filmed), he would later uncover that Mickey Gilly, himself, was in a legal battle with Paramount Pictures over royalty rights for the film; causing any airings of the film on TV, to go into hiatus. And with any early first-editions of the original VHS video version of the film (which had hit the market in the early 1980s) having fallen out of circulation, due to it being so much of a “best-renter” that the tapes had worn out, he found it shocking that such a widely respected film, now had no way of being viewed for a new generation? This is perhaps an early example of the kind of meticulous research Crawford has become known for in aiding his writing crafts with ample amounts of unquestionable authenticity, even if it meant his own death, due to his dwindling finances. Supposedly, right around the chapter entitled, A COWBOY ON WALL STREET in the book (which is the first major chapter to delve into Chase Stevens’ background that takes place at one of Midland's real-life established restaurants; Wall Street Bar & Grill), Crawford put writing the book on pause, in order to try and find the film so that the book could be more heavily inspired by authentic west-Texas flavor; as the chapter is a major turning-point in the novel, and is highlighted with perhaps the most Texas locals featured in the entire 600 page epic.
*(A mechanical-bull, like the one featured in URBAN COWBOY, is featured at the restaurant in the book, even though the restaurant, itself, which was established in 1982, never had one. Apparently, Crawford, who had grown up amongst the restaurant’s staff and had often saved his pennies in order to be able to eat there once a month on Sundays as an adult while he was writing the book ¾ as the restaurant is known for their Sunday brunches, loved the place so much and felt it was one of Midland’s most original dives, that he incorporated it into the novel. The other local dives that are prominently featured in the novel, are of course Bennigan’s, T&T Doughnuts ¾ which didn’t exist in the 1980s but now does thanks to Crawford’s book, and JOEY’s ¾ a long-gone 1980s babyboomer/ thrillerbaby burger hangout that came equipped with video arcade-games which had been uniquely altered with private earphones in order to accommodate the adults who often sat eating away underneath a huge TV-screen that aired early Mtv at the time.)

            Hundreds of calls were made to mom-and-pop video-stores throughout the state of Texas, to try and hunt down an old rental of Urban Cowboy, as this was the dawn of the Internet and eBay, which would later allow such rentals to be sold online. This is the only known time (the summer of 1997) that the author was known to have taken quite a long break from writing the novel, simply to hunt down the film, fearing his work would suffer if he didn’t ... since he had grown up hearing so much about the film from the town’s natives (particularly the Baby Boomers, in which Chase Stevens is) as Crawford, after all, was from New Mexico, even though he has spent a quarter of a century in Texas, and thanks to the book, has now made Midland even more talked about among the publishing world, in addition to its two U.S. Presidents that the city launched, simply because as Texan as the book is, due to is narrative in appealing to foreigners, it has become very universal and generational; giving a newbie a deeper insight by telling the story through the eyes of its two leading characters; the Stevens themselves, who aren’t from Texas at all.

            Endlessly scanning weekly TV guides for possible airings (even though none had existed in several years), a wonderful fluke happened, that some have pondered with intrigue, as quite a turning point in the novel’s underground legacy of creation under such difficult circumstances, simply because without this fluke, there may have never been a completed novel in the first place; the fluke being that the cable channel Cinemax, was due to show the film just one single time, the following September. Crawford, a man who only had 4 stations on his old TV-set, penciled in the airing, and waited the entire summer to watch it, in which he was finally able to do at his father’s new apartment, who had acquired the network, simply for this reason. In many ways, this unheard of extra-curricular effort of Crawford’s, indeed paid off. As the novel seems to show an entire series of sudden plot twists, right during this chapter; with some pointing out that the emotional charge that the novel was given during this sequence, is obviously due to Crawford’s patience level with his own inspiration and how frustrating this long break must’ve been for him, which would later force him to jump back into the saddle (pun intended!) of the epic with full force, once the film had finally been studied. (As he would continue to write and complete the novel, without much of a break, for the next 2 years, and would nearly die from malnutrition the very month it was completed.)

            What’s more interesting on a historical note, is that the first half of True, largely takes place in a bar, and Urban Cowboy’s entire story takes place in one as well. Yet Crawford had not seen the picture upon the completion of True, even though a mechanical bull-riding sequence is featured midway through the novel (in California of all things). As the film popularized the use of mechanical-bull-riding for recreational purposes, instead of actual training for the sport itself. (This is made ever so apparent in the 1980 comedy film Stir Crazy, directed by Sidney Poitier, which rode on the success of Urban, and featured an entire plot about mechanical-bull-riding in prisons.) To Crawford’s surprise, he opened a Premiere Magazine a few months later, and saw an ad for the film’s long overdo re-release onto video; another factor that has lent credit to Crawford being just slightly ahead of his time and on the pulse of what will soon enter the mainstream. Coincidence? Destiny? Many feel the little stories of trivia such as this that surround his creations, seem all the more appropriate for Crawford’s rather abnormal life that indeed, is even more full of unheard of plot-twists than his own novels.

Stranger than fiction to say the least.

            Proceeding on with the novel, he wrote well into 1998 (all from his bed no doubt!), which is when his father suggested that he start approaching publishers with the work, in an attempt to pre-sale the novel; as funds were running out to sustain his life rather rapidly. Crawford took the advice, only to discover that unlike that days of his father’s writings (as Crawford’s father had once written two books, and had even been greenlit for publishing by the publishing company Prentice Hall in the 1970s for a book he wrote on realting, yet had oddly turned the contract down. The other book was a work of fiction that was built around an environmentalist and his love-life, but it was never published and is currently thought to be lost), such correspondence with publishers now had to entirely be filtered through literary agents; as publishers no longer accept unsolicited material, especially for first time authors. Though he accordingly submitted to every major literary agency throughout the U.S., which to this day, requires a self-addressed stamped envelopes (S.A.S.E.) in order for a response (depleting Crawford’s funding even further by hundreds of dollars), hundreds of rejections were sent back to him … enclosed in his own envelopes:

“Not only was I literally being told I was no good by just about everybody, I was literally paying for it too. And with my life. There IS no target audience for the book, which often upsets publishers and agents. Signature Place is meant for everybody! It wasn’t written just for kids, or just for adults. It was written for everyone.”

Like with his musical recordings, he somehow was able to put such a large amount of rejection aside, and continued on with the novel, listening to cassette-tapes of its soundtrack he had made, on his portable jambox that sat near the right side of his bed, allegedly hitting the re-rewind button on each specific song as he wrote whatever chapter the song inspired. (Because the jambox was on the right, as to allow his right hand more freedom to hit the PLAY button on the device, his heavy computer monitor, which had to be lifted onto his bed every night after both his laptop-computers broke down, was plugged in to his left. Thus he learned to use the computer’s mouse with his left hand, and held his neck in this ‘left-angled position’ for the duration of writing the novel. To this day, in order to prevent strain on “the neck which looked left” for over 6 years from his bed, he supposedly requires the monitor in which he’s using, to either be directly in front of him … or to his right. The mouse, however, oddly still remains used by his left-hand, merely out of habit, even though he is accordingly right-handed.)

