One Sweet Day.
Right Place Right Time – How a Weekend in Jail Led To One of the Biggest Records of All Time
One Sweet Day.
Right Place Right Time – How a Weekend in Jail Led To One of the Biggest Records of All Time

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By Francisco Tales

November 12, 2023


So check it: 


The year was ‘95, I remember because I was on my Drivin’ Miss Daisy shit carting my nephew around the city. My nephew, Little Willie, had broken his leg over at Columbus Park tryna slam a Jordan-style dunk on the court like an idiot. 

Willie might’ve broken a leg, but he still had responsibilities to fulfill. Y’see, Willie was set on getting into the family business - music. 

I’d made some calls and helped get Little Willie an internship at Columbia Records. He was hype, and he had every right to be. Columbia in the ‘90s hit different. 

At the time, I was a scout for an indie label, discovering some great acts, too. I was making my own hours, doing my own thing - totally content with where I was at. 

Anyway, ever since Willie’s dumbass accident, I had taken on the responsibility of dropping him off every weekday morning - and he usually got a ride back from one of his co-workers or a friend from the block. 

This one Friday, he asked me to come back and pick him up.

Shit, I was annoyed as hell. It was Friday in 90s New York! I had plans!

But he was my nephew and he was “handicapped” so how the fuck could I say no?

I told him I’d give him a lift but that if he wasn’t out by 5:00 pm, I was gonna leave his limp-y ass. I mean, I was already pushing plans around, and traffic in the City on a Friday is no joke.

I picked a spot to pull up and chill out while waiting, but I felt like today was the perfect opportunity to pop my head in. See, my afternoon had been goin’ pretty well. I had gotten to Columbia earlier than anticipated, and I found great parking. And it was free.

So, I walked into Columbia to see where Nephew was working. 

The receptionist recognized me from her wilder club days and let me know where Willie had been assigned.

Basically, he was running, or limp-ing coffee for a sound engineer - some squirrelly guy who had flown in from Miami and was very obviously not a New York native. Willie saw me walk into the studio and froze. I could tell he was a little embarrassed but, no more embarrassed than he probably was fucking that leg up trynna stunt on the court. 

Still, I could tell he was on edge, and when I looked over into the booth…I finally realized why. Holy shit, I thought, that’s Mariah Carey. She was killing it. I mean, I heard her range was crazy but Shorty was hitting those high notes differently. 

The song was a little up-tempo joint with a solid but familiar groove. I recognized it almost immediately. 


Fiction Mariah Cisco One Sweet Day

Mariah and Cisco in the Studio, 1994


Mariah was singing over Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club. Apparently, she had heard the song on the radio a few days beforehand and just started riffing that now-iconic chorus on top of it.

The engineer was bopping his head, clearly lovin’ it, but also clearly on edge. 

Y’see, the sample wasn’t cleared yet, and the suits were nervous. 

I was posted up in the common area, it was just me and a rugged rapper from Fort Greene I would’a recognized anywhere - The Bastard himself. He was passed out, 40 in hand, completely unaware of the current situation. In the next room, this dude - everyone was calling him Dave - was losing his mind, talking to some producer and some suits about it, referring to the whole situation as a “fuckin’ fiasco.”

These cats were hopeless. 

There I was, just a wallflower at the back of the room, catching glances of Mariah in the booth in one room and on the other the inevitable bad news that this banger could go unheard.

Little Willie came up to me and told me he wouldn’t be done by 5:00 pm. The engineer was still on edge and on his twelfth cup of coffee. He was gonna need more, and he damn sure wasn’t gonna get it himself. 

This Dave dude, the suits and the engineer were willing to try anything at that point, and I was pretty sure I could be of service.

You see, nearly a decade prior, I spent a weekend in jail with a guy who had gotten thrown in for ‘drunk and disorderly conduct’ outside of a concert hall. Same as me  - twin shit!

This dude was cool as hell, a real creative type. We spent the weekend talking about everything and anything music-related - favorite records, favorite venues, shit-talking all the bands that were selling out.

Turned out, my jailmate was actually one of the cats from Tom Tom Club - a brilliant but stubborn dude. 

I had ran into him and his wife, also in the band, a few times since then just hanging out at different venues, but we never really spent much time together since our little jail stint.

I was a bit reluctant, but I knew the track was a hit, so I approached Dave and introduced myself. I told him about my connection to the band and told him I was pretty sure I could talk him into clearing the sample. 

They thought I was shittin’ them. Like I was lyin’ and, even if I wasn't, like I there was no way I could pull it off. Considering I was low-key tryna get a job there, I was persistent, and eventually, Dave set me up in his office, gave me the right number, and told me to make the call. 

So I called him up! 

“Chris, My guy! What’s going on Brother!?”

My man recognized my voice immediately. 

Came through like, “What’s up, ‘Cisco? ‘Member Corrections?” 

So you know, we chipped it up on the line just catching up for a few minutes until I finally laid out the situation. After what seemed an eternity for that Dave guy, the engineer, and suits - it was really like 4 minutes - it was a done deal. 

It took some convincing, but after hearing me vouch for the quality of the track, Tom Tom Chris’ lawyers called the people at Columbia and cleared the sample, after securing a pretty lucrative deal for the band, of course. 

Maybe the most recognizable suit in the room, Mariah’s man, Tommy, came through not even 2 minutes after I hung up with Chris, cigar in hand, ready to meet the cat who cleared the sample.

Right then and there, Dave offered me a job in the A&R department at Columbia, and the entire trajectory of my career changed. 

It was one sweet-ass day. 

Little Willie’s limp-y ass got fired for bringing the sound engineer decaf on accident, though.

And we still caught traffic.

But thanks to one random overnight lockup, I wound up securing myself a life-changing new gig.

One sweet, sweet day indeed.


Aight, stay up.

- Francisco.