Adrienne Anderson: Lyricist

ADRIENNE ANDERSON is the very talented lyricist who was introduced to us by lyricist Marty Panzer.  She is most known for the songs she co-wrote with composer Barry Manilow.  Some of the most beloved songs recorded and performed by Barry Manilow feature the lyrics of Adrienne Anderson, including Daybreak and Could It Be Magic.

Songs Adrienne Anderson wrote have been recorded by many great artists including Melissa Manchester, Bette Midler, Donna Summer and Isaac Hayes.  The late great Frank Sinatra sang a televised performance of the song “See the Show Again” on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Fans of Dionne Warwick may know Anderson’s work from the song “Deja Vu” which she co-wrote with Isaac Hayes.  With Peter Allen, Adrienne Anderson co-wrote “I Go to Rio” which became a signature song for Allen.  The song was later covered by the band Pablo Cruise as well as the late Peggy Lee.

Who is Adrienne Anderson?

Wow, well combination of things of course and evolving. I am uh much more of a family person now than I was when I started my career. I’ve got a daughter who is 25 years old and has a huge future of her own, a husband who I’m devoted to that I’ve been married to for almost 30 years. As far as my definition of myself as a careerist; that’s never really got away. I love the creative process. I’ve always loved the creative process and while my projects vary I hope to be involved one way or another in something having to do with music for the rest of my life.

 So speaking of life, let’s go back to the beginning.  What was life like growing up and where are you from?

I grew up in Manhattan and it was fantastic. I was very, very lucky. Child of privilege, I got exposed to the golden age of Broadway. When I was just old enough to have any idea of what I was watching. And I mean the Golden Age I mean South Pacific, Carousel, Guys and Dolls, The King and I, etc. all the original stage productions. When I was in the eighth grade West Side Story opened, changed my life. I went to see it four times. Studied theatre, studied dance, studied boys and was just very, very blessed to be in the cultural center of the western world and it had a life altering effect on me and I; I just loved growing up there.

Can you remember perhaps specific records or specific songs you heard around the house or on the radio?

When I was the youngest it was the Broadway stuff that had the most immediate impact on me because it was the height of Rodgers and Hammerstein and I was; just as I say; barely old enough to understand how great that stuff was. Also seeing it all on the stage, in real time, had a tremendous impact on me that I think lasted me all the way through. I mean to this day it’s scary how I can recall all those lyrics. I also had a Father who was very sophisticated musically who exposed me to jazz very early in life. So that I was very aware of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Lena Horne and Bix Beiderbecke and Art Tatum and people like that so that I was not your typical kid growing up where when I was in college and everyone was listening to those early Beatles records. I was a Charlie Mingus fan a Miles Davis fan, a Horace Silver fan. I owe a lot of that early exposure and sophistication to my father.

Did you always write?

No, no, not at all. Originally I wanted to be on the stage. I did summer stock, I had some potential I went to Carnegie Mellon which is a very renowned theatre department and then I studied in New York, and was quite serious about all that but then it was the sixties you know and theatre got really boring and the real theatrics and entertainment had switched over to music and I had great taste; I didn’t have a great voice but I had great taste so I put together a little act and that’s actually how I met Barry. It’s a cute story I actually hired him as my accompanist to help me put an act together for ten dollars an hour and that’s how we met.

What was your first impression of Barry Manilow when you met him?

Well he was just the sweetest, geekiest guy that I had ever met, ya know, with a great, great ability to play piano and accompany. Everybody used him. He and I found each other to be kindred spirits almost immediately because he had this passion towards jazz and so did I. And he thought I was the cat’s meow and for some reason he loved my voice and I loved his playing and we just hit it off from the first time that we did a song together; it was instantaneous. So what we did was we spent about eight or nine months putting this act that was so unique that the people who were managing me; when we presented the act to them; said they couldn’t book me because nobody would understand or recognize any of the songs that I was attempting to sing. So they fired Barry and put me with somebody else. But Barry and I continued on and he was just starting to write a little bit and he said well since I’m trying to write songs why don’t we write songs together. I said sure ok so we started writing songs together and it was the tail end of the brill era I mean really the tail end of the brill era. But we would write a batch of songs and I wrote the lyrics because I wasn’t going to play like him; I couldn’t play like him. But we did a lot of duets too, two part harmonies and just thought it was great, great and we would just go from floor to floor and knock on publishers doors and Barry would play and I would sing and we would play songs for a hundred dollars and that’s how it got started. And eventually I lost more interest in the performing end of it and gained more interest in the writing of it and that was pretty much because of what he and I were doing together.

 Can you remember the first song that you and Barry Manilow wrote that you’d say “this one’s a keeper”?

“Our Love Will Still Be There” was the name of the song. It was good; we wrote a lot of good stuff. I mean I don’t think anybody actually published that one but I think that was the first song. He was always a great keyboard player and he always had even from back in those days the same kind of charm and personality that he’s got now. Of course his ambition in those days was to be the next Nelson Riddle. He wanted to be an arranger. He never ever thought of himself as a vocalist but the fact is he had the same voice then that he has now. Who knew?

 I remember hearing him one time in concert, he was at Philips Arena in Atlanta and he was telling a little story on stage and he started out and he said “I have never been much of a singer,” and I thought “yeah right.”  But, I have heard that story from a couple people that they never thought of him as a singer, it was more like what Bette Midler said to him, “But, Barry, you don’t sing.”

Well the thing about Barry which I guess you could say similar was that and one of the reasons that I stopped pursuing that was because the key I think to being a success as a vocalist is getting that personality across. He was always, always able to do that and that’s why I don’t think he thought of himself seriously as a singer because he didn’t necessarily have the technique or the pipes but what he did have right from the beginning was his personality; which was his own that came through and had a charm and a warmth, and a humor that never really changed and a tremendous (technicality)

What was the first song that he recorded of yours that was a co-write?

That he recorded of ours?

 Yeah.

Well there’s actually an interesting story to this one because what happened was I was in New York. I was moving to the West Coast because I was marrying somebody who wanted to move to the West Coast and I sorta figured oh well, let’s give it a go but I was very apprehensive about breaking up the relationship with Barry and being on my own because I thought well if I don’t have him writing and playing what am I going to do; just gonna be on my own; so I determined to try to figure out how to do it by myself I rented this rehearsal space on 57th street for whatever twelve dollars an hour and this was in the midst of the Paul McCartney Era. I came up with this little tune called “Amy” that for what it was; was actually quite good and quite charming and my soon to be husband in those days was a big shot music publisher at CBS and he had a production company and everyone agreed that this thing should be recorded. So full production, so we went into the studio to record this song and of course Barry was around, at the last minute they said we need a scratch vocal Barry would you mind. So he went in and he did the vocal on it and that record Amy is what landed him his first record deal at Bell records. So it’s ironic because he didn’t even write that song. I wrote that song.

Interesting.

Yeah, a little bit of trivia there.

 You worked with so many people.  I don’t know if this is true, but I read something about you working with Frank Sinatra.

Oh I never worked with Frank Sinatra, but Barry and I have a song called “Why Don’t You See the Show Again” which he actually performed on the tonight show when Johnny Carson was the host and nobody knew he was gonna do it and I was on the West Coast and Barry was in New York and he called me screaming hysterical and said “You’re not gonna believe this” and it’s a three hour delay so I had to wait three hours to see it but sure enough he sang the song and he sang it really, really well. And it was definitely a high light of my career without a doubt.

Incredible.

Yeah.

 Well tell us about the song “Could It Be Magic” that Barry Manilow recorded.

Well I was already on the west Coast when he came up with the idea based on the Chopin prelude and he had come up with the chorus and was terribly excited played what he had over the phone to me and I became terribly excited because it was obvious that there was something really special that was starting to happen. I think I was staying at a hotel down in LA when I wrote the lyric to the verses. I still have the copy on Hotel stationery of what I wrote. It was one of those things that I just nailed it right from the get go. Needless to say it was time well spent.

 Is it possible to pick a favorite song of yours?

You mean with Barry?

 Just in general, any song.

Ah geez, not really, I mean I have maybe my half dozen favorites. I’ve just written so many songs, most of which have not been top ten hits. You know that’s the way it goes sometimes is that some of your favorites tend to be more obscure but certainly “Could It Be Magic” is right up there and with Barry we had a great time on the 2am Paradise Café project  which was a highlight for all of us. A great experience ya know Marty and I were present during the recording of that record and I don’t know if you’ve heard the story but that was a one take and wrote. I don’t know if you know the musicians who were playing on that record?

Yeah.  Fantastic record!

They were well rehearsed and Barry had written beautiful arrangements to link all of the songs, you’ve listened to it I guess so.

Certainly.

It’s all just continuous and that’s Barry’s music. They just did the whole thing without any interruption when they were over, finished everybody kinda looked at each other and said “is this possible” but it was. Ya know it’s very unusual.

What about “Daybreak.”  What inspired the lyrics for that song?

Uh it’s kind of a funny story because when I wrote that lyric I really wasn’t thinking about Barry at all I didn’t think; I was thinking more in terms of a gospel R&B group I didn’t even show him the lyrics he was at my house and it was just sitting on a pile and he said what’s this; I said oh it’s just a lyric ya know and he said give me a couple minutes with this. I swear I remember I went down downstairs and made us lunch and by the time I had finished making us lunch he had come up with the music and ya know little could I have imagined that that little lyric was going to get the kind of mileage that it did but again it was one of the. A lot of lyrics that I wrote for Barry over the years were custom customized for him and that’s a great luxury when you can write for an artist. Especially when you can write for an artist that you know as well as I know him because I could kind of get under his skin and really, really personalize. Whereas if your just writing a lyric just to music that’s going out there to try to find and artist its very different but with “Daybreak” I certainly, I certainly didn’t have him in mind for that one at all.