    Like with True, part of Signature Place’s unusual appeal, works off the notion that its author was heavily inspired by the book-with-a-record sets that his generation had grown up with. These were popular marketing tools with Disney and other such children’s fare, that allowed retailers to usually acquire a storybook based off a hit film, by enclosing it with a 45rpm record (or a cassette tape) which one played as back-story, all while simultaneously reading the book itself, to have the background audio add all the more realism to the story, which was often accommodated by a hit song from the film; thus the two mediums combined, added an extra layer of storytelling for the reader, who without the accommodating record, might have otherwise just read the book without the record. Though mostly foreign to generations that came after the thrillerbabies, most thrillerbabies owned large collections of these book-and-record sets as youngsters, which propelled the sale of portable kiddy record-players made out of plastic (such as the Winnie-The-Pooh turntable that Crawford owned, obtainable by ordering it from the SEARS catalog, that was auctioned off, along with most of Crawford’s other childhood belongings, at the estate sale once his parents divorced):

“I was raised with that always loud narrating voice that told me, When you hear the chimes like this … turn the page. So I guess when I ran out of pages to turn, I wrote my own. I don’t think I ever knew I’d write so many. If someone would’ve approached me as a child and told me that I would one day devote about 1200 pages to documenting the 1980s someday in the form of two novels, I’m most certain I would’ve thought they were joking. But when I stacked up what I thought to be some of most diverse music to have ever been recorded within my 1980s record collection, and realized it all came out of one decade, especially the mid 1980s, I realized that every song, had a story, even the songs that weren’t my own. I think that’s why I kept the book to merely two summers. Those two summers had the best and most interesting music to me; aside from 1983, the best year of music in the entire decade in my opinion. Had they not, the book would’ve taken place in other years. And I tested different groupings of various Signature Place soundtracks on my ears, to see which one held up the best. I kept finding the soundtrack to grow larger, and only decided to turn the book into an epic once I realized how important music was to my generation because of the birth of Mtv … and therefore, how important it was to my characters … who were representing my entire generation. I couldn’t let my kids down. They all deserved to give their own two cents on whatever soundtrack to their everyday life that was currently telling their heartbreaking behind-closed-doors story. This is why even the most minute mentioning of songs, are given credit in the novel, even if they’re only being played for a few seconds in the novel on one of the co-character’s radios; because that song usually says something about that character that the character, itself, would never say, simply because the abuse from their own parent or parents wouldn’t let them. So music had to say it for them. It was kind of a Morse-Code way of writing about very dark material amongst children I guess, but I felt it hadn’t been done before, and that alone, is was fueled me to ever take such meticulous time in doing it.

            Many of the book’s characters have only been able to be understood more fully, by re-reading the book, and realizing the foreshadowing of their life, in the form of whatever song they’re listening to that doesn’t always scream out at you on a first read because you’re so caught up with Toph and Chase, and not everyone around them who turn out to be as important to them, as the they are to rest of the neighborhood and future generations. Though I was fully aware that I was doing that, and wanted a book that I, myself, would enjoy just as much on a re-read, as I did on a first-read, if not more so. As most books that were considered classics in my coming-of-age years at school, were so boring, that they never quite held my attention like my book-and-record sets did. So I merely combined the two mediums in an attempt to achieve what the book-and-record sets already had; an optional layer of storytelling. Though because Signature, as of current time, has no film, it forces the reader to imaginate even more than perhaps they would have, had a film from the novel already existed. Which causes a re-examination of the story’s undercurrents. Again, a strong goal I had while writing it. I saw it like a movie in my head. The fact that I was once going to be a director, I’m sure, had something to do with that. But if I had wanted to write a script meant just for Hollywood, I would’ve done that. It would’ve been much more condensed. But I didn’t. I wanted to first write a novel that could sit amongst the so-called classics, and be understood even more than those classics, because they had a soundtrack to them that already existed because the novel was a period piece that featured real songs of that period; the 1980s.

        The much talked about question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, as in the music or the book, is quite obvious. The music did. Like with True, I based most of the book off songs, even though the plot is one that no song could ever dare tell in a simple 3 minutes. It took more like 600 pages to get the job done. But contrary to what the publishing industry feels, I feel I got the job done, and did it well. It met with my satisfactory. Not everything I do, does. I’m a perfectionist that way, because I’ve been raised by the commercial world to be harder on myself than I perhaps should. The book owes a lot to Toto’s Africa, and of course, Michael Jackson and Madonna, even though, I’m most certain that without the three, the novel would’ve been written just fine and would’ve done the 1980s justice. But then it would’ve been written just like any other novel. I didn’t want that. That would bore me … and perhaps my children and their children’s children. I was much more partial to writing a book that already had songs that were findable out there in the real world, even if one couldn’t find the songs gathered together on one specific soundtrack, which of course, they can, because of the soundtrack that I leaked out to Hollywood and New York, as merely a tie-in to motivate the old-folks to read the damn thing, simply because it had such a good soundtrack. To my own shock, the trick not only didn’t work for the Baby Boomer generation who currently run those industries, but it caused other thriller-babies, such as Barrymore and the likes, to keep the soundtrack, because they legally could … since it wasn’t UNSOLICITED WRITTEN MATERIAL, yet return the book. And then the return-the-book-but-keep-the-soundtrack trend began. I am very flattered by this. Even though I’ve been out the money for many of those highly-kept soundtracks. I don’t send out many soundtracks anymore, unless it’s to a movie-producer or the likes who I know is purposely examining the book, simply to finally turn it into a motion picture with an official soundtrack. But I do get asked for it a lot. Since the invention of the iPod, which didn’t exist at the time I put the nine-disc soundtrack together, it has made acquiring the soundtrack much easier, much to the advantage of the reader. Which I’m very glad for. As it helps their mind envision the story, all that much more. But there are a few recordings of certain songs that even the internet doesn’t often make known, and those rare tracks, that for the longest time, could only be gotten off the soundtrack itself, helped the book tremendously in its underground appeal. I kinda thought that might happen and hoped it would, but I wasn’t sure. The Pirate Movie, Night Of The Comet, and The Last American Virgin, were hard enough soundtracks to buy on their original record form, even for me, simply to transfer them digitally to compact disc before I ever even knew what the Internet was. At the time I was heavily putting the novel together, The Pirate Movie, which was then highly out of print on VHS before the era of DVD, was already going for well over a hundred dollars in New York, just for a used copy of the double-record soundtrack. I know this because I was on that ever-long waiting list to get one, even though I knew I would never be able to afford one. I lucked out and acquired a promo-only copy from Canada for a mere fraction of that cost. I was relieved it was a scratch-free copy. I only hoped one day readers, especially those of my generation, would appreciate my efforts to document their past with music they hadn’t heard in years. As it causes the mind to dig deep into the psyche of my generation’s nostalgia. My whole idea to begin with in order to add that extra layer of storytelling, which to me, the novel kind of requires, even though it works just fine on a first read. But my generation was the first generation to have technological access that enabled them to re-watch films 20 and 100 times thanks to the invention of the VCR, and now, even to my own surprise, the invention of the DVD; which I’m very fond because of the optional layer of director-commentary than can teach middle-American kids like me who have no money, all about film, even if our own local college isn’t. I wasn’t about to let my generation down. Or any generation after.

            I never knew the Internet would cause an even further re-examination of film and music. When I did realize this, I gave The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane an entire website that I could barely afford. And then it got released onto DVD. Go figure. To this day, I’ve pretty much kept that site as close to its original upload as possible, simply to remind myself of the power that one little guy can have on an entire planet, even though he may never live to see his own writings and his own music get marketed to the point where the rest of the world even knows about it and can appreciate it. They don’t call it the World Wide Web for nothing … its very vast, all over the world, and in many different languages. And a jillion and one aspiring artists have flooded it with confusion of self-proclaimed rock-stars and actors. It makes it harder for people like me to get discovered. But at least it’s a lot easier to even get the word out about such artists than it once was in the 1990s for guys like me, who often had to call New York and video-stores across the country, simply to find used beat prints of Urban Cowboy. My how the world has changed. Signature Place would most likely take a much more shorter amount of time if I were to write to today. But I didn’t. And the fact that I wrote it without the Internet, and at one of the most difficult times in my life, over the course of eight years from my bed, when the entire world was telling me to crawl under a rock and die, and late-fee notices were being tacked to my door for rent, hopefully will stand on its own merit. I would never want to write under those conditions, ever … ever again. It’s unhealthy and just down right self-torturing without meaning to be. I nearly died. No novel or song is worth that. Though it would be hard to convince an artist of that, take it from me. Without life itself, one can’t even write. What good is writing from the other side if you weren’t around long enough in this life and time to have ever completed the writings themselves? I don’t think that God wants that for an artist. But like I said, telling an artist that is one thing, yet making them believe it is something else. Thank God nobody told me different. If they had, I wouldn’t have written what I did. Whether or not it was worth it, remains to be seen. Life is for the living, and death is for the dying. That much is true. But when life itself places you somewhere in between the two, things get kind of confusing. And choosing one or the other can be most helpful. But that decision never quite seems to be left up to you. It’s left up to your Maker. Many times, I’ve wanted to use what few documented works I have as firewood. I can’t now. They’re online. As far as the other hundreds of unrecorded songs and unwritten novels, that remains to be seen as well. For obvious reasons, I’m not as hopeful as I once was. Even with the Internet, one man … can only do so much. I’m very appreciative of the many collaborative efforts that it takes to market an artist to a point that their own families will finally read their work, or listen to their music, or view their films and plays. I’m not so fond of the artists that the industry is currently marketing. It does the word ‘inspiration’ injustice. Strangest thing is, the mainstream world never quite catches on to the fact that what they’re being fed, is just clever marketing, and not all that much original in talent, much less, uplifting.”

