Johnston's at work coming up with material for a second Atlantic release, which McCarty believes the corporation will have to support on some level. "They caught a lot of shit from the music community at conferences for signing Daniel," she divulges. "People were like, `Why did you sign Daniel Johnston? Obviously, you're just exploiting this poor crazy person.' And the Atlantic people defended themselves by saying, `Daniel Johnston is a genius. He's the kind of person whose records should be put out whether they're profitable or not.' So they have to stick with that, at least for a little while."

As for McCarty, she has yet to be snapped up by a major, in spite of Eyeball's heady showing in last year's Village Voice critics' poll, gushing praise for her live appearances and an ultrahip movie role on her resume (she played the anarchist's daughter in director Richard Linklater's 1991 film Slacker). McCarty says she isn't surprised: "Critics like my songs, but my songs haven't sold a lot, and even though this record is getting incredible raves, I didn't write these songs. So I think that people in the industry are kind of keeping an eye on me to see what I'll do, but they don't want to make a move until they find out what that is."

When that long-awaited contract offer finally reaches McCarty, she'll approach it with caution. She has strong opinions about the business side of music, and most of them are negative. "I think the only time the recording industry approached normalcy was back in the Sixties," she announces, "because at the time, all the people who worked at the labels were classical-music people who knew that they didn't have a clue about rock music. All they knew was that people were going crazy over this stuff, so they signed bands right and left and let them do whatever they wanted. And that's why the music from the Sixties was so great. I think as long as the business people know their place, there's a flowering of art. And in a perfect society, that's how it would have worked with Glass Eye. Someone would have come to us and said, `We don't really get this, but other people do, so you're signed. Now go forth and wait no tables ever again.'

"But when you get into the position where people on the business end think they know about the music and think they can tell the artists what to do, you experience a withering of the artistic blossom that leads to, well, Loverboy and the Romantics. And Winger."

Since McCarty could not be more different from the Wingers of the world, it's fortunate that she doesn't aspire to arena shows and laser displays. "I'll probably never have a million-selling career," she concedes. "But that's okay, because I'd rather be an artist like Richard Thompson or Kate Bush or Tom Waits, where I'd have enough fans that I could do whatever I want and I could make a living at it. That's really all I need. That's all I want. And that's a more durable thing than fame, I think. I just hope I'll get the chance to find out."

K. McCarty, with Morning Glories and Sincola. 7 p.m. Thursday, June 29, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder, $4, 447-0095 or 830-

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