Jim Carolla: Psychologist, Jazz Musician, Comedian

JIM CAROLLA at the time of this interview, was hosting a podcast called Life Lessons with Jim Carolla.  He actually read the letter we wrote him on one of the episodes and agreed to do an interview with us.  We feel like had a lot of worthwhile things to say, and hope you can enjoy them.

Jim Carolla is the father of Adam Carolla.

Our special guest, Jim Carolla, is a certified psychologist, jazz musician, and also the father of a past guest of ours, Adam Carolla.  He’s also the host of the podcast ‘Life Lessons with Jim Carolla.’  Mr. Carolla, I’m much obliged. 

Okay, yeah

My first question:  who is the real Jim Carolla?

Ah…that’s a big one.  I don’t know (laughs).  I know there’s different parts of me and sometimes come to something that fairly feelsmore real…not a consistent anchor of something called…somebody called “the real Jim Carolla.” 

Well take us back.  What was life like growing up?

I’m from a Sicilian background and my father came here from Sicily in about 1900 and his brothers and sisters invented their life in south Philadelphia.  It was kind of a Sicilian family ghetto, Pisans, and everybody else who came from Sicily ended up in south Philadelphia.  So I grew up like that in kind of an immigrant first generation family quite, I wouldn’t say poor but, you know, just the regular like immigrants having somehow survived.  So that’s kind of how it all begun. 

What were your parents like?

Well, let’s see…my father…they both spoke English so that…growing up…so I had the chance to get a mixture of Italian and English but…so communication was…a lot of my relatives didn’t speak English.  People first coming over, it took them a long time but my father picked it up quite quickly.  My father was a musician.  He was a trombone player and what I remember mostly about him in life was he was constantly working on the trombone, studying it, encouraging me.  That’s how I got introduced to the trumpet.  My mother worked very hard because my father didn’t really earn enough of a living to support the family.  My mother worked in the sweat shops, the tailor shops, very hard…very hard life.  She kept the family going because she was making a living.  I have three brothers.  I’m the youngest.  I’m the only one left in the family.  All my family’s deceased.  That was kind of…I would say that hard times were a fact of life, particularly in the early Depression in the 1930’s and through there.  Uh, I was always having a hard time but somehow…I’m very thankful to my mother who was always able to keep it going.  That might be a start there.

So, tell us about this music that you heard.  You said he played trombone.  What did you grow up listening to?

We didn’t have a record in the house or a record playing machine so anything I had to hear had to be really in the school.  I went to Bach Vocational School where you could learn a trade, but they did have somewhat of a little music department… very primitive.  Children there were there to learn tailor, to work in a tailor shop, automotive car mechanics…learn a trade kind of thing.  Now music that I’ve heard…really the first exposure to me was to jazz.  I mean, I would hear some of that concert band music but not… didn’t really get into it… didn’t even have my own recording machine.  But I got interested in jazz early.  I really liked the sound of it.  Chet Baker was my first, my first idol.  I eventually got an album of his and I’d listen to it all the time and truly tried to copy his style but as I got out in the world full of musicians, I started to play some jazz myself and then use to listen to Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.  I once had the great honor of playing on the same stage with Dizzy Gillespie, his band.  I was working.  I was in a band that was his back-up band.  He being one of the greatest trumpet players, it was a real honor for me.  So…I’m in my twenties, trying to learn to play jazz.  In those days they didn’t have the college…today you can get a degree in jazz at USC, West Chester State and they actually have a Master’s degree and a Doctorate’s degree in jazz.  In those days, it wasn’t that organized.  You had to really listen to other players.  Mostly, I listened to black players.  They were the first really playing jazz to ask them about how they do it, what they think of when they’re playing, trying…you learn from others at the beginning.  So I would say jazz…there wasn’t much of a classical background.  That came later.  My favorite composer that I loved the most was Stravinski and the Russian style.

Do you have a favorite record of all time?

Of all time?  That’s a lot of time. Who would I say would be a favorite record?  Well maybe the one I started with since I learned so much from it and that was Chet Baker and I don’t even know the title of it now but I do have to give him a lot of credit because until I learned the beginning part of it.  Then there’s a guy, Stan Getz, as saxophone player was a real idol of mine.  Oh, and many, many musicians…but mostly jazz and particularly, the bee bop era is the place I grew up in. 

What about the interest in psychology?  When did that come into play?

That came late.  I was a musician on the road for a long time and realized I couldn’t raise a family.  Being a musician, it was a difficult business to try and make any kind of living.  So, I kind of picked the way of going to school and would go for a while and then go back and play again but finally I got a degree in education.  I began to teach school in public schools but I was also doing my…I went into therapy myself…psychotherapy…and I felt like I could do it.  I knew one of the directors in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children and I worked with psychiatrists and so on and then they said, “You have a talent for this.  You ought to go to school and get a license for it.” That was like…by that time I was like close to, I was in my forties somewhere when I went to grad school…to graduate school…I got my license and I’ve been practicing for about twenty-five years now, private practice.  I’m in Sherman Oaks, California. 

When I interviewed your son, Adam Carolla, one of things that I found out through research:  I knew of a few things that he had done but I had no idea the breadth, how many different projects he’s worked on.  Did you teach him his strong work ethic?

No, I didn’t, cause I don’t think I had one myself particularly in early times.  Well you know, his grandfather…I guess I taught him to work, maybe by example. He saw that I went to school and maybe saw that I was working on myself, trying to get degrees and playing obviously, he saw.  That might have been an example.  His grandfather was a hard worker and his grandfather, I think, taught him cause he’s very skillful with his hands and carpentry and I think a lot of that has to do with his grandfather.  So that might be a way to explain that. 

The name of your podcast is ‘Life Lessons with Jim Carolla.’  How did you get the idea to do this show?

Well, Adam has pretty much worked with different kinds of people.  You know…entertainment people and certainly comedy and I thought maybe we could have a serious, kind of go for more serious depth about the meaning of life or its purpose of life.  So I just asked him.  I said, “How about if I develop something to do with people really soul searching and asking themselves, “Who am I?” and, you know, what’s the purpose of my life, the meaning of my life?”  So, he said, “Okay.”  He said, “Try it.”  So I began that way.  I did a lot of experimenting.  So, I think I’ve had about fifty or sixty shows now.  So, it came about that way, me asking him for one of his networks to be a probing, in depth show with the idea of ask the question, you know, “What’s the purpose of my life?”

Well, on that note, I have a couple of somewhat soul-searching kind of questions for you.  How do you define a great life?