            In the early part of 1998, a film entitled The Rainmaker had made its way to the local dollar-theater that occupied an area near Crawford’s apartment. Not knowing who had directed the picture, after walking over to catch a late night screening of the film and missing the opening credits, Crawford found himself glued to the film’s very broad range of scope onto several characters, and not just one. Films of such nature were few and far between, and so taken Crawford was by not only the film’s use of many characters, but by its subject matter that zoomed in on one man’s fight to stay alive, all while waiting for his insurance policy to start covering his medical expenses so that he could (he dies before it does, and the policy turns out to be a one of a marketing scam that never intended on covering him to begin with!), that he became determined to send Signature Place, once it was completed, to whomever the director turned out to be; as Signature is known for telling a bird’s-eye view of many characters, and not just one; a trait that even to this day, is very unusual to find in major films. When the closing credits revealed Francis Ford Coppola’s name, however, Crawford was shocked he hadn’t been aware of the picture. But then again, he had purposely stayed away from allowing any public media into his world at the time, in order to focus more completely on the novel that he would almost lose his life to. The irony is, 1972’s American Graffiti was a film that Crawford had rented the day he had completed what would be his final day of high school before acquiring his GED and getting into college; the 11th grade. And Graffiti had turned out to be a story that takes place on the evening before its entire cast enters college, to the tune of what was perhaps the largest soundtrack ever accumulated for that time; well over 40 pre-exiting musical pieces from the 1950s and 1960s that the film so tactfully documented with such precise detail under director George Lucas, years before he became a household name by doing Star Wars. Its bittersweet somber ending, left Crawford with an all-too-real knot in his throat.

            Interestingly enough, the double-disc soundtrack for American Graffiti, would also be one that like Fast Times and Urban Cowboy, remained unavailable on CD for years, perhaps due to legal issues, as is the case with so many soundtracks that feature so many well known artists. (Two versions of the soundtrack now exist on CD, the original double-disc, and a more affordably priced single-disc which features only a few selected highlights.) The film, that’s own poster (in its Italian form that features a large Coca-Cola-glass on top of a football jersey) is featured as one of the backdrops in True, was produced by Coppola, and Crawford had become a fan of the director’s work ever since, simply by the little film Coppola had produced for Lucas, and not so much the Godfather films that most people get introduced to him through. When seeing that The Rainmaker’s screenplay had also been penned by Coppola himself (very unusual for a major director even these days) along side of the book that the film was based off of by John Grisham, Crawford was even more inspired to “aim for Coppola”; convinced that the film was as good as it was, because its own director had gotten his hands dirty by penning its own screenplay; a trait Coppola has since become better known for, in addition to his talented skills as a director of ensemble casts; which Signature is.

            Crawford also became aware that the film, which clocks in at almost two and a half hours, hardly seemed so long at all, because it was so well crafted. Only Kevin Costner had appealed to Crawford in such a way, because “Costner had been one of the few directors” that was “capable of directing epics that weren’t boring and didn’t seem as long as they really were, yet were always justifiable in length because such length was mandatory in order to tell their complete story.”
(Not many people have put together that the other interesting tidbit on this note, is that Costner played the most known faceless and dead baby boomer in the most popular baby boomer movie of all time; The Big Chill. And as mentioned earlier, Signature Place would document this generation’s offspring; the Thriller-Babies. Some have even pondered as to what the two might achieve if they ever collaborated. Though not many have pointed it out, Costner made khakis and leather jackets highly popular in the late 1980s because of the success of 1988’s Bull Durham, and Chase Stevens wears a similar style throughout the novel, in addition to his trademark Birkenstock sandals and alligator Izod polo shirts; a California trait that causes him to stand out amongst the hat-wearing Texans even more so. Particularly in the reader’s mind.)

            So moved by the film’s plot Crawford was, that he became convinced he should “file for disability” one last time. (He had been turned down twice at this point.) And if that didn’t work, “somehow hire an attorney.”
*(It would shockingly become known to him much later, that “everyone gets denied” … “unless they HAVE an attorney!” Something many disabled Americans, to this day, remain unaware of, much like Crawford was, because it’s not clearly stated by the federal government upon their original denial. Like in the movie, some often die without ever knowing such knowledge.)

The Rainmaker changed my life for the better. I mean it really truly did. I don’t know where I would be without it. It’s a perfect example of just how influential the art of film really can be, perhaps even to the director’s and writer’s own unawareness, much less, the majorital audience’s.”

            To know that the film that would have such an impact on Crawford, was also one that’s own director had turned The Outsiders into “the bible” for Crawford’s entire cast of characters in the novel he was currently writing, was almost too good to be true!

            It was official. Though the publishing world had dismissed the unusual epic before it was ever completed, Coppola might just be the one who saw merit in the writings, and would therefore become attached to the project by getting his hands dirty and helping Crawford write the screenplay. Much less, could handle its broad grasp of characters with enough TLC that nobody, no matter how big or small in the book (and in this case, it was LITERAL!), would get left out, nor would the music, since Coppola had obviously produced American Graffiti; the mere godfather of lounge films that in itself, was miraculous in the sense that it was ever able to secure so much music for the sake of accurately documenting its baby booming generation. Most of the movie’s budget, most likely went into securing such rights. And what a smart move that had turned out to be.
(Crawford would nearly quadruple Graffiti’s soundtrack’s length with Signature Place, and it has hardly hurt the novel’s unique reputation. If anything, it has caused the soundtrack to be as discussed on the underground as the book is, and a Signature Place iPod has often been suggested if the novel is ever to gain traction as a motion picture, so that the mainstream could grasp the novel’s additional musical layer much more fully and with much more ease, even though many have already started downloading the novel’s music in this way.)

            Also catching the release of James Cameron’s Titanic this same year, Crawford, who noticed young children sat through the 3-hour movie sometimes three and four times, became even more convinced that his generation and their own offspring, could indeed, grasp a 3-part book like Signature Place, and perhaps grasp its eventual movie (if it ever got made into one) even easier. Not too long after Titanic’s release, the first of the Harry Potter books hit stores. Compelling him to write his massive Gone-With-The-Wind-for-kids all the more.

“I was surprisingly reassured on just how smart and comprehensive children WERE when those dictionary-size books came out and all these toddlers were buying them at midnight and reading through them like comic-books! I knew then that in no way, was I being too massive. Something I had originally worried about when fist conceiving a three-generation novel that could appeal to all ages.” 