 It’s a fantastic song.  I don’t think anybody could ever listen to that song, the words and the music and be in a bad mood.

(Adrienne laughing)
I can’t imagine that.

Well ya know, its, it’s great, ya know, it’s given us both a great deal of pleasure. Ya know I try to make my lyrics as personal as I can in terms of my own point of view. Uh, I am by nature an optimistic so I guess that definitely came across in that lyric.

What is it like to have someone like Dionne Warwick record one of your songs, that song “Déjà vu,” it has to be incredible.  She’s such a legend.

We were pinching ourselves. Barry produced that record and that was surreal because I was, uh we both were huge Dionne Warwick fans and that whole Bacharach/David catalog was just up there with the best of the ya know what was written in pop music in the mid-20th century and such a unique and perfect talent. I remember going into the studio while she was recording “Déjà Vu” her nonchalance was just astonishing ya know she was painting her nails while she was recording and puffing on cigarettes and then she would ya know just sing and she was just perfect and I remember Barry and I looking at each other in the control room and saying is this actually happening (laughing) we were both stunned and fans ya know like we were of a ya know younger generation growing up listening to all of the body of her work we were just in such awe.

What about your work with Peter Allen? Tell us about how that came to be.

Well Peter had a publisher in LA that I had a, a nice relationship with and so we were actually put together. We knew each other very casually just from knowing people in common and so it wasn’t we had never met but we weren’t friends we just kind of knew each other. So it was set up for us to write together. I had come up with some ideas, let’s see I don’t remember exactly it was some idea that was rejected immediately and the next think I know he’s saying well why don’t we write this and he started to launch into this music for “Rio” and the story as it goes is that we were just in an office publishers everyone had gone to lunch it was just him and me and the piano and we wrote the entire song in one hour with not a word ever changed and not a note ever changed and um when everybody returned from lunch we were terribly excited and we sat everybody down and said woah listen to this. Peter played and I don’t know if we both sang or just Peter sang but we just kind of knew we had nailed it. I don’t think anybody knew that that copyright was going to end up having the ledge that it’s had. This has just been astonishing ya know on a worldwide level. It’s been an amazingly successful copyright. But you can it’s just a crazy business because ya know you can write great stuff that never sees the light of day or you can write great stuff that takes you an hour like “Daybreak” took me twenty minutes to write. Then you feel almost guilty like this isn’t right. Ya know how can I be making this kind of money on something that took twenty minutes to write. I guess a lot of it is just circumstantial and I was very lucky I was very, very lucky. If you look at I don’t know what it is the percentage of people even in those days who earned a living writing lyrics I’m sure it was miniscule then and probably non-existent now.

You also have worked with someone who is an upcoming guest of ours: Melissa Manchester.  What is your impression of her?

I adored her and we wrote a lot together and in those days in those days it was kind of different there were no restrictions her producer at the time just loved everything that we did and there was never anything held back in terms of we would just write stuff and it would just go right into the recording studio but Melissa and I were very, very close and we were very, very young. She was younger than I was and still is but there was a creativity and a free spiritedness to our work that was just; just delicious we didn’t feel any kind of commercial restrictions and I think there was an innocence in terms of being creative in a way that once you become more seasoned you tend not to be quite as because you tend to play it more safe and be a little bit more structured. But we had wonderful; wonderful times sharing the creative process together.

 Kind of working our way to the present, not too long ago you worked on “City Kid,” the musical and you’re working on something now.  I was wondering if you could tell us about these projects you’ve been working on lately.

Well you know instead of taking a day, a week or a month these projects take years. City Kid was kinda my brain child and I recruited two great, great guys to collaborate with me Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff who are the producers and quite successful. And I came up with this concept to turn what I thought initially was going to be a concept album into a stage production. I sort of undertook this myself in terms of developing the story and urging them along because they thought I was crazy and uh it wasn’t there thing at all. They had never thought in terms of wanting to do Theatre. I actually found a great group outside of Seattle who fell in love with wanting to help develop the project and so they did and we had a workshop and a full stage production up there some of the best experiences of my life. You can’t compare being involved with a group of theater kids with making a record because theater is such a community experience, a collaborative experience so ya know where as if you’re writing a song for a record you write it with somebody or alone, then you’re in a recording studio, ya know, it’s pretty quiet there’s not that many people there. Whereas here it was all about people and so my endeavor was to try and contemporize Broadway what has proven to be a very, very difficult thing to do. Even if you saw the Tony’s this year you could see that some of the stuff that was written a year ago sounds like It could have been written forty years ago so it’s very, very tough. Broadway is very, very tough. We ended up finally after having a substantial run up in Seattle uh coming down to LA and having an eight week run down here which actually proved quite successful. However we were in a 99 seat equity waver with a cast of 17 and six band members all union so the costs were unrealistic and we were forced to shut down before we found what we needed to move on so as of now “City Kid” is in limbo. It’s been very hard for me but in the meantime I’m pursuing this Pawnbroker project which is really, really a horse of a different color and isn’t pop at all, is very serious. I’m collaborating with a fellow by the name of Eduardo Del Barrio who is a very serious composer. I’ve adapted the book which you know I think I’ve gotten pretty good at. It’s a wonderful story there was a film that was made of the novel in the mid-sixties that Sid Lumet directed that starred Rod Steiger that won an Oscar, Quincy Jones did a superb score. It was a very much heralded property in its day and there’s still a generation or two that certainly know “The Pawn Broker” Your probably just too young oh but these are very, very long range projects ya know so that kinda suits me in this stage of my life.

What is the best thing about being Adrienne Anderson?

The best thing about being Adrienne Anderson?

Yes ma’am.

Oh, well I guess the best thing about being Adrienne Anderson is that I’m a person who’s always been pretty comfortable in her own skin. I believe what I believe and I feel what I feel and I don’t tend to hide those feelings. I’ve been a very good Mother and a Very good Wife and a very good friend. People love me, I love them. There’s just not too much of a gap between my inner life and my outer life and I think that’s probably the best part of being me and the fact that I’ve been able to live out a lot of my fantasies. I’ve been Very, very, very lucky to have had the opportunity to do that.

 I have two final questions.  One is kind of light-hearted and then the other is a little more serious.  The light hearted one first: Your all time favorite meal.

(Adrienne laughs) Oh…. a good steak and a piece of Chocolate cake

Oh yeah?  How do you have the steak?

Medium rare.

Likewise.
(laughter)

My last question: what would you like to say to all the people listening?

Oh, I would say find you passion and live it and be good to each other along the way.

 Thank you so much for this interview.  It’s been a great pleasure.

Well thank You I’ve enjoyed it.

TRANSCRIBED BY LISA MARIE BOHLAND-LUNDGREN

Enoch Anderson: Lyricist

ENOCH ANDERSON has been writing songs with composer Barry Manilow since the 1970s.  As he tells us in this interview, for many years he was known as the one who never had a single.  With the release of 15 Minutes, Manilow’s first album of original songs in years, Enoch Anderson began getting a lot of recognition for his ability with words.  Anderson wrote lyrics to almost all of the songs on the album, with the exception of one song written by Adrienne Anderson and a few written by Manilow himself.

Incredibly, Enoch Anderson said this was his first radio interview.  We hope you enjoy what he had to say, whether you listen in or read our transcript.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure, we welcome our special guest, lyricist, Enoch Anderson. Thank you so much for making the time to join us.

Thank you.

My first question, who is Enoch Anderson?

I’m going to have to redefine myself.  It used to be easy.  I was the one who never had a single. Of all the people Barry worked with, I was the one who had never had a song released as a single, and I remember once, a fan actually came up to me, a fan of Barry’s and said “huuuuugh, ‘I know who you are, you’re the one who never had a single,’ so I’m going to have to redefine that because now there’s a single out.

Well that’s right, there’s a new album out full of songs co-written by our special guest Enoch Anderson, it’s Barry Manilow’s album ‘15 Minutes,’ on Barry’s own independent label, Stiletto. So, we’re going to go back a little bit, what was life like growing up for you?

I grew up in a small mining town in Northern Canada no references forother people my age , no Sesame Street, or no Mickey Mouse Club so, little bit different in that way perhaps.

And what kind of music did you hear around the house?

My sister and brother were teenagers, so I was hearing popular music at the time through the radio, I don’t know if there’s anybody out there who knows what 78s were, you know, the old, old, old records, and they were old Vaudeville routines and music, there were some Broadway shows out with hits my brother and sister had, and so it was a real mixture of stuff, it was like a crash course in a century of popular music almost.

Can you remember examples of early writing that you did, not necessarily just lyric writing, but just any kind of creative writing?

Yeah, I used to make up stories and try to get an adult to write them down for me before I understood how to write, and when I could write, I would make little books and assemble them and bind them together with string, I had to write and illustrate them, and they were all about dogs, because I couldn’t draw human ears.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote if you can remember it.

It was when I was at high school, there was a local theatre group that was going to put on a melodrama and I think I tried out for it, they didn’t want me, but I wrote a song for the villain to sing, and I gave it to them and I didn’t get any response, nobody said anything about it and I didn’t hear it again, but when the show went on, I went to see it and they were singing my song. I didn’t get any credit on the program or anything; welcome to show business, but that would be the first time (Enoch laughs).

Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?