Great life…well, I think for one to be…to work on themself…to work on themself to a higher consciousness…I think, I don’t know if I’d call it a great life.  I would say that would be a purposeful life of working towards expanding, going towards a higher consciousness, developing, trying to see the areas of life that are, that have been…taking the wrong road and begin to repair the life where the repairs are needed and working towards what would kind of be a spiritual life, higher consciousness, a spiritual life…and that’s where would be the real purpose of life and that would be the greatest thing a human should obtain on this earth, is to find his real spiritual birth.

What do you find or what do you believe most people are missing in their life?

Well, just that…trying to find other ways of life, expand the egotistic part of life, our personality .  That, to me, there’s something really missing.  So no matter how successful you are, on that level the part’s that’s missing is that the spiritual life is the part that really needs to be obtained, this higher consciousness.  So, when that’s missing, then all the ways we try to make up for it doesn’t make up for it unless you can find a spiritual path either through traditions, religions and Christianity and so on so you can develop kind of a soul soul develop.

How important do you think positive thought is?

Well positive thought, I’m learning later in years, that if you have a negative thought, it’s a powerful…it has a powerful effect on the body.  A negative thought has an effect in the brain very much.  I have something I call ANT, automatic negative thinking.  In fact, we’re working on thatnow on here.  With automatic negative thinking, when we’re in a negative state, it has a tremendous effect on the body, mind, produces moods, the difference between angry moods and so our whole body is affected by that…the blood pressure…everything.  So the importance of negative thinking is something we’re working on right now on the show.  It’s like a lot of people weren’t aware of what an impact negative thoughts have.

Yeah…I listened to the first of those broadcasts on ANT and I found it really, really interesting.  I listened to that today actually. 

Okay, I’m still doing that series.  Do you know which one you listened to?

I listened to the very first one.  It sounded like it was the first of two parts, where you went over like the various internal languages that people use like, or external when they say things like, “You never call me,” or “I always am late.” 

Oh yeah

That kind of thing.  That was very interesting.  I think it’s something most people are guilty of. 

Right…yeah….we all are.  We’re just not aware of the affect of particularly negative thinking…and then there’s the opposite…positive, you know, it enlightens the body.  Light relaxes the body.  Negative tends to tense up the body. 

The world is something that’s always changing.  It always will change as long as we’re here.  When you look at the young people today, there’s so much emphasis on the cell phones and the computers and email.  What advice would you give to young people?

Yeah, that’s a tough one.  Young people are really in to all the technologies.  In my opinion, I think that’s part of also groping for something.  The intimacy of all that material of the texting, allthat, making a contact…just a lot of electronic things has lost some of the capacity of the ones who want intimacy.  The electronic wall seems to be…it’s passive entertainment.  Looking at it, it has a real passivity to it.  I would say, really begin to really ask that question in your life.  What’s the purpose of my life?  And to not to rely on…not to say you shouldn’t use this technological material…but to more pursue the meaning of my life…how they connect with the community or other people that are really asking that question.  That’s what I think the real goal of your life is.  I would say that. 

What is the best thing about being Jim Carolla?

One thing is my love for music has been, for me, a real wonderful, creative thing.  The other thing is, the very creative part of me…being a therapist is a very creative, a very creative within the session in that office when I say that people come to do the work, that office is like the first time or place where you may come to things…you may have insights and ideas for the first time in your life through the work you would do, for example.  I think the best part is I work with them very creatively and I learn a lot about myself.  So between music and the creativity of psychotherapy would be the best thing I do. 

My last question:  for anyone who’s listening to our interview, whether they’re listening to it on the radio or they’re listening to it online wherever, what would you like to say to all the people who are listening in? 

That your life is very important, the little time we have on this earth, and to make the best use of it by asking that question, “What’s the real purpose of my life?”  And then to pursue it however you can get at it and if you need to have psychotherapy if you need to do that…whatever it would be that would help you with that question.  So you need to pursue that and when you see things that are not going in that direction and to begin to, so really examine life…whatever that would be for each person.  And psychotherapy, it’s not just used for pathology, it can be used for a real search…psychic search…so that you have the freedom of not being caught in a false self, emotional bodies…different things that other people call that and you have the freedom then to pursue the path of your purposefulness.

Well spoken. 

Thank you.

Well thank you very much for doing this interview Mr. Carolla. 

Okay.  Well thank you for asking me.

Alright, well you have a good one.

You too.

TRANSCRIBED BY LORI DOMINGO

Dave Koz: Saxophonist, Recording Artist

The great saxophonist Dave Koz joined us for an interview about his musical career and collaborators.  Dave Koz is one of the most respected saxophone players in popular recorded music. This interview took place prior to his Atlanta Christmas tour.

Among other topics, we discuss his radio show, his love of music, his friendship with Barry Manilow and more.

Don McLean: Legendary Singer-Songwriter

This interview with Don McLean took place to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the classic song “American Pie” and the “American Pie” LP.  Don McLean talks in great detail about the album and his perspectives on songwriting.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our great pleasure to welcome our special guest, Don McLean. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you, good to be here.

 

I wanted to kind of go back a little bit, when you started listening to folk music, what was it that you liked about ‘The Weavers’ Album at Carnegie Hall?

Well, I love harmony; there was a lot to be learned by listening to ‘The Weavers’ and anybody who likes harmony can learn a great deal from listening to that particular group, because they did many different things and they did many different harmony things within one song. One of the things that I learned from listening to them was how to build a song that basically had a verse and a chorus, from verse to verse, the song got more powerful or reached a sort of a climax if you will, and it’s difficult with a song like that because they kind of drone on one verse after another one and chorus after another, so there were many things also about their instrumentation, the playing, the guitar playing of Fred Hellermanand the twelve string guitar and five string banjo playing of Pete Seeger were extremely accomplished, and it was a great deal to learn, especially if you were just, you know, starting out in music as I was.

 

You just mentioned Pete Seeger a second ago, I was hoping you could tell the listeners how you met Mr. Seeger, and what did he teach you?