            Another candidate that would’ve been a most interesting beholder of Signature Place, was John F. Kennedy Jr.
            Crawford had, by this time, already begun to incorporate the cover of the 1963 December 3rd issue of LOOK magazine into the pulp of the book’s very thought-out plot (to this day, a replica of the cover is featured on the inside cover jacket of the novel), and was gradually watching Jr.’s very own GEORGE Magazine start to climb in circulation. (Both “the president and his son” are featured on the cover of the specific issue, which ironically hit stores at precisely the same time that President JFK had already been assassinated; November 22nd! Crawford had come across the old issue in a used-book store in Dallas with his mother in the mid 1980s, and liked its sentimental appeal.) What’s of, once again, unheard of coincidence here, is that Crawford’s own locale (Midland, Texas) would soon give the first Bush President his very own dynasty, by allowing history to cause his son, Bush Jr., to take office; causing this LOOK magazine cover with the literal headline “The President and his son”, to take on a whole new meaning! Though Bush Jr. had now entered the governor’s office in Austin, Texas, being caught up in his novel and the need to sustain his own life, Crawford was rather oblivious to such news, and obviously, could have never foreseen that his own mere “additional layer of plot” … would ever lead to a double metaphor of meaning in the plot itself, even though the book is far from being political. The other coincidence, of course, is that the novel takes place the very year the Reagan/Bush team was pushing for re-election against Walter Mondale; 1984. And this is hinted at in the novel, by the two Californians noticing the many “VOTE FOR” campaign signs that lay grounded in everyone’s front yard when they first hit Texas; one of the few obvious point-outs that the book is indeed taking place in a specific year.
Coincidence? Destiny?
Again, stranger than fiction.
            Even stranger is the fact that Crawford is rumored to have corresponded with the White House regarding the book shortly after the turn of the century in an attempt at seeking their opinion of it, which therefore might’ve led to it finally gaining a publisher. Though high interest was being passed back and forth between the two, the White House never got back with him on the matter. And Crawford guessed it was merely a crapshoot. The Iraq war broke out shortly later.

Another strong attempt by the relatively unknown artist with the big heart.
And one that has brought a new respected light for the novel’s many different kinds of followers, simply because it has such a weird and interesting legacy of strength, all for having never been published, much less, authored by a man who has fought incredible odds.

            When stumbling across some lost televised interviews with the President’s son as an adult, JFK Jr. had, in another weird irony, only one rather clear image of his famous father, because he was only the age of three when his father was assassinated.
The image?
The day the photographer from Look Magazine had shown up to take pictures of he and his old man.
One of many odd pieces of phenomenal trivia that seems to forever get downloaded into Crawford’s hindsight, long before it’s ever revealed to the general public, including himself!

“That one shocked me. And I get shocked often because so many things that I’ve written about, did come to pass in a rather odd way. Let alone, I have such a strange life. But that mere clip of him talking about the Look photos, after I had just spent six years writing about them, thanking I was the only one in the world of my generation who found them sentimental, so much so that I would use them as a basis for an entire plot about how a father can often overlook his own son, and vice versa, SHOCKED me!”

Whether Caroline Kennedy, the President’s surviving daughter, and JFK Jr.’s sister, is aware of the novel, is not yet known. Though her thoughts on it, would be most intriguing.

            In the winter of 1998, Crawford took a much needed break to go visit his mother for the holidays. Though he didn’t know it, due to perhaps his own malnourishment (most likely due to his finances), he had developed walking pneumonia. But returned by the New Year (1999), knowing he was just a few months away from nearing the novel’s much anticipated shocking ending; as one has to only imagine if the average reader has gone through 600 pages in order to uncover the true identities of the book’s two leading characters (Toph and Chase Stevens), it’s most inexplicitly impossible to imagine how much patience must’ve been required on the author’s part, to have built such a complex novel over a six-ear range.
Impeccable patience, to put it mildly.
With unheard amounts of self-discipline.

            Oddly enough, by February of this year, an interesting plot twist of its own had occurred regarding his Play Me recordings. By this time, word had gradually got out about Crawford’s rather diverse amount of talent, and there was talk of airing the 3 songs at a local radio station, in the order that they were originally recorded, beginning with Play Me, then continuing on with Cryin’ Party, and finally, Sing Along. Once Crawford officialized the talks by tossing the local Midland Reporter Telegram newspaper an interview, the first-ever live performances of the Play Me recordings took place … though to the shock of many, they occurred in the wee hours of a typical school-day morning, when most of the town was just waking up; as this was the only slot the specific radio station would allow to air such demo recordings that had no major label to back them. (The station went defunct shortly after.) Honored that they would even get aired a mere four years after they had already been recorded, a very flattered Crawford was supposedly in the studio live, and introduced their airings, along with the DJs. Some of these airings, most notably Play Me, would later get leaked online, and to this day, serve as the first ever LIVE broadcast recordings that is known of the songs. The only reason they exist, is because Crawford had double-recorded them himself by leaving both his CD-recorder and tape-recorder on at his apartment shortly before heading to the station. It’s a mere wonder he didn’t run out of room on his blank CD-R or tape; as what clips have appeared online, seem to be of digital quality. And this is shocking considering Crawford’s poor lifestyle at the time. At this point, he was close to being evicted, without a working vehicle, no publisher or agent, or disability, and no clue that his health would soon take a turn for the very worst which caused him ample amounts of heartache and regret.

            Reenergized by an embraceable tip-of-the-hat to the recordings he had once kept hidden from even his own family (even if the tip was all too brief), Crawford then gave what many have guessed would be (most likely) the first live performance of Play Me, itself, in front of a massive audience, other than just friends and family. Auditions were being held for the town’s local Easter Seals Jerry-Lewis-like telethon, and it was suggested to him by another local magazine (who also did a brief editorial piece on the entertainer), that he try out, in which he did, before a massive audience at the Odessa Music City mall. (Though Crawford’s kind of music is hardly abundant in the ever desolate plains of west-Texas, the mall is indeed named that.)

            Though the audience’s technical engineers had assumed he would be singing a grunge heavy metal rock song (as his hair was getting very long at this point which has sometimes flipped the illusion of his image and caused many unsuspecting audience members to do a double-take once he starts to sing), once Crawford assured them that they would get more than they bargained for, the audience was allegedly completely floored when the camera rolled and Play Me was performed LIVE to an instrumental karaoke backup of the song. This instrumental version of Play Me has yet to be made available to the public and the footage itself, in which Crawford claims he never got a copy of, is thought to be lost or simply erased. Because despite what one might gather, Crawford never even got a call-back and the audition/win would later go to a local folk singing duo who were much older than he was.
(As of current time, most of the two neighboring oil towns, Midland and Odessa, remain unaware that he even performed at the seventh largest theater in the world in 2006 to a sellout show for one single song, even though the guest list included Anderson Cooper and Clive Davis himself.)

            Hardly one to analyze rejection too seriously, he moved forward with his novel … until a strange phone call in March alerted him to the fact that his local distant and elderly cousin, Jack Scannell, had been found dead on his kitchen floor by his maid, a mere three days after he had endured a heart-attack. With his biography of the Midland College unfinished, Crawford was shocked that such a man could be so much of a loner, that most of his own neighbors assumed he had already died years earlier, simply because they never saw him.

            After attending the funeral in Ft. Davis with an even stronger realization of somehow finding a way to make a living off his already rather large body of work, he became more determined than ever, to get back home and finish the novel and somehow get it off to Coppola. Following completion of the book in April of 1999, seeing that the price of his heart medication had virtually gotten to be outrageous, he decided to test the waters, and he quit his heart meds cold turkey … without telling his family:

“They were complaining. I didn’t want to burden them any further. It was time.”

Though an entire week went by with virtually no noticeable signs of any side effects, not too long after that, he began to feel palpitations, and found himself moving in with various relatives of his family in New Mexico due to the relapse, in order to allow the medication to get back into his system, which reportedly took an entire two years.
“The longest two years of my life.”

            One of these locations briefly included, believe it or not, an attempted tryout at the real Signature Place complex in Midland … which didn’t last. And to his own shock, as with Jimmy Stewart, just when he was ready to begin the editing process and was prepping the novel for JFK Jr., he stumbled across the news of JFK’s sudden death while piloting his private airplane on the way to his sister’s wedding.
The news shocked the world.

            Oddly enough, it was while staying at this complex that the author had profusely called the local human services department and had managed to qualify for foodstamps. He had also managed to toss a phonecall to Coppola’s Zoetrope offices in San Francisco, and to his own bafflement, after informing the office of his novel’s intentions, the very next day, a personalized signed poster of The Outsiders was Fed-Exed to Crawford’s very own Signature Place door by the director himself.