I don’t really know, sometimes I can tell you, there used to be a little park near where I lived, and on Sundays it was crowded with divorced fathers and their kids, and it was a convenient place for them to go when they only had one day together, and I wrote a song called ‘Sunday Father,’ so that I can make a direct connection, but a lot of times, I don’t know. I’ve told the story, I was going to bed very tired one night, and suddenly in my imagination there was this young housewife who was very unhappy with her situation and I wrote down a lyric, and I was kind of annoyed because I wanted to go to sleep, but I felt like  I owed it to her, she was very real to me, and that was the song ‘Sandra,’ I called it ‘Sandra’ because I thought I don’t know anybody called Sandra so nobody could say I wrote it about her, but, so many of the married women I knew, thought I had, so(Enoch laughs), I have no idea where that came from, sometimes ideas just float in.

What lyricists or songwriters have influenced you the most?

There are so many I’ve liked and if I try to name them, then I’m going to be upset later  because I will miss some, of course the older ones, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, so many.

Barry Manilow has made a lot of records lately of other artists material, but in his own right, as we know, he’s really an incredible songwriter and I wish he did more original albums, but I was going to talk about the album ‘Here At The Mayflower,’ it’s a great album and it features a number of songs you co-wrote with Mr Manilow, how did your songs come to be found on the album?

He told me about the idea, I remember, this huge apartment building in Brooklyn where a lot of people lived and it was based on where he actually grew up, I wrote a song called ‘Do You Know Who’s Living Next Door.’ As far as I’m concerned a number of lyricists wrote on the album and I don’t know what the others experiences were, but as far as I’m concerned, I think for the other songs of mine he used, there were things he had and he just saw a way for them to fit in, in that case he didn’t say, “I need you to write something for the elevator guy thing” or something like that.

 So what did you think of the album “Here At The Mayflower”?

Oh I like it very much because it showcases his creativity, he would be right along with you; he’d like to do more original material, and it was not a sure fire thing, it was telling stories of human experience, it wasn’t just trying to churn out formula singles, and I like that as a project that meant a lot to him.

 Now, you just mentioned, you said that you think that Barry Manilow would concur and probably would like to do more original stuff, without speaking for Barry Manilow, why do you suppose it is that he’s done less of his original music?

I think everyone is trying to adjust to the changing reality to the music business, in just the last few years, it’s changed so much, people often don’t buy albums any more, they download tracks, I think that he had something that was working very well for him, for several years, releasing these collections of familiar songs.

Do you have a favorite song of yours from that album “Here At The Mayflower”?

I guess I would say the song ‘Border Train,’ because there was something very different for me, usually I write a lyric, send him the finished lyric and he sets it to music, and this time it was the other way round, he sent me a melody and he said, “see if you can write to it” and it was this very evocative, haunting melody and he didn’t tell me anything about what he wanted it to be about, or anything, and so I had to see what it did for me, it made me feel as if I were on a train at night and I didn’t know where I was going and I went with that, and then I forgot about it, over the years, til I was in Vegas, seeing a show, and he did the song, which he had never done in concert before,  he just did it I guess, and I liked it so much and I thought I’d forgotten that, it’s got such a beautiful melody and it’s so haunting in a way, so, that would be my stand out right now.

We’re talking with lyricist Enoch Anderson. Here we are in two thousand and eleven and its ten years after Barry Manilow’s last album of original songs, he has a new album or original songs and today, the day we are recording this interview, ‘15 Minutes’ has been released and you co-wrote the songs on the album, so tell us,  how did the idea for this album, ‘15 Minutes’ come to be?

It was Barry’s idea, the stories all around us, there’s tabloids, TV shows, magazines at the checkout counters, over and over you see somebody becoming a sudden celebrity, and it seems you’re going to be hearing of a relationship falling apart for the person, there’s going to be rumours of substance abuse, there’s going to be professional problems, it’s a road that seems to meet the same terms almost no matter who the person is. The modern media merits all that, and he’d like to do a story album based on it and I was trying to show that I knew what he meant, and I said “I’ve got a title for you, 15 Minutes”, thinking of the Andy Warhol quote, and he liked that, so we were off and that’s how it all started rolling.

Very, very interesting, so, how did you and Barry Manilow begin the undertaking of the writing of these songs?

I started working on a song called ‘15 Minutes’, I sent that to him, which is the first song on the album and from that point on we were on our way. He would tell me the story that he wanted to represent and what would be going on and then I would work on the idea.

What were some of the initial concepts that you had, what were some of the ideas that you had when he told you about the album, other than the title?

Well, I was struck by the fact that it wasn’t going to be making a celebrity who crashed and burned, it wasn’t going to be sensational, going for dirt, it wasn’t going to be superior and wise and giving them advice or something, it was compassionate, it was a take on the human experience from inside the head of somebody going through it and people become spectacles to the public, but they’re people and usually very talented to find themselves hitting these skids that everybody seems to hit. So I thought there was a human angle to it that gave another fact to what we were seeing on the supermarket tabloids every day.

What is it like working with Barry Manilow?

It’s really better than I can tell you (Enoch laughs). It’ll sound as if I’m trying to be very politically correct by saying nice things, but, it’s a treat, we get along, now we work apart, I’m usually in Los Angeles and I write a lyric and I email it to him, and wherever he is, he sets it to music and he emails the melody back to me, so we’re not hunched over a piano in the same room,  we get along, we’re both articulate, so we can express what we mean, it’s just very creative and productive. There’s one funny story I’ll tell you, last year we were in the studio working on the ‘15 Minutes’ album and there was something that needed re-writing, and so I was saying “what do you need, or what has to be shortened, what do we do?” And he was showing me and we had a lead sheet and I was scribbling things on it and he was scribbling things on it, and we went to lunch and by the time we came back from lunch, the re-write was all finished and was fine and I thought “WOW, we can even work together when we ARE together, that almost never happens (Enoch laughs).

So, today the album has been released, ‘15 Minutes’ by Barry Manilow, what do you think about the album?

I think it’s exciting, whether people like it or not, it is a story we wanted to tell, nothing was changed behind our backs, nothing was forced on us, I don’t think he made a mistake in that direction, because he went into heavy rock territory, that would be the story and it would upstage the story he wanted to tell. It’s about a phenomenon that’s going on around us every day, the feeding frenzy over famous people, and this is what we meant. Barry could have gone on recording collections of old favorites forever and made lots of money, but he wanted to take a chance and be creative, and I’m hoping for his sake that it’s well received. Sooner or later you just have to turn it loose and see if it flies, so, I’m hoping people like it.

So you’re saying he was willing to take a chance again. (Paul and Enoch laugh).

Hey that could be a good song.

I had to. So, do you have a favorite song from the ‘15 Minutes album’?

I go back and forth, right now it’s a song that…. I liked it cos I knew it needed to be there, it had to be from when the guy hits rock bottom, he’s lost his fame, he’s lost his success, he feels his made a fool of himself and it’s all gone, and there has to be a turnaround point. The nice thing about hitting rock bottom is finding you’ve got some place to put your feet. I was in the supermarket late at night, coming home from work, all of a sudden this lyric hit me, and I had nothing to write with, and I had to mumble it to myself like a crazy person in the checkout line and get home fast. ‘Trainwreck’ that was the special to me, so I had no idea, so all of a sudden it landed in my lap.

We’re talking with the lyricist Enoch Anderson. When someone listens to a song you wrote, what is it you hope they get out of the experience?

I hope they recognize something that feels authentic to them, as I said, I don’t always know where the songs come from, they are not often from my own experience, I’m not a divorced father, which is the story of ‘Sunday Father’, ‘Sandra’ is about a young married woman, which I certainly am not, so if the divorced Dad or housewife says to me that “yeah, that’s how I felt, yeah, that was it, I identified with that”, then I am pleased.

What is in the future of Enoch Anderson?

Oh I’d like the privilege of going on with more creative work.

I have two final questions, one, somewhat light hearted and a little more of a serious question, the light hearted one first, what is your all time favorite meal?

Well, I love to eat, something I particularly like, Indian food, I love curries and that sort of thing, maybe lamb vindaloo.

Oh man, that sounds fantastic; I am also a curry devotee. So, the last question. Barry Manilow’s fandom is worldwide, thanks to technology, people from everywhere will be able to hear this interview, do you have any parting words of wisdom for our listeners?

Well, I’m not the wisest owl in the forest, I don’t know if I have wisdom, I guess all I would say is, look at an audience having a good time, if you’re at a movie, or if you’re at a concert, it’s when the audience is responding, look around and see how many different types of people there are, look at the diversity, it’s human experience to find us together, and there’s a lot more binding us together than there is sending us apart, that’s the value I think of good entertainment, and I think that’s something you can take away from that experience.

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON

Larry King: Talk Show Host

 Make way for the King! …Larry King, that is. How did a kid from Brooklyn grow up and become perhaps the most famous radio and television interviewer of all time? Curiosity. This curiosity, has never gone away. Now 80 years old, Larry King still interviews people almost everyday on his talk show Larry King Now.

In this breezy chat, Larry King talks with Paul about his early days in Miami and encourages us all to keep on wondering.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our great pleasure to welcome the one and only Larry King.  Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you, Paul.  Good to be with you.

 Who is Larry King?
He is a Jewish man from Brooklyn who got into broadcasting with a life-long wish and pinches himself every day over his success.  He is a father of five:  three grown and two little boys and he is, uh, one of the lucky people alive.

Going back kind of to the beginning, you’ve interviewed sixty thousand people.  I want you to take us back.  What’s your most vivid memory from being a radio personality in Miami Beach?
Well, it was where I started.  It was where I did my first interview.  It was in a restaurant.  Bobby Darin walked in.  He wasn’t booked.  No one expected him and we became friends and that was my first ever major interview.  It’s where my whole career started and spent the first twenty years of my life. 