I was around Pete Seeger from about 1966 until about 1975 and there were good and bad points to being around Pete Seeger, a lot of people are attracted to him and a lot of people also after they find out what’s going on, they kind of get turned off and walk away. I was very interested in him musically but I found him to be politically and personally somewhat of a disappointment. I learned a great deal from him musically, programming songs, how to read the mood of an audience,  how to use what’s going on in the world and what’s going on locally as part of what it is you do, as part of your performance to make it a personal experience, not only for the audience, but for you as the artists, also just how to pick good songs, songs that have importance to them, whether they’re, you know, they may be an important song, they might be just a frivolous song, but they have to be really good and musical and also, just what not to say, you know, when to keep quiet, the biggest thing I learned was that he makes huge mistakes on stage, and it doesn’t matter, so that was very liberating

 

Well, we’re here in 2011, it’s the fortieth anniversary of the album ‘American Pie,’ when you began to record that album, did you feel you had a very special record on your hands?

I knew I had a very talented Producer in Ed Freeman, who was very meticulous and very sensitive toward everything that we were doing, I had just put out an album called ‘Tapestry,’ which had done very well, two songs ‘Castles In The Air’ and ‘I Love You So’, came from that record, but there were many other songs that were on it, so I was off to a pretty good start, but from the time we made the album, the record company was sold and we felt we were out of business, so, I thought I was going to be just a guy that made one album, instead I made, like, forty, but none like the ‘American Pie’ album of course, so, I don’t know what we thought, but, you know, we basically hit a home run.

 

Could you pick a favorite song from that album?

That would be of course ‘American Pie,’ I mean; it stands head and shoulders above everything.

 

With all the interpretations that people have written, have you read many of them, and if so what do you think of them?

Well, the song is fun, you know, (Don laughs), it’s funny because the nineteen sixties, people got so serious, the one thing I loved about the Beatles is that they were so artistic but they were also having a good time, most of the folk people, and I am not a folk singer but I love folk music, but I’m not really, I wouldn’t qualify as a folk singer, but I love folk music, but they got so self important and so pompous and here come the Beatles who were infinitely more talented than most of these artists who were ‘Newport Folk Festival’ and they were having a lot of fun, part of the song was that it was just fun, and it was fun to hear people (Don laughs) you know route around and try to find different meanings, because it was all meant to be fun, so, I don’t read the meanings, but what I do love are the parodies that people do, there was one when the NASDAQ stock market went down called ‘The Day The NASDAQ Died’, which is, (Paul laughs) a classic, I mean, it’s unbelievable and then of course, Weird Al’s parody ‘The Saga Begins,’ that was marvellous and there have been probably twenty other ones.

 

I had the opportunity to interview Lori Lieberman and she talked about the incredible emotional response she had from your song ‘Empty Chairs.’ So, I wanted to talk about that song, what is it like to receive such an emotional response from people from something that you wrote?

You know, I was never really cut out to be in show business, what I wanted to try to do was just the best thing that I could do and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but most of my songs are all very different from one another, really different.

Definitely.

And that was one of the things that I was shooting for was to try to create a new concept every time I wrote a song, to be quite frank I was oblivious to everything, except what I was doing, and the most important thing was to make records, because, and you know, I didn’t know whether I would go over well on records or not, I didn’t know whether my voice would record well or not, I didn’t know what would happen, so when something like the ‘Killing Me Softly’ thing happens, it’s just a sort of a total…. from left field type of a thing, which is very complimentary and it’s a wonderful thing to know that she was thinking of me and they were thinking of me when they wrote the song and when the song was recorded, but again it’s just totally from left field.

 

I read a quote from you where you were talking about your song ‘Vincent’ and you said “the essence of the artist’s life is his art,” what was it about the print of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ that struck you?

Well, first of all I had decided that I wanted to write a song about him. It was a really, kind of basic kind of a thing, I figured, you know, I would just write using the most famous painting, as I was looking at the painting I realised that, something occurred to me which was this ‘is’ him, it’s not his painting, it is ‘him’, just like my songs are ‘me’ and not just something I do. See, most people do something, you know, they go and get the car fixed or they walk the dog, or they, you know, read the paper, but an artist puts what he ‘is’ into his art, and even without the artist he lives on because it is ‘him’, so, when that very obvious realisation hit me, then I started to just tell the story and write the song looking at the imagery and it just wrote itself, it sometimes happens.

 

In your opinion, what makes a good song a good song?

Well, that’s just myopinion, and I think Cary Grant says in ‘A Monkey Business’, Marilyn Monroe says “that’s a silly song,“ and he says “well, in my opinion your opinion, if that’s a silly song it’s a silly opinion,” so, you know, my opinions are just my opinions and they’re probably silly, but you have to have a sense of what a beautiful melody is, and what a real lyric is, which at least for openers means that there should be some kind of rhyme, you know, either internal or somewhere, the song should be something that you want to hear again, I mean that I think is really what sums up a good movie or a good song, you know, you may watch many movies or documentaries, but you don’t want to see them again, you don’t want to see the movie again, but some movies you want to see a thousand times, and it’s the same thing with songs I think, some songs you just can’t get enough of, you finish it and you want to start again, and I think that’s also an indication of whether a song is a good song.

 

Well, just a second ago you said “documentary” and I’ve heard that there’s a Don McLean documentary forthcoming.

Yes, it’s going to be a PBS fund raiser and a full on documentary which will be in theatres called ‘American Troubadour’, and it’s being filmed by Jim Brown, who’s a famous and very successful documentary and filmmaker.

And when will that be out?

March of next year.

 

Okay. With all the songs of yours that have been covered, could you pick a favorite cover that another artist has recorded at one of your songs?

Yes, I like the Fred Astaire version of ‘Wonderful Baby.’

 

I wanted to also ask you about the song ‘Crossroads.’ Was that song autobiographical?

No, I don’t think so, I was in a very peculiar place in my life in the nineteen seventies and a lot adjusting was going on and there was a lot of pain, I guess, to making these kind of adjustments, so a lot of that came through in my songs, probably made them a whole lot better than they would have been otherwise, so there’s probably some of that in there, but I was thinking more about America really, the American Pie album. The idea of my albums, was, and again, I say ‘was’ because I’m not making albums anymore and I’m not really writing songs any more, for albums because the music business has basically disappeared as I knew it and I don’t really want to participate in what there is there now. But I’ve made many albums so if someone decides they like what I do, they can spend a long time finding different records that I’ve made. The idea of the album is that one sort of, overall concept but then there area lot of songs that you might not figure how they might fit in with that, but if… but they fit in sort of, on a tangent, rather than directly, you know, if somebody has a concept album, ‘Moonlight Sinatra,’ there’ll be every song that’ll say, ‘Moonllight,’ ‘Moonlight Serenade,’ ‘The Moon Was Yellow’ you know and on and on, well, that’s not my concept albums, and they all are concept records, from the point of view I just described.