(A replica of this poster, which simply states,
TO JOSHUA, FRANCIS COPPOLA1999, makes up the inner back jacket of the novel to this day since the 1982 film, indeed, plays such a heavy role in the book’s plot which obviously flattered Coppola.)
It was the first promising good news he had received regarding his work in years.

            By the year’s end however, he would be filing for disability once more, only to uncover, that he, indeed, needed a lawyer to get any kind of paperwork pushed forward which would allow him such benefits. He would also heed to New Mexico to await the process, and while doing so, spent an entire year editing the novel.

            With allegedly no money to print the thing for quite some time, early 2001 became the year when he first printed out the first-editions of these novels that remain the only editions that have all three parts of the book merged into one large massive epic. Though one did make its way to Coppola, the director, like Spielberg, never responded. And Crawford, floored with so much confusion, began to focus what energy he had left, into getting his disability established so that he wouldn’t be at the mercy of his family members and there many floors in which he often slept on. The first-ever printing of Signature Place, with no cover included (even though the cover, notable for its map of condos and the Pac-Man logo which makes up the “C” in Crawford’s name, had been designed long before the first page was ever written), was given away to the local Office Depot man who printed out the small print run. (He has yet to be found or come forward.) The first copy ever sold, was allegedly to a college student in Lubbock, Texas.

            Having come across a small article in a magazine which talked about something called mp3.com in the latter part of the 1990s (Crawford claims he didn’t even know what an mp3 was at the time of uploading the songs), he had already put the Play Me recordings up online by this time, and being foreign to the Internet, he had somewhat forgotten about the songs, when low and behold, they started to gradually gain traction over in Japan during the two years of having first uploaded them while he stayed busy recuperating from his relapse and editing the epic-novel “for the kid in every adult, and the adult in every kid.” The site later went defunct and renamed itself, though it remains one of the very first to have ever made wide use of music downloads along side of Napster, with Crawford’s recordings having first premiered here; somewhat of an early hindsight he had for music, given that he had no knowledge of the Internet and what it would later do for the ever inquisitive world of music fans; as the iPod was virtually on the verge of being invented by Steve Jobs, and the Internet was still in its dawn of mostly dial-up subscribers who often had to wait several minutes, if not hours, to download a complete song. YouTube and MySpace were yet to be realized. And he would be an early adapter to the latter, where a careful screening process has prevented just anybody from becoming a MySpace friend; something he believed would, in the long run, become more of a novelty, than a form of getting a record-label’s attention since many self-proclaimed musicians often hype their own MySpace numbers, simply to appeal to labels, and labels have caught on to this; as have many spammers, which has flooded the site with so much unsolicited email, that its free subscribers, often given up on their own accounts for months at a time, until they remember that they even have one.

            To this day, the most mysterious thing about the Play Me recordings, is that no one knows how much they’ve generated for the author. As he has chosen to allow them to continue to stay online … with never having registered them with any Performance Rights Organizations, or PROs. (Organizations that tabulate annual or quarterly sales of how many times songs get played on radio, then send those royalties to the songwriter and singer.) His reasons for the matter, have never been made clear. Again, this has only fueled interest into his work, simply because its quite obvious he’s not making money off his own merits.

            In addition to Coppola, copies of Signature Place were also sent out to actresses Alicia Silverstone, Drew Barrymore, and singer-songwriter Jewel. All returned the novel … except for Silverstone. Yet each of the three kept its highly sought-after soundtrack, which paved way for this trend within the industry.

            It is not known whether Leonardo Dicaprio ever got one, as he has never publicly commented on the matter, but his name is often mumbled in the same breath when certain sectors in the underground are talking about the novel.

            Frank Stallone, however, (Sylvester’s musical brother), is rumored to own one of these first editions, as he and Crawford were corresponding at the time, having met through Crawford’s early suggestions to FastRewind.com, which was then still in its infancy and called 80sRewind.com, having been launched due to its successful early documentation of cult status for The Karate Kid films that thriller babies had grown up loving. The website was an early internet encyclopedia of 1980s films and their cult followings and statistics, and is now quite large.
(The writer, a literal sponge for 1980s pop culture, had early knowledge about the rare soundtrack to the 1984 film Night Of The Comet, before the website ever did, with the site initially listing the film as not having a soundtrack at all; something Crawford had kindly pointed out was an inaccuracy, since he had obtained a copy of this soundtrack himself, in a Dallas used record shop, and had incorporated it into Signature Place.)

            After finally acquiring Disability and obtaining a subsidized apartment, Crawford, purchased his first dvd player at the local Best Buy for an alleged $49 dollars. When after hooking up the thing, and noticing it uniquely had microphone jacks that severed as a karaoke feature, he had an idea that might just suffice some of those fans whom had gradually begun to take notice of Crawford’s work (particularly online) and had been eagerly awaiting more of his vocal recordings; as were many record labels, who had often either kept Crawford in their ‘maybe’ files, or simply kept getting introduced to him by revolving A&R label scouters who kept discovering the Play Me demo in their ‘rejected’ files, and often pondered as to how such a good 3-track recording ever got there? Thus, virtually beginning the unique underground appeal of the so-called ‘Crawford mystique.’
(This is quite shocking to believe, since the three Play Me recordings are some of the strongest songs ever recorded to make up one demo, let alone the first three songs Crawford ever wrote and over the course of the last two decades, would ultimately become the most passed around demo in the entire history of the music business.)

            Around this same time, Crawford’s three recorded originals, would also be briefly featured on the short-lived Tonos.com; an early ‘collaborate-with-other-musicians’ type site, that soon evaporated after the turn of the century for unknown reasons. What’s ironic, is that the site was co-founded by legendary musician David Foster (who had just discovered Josh Groban at the time), and the inspirational Crawford bootleg Reach (listed below), a twenty year old instrumental production of Foster’s that originally went under the title Night Music, was listed on the very site that Foster founded … yet Foster supposedly never even knew it.

            Having quite an ear for a hit song, Crawford, over the course of his life, had acquired a rather unusual collection of songs that he felt should’ve been hits, but for whatever the reason, never were; much in part due to either the industry’s overlooking of them, or the artists being too obscure for their own labels to pay much attention to. So he took some of these songs, many of which contained female vocals in them, and looped his own voice into the songs themselves, with only a one-take vocal of his own, since even the slightest mistake would ruin the entire attempt. Though some of these songs would later get re-looped on top of each other (by using the same method) in order to stack on an additional layer or two of his background vocals (which he felt some of the songs needed), causing a tad of ‘generation loss’, his lead-vocal on these recordings themselves, which are considered a bit more stronger than the Play Me recordings due to his maturity in crafting his own voice, were done in entirely just one-take. These recordings included such overlooked gems as Olivia Newton-John’s Shakin’ You (a David Foster production that had originally been featured in the 1983 film Two Of A Kind which had bombed at the box-office, yet in Crawford’s obvious opinion, had a magnificent soundtrack for such a small film that represented a very early use in American cinema of an entire story-concept that took place in the near-afterlife of a human being) … True Devotion (a 1987 LP track by ’naughty girl’ Samantha Fox) … Ring Me Up (a lost 1983 LP track by Christina Amphlett and The Divinyls that Crawford had first heard during its brief appearance in the theatrical version of the 1984 film Sixteen Candles) … You Never Gave Me The Chance To Love You (an overlooked Sheena Easton import produced by the legendary Nile Rodgers) … I’ll Be Here Where The Heart Is (an ageless Kim Carnes synth ballad that had been briefly played in 1983’s Flashdance) … Out Here On My Own (a piano-only heartbreaker with Irene Cara that was briefly featured in the 1980 film Fame which had opened the doors for Mtv) … and The Nightingale; a much talked about song by fans of David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks for Crawford’s use of whispering the word, ‘Laura,’ midway through the song, sending a chill up the spines of its listeners since Laura Palmer was the name of the dead teenage prom-queen that the entire 1990 series was based upon.