How did you feel when you were interviewing Bobby Darin?
Well, I was a great admirer of his.  First, I flipped that he came in on his own.  He had listened to the show.  I was just a kid and ‘Mack the Knife’ had been number one, maybe one of the greatsingles ever recorded and I lov music and so I felt terrific.  I asked him a lot of great questions.  He had a poignant moment ‘cause he said he knew he was going to die young.

You’ve interviewed a lot of musicians through the years.  Are you a music fan?
Oh, big!  Yeah, I love music.  Especially Sinatra, the Pops, Jazz, a lot of Country…yeah, but put me down as Sinatra and then the world.

You’re probably known as the most famous interviewer.  Who do you think is the best interviewer or interviewers that’s out there today?
Well, Mike Wallace is very ill.  Mike was one of my favorites and he was a good friend.  He is a good friend but he’s not in good shape now.  I like Ryan Seacrest a lot for what he does, especially hosting shows and asking interviews on the fly.  I don’t like interviewers who interview themselves and there’s too much of that now.  I don’t really see a great interviewer around. 

Well, not just in terms of journalism, as people, what person has influenced you the most?
I’ve had a lot of influences on me in my life.  The great attorney, Edward Bennett Williams befriended me.  Jackie Gleason had a great affect on me; Red Barber the famed sports announcer, Arthur Godfrey.  I couldn’t name one person that was a great influence.  Arthur Godfrey gave me the best advice I ever had which was, uh, that the only secret in broadcasting is there’s no secret.  Uh, be yourself.  The best advice I ever got. 

This question comes from Lana Hughes from the United Kingdom, and she asks:  With all your experience, what has been your most valuable lesson both professionally and personally?
It’s my motto and it’s something I wish more broadcasters would take heed of, and the motto is: I never learned anything when I was talking.
Wow.
To break it down, I leave myself out.  I don’t use the word “I” in interviews.  I askshort questions.  I listen to the answer and I’m the conduit to the audience.  I never learned anything when I was talking.

It has to be a great feeling when you have a guest come on that you’ve always wanted to talk to.  How did you feel when you learned Frank Sinatra was going to be a guest on your show?
Well, it was a great moment.  Jackie Gleason said he would get him for me since Sinatra didn’t do any interviews and he owed Jackie a favor.  I didn’t know it at the time.  Sinatra told me that when he came on and that began a long set…I interviewed many times.  I did the last interview with Frank…last television interview…and we always got along and I found him a terrific interviewee because he had what you wanted in an interview subject.  That is, he had passion, he had a sense of humor, he could explain what he did very well.  He could literally put you on the stage.  You felt the moments with him.  But it was a great feeling just to be in his presence ‘cause I was a kid who use to stand on line at the Paramount Theater in New York and hope to get in to see Frank Sinatra.  I was a great fan of his and to be in his presence and to get to ask him questions and have him reveal things to me and I’ve gotten letters from him over years.  I put a couple of them in my last book.  In fact, I’m looking at one now that’s framed on the wall.  I have a painting that he did.  He loved to paint, Frank. He was a special force in my life and I thank Gleason forever for making it possible for me to interview him.

The first time you interviewed, him were you nervous?
I was excited more than nervous.  It was temporary…it made me nervous for a second but more than that, excited.  I knew a long time ago there was really nothing to be nervous about in an interview because the interviewer controls it.  I mean, I’m the one asking the questions so, once you get past that initial the first time in the White House interviewing a president…naturally, you’re in the White House…you’re a little bit in awe, you realize, you know, that everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time.  That’s true.

Who have you always wanted to interview, but they’ve continuously eluded you?
Well, Dylan…Bob Dylan…he wouldn’t be number one on the list, but I’ve never been able to get him and Bruce Springsteen, you know.  I think number one would be Fidel Castro.  He led his country for more years than any leader ever led a country.  Forgetting politics, he was a revolutionary, he was in prison, he was a baseball player.  He never was in it for money.  He continues to…I went to Havana two years ago to try to get him…We had meetings with people, still haven’t got him but I have not given up.

You mentioned Bob Dylan a second ago.  When people like Bob Dylan are known for not doing interviews, would you say that makes you want to interview them more?
Sure.  Of course.  Someone who doesn’t want to do interviews…of course you wonder why they don’t want to do interviews.  Why wouldn’t someone want to talk about the profession they’re in?  Ninety-nine percent of the people I know always enjoy talking about what they do.  They might not want to talk about who they’re married to or who they’re sleeping with or about their personal life, but I never met anyone that didn’t want to talk about what they do so Dylan has been a puzzle to me.  Brando didn’t do interviews either, but then I did two interviews with him and found him delightful.

What goes through your mind when an interview starts to go bad or the subject won’t talk?
You know what goes through your mind, this is really true Paul…it ain’t brain surgery.  All you can do is all you can do.  It’s frustrating.  You like to make more things happen but it’s…Tuesday will become Wednesday.  It’s not the end of the world.  You do the best you can.  All you can do is all you can do.

Who has been the most entertaining person to talk to?
Comics.  I like doing comedy, I do comedy myself.  People who make me laugh are entertaining.  Rickles is entertaining.  Mel Brooks, the list is endless, Jerry Seinfeld, Carl Reiner…funny people are the best for me.  I love to laugh. 

 Have you ever interviewed someone and you just knew during the interview that you were going to become a great friend with that person?
No.  There haven’t been many that I’ve become great friends with because usually, an interview is passing in the night…they become acquaintances.  Those who became great friends….Sinatra became a very good friend, I would say.  Gleason became a great friend.  Mario Como became probably became the closest.  He was governor of New York and I got very close to him but generally that doesn’t happen, you know.  It’s a moment in time…they’re the guest, you’re the host and you do the best.  With politicians it’s not a good idea to become a good friend. 

You’ve always been a guy who has embraced technology.  You have over two million people following you on Twitter, and now the new chapter of the Larry King story is that you’ll have a show on…and everyone can visit this website…it’s spelled:  ova…
No…o-r-a…
Ora…
Ora, yeah…”ora” means “now” and it’s funded by Carlos Slim…the Mexican who is the richest man in the world and who was a fan of mine.  I spoke to him at an event of his and we got along.  He came to my house for dinner.  I interviewed him and we got the idea…he came up with…we both came up with the idea, “Larry King should not leave the airways,” so…and I’m not a technology freak but I aware that what’s going on in the world is going on so I know that social networking is the future and we’re going to do a internet television network.  My show will be back.  I’ll have more details on it as time goes by.  We’re setting up the platform now so I’m very excited about it. 

It’s going to be interesting.  What is the best thing about being Larry King?
Uh…the best thing is fatherhood.  You know, success is one thing and it’s really nice but having two young boys who you take to school every day and you pick up at night and you’re seventy-eight years old and you’re in reasonably good health having suffered a heart attack twenty-five years ago and had bypass surgery and you’re still around.  You got a young wife and you live in…I’m looking out now on my pool and my guest house…I’m in Beverly Hills…(Laughs)…it’s not bad.  That don’t mean everything’s right and that you don’t have some bad days and you don’t have some arguments and disagreements.  That’s life.  But boy….and I got it pretty lucky.  Paul Newman told me once, “Any…any successful person who, in discussing their life and career, doesn’t use the word “luck” is a liar.”  I was lucky…I was lucky that Ted Turner liked me.  I was lucky that I made the left turn, the right turn…lucky that someone advised me to go down to Miami.  But the best thing about being it is fatherhood.

 The great thing about the internet is that this interview can be heard anywhere in the world.  For anyone who is listening in, do you have any parting words of wisdom?
Bertrand Russell, the great teacher, philosopher, and Nobel Prize winner was once asked:  “Dr. Russell, what do you know?  You’re ninety-five years old.  What do you know?”  And he said, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.”
(Laughs)
And the truth of my life is, “I don’t know,” has led to everything that’s happened to me because I have never, ever lost my curiosity.  So the word of wisdom I would give to people is: Don’t stop asking.  Don’t stop wondering.  And the best word you can ever use is “why.”  Good luck!

 TRANSCRIBED BY LORI DOMINGO

Liz Sheridan: Actress, Author

Liz Sheridan is an actress and the author of the book “Dizzy and Jimmy: My Life with James Dean, a Love Story.” The book tells the story of her love affair with the late actor James Dean.

Liz Sheridan’s father Frank Sheridan was a classical pianist and her mother Elizabeth Poole-Jones was a concert singer. Her show business beginnings were in dance. Liz Sheridan’s first major role was on the show ALF, as nosy neighbor Raquel Ochmonek. She is most known for her role as Helen Seinfeld, mother of Jerry Seinfeld in the hit sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Jackie Martling: Comedian

Jackie Martling is a comedian who got his start with music.  He was a legendary cast member on The Howard Stern Show.  In this interview, the humorous Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling discusses several things including his record album “Happy Endings” as well as the highlights from his time on Howard Stern’s radio program.
Sometimes Martling’s sense of humor can be suggestive, if you don’t have a sense of humor you may want to skip this one.  If you do have a sense of humor, enjoy!

Michael S. Harper: Poet

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The great poet Michael S. Harper is interviewed by Paul Leslie and performs some spoken word pieces of his poems.

Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from what is now known as California State University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He has published more than ten books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (ARC Publications, 2002); Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000); Honorable Amendments (1995); and Healing Song for the Inner Ear (1985). His other collections include: Images of Kin (1977), which won the Melville-Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America and was nominated for the National Book Award; Nightmare Begins Responsibility (1975); History is Your Heartbeat (1971), which won the Black Academy of Arts & Letters Award for poetry; and Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award. About Songlines in Michaeltree, a review in Publisher’s Weekly said: “Harper has eschewed neither the personal, political nor the lyrical, but consistently forged a middle road from the multiple intersections of memory and experience, music and language, oppression and achievement … His elegiac meditations on jazz legends such as John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell are well known, and his use of repetition and lyric fragmentation displays the influence of not only that supercharged idiom, but the slower-paced traditions of African-American blues, gospel, and folk music. Harper’s writing, however, derives only in part from these traditions, and the many finely honed narratives in this collection display the influence of poets as diverse of Yeats, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Elizabeth Bishop.” Harper edited the Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1980); he is co-editor with Anthony Walton of The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) and Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (1994), and with Robert B. Stepto of Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979). He was the first Poet Laureate of the State of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award. Michael S. Harper is University Professor and Professor of English at Brown University, where he has taught since 1970. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island.

Robert Creighton: Singer, Actor, Dancer, Recording Artist

ROBERT CREIGHTON is one of those all-arounders.  He is a singer, actor, dancer, composer, author, recording artist and on top of that, a very friendly gentleman.  The great thing about Creighton is the selection of songs he records.  His debut album is entitled “Ain’t We Got Fun!” and was produced by Georgia Stitt.  There are singers of the American Songbook classics who interpret the same songs.  Don’t get us wrong, we love “My Funny Valentine” and “Moon River,” but Creighton goes back even further.  He covers the George M. Cohan classic “Yankee Doodle” and “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,” an obscure song originally recorded by Bing Crosby.  Creighton even writes his own song for the album.

Talent?  Creighton has it in spades.  It all started with those black and white films…

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s with great pleasure we announce our special guest, Robert Creighton, Robert Creighton is an actor, singer, dancer, composer and author, thank you so much for joining us.
Paul, it’s  my pleasure.

I think most stories are best from the beginning. What was life like growing up?
Well, that is the beginning and you know what? I grew up in a little town north of Toronto in Ontario Canada and as most lads in the town I grew up in, dreamed of a career in the  N.H.L being a goldl tenor on the drama ‘Make Believe,’ but that dream was rivalled by my dream to be Fred Astaire, I was… at a very young age being introduced to the old movie musicals and for some reason, I just had an infinity for them right off the bat, those were the things… when people ask me about the cartoons and the things you remember from childhood, I remember my parents letting me stay up late to watch the black and white films, you know, and then carrying me to bed half way through when I fell asleep. That’s  sort of how the dream of being in New York and on Broadway, my love for music of that era, that’s how that all  began and then I was in a boys choir for many years, which was really a musical foundation for me, for eight years I sang from the age of seven I sang in a boys choir and got great training in that way. Then, by fifteen I went away to a school, a boys school where they had really great arts programme and all the sports, so I could do everything at once, and then I did a degree in music, in Ontario, then I moved to New York, which was always the plan from a very young age and studied acting for three years, and sort of carried on from there.


Of the various things that you do; acting, singing, dancing, composing, writing, would you say that one is more your master than the other?
Yes, I think that my foundation is probably my sensibility is as an actor first, my training was both musical and in acting but I think acting is my first… although singing is the biggest part of my life that’s for sure but I would say there’s… I’ve been very lucky I work a lot.. I mean my…  currently my sixth Broadway  show and I’m loving it, and I’d say there’s much better singers, better dancers and all that sort of thing, but I have a package that sort of suits me, I love to.. you know, I love to do all of it and luckily I’ve been getting to do all of it, so I feel very fortunate.


You mentioned earlier Fred Astaire, what are some of the other artists that have influenced you in the path of becoming an artist yourself?
Well, certainly from a young age it was Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and all those greats from that era, then, when I got to New York, I tried to imitate them as a kid, had a lot of fun doing that and then when I moved to New York I was in acting school and the teacher said “you remind me of Jimmy Cagney”, and I’m sort of built…I’m built just like Jimmy Cagney and looked quite a bit like him and you know, tap dance and do all those sort of things and I didn’t know much about him, I knew sort of, Yankee Doodle Dandy and maybe a couple others, but wasn’t really on my radar in a big way, I started watching his films and instantly became mesmerised with who he was as an actor first of all, just.. you… just his… he’s so dynamic on screen, you can’t take your eyes off him and at that point when I was really studying the craft of acting, really felt like he was someone who was ahead of his time in terms of his craft and all that, and then as I started reading about the man and who he was as a person how he worked and what his philosophy was on life and on his work, I just fell in love with who he was and I think he’s been.. James Cagney I would say has been the biggest influence in that way and that was currently dreamed of writing a show about his life, which, thanks to some collaborators who know a lot more about doing musicals than I do, we put a musical together, we’ve had three successful runs and we’re plugging away at that..so…

What was the experience of working on and co-authoring and conceiving this Cagney show?
First of all when I got out of acting school, his estate, Cagney’s estate run by a woman named Marg Zimmerman was… they had a play that had been written by sort of, by a friend of theirs, of Margie’s and it… they held massive auditions around New York and everywhere, and I was just coming out of acting school, I guess it was about a year and a half out of acting school, it got down to me and one other guy and, it’s actually a vivid memory and in fact I have the audition on video tape, because it was the first time I’ve ever been picked up in a car, they sent a car for me and went up to this restaurant in Stanfordville that this woman Marg Zimmerman owned and all of Cagney’s old friends were there, this is in ninety four, and all of Cagney’s friends were there, Harrison the boxer and different people and I had to do a fifteen minute, sort of, act and that’s how I got the part, but it turns out the play, as I know more about creating a show now, was, really there was nothing theatrical about it, it was just sort of a biographical telling and we work shopped it in New York and it just fizzled out, the man who wrote it wasn’t really a writer, he was a marketing guy, he passed away and it sort of fell apart. But that put a spark in me that someday I’m going  to do a show about James Cagney, and then in the late nineties I really started putting pen to paper for a one man show about his life and sort of conceiving how that would, you know, the story I wanted to tell about who this person was, then in two thousand and two I was playing Tamone in Los Angeles in a production of Lion King there and a gentleman who I’d done a play of his up in Canada, who lived in Los Angeles, I invited him up to see the show, I met him when he came to see our production in Canada and we got chatting afterwards, his name’s Peter Coley, very successful playwright and I got chatting with him about my ideas about Cagney and he said “well, I love that era of Hollywood and I love James Cagney and let’s have lunch and we should talk more about it”, so we started talking. He really brought… well, I brought all this passion about Cagney and wanting to do the show and he really brought this knowledge of how to craft the piece and make something theatrical and we sort of hashed out a story together and he began writing it and I would sort of take it and be sort of the eyes and be the Cagney officinal, let’s call it that and sort of using my instincts as an actor and we sort of crafted the piece together and I started writing music and lyrics and we sort of tried to put in songs of the era but when we found they couldn’t completely tell the story, I started writing music and lyrics myself which I’d done some of before, it started to fit pretty well, so we kept going on that route and finished one draft of my music and lyrics and his book and a couple of the old time songs Cohan songs which you can’t tell a story about Cagney and leave those out. We did that, and for a year for the stage, a reading of it in New York and they agreed to produce it and they introduced us to a guy named Christopher McGovern who helped me flesh out the score and ended up really writing more than half the score and he’s a tremendous, just an amazing composer and smart about putting a musical together and the last piece with the Director named Bill Castellino who really started to help to break this all down and then build it all up in a much better way and he sort of served as dramaturgy and we… so we’ve got a piece now that we were still working on but, really, we found an audience that really respond to, we won the Carbonell award in Florida for the best new work when we produced it down there and we set two box office records  in Florida, it’s been a very exciting journey, probably for me the most.. even as much as this new album that’s coming out, it’s been like a baby to me, those are the two things that have really sort of been a dream in my head and then have come to fruition and that are so, so satisfying on every level, and I’m starring in it of course, so you know, satisfying on that level too.

I wanted to talk about the album, the new album coming out ‘Aint We Got Fun,’ what do you think of your new album?
‘Aint We Got Fun’ was one of the first.. I had two titles that I was sort of playing with it in the beginning, the other was old school, Robert Creighton old school and ‘Aint We Got Fun’ because I love that song and I knew I wanted it on the album, it really was right from the beginning what I thought would be the title of the album because I wanted that to be the nature of the album, I wanted it to be really fun and really something that people could… you know, most of the songs on there, even if you don’t know you know them, you know them, you’ve heard the melodies before, they’re so engrained in the fabric of our culture here and I have two original songs on it that I wrote for Cagney, but the rest… and I’m told they blend in well, some people who don’t know that those are the ones that are literally from the twenties and thirties, so, I really wanted it to be fun and I put on there songs that I love, that get stuck in my head and that I find myself walking down the street singing and like Cagney, it was sort of a project that I conceived and really was passionate about doing it because I just love that music so much, and I thought it would be a great thing to have when I go do my Cagney show to have in the lobby so people who love this music can take it with them, and then I was interested in a part and got in touch with Georgia Stitt and did a work shop of her musical called ‘My Baby’ that she was writing and it had some of this old music in it, and her arrangements were so great and she is so talented and such a great person I started talking to her, I said “hey, this is my idea, would you maybe like to get involved?” Then she jumped in with both feet and produced and arranged most of my album and she gave it this fresh take to the songs and I would sort of.. some, she would just say “why don’t we do it like this” and other times I would say “I want to do it like this” and then she would put these two songs together and she would figure out the puzzle of how to do that, it was a great collaboration, and it grew into something that I didn’t expect, I thought it would be this little thing that people would take with them and it grew into a really legitimate album that I’m very proud of with horn sections and band all the way through and motion and a lot of fun, so that’s what I wanted, it started out I wanted it to be fun and that’s where the title came from and I feel like we’ve accomplished that, so I’m excited for people to hear it.