 

Well, on that note the one song, ‘The Grave,’ what inspired that song?

That was a dream I had, I suppose when the Army was breathing down my neck to try and draft me, I guess that was written on later, I forget….after I’d been rejected by the draft. That was a dream, I dreamt it and woke up and wrote the song.

 

I wanted to ask you about ‘Sister Fatima,’ listening to the lyric of that song, it made me wonder, are you a man of faith?

I was brought up a Catholic, but I’m not a Catholic, my Father was Protestant and my Mother was Catholic, I think my Father probably had as much of an influence on me, in a negative way towards religion as my Mother tried to have on me in a positive way toward religion, so, in the end I feel I probably… I’m not religious, in that I do not believe in religion, but I do believe in God, I believe in… I guess I’m a pampthiest of some sort, I love… I believe it’s all around you in nature and everywhere and harmony, and.. you know, you’re either improving or you’re not, you know, you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse, you really don’t stay static and as we move a long in life, many tests reveal to us and to others where we are and how we might be better. ‘Sister Fatima’ was written because I found a circular on top of this set of steps going down to take the sub way in New York, and I put it in my pocket and wrote the song, just pretty much what was said on the circular, all the things she would do for you.

 

What is the best thing about being Don McLean?

Having a great wife, and two terrific children, I don’t think my life would amount to much if I didn’t have my family, and my wife, really is the person that keeps that together and has provided that, I’ve done my part, but you know, a woman’s very vital to the raising of children and staying together in a marriage, which is very hard to do, but hasn’t been hard for me and I hope it hasn’t been hard for her, it’s really important, so we have two kids in college now and they’re doing quite well, so that’s my greatest achievement really , because that’s the one that alludes a lot of people, you know, who may find success in business or in the arts, it’s the tough one, it’s the big one really.

 

I have one final question for you, for anyone who’s listening to this broadcast, wherever they are, we have listeners from all over the world, what would you like to say, in closing to all those people?

I would like to say that I think that we should be very sceptical of technology, and especially the kind of technology that we have today, and that, I would advise people of all ages to not stare at screens if possible, it’s very difficult not to, but to look around at the natural world and try to avoid the virtual world that seems to be closing in on us very quickly, because of this very rampant and all consuming technology that seems to be here now.

 

Well, Mr. McLean, thank you so much for this interview.  It’s been a great pleasure to speak to you.

 

Thank you.

 

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON.

Lori Lieberman: Singer-Songwriter

Lori Lieberman is best known for her song “Killing Me Softly” written during her Troubadour days in Los Angeles when she saw the legendary Don McLean in concert. Lori Lieberman was born in California, but raised in Switzerland. She was influenced by Francoise Hardy, Tom Rush, Cat Stevens and other American singer-songwriters. Lori Lieberman went on to attend University in Boston and signed her very first record deal with Capitol Records. Lori Lieberman toured the United States with artists like Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Leonard Cohen, John B. Sebastian and Rick Nelson. Her most recent and fourteenth album is entitled “Bend Like Steel.” The CD features songs Lieberman wrote along with songs others wrote like Paul Simon’s “Cecilia.” Lori Lieberman is a part of the great American songwriting tradition. It is a pleasure to welcome her on The Paul Leslie Hour and to take a look at her music.

Michael Shnayerson: Author

Michael Shnayerson is a journalist and a longtime contributor to Vanity Fair magazine. Shnayerson has written several books, including the recent book with Harry Belafonte: MY SONG, A Memoir. MY SONG tells the story of Harry Belafonte, called one of the greatest entertainers of our time. MY SONG takes the reader from Belafonte’s early days as a child growing up in Harlem and Jamaica, to his careers in acting and music. However, MY SONG is about more than Harry Belafonte the singer. Harry Belafonte was the first recording artist in history to sell one million copies of an album. MY SONG is also about Harry Belafonte the activist and Humanitarian. Harry Belafonte is an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, but Belafonte’s passion has extended beyond the borders of the United States. Belafonte has been involved in political, social and Humanitarian causes around the world.

Gina Belafonte: Producer

 GINA BELAFONTE is the producer of the documentary SING YOUR SONG, which was directed by Susanne Rostock.  The film tells the untold story of singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte (Gina’s father).  In this short chat, Gina Belafonte tells us about the making of the film and what inspired it.

Gina Belafonte was born and raised in New York City. Her background is in entertainment and activism, something she shares with her father Harry Belafonte. Harry Belafonte is known around the world for popularizing songs like Day-O, Jamaica Farewell, Jump in the Line, Matilda and many others as well as his acting and activism.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s our pleasure to welcome our special guest, Gina Belafonte. Thank you so much for joining us.

My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

The film is Sing Your Song and you’re the producer of it. Tell us about how the idea for this film originated.

I had, uh, certain questions of my own in terms of my father’s participation in the civil rights movement as I witnessed him having events and the absence from my earlier years. My daughter was turning seven and my brother was about to have his first child, and I also thought that they would never have an opportunity to know the depth of his participation. So that culminated in me asking him if he would embark upon a journey to document his life. After I saw a documentary on the life of Gregory Peck that was done by his daughter, who was a friend of mine that I was inspired by, I asked him. And I think, for him, he was beginning to lose certain friends of his to old age and felt that their stories would potentially die with them if there wasn’t someone who was mentioning them and documenting them a bit. He wanted to do that in our film and so we embarked on the journey together about seven years ago.

Is there a part in the film Sing Your Song that is a favorite part of the film?

That’s an interesting question. There’s many parts of the film that I love. I love the whole film (laughs) so much, of course but I love the early footage of his shows that he produced. I find them to be very forward-thinking and interesting, culturally, for the American television repertoire which we don’t really have nowadays on television. Such interesting shows like the ones that he produced that I think were inspiring for shows like Laugh In and other comedy shows or other variety shows. I think a moment that was most chilling or surprising to me was when he interviewed Martin Luther King on The Tonight Show and asked him if he feared for his life. That was a very strong moment for me. But all of it, I love all of it. You know, I’m a big fan of my dad’s so watching him perform is a great honor for me, especially because he doesn’t do it anymore. So to be able to see some of that old footage is quite wonderful.

Was there anything in the film through the process of creating it that was a surprise to you, that you didn’t know?