            Other songs were also recorded by this method, which contained no female counterparts to them, but were merely beautiful instrumentals that Crawford felt should’ve had lyrics put to them in order to market them to an audience and allow them to be heard by the mainstream world. Some of the original composers for these songs are thought to have been mystified that Crawford would ever take such time to write his own lyrics for (and be paid nothing for doing so, nor would he generate any royalties!), even though they weren’t his own original melodies. These songs include Reach (the David Foster instrumental that was originally titled Night Music and played only as backdrop source music in Two Of Kind for a mere thirty or forty seconds; easily a could-be number-one hit due to its uplifting and inspirational undertone that Crawford gives it) … and Living In The End Times (a compelling middle-eastern sounding balled about earth’s final biblical doomsday affect on children that was originally the background theme to the 1979 Turkish-prison film Midnight Express, which was written by a young Oliver Stone, directed by Alan Parker who would later go on to direct Fame and Evita, and scored by legendary disco composer Giorgio Moroder who later went on to score Flashdance, The NeverEnding Story, and Top Gun). This song currently has a very haunting effect on its listeners, since not only does it seem to contain somewhat autobiographical original lyrics written by Crawford himself, about sleeping on floors and noticing a cloud in the sky … that turns out to be merely another plane on its way to bomb another city (Crawford, afterall, was raised in President Bush’s hometown) … but the fact that the song was recorded just months before the Iraq war would heavily begin, is once again, another intriguing foreknowledge of Crawford’s that has only aided his mystique in recent years. Many feel it could be a world wide hit if given the right marketing power, simply because it’s so profound, yet one feels familiar to it … because of the hit movie that it was featured in nearly 30 years ago!

            Also contained within these somber and powerfully melodic instrumentals that Crawford so lovingly wrote lyrics for, even though they weren’t his original melodies, are The Price To Fame and The Giving Tree (two songs that were original score pieces for 1984’s shattering early latchkey Drew Barrymore film Irreconcilable Differences to the tune of Richard Clayderman’s piano, which does quite an honor to Crawford’s use of somewhat emotionally-draining storytelling lyrics about a woman who married a man that made her famous, bore him son, and then left him and her own son to join the A-list of Hollywood … as well another story about a boy who grew up living next to a girl, with each having parents go through divorces at the exact same time that they often watched from above in the tree that connects their yards together, named, of course, after the book Crawford’s mother once read to him, over and over; The Giving Tree.)

            Come On And Dance! , set to a forgotten instrumental by Technotronic, is a story about a gentleman who has written a hit song for clubs around the nation, yet is so tired when the song finally premieres, that he desires to go home, but is continually talked into dancing one last dance before doing so. Crawford’s version often sounds so retro sheik with its precise detail on the breakdancing years of the 1980s, that not many realize the instrumental which Crawford wrote lyrics for, is indeed from the 80s itself. Next to Cryin’ Party, this gem of a recording represents Crawford’s clever use of sometimes overtracking his own background vocals so much so, that they can often appear as though someone were having a party! (His obvious desired effect!) The upbeat piece has been known to occasionally find its way into dance clubs. Generating an entire new audience for Crawford’s Forty-Nine Dollar Demo that he recorded from his own subsidized living-room.
Perhaps the most unusual song on the entire underground and highly-bootlegged album (if not the most unique), is the mere 2-mintue-and-20-second intro score for the 1984 film Romancing The Stone by Alan Silvestri. Unavailable as even a regular soundtrack to the general public for years until Varese Sarabande Records finally put out a limited edition in 2005 (which currently goes for a whopping $100 on websites such as Amazon.com!), Crawford obviously somehow got hold of the score an entire three years before the public ever did (as his take on this recording began to leak in 2002), and turned the simple-but-unique movie introduction … into a shocking double-metaphor of the movie’s title itself; Romancing The Stone, which is a rap/adult-cotemporary love song (most likely the very first!) of all things, that is perhaps “the slickest two-minutes-and-twenty-seconds one might ever hear” regarding a man who is planning on proposing to his woman by scraping enough funds together to buy her a wedding-ring, but has quite a hard time doing it, and doubts that the bride-to-be will ever love God … as much as the groom himself. Quite a fresh twist on an otherwise mere intro cue for a movie nearly three decades old. Whether Silvestri or the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis (a Spielberg protégé), are aware of the song that pays so much homage to them, is not known, but the song has been passed around and talked about for ages, particularly because it’s become somewhat of a novelty song as Crawford’s only rapping piece (and by a white man no doubt!), but a rap piece that is so contagiously catchy and spiritual (as it seems to highlight the singer’s love for the Lord, even over his own bride), that some in the Christian music community, again, feel the song could be a number-one hit if marketed properly, simply because it’s just so unusually different.

            Along with a 1982 piano-only Kim Carnes balled which features heartbreaking children vocals towards its tail-end, entitled Breakin' Away From Sanity (Carnes marks the only female that appears twice on the album), these group of songs, that often amaze the average listener when they discover Crawford was never in the room with his duet females when the songs were originally recorded, have, become popularly known as THE $49 DEMO and/or sometimes BLOOD ON INSPIRAITON, or BOI or B.O.I.; given that they were entirely recorded by Crawford’s forty-nine-dollar dvd/karaoke player; an often hard-to-believe fact that some people find so unbelievable, they feel the fact is merely a myth. But the myth is true. And it is a copy of the $49 Demo (which also contains the Play Me recordings on most versions), that came across the desk of Kevin Patrick in 2005; an A&R VP under Sony in New York (a state that is often just a bit more partial to adult-contemporary music than California) who was keeping a continual watching eye on Crawford’s unique appeal and is rumored to have been the closest anyone had ever gotten at that point, to finally signing him, along the side of Jeff Blue; another A&R man who favors a polished sound like Crawford’s, that Crawford had supposedly impressed by taking out an ad in the back of a Music Connection magazine, wishing Blue a happy birthday.



            What’s unique about this selected group of songs, is that for the most part, many usually agree with Crawford that they truly sound rather ageless, and feel Crawford, himself, by putting his own spin on the songs, has the power to elevate such music to a new generation by granting them the proper spotlight which they should’ve received upon their initial release, no matter how old the songs are; as they really don’t sound it; much like the Play Me recordings would eventually defy time. And stranger things have been known to happen in the ever unexpected music world … the hit song When I’m With You by the band Sheriff, for example, was originally recorded and released in 1983 where it flopped … then a DJ in Vegas began to play the song in 1988 (a mere five years later, and long after the band had broken up!), and the song went all the way to number one in 1989.

            In 2003, Crawford, having been asked by the FastRewind.com website to donate his vast knowledge of the 1980s, with Crawford unable to do so due to his busy continual battle to obtain Disability, he finally wrote one single review for the site which still stands to this day; the 1980 film Somewhere In Time, which in its early complete form, went on to become a creditable source for many scholars who have studied the cult film and its early pioneering use of taking its two leading characters (played by actors Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour) into the afterlife. Crawford, who had suffered two pronounced deaths a few years after coming home from the Houston hospital in 1989, is often linked to the film because of his own expertise on the subject of near-death (if not the afterlife itself), in addition to the strong influence that Reeve’s portrayal of Superman has in Signature Place. In 2003, he managed to get a copy of the book to Reeve, to see what the actor thought of it; as a tailor-made role had been written for Reeve in the novel, once it got translated to film. Surprisingly, a letter was soon sent to Crawford, a few months after, from the Christopher Reeve Foundation on behalf of Reeve himself, stating the actor was deeply flattered and felt strongly that Crawford should keep pursuing publication for the novel, so that it could reach more children.
Reeve died shortly after in the fall of 2004.
Just as Jimmy Stewart had done upon receiving True in 1997.
Crawford was broken over the matter.
As this marked three deaths (Stewart’s, JFK Jr.’s, and Reeve’s) who had played not only important roles in Crawford’s life, but in particular, his writings:

“Naturally, for a while there, I couldn’t help but wonder if my writings were cursed. My life has been a remarkable one, but also one that is very eerie and somewhat burdened with unheard of odd karma. Then again, history seems to prove that odd karma often surrounds those who want to eventually change the world by doing something against the current norm of their times.”