Do you have a favorite song from the album?
Whooooo, that is a tough one, that’s a tough question. Do I have a favorite song? Well my favorite song, which is a song that’s been… looking it up on the internet, it’s been recorded fourteen hundred times by six hundred artists, so it’s not like anyone was scrambling for the next version of ‘I’ll Be Seeing You,’ but it is truly, since I was twenty one, in my early twenties I did a review right after singing that song, it’s one of my favourite songs and in our treatment of it a guy named Joe Burgsoller  played flugel horn and his playing on there, the thing on that song and when he added flugel horn, I just can’t get enough of listening to that part of it, him playing flugel horn, it’s so beautiful and romantic and passionate, so, I like that one, I really enjoyed singing it and putting together ‘Accentuate The Positive’ and ‘Look For The Silver Lining’ with my friend Tyse Bergis who sang with me on it there, that’s the real highlight of the album, it’s a big arrangement, lots of.. you know, the horn section and all that, I loved doing that one, and then of course getting to sing with Joe Grey, who recorded ‘Give My Regards To Broadway’ with me, we’re working together in ‘Anything Goes’ right now, we became good friends and he agreed to sing with me, that’s just a moment in time that was a gift to me that I’ll have forever, I mean he’s such a legend and just a great man and we got to go into the studio and do that together and that has great sentimental value to me.

How did you go about selecting which songs that you were going to record?
That was a bit of a process because, of course, there was a long list of great things from that era to choose from and one that I loved to do and who knows, maybe there’s another one coming, someday because there’s a lot that I wanted to do that we didn’t do. I knew I wanted to put my… these two of my original songs ‘Crazy About You’ and ‘Falling In Love’ on there because they are songs that I had, recorded  … we have a demo for the musical of course, but I wanted to record them in a really full way, because I really enjoyed writing them, I loved singing them and I knew they were going to be on there, and then, I knew I needed to have some George M. Cohan and ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ has sort of been my signature song for years and years and that first review where I sang ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, I did a big version of ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and I’ve done.. you know.. that’s been my party song for years, so I knew that was going to be on there, and then when George agreed to sing with me, you know, I wanted it to be a Cohan song, which of course, he originated the role of George on Broadway and that was just a great connection that we have, cause the Cagney thing, and then the other ones, it just came down to artist’s songs that I just can’t get out of my head. ‘My Buddy’ is one of the most beautiful melodies ever I think, and I used to just walk around humming it, I thought “well, I’d better do that and get it out of my head”, the first track on the album is ‘Dad’s Medley’ and those were two songs that I remember singing when I was three and four years old, ‘Aint She Sweet’ and ‘Five Foot Two’,  my Dad used to sing them, my Dad… he would tell you this, I’m not speaking out of turn, he’s not much of a singer, but he loves to sing and dance and he used to sing it all the time and I remember singing them with him in the living room when I was three and four years old, so, I wanted to have a little dedication to him and put those songs together. Yeah, they were just, basically my favourites, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is on there, which I got to sing with one of my best friends Heidi Bookinstaff, which is just one of the most remarkable voices, it came down to a lot of my favourites really, to be honest with you, and there’s more to be mined from that, ‘I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl’ was one of my other favorite tunes of the era and it was Georgia’s idea to do that one, a male quartet, and so I had.. that turned out to be a really neat track because I got four of my buddies, great Broadway singers to do this Barber Shop quartet backing me up on that one, that was fun, it was a tough collection though. I’ll tell you one song called ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams,’ did you know that song before?

I did not know that song before.
Yeah and neither did I. Turns out it’s been recorded a tonne of times, but I didn’t.. and I know the music of this era pretty well, I had for some reason not heard of that song, and neither had Georgia and she was doing a show called ???? and I was going through that old music Tin Pan Alley and I was going through a thick book, just sort of reading lyrics and I had most of the songs I wanted to do and I was just looking to see what I was missing and I read the lyrics and then I sort of pumped it out on the piano, I was like ‘oh my gosh’.. I loved this song and I just walked around for days singing it and as soon as I introduced it to Georgia and she sort of played it out one time when we were together on the piano, and we were like ‘oh yeah, got to do this one’, and that turned out to be a really fun track to do with brass and the whole deal, but it’s such an up song and sort of reflects my philosophy on life and I thought, ‘you know what? I’m going to do it,’ so, that’s probably a longer answer than you wanted but that was the process for choosing the material.


Well, the album, your album is entitled ‘Aint We Got Fun’, the new album from Robert Creighton, debut album, introduced by Georgia Stiff, she is a person that’s name comes up a lot on this show.
Oh great.
What was the experience of working with her like?
I can’t say enough good things about Georgia, I mean, she is.. I think her name’s coming up a lot because I think she is a really rising presence in the musical theatre  world and in the composition world, she is first of all.. I mean, basically she is super talented and super smart,  and then she has a really great ear for arrangements and how to flesh things out, take just a simple song and then… and make it something that’s going to be really fun to listen to, and she’s really smart about putting that all together, I feel like… I said this to her just the other day, she lives in LA now, but was visiting New York and I said ‘I really couldn’t have done this without you’ and I feel that way, I mean, she just.. she took my idea of doing this album and some of the songs and things and just came up with.. you know.. just made it all better, which was great, we had a very easy collaboration in that way, some of the songs she said ‘hey, what do you think of this, ‘My Buddy’ it was her idea to do just guitar and the ??? and I think it’s just a nice ‘breath’ in the album, you know, amongst all the other ?? songs and then, for example, all the medleys were my idea and then she just figure out, you know, the math of putting those together, for example the Barber Shop quartet, that was her idea, on the opening track there’s a kazoo, which turns out was her husband’s idea, you know, we would figure it out and she played what we had for her husband and he said ‘what about a kazoo’ and we all wentsaid ‘yep’, so.. it was a great collaboration, I feel very fortunate to have worked with her and I’m sure we’re going to do lots more together as we go along.


Everyone can visit your web site it’s robercreightonnyc.com what is the best thing about being Robert Creighton?
Well, that’s an easy question right now, I have a twelve week old son, also named Robert Creighton, Robert James Creighton III, and a phenomenal wife who is his Mother, so, I mean, yeah as to right now, it’s no contest, it’s the best thing about being me right now, I get to wake up with them every day, and that aside, there’s the ?? Foundation ?? and then, I’ve just been really lucky, I was a little kid living North of.. you know, a little town North of Toronto and the novelty has not worn off, I’m constantly aware  of how lucky I am to get to do what I dreamed of doing, and this album is sort of another manifestation of a dream coming true right now, so I feel very, very lucky.

I have a final question for you. We have listeners all over the place, so what would you like to say to the people who are listening in?
I would like to say that I don’t think there’s anyone who buys this album that didn’t have fun listening to it, even if you think ‘oh this is maybe not my kind of music’ or, you know, even young people I’ve played it for, I have a lot of nieces and nephews who are between the ages of eighteen and twenty three, who, ‘Five Feet Two’ and ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ is on top of their iPod list, of course they’re bias, but they’ve all got the album now and I’ve gotten great reviews even from that demographic, so I think I’d love people to hear this music, to be an album you can play, put in the car and just when you’re…. you need a ‘pick me up’, it’s something you can put in and it will accomplish that and I hope people have a chance to hear it.

So, Mr. Creighton, I thank you very much for this interview, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you.
Thanks Paul, it’s been great talking to you, thanks very much.

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON.

Paul English: Drummer

PAUL ENGLISH has been playing and traveling with Willie Nelson longer than just about anyone.  He’s more than a drummer, he’s Willie Nelson’s best friend and also handles many of the duties of the tour, including security and collecting the payment.  Paul English played on several of Willie Nelson’s albums including “The Redheaded Stranger” and “Stardust.”  He was kind enough to give us this interview.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our great pleasure to welcome our special guest, Mr. Paul English. Thank you so much for joining us here on The Paul Leslie Hour.

Alright, Paul.


Who is Paul English?

(Laughs) I don’t know. He’s just old Paul around here. Just old Paul, that’s all.


Well, I think most stories are best from the beginning so tell us, where are you from?

Fort Worth, originally.


Fort Worth
, Texas. And what was life like growing up?

It was pretty mundane, you know. It was pretty mundane. It just, just happened. I looked around and all of a sudden, I’m 78 years old.


Well, tell us. Was there a lot of music playing around the English household?

There was a lot of music around the household. You know, my older brother he was a musician. I’m not a musician but my brother was a musician so that’s, that’s where the all the music come from.


Did you parents play a lot of records or was there a radio playing around the house a lot?

The radio was playing all the time.We listened to the radio all the time. I mean, all the time…And so I had the radio going all the time and we listened to country western all the time.


Can you remember a favorite musician growing up?

Sure, I can remember a favorite musician growing up. Willie was the number one musician around our house. I didn’t know it, but I thought he was an older man, the way he came across, you know. But we listened to his show – it was three, three and a half hours I think, and we listened to his show every day. We listened to it every day so that, that was the main thing.


How did you begin to play music?