I knew that my father gave money to the movement all the time and often. I didn’t know the proximity to him going down to Mississippi to give that money so soon after Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney had been murdered. I also, strangely enough, didn’t realize even though it’s obviously documented – I had no recollection that Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination was so soon after Martin Luther King’s so that was kind of an interesting observation. We had close to 800 hours and there’s probably a good 700-and-some of the hours that I’m not in the film so there were surprises all along the journey in making it, and so no one thing stands out so much to me at this moment because every time I watch I find something new. Even though I made it and I watched edit after edit after edit after edit, I get new revelations every time I see it.

What has been the reaction from people who have seen this film, Sing Your Song?

The reaction has been overwhelmingly consistent internationally, which has been a real wonderful gift for us and what we had hoped that people would walk away from the film with, which is – the question, in fact, that my father asks at the end of it which is ‘What do you do now?’ And also, I think that it inspires an inner activism within us all, and a desire to contribute more and give back more to our communities in different ways that we can. I think also, everyone has requested us to make sure that we find a way in which we can get the film out to as many people as possible and especially to the youth of today, to young people so they get an opportunity to see it. And for it travel to schools and to create teaching curriculums around it. So that is something that we’re looking into and putting a concerted effort into trying to create. But it’s been a very positive, positive, positive reaction and that’s great. And many people have been requesting that we find ways in which to show it to the people who are occupying Wall Street. I was just in Canada with the film, in Vancouver where they’re beginning to occupy Vancouver and they were also requesting ways in which that we could bring the film to people who are just sort of sitting out in protest, in the open air.

Tell us about The Gathering for Justice.

The Gathering for Justice was inspired by my father after witnessing horrific footage of a five-year old young child in Florida, but a child of color, who was being arrested by five white police officers from her school under the condition of her being unruly, I think, was her charge. And my father was very disturbed by this footage. And so he created a gathering of elders of the civil rights movement and of high-profile in government to ask the question how have we come to this – that the first line of defense for a school is the police and not a social worker or a nurse, or the patience to wait for the parent to actually be able and have the opportunity to arrive? And after he had the meeting of the elders and saw that many of them were really quite tired, he thought a gathering of youth would be most appropriate. With some help from the Burns Institute and some folks from the Institute of Policy Studies, we gathered youth organizers in Epps, Alabama and we had representation from, in general, the black community, the Latino community, Asian community, white community and indigenous community. And at this gathering we formed a group called The Gathering for Justice. It was often questioned to my father, it was asked “What’s the agenda?’ and he put that back to us and said that the agenda for us was, really, to find the agenda. We don’t all know each other and we have to talk amongst each other to see what each other’s needs are and how we can support each other in moving forward around the specific issue of youth incarceration and gang intervention. We formed the organization and that was seven years ago. We had quite a lot of mobilization and a presence in different places but we traveled from community to community and the thing that bonded most of us, aside from the issue of incarceration and gang intervention, was poverty. And so most of the communities that we’ve gone into have been poor communities, and all different racial communities and cultural communities. But we’ve sat in council with one another and we’ve created bridges between the elders and theyouth around the issue of incarceration, and youth incarceration in particular. And we’ve traveled to prisons and we’ve traveled to neighborhoods. And we do non-violent direct action trainings as well as help organizations on the ground in whatever mobilizations they’re trying to create. We give them support and organizing strategies to model.

My final question. For anybody who listens to this interview, wherever they are and whenever they hear it, what would you like to say to all of the listeners?

I would like to say that I hope they have an opportunity to see Sing Your Song, the film. I hope they have an opportunity to read the book, My Song, that my father just finished writing. I hope they listen to a lot of really good music to keep smiles on their faces and in their hearts. And I hope they take a good hard look at themselves in the mirror, when they feel that they can, and make some strong decisions about how they feel they can give back to their communities and what their personal capacity is. And to do it – because unless we help each other, the world’s going to be fraught with violence. We need to support one another in creating healthy communities.

Miss Belafonte, thank you very much for this interview.

Thank you so much for having me.

It’s a pleasure.

Rusty Anderson: Songwriter, Guitarist for Paul McCartney

RUSTY ANDERSON is most known as the guitarist for Paul McCartney, which he has done for more than a decade.  In addition to appearing on several of Paul McCartney’s studio and live albums, he has toured the world with McCartney.

Impressive as that may be, this interview focuses mostly on Rusty Anderson’s incredible gifts as a songwriter and creator of his own studio albums.  Rusty Anderson’s first studio album Undressing Underwater was released to critical acclaim.  This interview took place shortly after the release of his second album Born on Earth.

Rusty Anderson’s songs are unique and at times unusual, but always very interesting and a pleasure to listen to.  This interview covers a lot of ground and we hope you enjoy Anderson’s unique perspectives.

 

Our special guest is Rusty Anderson. In addition to being the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney, he’s also a singer-songwriter and recording artist. I’m going to share this quote from Rusty Anderson and then we’re going to bring him out for our exclusive interview.
“When I was a kid, I was like seven or eight, I had dreams that the Beatles would come to my door with their guitars and stuff and say ‘Hi! You wanna play?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah!’ And I’d wake up and be sad because it was only a dream. And then we’re in the studio recording and towards the end of that Paul says ‘Hey man, I had a dream about you last night.’ ”

 It is with great pleasure we welcome guitarist, singer-songwriter Rusty Anderson. In addition to being the lead guitarist with Sir Paul McCartney, he’s also a recording artist. He joins us to talk about his new album, Born on Earth. So first of all, thanks so much for joining us here.
How are you, Paul?

I’m doing great. How about yourself?
I’m good, man.

I think most stories are best from the beginning so tell us a little bit about your early life.
I guess, musically, I sort of flipped out on the Beatles when I was five ‘cause my older sister was playing Beatle records. Coincidentally, right around that time, my – I’m the youngest in my family – and my oldest brother, Mike, died of a kidney thing. And I was five and he was 19, and I think it messed with the family. And I think my parents sort of numbed out and no one really talked about it, and I just went into music land and started exploring all sorts of different artists. And I got a guitar when I was eight – finally. It was, um, an electric guitar and amp – a little cheap pawn-shop thing, that I was just really into it. And I think I just sort of really hyper-focused on the guitar, you know, ever since (laughs). So I’ve been doing the same thing since I was five, basically.

Can you give us your recollections of the first public music performance you ever had?
I was maybe nine years old, uh, we did like two gigs at the school, different classrooms, playing with my little band and, uh, the drummer, my friend Ronnie and, uh, another guy, I think it was Ken, playing fake bass on the guitar. That was the first gig I can recall but that was, uh, quite a while ago (laughs).