            To make matters worse, the beloved aunt who had helped raise the piano-man and had taught him Music Box Dancer at the age of four (the second song he had ever learned), would shockingly die from cancer at the age of only 51. The loss rippled throughout the family, whom of which had largely been aided by her mothering nature onto its many children. For she had been entirely responsible for Crawford’s mere existence. As she had literally introduced both his parents to each other, and her husband had been the one who had literally sold Crawford’s father the baby grand piano in which the boy would one day write Play Me on, in addition to several other pieces, before Crawford’s father later sold the piano in order to survive his second divorce. The motherly character of Peggy Light, the only woman to have dual roles in each of Crawford’s novels, is thought to have been highly inspired by this aunt. Yet sadly, the coming-of-age book in which she would influence most, Signature Place, which amply displays Peggy as being one of the key maternal influences over an entire generation of latchkey children, would never get read by her. She would die shortly after her nephew had given it to her. Though she was quite the fan of his Play Me recordings, knowing she had heavily influenced her nephew’s talent since his conception, and the entire two-year editing process of the book had occurred in her very own house, where Crawford had retreated to, upon the relapse of his heart shortly before the millennium.
(Rather iconically, she had scrapped up pennies in order to pay for the duplication-shrinkage of Crawford’s personalized Outsiders poster … which would ultimately serve as the book’s back cover. So there is some sweetness to an otherwise very sad story of how Signature’s long overdue first printings, truly first came into existence. As she not only ended up being a part of the book, but ended up being on the very cover of the book itself.)

            It was around this point (winter of 2003) that the green-eyed singer-songwriter who moonlit as the author of two very unique novels, decided to halt sending out any further submissions of his talent to anyone, and while grieving the drastic and devastating loss of his aunt, prepared to move out to Los Angeles to pursue acting; something in which he had always wanted to do, but obviously, had never made time for, much less had the funds for. This would mark his 4th visit to California: His parents had taken him to Disneyland in the winter of 1981 shortly before they divorced … which is when he fell in love with the state’s greenery, his father had taken a family trip to Laguna Beach and Universal Studios in the summer of 1987 which is when he felt assured he should move forward with directing, and then the trip to Amblin in Christmas of 1992 to ironically, the same location.

            Shortly before departing Texas for California during the Christmas season of 2003 to go look for an apartment out west, he had driven into his own apartment complex one night around Halloween in Midland, and had suddenly been hit by an idling car who wasn’t looking where they were going. Though the collision only cracked his windshield and knocked off his bumper, the piano-player, whom had never been involved in an car-wreck before, didn’t think much of it, and figured he was fine, even though his muscles were aching a few days after, as was his neck. Knowing he had only a few weeks to look for an apartment out in L.A. since his Midland lease was due for renewal within a few weeks, he proceeded with his scheduled trip as planned.

            While in California, upon his very arrival at the LAX airport, being a man of a very polite and courteous nature, as he hopped upon one of the many busy shuttle-busses to fetch a rental car, he noticed another man running to catch the very same bus, hoping it wouldn’t leave without him. Crawford held the door open for the man, and as a thank-you, the man invited him to a social gathering in the Hollywood hills. Coincidence, destiny, or just the usual Crawford karma oddity, with literally only ten dollars in his pocket (and hardly dressed for the occasion), the bright-eyed 29 year old took a chance, only on the condition that he follow the gentlemen in his own car so that he could depart the party if it turned out to be one of an unpleasant nature. This is accordingly where he met actress Scarlett Johansson just weeks after the release of the film that would gradually push her closer to more notoriety by a massive audience (Sophia Coppola’s Lost In Translation), yet before Woody Allen’s Match Point would bring her even more fame. With Johansson still quite unknown to the guests of the party, due to her career having not yet fully bloomed, Crawford is said to have approached her after realizing no one was talking to her, and the two struck up a conversation with Crawford thinking she was merely a beautiful diamond in the rough whom nobody was including in any of their conversations. Though the details of these events remain unknown, it allegedly wasn’t until Crawford returned home to Texas and opened up a magazine, that he recognized her in an ad and smiled. (He supposedly didn’t know she was an actress, nor did she know that he was a much talked-about cult artist.) Heather Graham, Edward Burns, Craig Kilborn, and Heath Ledger are also thought to have been at the party and had met and carried on conversations with Crawford as well; though Graham was the only one he supposedly recognized, as she was more well known than the others were to him at the time. It was a very memorable occasion, to say the least, and Crawford was very grateful for such an invite, even if he was a bit tired from having just landed. (Pictures are thought to exist of this gathering, but none have yet to surface online.)

            Something else happened to take place during his brief visit to California, that like the party, seems to only be talked about on the underground; an area Crawford is known for excelling in without meaning to.

            Noticing Sony Records was located just down the lane from the local Holiday Inn near the Santa Monica peer in which he was staying at, and always traveling with a demo-CD of his music in his pocket (in case the unthinkable happened!), he had been in brief discussions back in Texas with A&R talent-scouter Teresa LaBarbera Whites (the woman responsible for discovering Beyonce Knowles and Jessica Simpson; both natives of Texas) who had been running Sony’s Dallas division under Columbia Records at the time, and was expecting a callback from her when he had left for Santa Monica. Taking a longshot gamble, he approached Sony’s gates and buzzed the doorman. Sony’s executives buzzed him back, and impressed with his determination, informed him that they would let him in and discuss a record-deal … only if he could toss them a name that was part of the Sony family. Crawford, ever so grinning and a bit dumbfounded, mentioned Whites, and after a long pause, to Crawford’s surprise, the executives informed him that Whites was no longer working under the umbrella of Sony (which Crawford would later confirm once he arrived back home in Texas and realized she had just switched positions to Zomba/Jive records; thus could not sign him at the time). Pressed for another name on the spur of the moment, the only other person Crawford could think of that was tied to Sony, was Tommy Mottola (who is rumored to have been one of those that intercepted the Play Me demo from Clive Davis in the mid 1990s, and kept it!), yet to Crawford’s shock again, the executives informed him that Mottola had just recently left the label as well, to go re-start Casablanca Records. When Crawford couldn’t think of any more names, the executives laughed and denied him access, yet taken with his good-sport candor, informed him to go to a payphone and call them to discuss things further. So he did, somewhat in a laugh himself at their odd way of trying to beat out of him his knowledge of the industry’s trivia. (He accordingly has a very large file of everyone who has rejected him, and guessed Sony must’ve already known who he was, to have ever put him through such “game-show torture!”) After calling them (right outside their window no doubt!), they pressed him even further for his manager’s name. Having just corresponded with a man by the name of Johnny Paris (who shortly before Crawford’s departure for Hollywood, had called Crawford with impressed ears for Crawford’s music, but not enough finances to fund an entire album), Crawford simply said, “Johnny Paris.” The executives informed Crawford they would later toss him a phone-call back at his hotel.
They never did.
Another strong attempt by the persistent and tenacious man with the big heart,
but no cigar.