Oh that was, that was an accident, you know. I played trumpet all my life, you know, ‘cause my brother asked me to take lessons in trumpet so I took lessons in trumpet. And I played a little bit around town but not, not anything spectacular, you know. My brother called me from, I think it was KCLU but I don’t remember the name of the radio station. It was where Willie was playing at. So they wanted me to come up there and play the drums. And I never had played the drums before. He said ‘You can do it. You just count 1-2-3-4 and count off like that and start playing..’ And so I said ‘OK, I’ll try it.’ So I just – I didn’t have a full set. I just had a snare drum. So I said ‘1-2-3-4’ you know? And I could play that, I could play the bass. That’s about all I could play, you know? Then I got a bass drum – I was sitting on a Coca-Cola case – and a chair, and that’s how I got started playing the bass drum. The bass drum and the snare drum. And then somebody got me a snare. I finally got a snare drum. After about six weeks we, you know, we got a job. And everybody said ‘Well, who we gonna get to drum?’ I didn’t think they was gonna use me ‘cause, you know, ‘cause – see what I – I was too busy at the time, you know. I could take off work. It didn’t bother me to take off work ‘cause I could make it up some other time down the line. So everybody …why didn’t we wanna use Paul ‘cause we spent all this time for nothing. So my first job was with Willie. And I think my last one’s gonna be with Willie as well.


Well, let me ask you this. What was your first impression of Willie Nelson when you met him?

He was a lot younger than I thought he was. A lot younger than I thought he was – a year younger than me. I was shocked to hear that. He sounded like an old man on the radio but he sang good.


Have there been any drummers that have influenced you over the years? Any drummers that you appreciate?

Oh, yeah. Yeah, there was, there was a drummer a long time ago, you know, that I used to listen to a lot, you know. I can’t remember his name now but I remember him. I remember him very well, I just can’t remember his name.– anyway, it wasn’t Mickey. It was something else. It’s so far back I can’t remember his name. There was another drummer but I can’t remember his name either so that goes to show you.


Do you have any favorite stories from the road, from playing with Willie Nelson?

(Long laugh). You know, I’ve got a lot of them. Just a lot of them. Yeah, there’s an awful lot of them. Yeah. I started working for him in ’66. That was, that was when I started the job – in ‘66 and we’ve been going ever since. But yeah, there was some good stories about what got me going and all that. All the stuff we had to do at that time, you know? Like collecting the money – that was, that was the main thing. Collecting money was the main thing to me.


So there was a time when it was harder or – for the act to get paid.

Oh yes. It was really a lot harder then. We never were beat completely but one time. We got beat out of it completely and that was, I think that was in Florida somewhere or something. That was where a guy wasn’t gonna pay us. He wanted to pay me $600. I said ‘Well, that’s OK.’ And then Willie said ‘No, that’s not all of it. It’s all or nothing.’ So he’s like “OK. Nothing, then.’ and he kicked us out. He had a policeman kick us out. He had his own police force right there. Sam, he didn’t get a contract. That’s how we couldn’t beat that … without a contract.


Well thankfully, Willie Nelson and the Family Band are in a lot better position right now (laughs).
Oh yeah. It’s a whole different story now. It really is.

Why do you think people love Willie Nelson so much?

(Laughs) I don’t really know. You know, I really don’t know. Maybe they lose faith … as far as I know. I know he’s a great guy. I mean, I know he’s a great guy, you know, but I don’t know what keeps him popular. I don’t know about what makes him popular. I really don’t know.


When Willie came out with the album and the song Me and Paul how did you feel about that?

(Laughs) I was really thrilled about that. That was really, really a thrill, you know? That was another thing that endeared me to him, to himself. So I guess that’s why he’s endeared everybody to himself, like what he done to me. That was in 1970.


You had the chance to perform with a lot of people as a result of working with Willie. Leon Russell – a lot of people. Who has been a favorite?

Willie Nelson’s is a favorite. Always has been, you know? There was a lot of people who were a favorite. I liked Ernest Tubb. I liked him a lot. He was a great guy, Ernest Tubb was. Yeah, he told me something one time when we were working on the band. I was working in Forth Worth at the time and he called Ray Chaney – that’s who I was working for, Ray Chaney, as a ranch hand – and he said ‘He’s a drummer.’ Well, Ray Chaney could loan me out. So he loaned me out to him and he hired up another drummer there in town. And I just worked five days with Jack, his grandma and his sister got killed and he had to go down and bury her so… Anyway, I worked for, I went to work for Ernest Tubb for a week and I said ‘Well, I’m not a very good drummer.’ And he said ‘Son, I’ll tell you something. I’ve found out in my life that you can find a good person and you can make a good drummer out of him. You can’t necessarily make a good drummer out of a bad person.’ So he told me what I had to be – that I had to be a good person. And I made it pretty good for that week. I made $25 a day. He was a good guy. A great guy.


What is it like performing with your brother, Billy English, who’s also in Willie Nelson and the Family Band?

Well, it’s great. He’s been with us now about 26 years. He’s great. Great to work with. He’s the primary drummer now. You know, I had a stroke last year and he’s the primary drummer now. I just come up to play four songs and maybe that’s it. I still try to make the money and stuff like that. It pays the bills at home so, you know …


You all have played a lot of cities and towns all across America, really. Has there been a favorite place to play?

 Oh yes. By far Red Rocks is the one I like the best. Great, great place.


What do you like about it?

It’s built in a mountain. It’s inside a mountain and it’s great, great, great acoustics, you know, inside of a mountain. I like that part of it.


When someone goes to see you guys – see all of you guys perform, what do you hope they get out of the experience?
Well I know, I know that most times when people come to see us, they don’t come to – it’s not the first time, you know. But when people do come for the first time they say ‘Well, I’ve never heard of him before and it’s nice to hear him sing.’ you know. And that’s, that’s what I get most when people are new people. But very rarely do we meet new people now. I mean, we’ve actually been on the road for so long, there’s not very many new ones left. You know, they’ve all been around for a while. We’ve got some people all over.

Do you have a favorite Willie Nelson record album that you played on?

It’s the, it’s the one with, it’s the one with Ray Price. Willie and Ray Price. I love that one.

Oh yeah, that one.

I love that one best. That’s where I played the best drums I ever played on an album, I think. Ray came over to me and said ‘Good playing!’ and I said ‘Well, I’ve been listening to you for a long time.’ He’s another one I like a lot – Ray Price. He’s a great guy.


What have you learned from your years on the road and recording with Willie Nelson?

(Laughs) I don’t know what I’ve learned. I know I’ve learned benevolence and how to be peaceful. That’s, that’s what I’ve really learned most of all and it took me about ten years to learn that but I did it.


Well, that’s one thing that some people never learn so I guess that’s, that’s really quite – quite amazing. I have two final questions for you.

Yes sir.

Alright. The first one, it’s kind of lighthearted. It’s kind of silly. What is your, your absolute favorite meal?
I don’t know. I don’t really have a favorite meal right at this point in this time. I really don’t unless it’s Belgian waffles for breakfast. That’s what I like most.
Belgian waffles.
Yeah.
We have that in common.
Yeah, I’ve eaten them for every breakfast. On this, on this tour I’ve eaten them every morning for breakfast so that’s hard to say.

Well, that sounds like that’s your favorite (laughs). My last question for our guest, the one and only Paul English. This broadcast is going out all over the place so my last question – what do you want to say to all the folks who are listening in, all the Willie Nelson fans out there?

Well, just keep coming to see us. That’s all we can ask for. Just keep coming to see us.  Bear with us.  We’re going to be there.


Well, Mr. English, thank you so much for this interview.

Thank you very much for having me. I mean that sincerely.


TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA.

Billy English: Drummer

 BILLY ENGLISH is the drummer for Willie Nelson and the brother of Willie’s longtime drummer and friend Paul English.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s our great pleasure to welcome our special guest on this episode of The Paul Leslie Hour, Mr. Billy English. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you Paul. It’s an honor to speak with you today.

The pleasure is all mine. So I want to kind of go back a little bit. What was life like growing up in your house?

Lots of music. My brother, Paul, has been with Willie Nelson for 45 years. Early on he played trumpet. We had an older brother, the oldest, and uh, Oliver. He was a utility guy. He played many instruments but his primary instrument was guitar so he was a guitar teacher. There was a lot of music in our house all the time, lots of celebrations. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas we had so many cousins that play, we would, you know, it would always turned into a jam session (laughs). And also, my oldest brother would take me to jam sessions that he would have with his friends. He started me out on guitar and that was my primary instrument in the beginning because, since he was guitar teacher, he wanted to teach me theory. It was a great education for me. And he also helped Paul with trumpet and Paul took trumpet lessons. So, although Paul and I are both drummers, neither one of us started out as drums being our primary instrument (laughs). Suffice it to say, there was a lot of music around our house.


Now, your parents – were they encouraging of you all being into music?
Absolutely. They would have supported anything that, any career path we would have chosen, I’m sure. They were not professional musicians. Our dad did play, uh, guitar in church – just rhythm guitar at church. We were raised Pentecostal. We were very avid church-goers. They would have supported us no matter, uh, which career, like I said, we would had chosen.

 The music playing around the house on the radio or what have you – what kind of music was that?
A lot of it was country and gospel.

So how did you get interested in percussion?
In school. Around middle school I had a great music teacher, Mr. Pearce, at William James Junior High School in Fort Worth, Texas where I grew up. I was already playing guitar. He had several bands, a select string group. I played guitar in that. I just took up the drums, I think just because they needed someone in the percussion section and I was interested. And so when I started out in junior high school, they would alternate you. One day you would play bass drum, one day you would play orchestral snare, another day you would play auxiliary percussion, you know, triangle, shaker, so forth. And then I got more interested in it so I joined the marching band. So that’s how I got interested in drums and I only took a few private lessons so, as far as drum-wise, I’m pretty much self-taught. But that’s, that’s about the time in my life that I really became serious about drums – around middle school.