Well, tell us about the band, Eulogy.
Eulogy was, uh, the first actual band that stayed together that I was in because I was always forming bands and it was sort of a prerequisite to being my friend if you played an instrument and we could be in a band because I was a little bit OCD, I guess, about it. So yeah, Eulogy was together maybe five or six years and, yeah, it had a lot of great experiences. We played, you know, all over Orange County. We played like 85 high schools in one year, I think, and then, you know, really got into playing, through like, uh, this – it was through a radio station in Orange County, and then we played, uh, you know, a bunch of clubs in Hollywood and started doing gigs, you know, opening up for like, you know, The Police or Van Halen and things like that. Yeah, it was a fun band. Good music.

Tell us a little bit about your influences on the guitar and also as a songwriter.
You know, I have my guitar favorites like I really always loved Mick Ronson, just for his melodic sense and his arrangement sense, and his tone was so special. And I loved Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page. I think, musically, I really, really have always loved Debussy and Rachmaninov and Gershwin. Sort of my three favorite classical composers and they sort of got into jazz a little bit, the early forms. I mean, they definitely have influenced jazz and they’re just beyond, you know, another world. I definitely had a lot of influences, I guess as all musicians do. Songwriting wise, you know how it is, everybody’s busy these days rolling through so many different styles of music. I mean, everybody I ask they say ‘Oh, I like a bit of everything.’ Very strange world in that respect. Yeah, there’s so many genres. I mean, I’m influenced songwriting-wise from everyone from Bob Dylan to David Bowie. You know, I love a lot of new the music – MGMT and The White Stripes and Band of Horses and The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie and, you know, on and on. There’s somebody I love, Captain Beefheart, and I love Cream and I love Todd Rundgren, and so many influences. I think ultimately, when I’m writing a song, I just have some ideas. Usually, I’ll come up with a lyrical thing. Maybe I’ll jot it down. Like, for instance, there’s a song on the record called Julia Roberts which was a dream. I wrote it down when I woke up because I thought it was really odd ‘cause I, you know – she popped into my head for no reason, and then I forgot about it. And later, I returned and saw the lyrics and thought, oh that would be cool to turn into a song. So I, actually I co-wrote that with a friend of mine named Jord Lawhead and we, uh, turned that into a musical, finished song. It happens a lot of different ways.

There’s another song on the new album called Funky Birthday Cake and I was hoping you could tell all the listeners about that song.
Well that song – actually, it’s funny ‘cause you brought up Eulogy – my friend, Myles, when he was a singer in Eulogy and we were, you know, maybe 13 or something and we had just started hanging out, and having fun and making music, and we wrote that song together when we were 13 or 14 or something. When I was working with Peter Smith who co-produced some of the songs on my record, who also plays drums in my band live – I had a demo of that song and he heard it and he said ‘Yeah, we should record this.” and I said ‘OK.’ It was just sort of an impulsive thing and it ended up on the record.

I was hoping you could tell all the listeners out there a little bit about meeting David Kahne.
I was in a band called The Living Daylights and, uh, we had a single. It got over to David Kahne, he really liked the band, he was working at a major label – I think, uh, Columbia or something at the time – and we didn’t end up signing with him but he was a producer that worked on a lot of major, different acts at the label. So I started working with him in the studio playing guitar and, uh, that was the beginning of a long relationship because then, eventually, he started working with Paul for Driving Rain. They had talked and he said ‘Hey man, I’m going to be, uh, doing this record in a few months – so this was, like, maybe two months before Driving Rain happened which was, I guess, 2001 – and he said ‘Yeah, I think, uh, we’ll be needing some guitar work’ and I said ‘Well, man, cut me in. I’ll be really exited to do that.’ And then I sort of didn’t tell anyone about it – I didn’t want to do the Hollywood jinx – and then, sure enough, two months later I was in the studio with Paul and David and, uh, you know, that was, uh, the beginning of, of working with Paul.

 You had an album before this one called Undressing Underwater. My two favorite songs on that album are Catbox Beach and Everybody Deserves an A in This Country.
That was my first solo record. Catbox Beach, which Stew Copeland played drums on incidentally. We were in a band together called Animal Logic a few years ago. That song started off – the concept was a classical sort of song rocked up – and then, I’m thinking to myself ‘this sounds suspiciously like a surf song.’ I kinda got that vibe. So I named it Catbox Beach and when Stew played on it, I thought it would be really a shame not to have his amazing reggae feel so we sort of put a reggae bit in there, which I thought was cool because I had never really heard a surf song-reggae song combo before. So that definitely had to stick.
[Recording concludes] From Rusty Anderson’s debut album, Undressing Underwater, that was Catbox Beach.
Everybody Deserves an A in This Country was a song that, I guess, I was hanging out with some friends and suddenly enough we had this plan to take mushrooms and record music. Not that I’m a big drug person or anything, but that day that’s what we did. I don’t know if you’ve tried to do anything (laughs) when you take mushrooms – it’s pretty, it’s pretty tough, especially singing. So we didn’t get a whole lot of music done that day but the, sort of the birth of the concept of Everybody Deserves an A was, to be frank, motivated by brain mindset.
Well, it managed to score a really cool song, as far as I’m concerned.
Ahh, thanks.

You’ve done a lot of things in your musical career. You’ve done session works for people like Little Richard, Neil Diamond, Carole King. You have two records, you perform on your own and, of course, you also perform with Sir Paul McCartney. When you look at your musical history, is there something that you’re most proud of?
I’m really glad to be making a living playing music. I feel very, very lucky. Especially – I just finished reading that book Grapes of Wrath, and I feel extra, extra lucky because in these crazy days you never know what you get. I mean, it’s been amazing working with Paul for the last eight-plus years. I’ve seen all sorts of things, you know, gone all over the world. And, you know, musically I just try to make music I’m proud of and I can stand behind, and trying to just contribute to making melodies or some lyrical idea or something that maybe will inspire somebody. Basically, to communicate. I think that’s what it’s about for everybody, you know? They say that, uh, the most important thing for people is to communicate with others and to feel understood and I would definitely concur with that.

 When someone listens to a recording you performed on or they see you in concert, either by yourself or with someone else, what is it that you hope that the audience gets out of the experience of the music?
Oh man, you know, people get what they get. I mean, it’s exciting to get responses back from people, to hear the different things that people interpret from music, whether it’s playing with Paul – out there doing shows or doing, you know, the records with Paul – or doing my own live shows. You know, I just got the record Born on Earth out so I’m starting to get a few responses and it’s been incredibly positive. And it was the same with, uh, Undressing Underwater. And people have their interpretations, you know, their favorite songs. Everybody’s got their favorite song that they relate to. I think that the cool thing about music is that it’s untouchable and, therefore, it makes it very, uh, very individual. The impressions people get from the music is very individual. I guess with any art, you know, you’re going to get a million different opinions whether your dealing with, uh, contemporary art or classic art or whatever.