            With his apartment packed yet once again, he returned to Midland, only to find his body aching more than ever from the whiplash of the wreck; in particular, his lower back. Upon getting an MRI x-ray, it was discovered that the lower disc in his back, had been graphically torn from the inside out; the worst kind of tear; something Midland’s local ER doctors had overlooked upon first checking Crawford over before his departure to L.A. The pain would only worsen, the more he sought a further diagnosis from several different doctors as to what to do? Numbering at around twenty doctors or so, all over the southwest, each of them told him different things. Some didn’t think there was anything that could be done. Others thought he was merely being a hypochondriac. Crawford, hardly a whiner, and being a man who had already learned to cope with limitations from a fairly early age, was horrified to realize that such pain would not only prevent him from sitting at his beloved piano or writing another novel at his computer (two things that his heart hadn’t taken away from him, and still allowed him to do!), but that it might be incurable and would only worsen in time! He began to hear about the then new experimental artificial disc implants that the Texas Back Institute was endorsing in an attempt to bring it to the FDA’s approval. So he started to correspond with them, only to uncover that his own insurance wouldn’t cover such surgery; as although it has now been approved by the FDA, it’s still considered relatively new in the United States, with many insurance companies weary of attaching themselves to it, even though it has been going on in Germany for several years with more success than the average typical back fusions. Fearing he would have to resort to fusion … that might lock him into a stiff-back at the young age of only 30 and prevent him from playing the piano even further (many fusions can later lead to other fusions because they cause overworking of the spine to make up for the area of the back that has now been fused), Crawford discovered he was a candidate for the institute’s pro-bono area, though he would need a painful discography, in order to pin-point the precise area of damage to the back before the institute could move forward with the much talked about procedure. A discography, a pre-operative surgery where needles of dye are injected into the spine in order to replicate the amount of pain that the patient often feels at their very worst by the end of the day, must be done without fully sedating the patient, so as to have the patient inform the surgeons of the exact amount of pain at the precise location where the patient is feeling it while the needles are in his back; thus x-raying the precise leak of spinal fluid in the damaged disc following the procedure. It’s very painful, and to Crawford’s shock, due to a misdiagnosis, the test had to be done twice; once in Odessa, then another in San Angelo, over the course of two very long years (2005 and 2006), in order to meet the Back Institute’s required approval to proceed with the artificial disc implantation; as currently, their pro-bono rules only permit “one level” (or one “disc”) of replacement, and if a patient has “two injured levels or more”, they’re disqualified.

            The implantation surgery was already risky enough in itself, considering that it would have to be implanted through Crawford’s stomach (!); as this is how the procedure is done in order to prevent breaking open the spine from the back and causing even further damage. Crawford, who had once fought so hard to prevent unnecessary open-heart surgery and then later spent two years recovering from the relapse that had been caused by the quitting of his heart medications upon completion of Signature Place, was fearful enough of merely dying on the operating table. The entire planned event was highly discussed and debated by Crawford and his affiliates over the course of a few years, since the first diagnosis of his discography in Odessa had already caused a delay in receiving the implant from the institute, stalling it by an entire two years; the amount of time Crawford thought he had two injured discs, not just one, due to this misdiagnosis.

            Mystified by hopelessness that he would never walk right again, much less retain the self-sufficiency that he had fought so hard to acquire over the course of a decade, and not being able to withstand any painkillers (due to several doctors not informing him of the anti-nausea medication phenergan that is often needed in order to counteract the side-effect of most painkillers and prevent them form being regurgitated), the man who had once fought so hard to live, and had found the breath of life in Steven Spielberg, soon began to develop suicidal tendencies; as the pain was preventing him for even sleeping; something his heart (and anybody’s heart for that matter) desperately needed in order to keep on pumping.

            He soon started to go into emotional shutdown, and felt death knocking at his door, beckoning him to take it by the hand. And just as he was about to, a last-minute wild-hair led him to seeking just one more opinion about the matter from a doctor in San Angelo, who saw that so much time had passed since the first discography had been done in Odessa, that a second one was now required. Hesitant, as any man in Crawford’s position would be, he decided to take a gamble and endure the painful second discography; realizing that he was more likely to die from suicide, than he was from back surgery. (His pain tolerance, obviously, is known to be abnormally high, which although can seem impressive, can often cause people with such tolerances to not catch on to whatever’s causing such pain in time enough to counteract it. As it is often then deemed “too late.”)
The gamble, however, turned out to be one of the wisest decisions the man with the mint green eyes would ever make.
As unlike the first one, this discography revealed only one level of injury. Not two.
He was now back in the “qualified” category for a fake disc from the back institute … a mere three years after already having almost received the surgery to begin with, not including the fourth year (2004) he had spent seeking out second opinions that finally led him to the institute:

“The longest 4 years of my life that seemed more like a decade. So many people around you that you think will understand, simply don’t. Nor do they understand your need to alleviate pain in any way you can. I come from alcoholism. I didn’t want to join that category. Besides, my heart wouldn’t let me. Your lifestyle becomes somewhat of a private hell. Not by choice, but by default; as it becomes the only choice available. Though I am against suicide, try taking a man who loves life more than his entire generation, stick a potato-peeler in his back, and then turn that peeler for five years, grinding him every minute of every hour of every day, even in his sleep. Then tell him to pop a painkiller. That’s fine and dandy when the painkillers work, but my pain tolerance was, to my own shock, so high, that they didn’t work. Nor could I really take them on top of all my other meds. And I knew they would rot my liver eventually and that I would develop an immunity to them anyway. In my opinion, I was dead anyway. What life and obtainable dreams that once existed in me, had perished against my own will. Suicide can often be looked upon as a very selfish thing to think about. But mix that potato peeler with four years of sleep deprivation and an entire group of non-understanding supporters who think you’re hallucinating all of this , and you get the ingredients for a desire to meet your Maker a little earlier than anticipated. I was reaching that desire, rapidly. The word selfish was never even taken into consideration. Luckily, I was smart enough to realize that the person I was becoming, wasn’t the real me at all, and I made people call me to tell me that, so that it would trick me into not doing anything stupid. Even if they didn’t understand why I needed them to tell me that, every day, sometimes every hour, they honored my wishes because I asked it of them and instructed them not to ask questions. Some people aren’t so smart. And I weep for them, and for their families. Back pain … truly is … worse than heart troubles and death itself. I’ve had all three. And have studied them intensely. Back pain is the worst. I can only encourage those that have lost loved ones to suicide, to forgive them, and simply know that they were just trying to have one shred of a second of no pain. If you’re in the midst of waiting for a proper diagnosis to put an end to your nightmare, no matter how long it may be, in my case it was four years, put anything that you can find that’s of an encouraging nature in their path, and judge them not. Buy them entire TV-shows on dvds; particularly sitcoms or something comical. Or entire collections of their favorite books. Tune out their tiredness, love them, and don’t leave them. The nightmare may never fully pass, but having a proper diagnosis at least helps to shape one’s goals on how to begin to deal with the nightmare, and in dealing with it, you will find that they are still a person. They may never be the same person you once knew, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthy of giving up on. Don’t misinterpret their back-pain as a substance habit. Treat it for what it is; an unprepared disease that if not handled delicately, will crush the human skeleton, and the soul within in it, without remorse. And force your doctors to treat you as the human that you really are, just like themselves or the son or daughter they have, and give you the respect you really deserve. If they don’t, move on. Immediately. A bad doctor may not only kill you on the operating table, but if disrespectful, or in it for personal gain, may just lead one to take their own life even faster than they would’ve, had they never even been burdened by such a doctor. And above all, use the best verb every created; pray. And when you run out of what to say, instead of asking, try thanking. You’d be surprised how many prayers are answered when one thanks … instead of asks. If you don’t believe in God, find a new religion that does.”

            As with the old phrase, “Something can happen when you least expect it,” on March 25th, 2005, “Play Me” was picked up by underground-musician-turned-host-of-unsigned-musicians-pod-casting Tee-M (Tariq Mirza); one of the first to ever air the song LIVE over the Internet on his 11th Unsigned Music Show. It then snuck onto New Music Weekly’s FUTURE HITS VOLUME 21 compilation CD, and eventually got permanently placed on iRadioLA’s indie104 FM; one of the largest Internet radio stations in the world that enables people to request it. While Cryin’ Party made a cameo on Netshows’ Program #4 Compilation CD in the NorthEast.

Nothing, however, would prepare him for what was soon to come in the summer of 2006.
A sell-out performance at the 7th largest theater in the world.
And one in which he only played one single song.

( the biography of Mr. Green Eyes CONCLUDES by clicking on