How did you become acquainted, the first time you became exposed to this gentleman, Willie Nelson?
You know what? I don’t remember the first time because I was so young, because my brother has been with him – well, consistently for the last 45 years but he has known him and been in contact with him longer than that. But I would go to some of their shows when I was just very young. Whenever I was about 20 years old, that was the first time that I ever had the opportunity and honor of playing with Willie. But no one really knew who he was. He was writing hit songs, but for other artists. And Paul was doing everything on the road. He booked the gigs, collected the money, drove the station wagon – there were six of us. That’s when I was, I was really exposed to Willie, whenever I had the, uh, opportunity to travel with him. I did play drums on a good part of the show then because Paul was collecting the money and handling so much of the business end of it. He did everything, in fact. But I don’t recall our very first meeting but I was very, very young.


How did you come to become a touring member of Willie Nelson’s band? And what is it like being a member of the band?
The way it came about was I was playing drums for an evangelist out of Fort Worth, Texas named Kenneth Copeland. He had a large band, like a huge swing bang, but all the songs, of course, had gospel lyrics and gospel messages. And, uh, he was a singer. Plus, he would bring in guest singers as well. Well, I had been working with him and traveling with him for about four years. And Paul called me one day and said that his drum tech had left, had quit – that’s the gentleman that sets up the drums for Paul – and he asked me if I would be interested in doing that for him. And I said ‘I would love to do that.’ Because Paul is considerably older than me so, uh, by the time I got old enough to know him, you know, he had already left the nest, so to speak. So this was an opportunity for me to travel on the road with my brother, ride on the same bus, set up the drums for him. It was a wonderful experience and I think, because up to that point all I had ever done, all I had ever known up to that point, was music and playing. And so I think he knew that I wouldn’t stick around forever unless I got to play some (laughs). And he was so gracious, he said, well – ‘cause I was hired, like I said, just to, just to set up the drums. So I was setting up the drums, loading the truck, and I, you know, I got roadie’s pay – and still very, very good pay – but that’s how it started. And he, to keep me around I think, he was gracious enough to say ‘Why don’t you integrate some percussion into our show?’ And Willie said it was OK to do so. And so I started playing some bongos, some triangles, some shakers, wind chimes, things of that nature. And then as it progressed, Paul, being the gracious wonderful brother that he is, he allowed me to play a few songs on drums. So we started switching off and he would play percussion on a few songs and I would play drums on a few songs. And as far as what it’s like? It’s wonderful. It’s still a hard life because we live on the bus. You know, we go to the venue early in the day and we don’t play sometimes ‘til very late. But tonight, for example, is the sixth consecutive one-nighter that we’ve done and we’ve done some fairly high mileage. A couple of, over 500 miles per night and played the next day. So, it’s not easy but it’s all worth it for that hour-and-a-half on stage that you get to play with Willie Nelson and for his adoring fans. So it’s all worth it for that and it’s wonderful to be able to travel with my brother.

You mentioned a lot of percussion instruments there. You said bongos, triangles. With all the different kinds of percussion that you play, have there been drummers or percussionists that have influenced your style?

Well, I just listen to all types of music. A lot of my favorite drummers – some of my favorite drummers are also great percussionists. Alex Acuña, for example. He’s world renowned as a percussionist but he’s also a great drummer. There are a lot of professional, uh, percussionists like that, that people aren’t aware of, that are terrific drummers. And I listen to all sorts of music as far a drummers – Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Smith, Stanton Moore. Stanton Moore is a friend of mine, just a fantastic drummer from New Orleans. But every time I listen to any, any song I’m always analyzing the rhythm section – the percussion as well as the bass part and the drum groove.


You’ve played with other musicians and other bands. Is playing with Willie Nelson – is it a different experience in terms of what is expected when you’re playing percussion?
It is. Willie is a very trusting individual and he – although the stage is his domain. He does dictate what goes on the stage. You know, that’s the one place that’s his area. He is kind enough to leave it up to our musical discrepancy to be professional enough to listen to the song and play, emotionally, what’s musically appropriate for the song. And a lot of times, with some artist, you don’t have that freedom. And if Willie does want something changed, he’s not specific, musically specific, about it. He may say ‘That sounds really good but can you simplify it a bit?’ So he is different in that way but it’s in a very good way, you know? He trust you. If you’re on that stage with him then he trusts you.

Have you recorded with Willie Nelson in the studio?
I have but it’s been awhile. Yeah, he has, uh, a studio in Spotswood, I don’t know, 30 or 35 miles outside of Austin. That’s where his golf course is and recording studio. Well, actually I recorded with him before I started working with him. I don’t remember when I got the call but Paul called me and said ‘Do you want to play on this album with us?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I’d love to.’ And it was Red Headed Stanger and it was way before Willie had his studio. It was at Autumn Sound in Garland, Texas, near Dallas. That was Willie’s – technically, his second million-seller in country music period. The first one was the Outlaw album. I believe that’s correct. But for Willie, that was his – just Willie, as an artist – that was his first platinum album. That was done, like I said, at Autumn Sound in Garland, Texas. But we have done a few recordings in his studio and at the Pedernales over the years. We just haven’t done any in the last few years.


When you’re performing, is there a Willie Nelson song that is most meaningful to you?

That is most meaningful for me? That’s a terrific question. He’s such a great writer. There are a lot of songs that he has written that the public is not aware of. Actually, my favorite Willie Nelson song we don’t do on stage but it’s a, to me, a timeless song and it’s called Will You Remember Mine?. Like I said, it’s timeless. It’s something about ‘when you hold’ – now, after they have broken up – ‘Now when you hold another’s hand will you think of mine? When you kiss another’s lips will you think of mine? Will you remember mine?’ Excuse me, which is the name of the song, Will You Remember Mine? That is actually my favorite Willie Nelson song. It really, really touches me and I feel that it’s just timeless.

 

One of the interesting things about this program for me is as I’ve been talking to, like, Mickey Raphael and your brother, Paul English, they’ve told me a lot of interesting stories about people that you’ve met on the road. You get the opportunity to meet people that most people maybe would never get to meet. Leon Russell. Ray Price. Those are some of the people I’ve heard about. Who have you met through performing with Willie Nelson that has been especially memorable for you?
Oh, another great question (laughs). If I have to narrow it down to one, actually Ray Price would definitely be near the top of my list. I’d say Merle Haggard also. Merle has always been one of my heroes. We did a tour not that long ago called Last of the Breed and it consisted of Ray Price and Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. I just thought it was just one of the greatest tours that I’ve ever had the honor to be part of. So I would probably say Merle – Merle Haggard.


This was a tough question for Mickey Raphael to answer but he had a really good story for us so I’m going to ask you the same question. What has been the most memorable story that you have from performing with Willie Nelson and the Family Band?

I think, to me, one of the most memorable stories would be when we were asked to play for Jimmy Carter whenever he was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. This is kind of on the serious side but it, it stands out in my memory. We flew to Oslo, Norway. There was Santana – there were about a half-dozen more acts – but he and Willie have had a good relationship over the years. It’s pretty common knowledge. That night that we played for Jimmy Carter receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Willie called Jimmy Cater out on the stage just before we played a note and he said ‘Here’s a song that I’d like to do for a very close friend of mine.’ And he just put his hand on Jimmy Carter’s shoulder – in fact, he hugged him – and then he turned to the mic and sang Georgia and there was not a dry eye in the house. It was a very – I mean, including myself. It was a very touching, moving moment. And we had a friend of ours that’s Norwegian and he translated the newspaper for us the next day, and it said that that was the highlight of the evening. That was quite an honor and it, it stands out in my memory still today. Thank you.


Would you believe I was going to ask you about that? Because I had seen a YouTube video of Jimmy Carter playing harmonica – I don’t know which gig this was but it was Jimmy Carter playing with Willie Nelson. This might have been in Atlanta.

Well, a few years back we played on the steps of his – I think it was his high school. Yeah, that, that may have been it. I don’t know. That was kind of fun, too (laughs).


What is the best thing about being Billy English?

The best thing about being Billy English – I get to, I get to travel with two of my heroes, Paul English and Willie Nelson. And I get to play music for fans almost all over the world. And I get to meet wonderful people, establish great friendships everywhere I go. It’s just an honor to play with Willie. I mean, he is a legend and I’m very fortunate to be here and I know it. It makes me smile. It makes me happy (laughs).


For my last question – our special guest has been Billy English – we have listeners all over the place, thanks to the power of the internet. What would you like to say to all the folks who are listening in?

I would just like to say thank you for supporting Willie and the Family over the years. It’s brought great pleasure and joy to all of us, the entire band, to make music that they enjoy and that we enjoy playing. So I would just like to say thank you.


Mr. English, I appreciate very much this in-depth look at what it is that you do, and your time. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Well, the honor was mine, Paul. Thank you very much.


Well, have a good show tonight.
Thank you. Looking forward to it.

TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA.

Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson’s Biographer

Some people can be so fascinating that they capture the hearts and imaginations of generations, and one example of a man who fits the bill would be singer-songwriter and actor Willie Nelson.  Our special guest on this episode of The Paul Leslie Hour, is a writer, Joe Nick Patoski is the author of WILLIE NELSON, an Epic Life.  Author Joe Nick Patoski wrote the biography of Willie Nelson after conducting over 100 interviews with Willie Nelson and Family.  WILLIE NELSON: An Epic Life, published by Little, Brown and Company received critical acclaim and widespread popularity among Nelson’s fans.