You’re listening to our interview with Rusty Anderson, who’s here joining us to talk about his new album, Born on Earth. I was hoping you could everyone out there about the title track.
It’s, basically, sort of about the infinitesimal chance that we would be alive in this crazy era of technology bum and the way the world has changed so much and, you know, we could have been alive a few million years ago or now, or – it’s a crazy time I would say, and I think you’d probably concur. And the songs are sort of a reflection of that and I think – it’s an epic sort of piece. I would just say you have to listen to it to kind of understand what I’m talking about, maybe (laughs).

What song, from the songs that you recorded that you wrote, means the most to you?
Where Would We Go? Private Moon Flower. They’re sort of, uh, personal songs. You know, the new record – I think every song has some personal aspect and it has some global aspect to them. And so I felt like the title Born on Earth sort of fit the record and the song. And, in fact, I was up in Alaska hanging out a few years ago. Some friends of mine were getting married. Actually, I was kayaking out on the edge of this, um, sort of bay of the ocean and in the grass there was this mannequin sitting there, sort of out of the blue. And I took a picture of it because I thought it was so odd and then I ended up using that for the record cover. And it sort of summed up, to me, the sort of incongruency of life these days – the randomness of it.

Having recorded your own music and gotten the chance to play music all over the world, you could honestly say that music has done some things for you that most people will never get a chance to experience. Having said that, are there any dreams that you have that you have not yet experienced, that you’re working on making happen?
That’s a very good question. I think there’s certainly a part of me that feels drawn towards getting more involved in, uh, philanthropic types of things, um, you know, charities. There’s so many good causes these days to be involved with, whether it’s, uh you know, helping  people out in Africa – I feel very strongly about that. I also feel strongly about the environment and global warming, and I’m sort of trying to find a good place for my energies in that realm. Certainly, I think I’ll always be making music and creating new, uh, themes, whatever medium it’s in. whether it’s, you know, new CDs or, you know mp3s or whatever the new media is at the moment. Certainly, playing more gigs with Paul, and it’s a good ride that I’m on and I just want to keep it expanding and communicate with more and more people. That’s pretty much it.

Through the eyes of Rusty Anderson, when you’re on stage performing in front of just thousands and thousands of people, where everyone’s looking at you, and there’s definitely this energy and this positivity coming from everyone – tell us, through your eyes, what is that experience like?
You know, it’s a weird loop. You can’t think about it too much. I mean I sort of just vibe off the audience – you know, look for friendly faces and people that are into it. And I guess, in a certain way, I feel more at home on stage than I do anywhere else just ‘cause I’ve been doing it a long time. And it’s – it’s always, like, an engaging challenge to try to really connect in that zen way, you know playing guitar and singing and being up there and grooving with everybody and, uh – it’s a pretty astounding feeling. I think the biggest gig we did was, uh, in Rome for 500,000 people. In a way, the smaller the audience the harder, the more intimidating it can be, like playing for one person is almost the most intimidating thing there is, as opposed to playing for huge audiences. On the other hand, playing that gig in Rome, there was 500,000 people and it was this super-buzz – like you felt this extra kick of energy – thrill – I can’t explain it but, you know like, we were doing I think Let It Be and there’s a bunch of people holding up lighters. And it was at night and this was in front of the Coliseum, and you look down the Apian Way and it was like a river of fireflies going off the edge of the planet, and it was – you couldn’t even see the end of it. It was pretty, uh, heavy and, and sort of monumental. It’s like you can’t really remember it either. It’s sort of like eating chocolate or something – it’s an experience that you can’t have unless you are engaged in the middle of it and then you can remember what it’s like.

Working our way back to your album, could you tell us about some of the musicians who played on that album?
The latest one is primarily Peter, the drummer, and I and the other guys on my band played on some of the tunes, too, and did a lot of background vocals. I wanted to keep it a little bit more – on that level – more sort of band-centric. There was another guy, Bunk Gardner, a good friend of mine who played in The Mothers of Invention, who was a huge influence on me when I was, uh, a kid growing up. And I always loved their music. That was Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. And I liked that sort of incarnation the best because it had this really organic, out-of-control kind of feeling, And, uh, Bunk plays woodwinds and sax and flute, and I think he played sax and, uh, bass clarinet on Funky Birthday Cake. That was a lot of fun. The last record, Paul McCartney played on a track and Stew Copeland played on a track, and it was a little more kind of, um, fun, bringing all these outside musicians in. Like I said, this one was more sort of about the band. Oh, another friend of mine, Gabby Marino, sang background vocals on a few songs, and I think that’s about it.

Tell us about the song, Timed Exposure, on the album Born on Earth.
Timed Exposure – I’m not sure exactly what the song is about to tell you the truth. It just came about organically and I think the music came first. It seemed to somehow, uh, connect the global, sort of macro perspective on the world and what we all go through – that personal experience. One verse is written from, I think from a fortune cookie –combination fortune cookie and personal ads that are in the newspaper.
Oh, interesting (laughs).
Yeah. So, you know, different things will inspire lyrics.

Can you tell the listeners out there how they can find out more about not only the new album but also more about you?
Well, there’s RustyAnderson.com. There is my MySpace. I started doing this Twitter thing so look for that. I’m doing Guitar Center in-store CD signings.

This broadcast is going out all over the world. My final question for you, Mr. Rusty Anderson: What would you like to say to all those people that are listening in?
Oh, just say ‘hello and, uh, happy to e-meet you or vibe with you’(laughs). Hope to see you at some show soon. I’m always into connecting with people.

Rusty, thank you so much for doing this interview. It means a lot.
You’re welcome, Paul. It was my pleasure.

Breezy McKenley: Recording Artist

BREEZY MCKENLEY real name Barron McKenley is a recording artist and singer from Jamaica.  A Christian recording artist, he decided to write new gospel lyrics to the songs of Fats Domino.  This is something he regularly does, making gospel remakes of pop hits, he calls himself “the Tribute Man.”
After reading about, McKenley’s love of Fats Domino, I decided to try to contact him and was successful.

John Goodwin: Songwriter, Recording Artist

John Goodwin is an incredible singer-songwriter who has recorded his most recent album “Goodwin.” John Goodwin has recorded six albums, the newest record features a new direction with solo acoustic performances and duets with Jessica Andrews, Michael McDonald and Jeff Bridges. John Goodwin is also a visual artist–a painter and photographer. His songs have been featured in several major motion pictures including Crazy Heart, Surf’s Up, The Amateurs, and Tideland.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure we welcome our third time guest, Mr. John Goodwin, thanks so much for agreeing to do another interview with us.

Happy to be here with you, Paul.

My pleasure. You’re joining us here to talk about your new album entitled ‘Goodwin,’ anyone that listened to the last time you were on, you were playing some of your acoustic songs and you had this album out called ‘Nashville,’ and it seems to me, for my ears anyways that it’s a further evolution as an artist.  What prompted you to kind of make this change in your music to a more acoustic?

A lot of my CDs have involved other musicians andthe songs sounded like they were played with a band and I just really challenged myself and wanted to see if I could do anything I liked, sitting and playing, singing without a band, so I just went ahead and did it and started to like what I heard.   That’s what I do when I write a song and I’m always enjoying that so I figured like, why not just go in the studio and do it.

What aspect of making music excites you the most?

The emotional rush I think, you know, I think anybody that picks up a guitar and starts singing and playing something they are inspired by or want to play gets off on the whole experience, it’s your hands, like, playing a guitar, it’s your voice and the coordination between, you know, your voice and your hands, and you know, the end result and, you know, your mind’s working and, you know, you’re expressing yourself and it’s a real, a real emotional rush, just to sing and play.

Do you find that as you are creating music, do you find that you get more, or less interested in seeking out new music made by other artists?

I’m always listening to other artists and new albums, constantly checking out what’s coming out, you know, I’m looking for that ‘thing’ that really excites me, you know, my interest in other artists has not diminished at all, probably increased a lot as I continue, you know, writing and recording.

The interesting thing about the different albums that you’ve released over the years is the different styles of music that you’ve played, ‘Part Of Me Will Never Grow Up,’ is kind of like, a Reggae song, you have a couple of songs like, ‘A Place In My Heart’ that is definitely Country, and lots of Rock n Roll, I want to ask you, what musical period or styles do you find yourself the most drawn to? I know you like everything, but is there something that resonates most with you?

I think it’s more like, what I consider to be a great song in a particular time in my history as a person, you know, I’ve been deeply, deeply into Rock ‘n Roll, deeply into R & B, deeply into Country a long time ago, when country was a little more genuine and sincere, you know, I started a couple of years like, really being into Metal when it was like Black Sabbath and you know, real, like seminal kind of Metal sounds and Reggae I got way into.  So every music that’s really touched my life, all done so equally has brought out those things in me.

I wanted to talk about a couple of the songs on your latest album, ‘Goodwin’, I think my favorite song on the album is ‘Butter MintSweet.’

Something like twenty years ago, I just started writing on my guitar this little classical piece and like, that’s the end of the first section, you know, you want to play another section, there’s no lyric to it, it’s just, it was just you know, all guitar and I just developed this little song which had no lyrics and I really liked it and I forgot about it for years and then I found it again and just started writing lyrics to it, so this has been a work in progress.

You actually recorded it as a duet, as far as your discography, this was the first album that you have with duets.

Absolutely, it is and I wish I’d done more of it, because I really like singing with friends of mine and I’m going to do a lot more of it too.

Two other songs on the album that are duets, in one of them, you remarked earlier that you were especially proud of it, it was a duet with Michael McDonald ‘When The World Was A Child.’

I was in a coffee house or something like that and kind of, crowded place and I saw this Mother walked in with her little child, little infant, you know, but walking and the child was holding the Mother’s hand and it just seemed to me, like you know, once upon a time the world was an innocent child, you know and just look at it, everything, you know, like new eyes and stuff like that, so that was the inspiration to start writing the song and once I got started I don’t think I could stop until it was finished.


Is there a song on the new album ‘Goodwin’ that you are especially proud of, a favorite song?

Well, I have many favorite songs, I think most artists, when you record an entire album and spend a lot of time on it, eventually you find songs you’re not as in love with as you were when you wrote them and recorded them, but actually there are a lot of songs on this album that I really like, just because of the purity of the performance and the purity of the song. I’d like to say there’s one song that I safely think is my favourite, but there are quite a number, quite a few songs that I really, really like here.

You couldn’t pick a favorite though?

Well, I wish I could, I mean, it would make it simpler for anybody to listen to the record, but I have to say that I really am proud of a lot of them.

There’s a song on there ‘The Blessed One’, I noticed this on the last album. Both this album and the last one, it seems like there’s an exploration of spirituality almost?
Yes.

What inspired you to write ‘The Blessed One’?

Kind of a deep, deep subject here, because, a lot of times I feel like people are not appreciated until they’re gone and we obviously have historical examples of that, we also have examples of that in our everyday lives, and we know of singers and songwriters who aren’t universally known, but really believe that they deserve to be as much as if not more than people who are extremely well known, so you know the whole inspiration was like, you know, ‘don’t abuse the blessing, don’t overlook the blessing,’, you know that was kind of about it.

What are the other songs on the album that are light-hearted and fun songs, well, depending on how you look at it, I really got a kick out of ‘Lime Green Speedos,’ and, again, kind of like, as far as you exploring new avenues, the last album also had a comedy song, ‘Monday I’m Starting My Diet,’ but tell us about ‘Lime Green Speedos.’

Well, ‘Lime Green Speedos,’ I forgot exactly where that song started it might have started with a rhythm on my guitar that I started playing and you know, and the subject suddenly came to me that, you know, I’m going to lose all this weight and surprise everybody, and you know, in summertime, when I show up at the swimming pool in my lime green speedos, it amused me, interested me and moved me enough, you know, to just throw as much as I could at the song as I was writing it, you know, the song you referred to on the last album, ‘Monday I’m Starting My Diet,’ that song and ‘Lime Green Speedos’ both have to do with, like, being overweight and trying to do something about it, which, a lot of people have that problem, more like I have to go on a diet and put back what they lose, stuff like that, so, you know, these were just dealing with that whole issue you know in the most light hearted, emotional way that I could, you know.

I also wanted to talk to you about a song that you wrote, that was featured in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  tell us about that song ‘Hold On You’.

I’d love to, I also want to say that on the new album the duet I did with Jeff Bridges, which I’m extremely proud of, you know, really, it’s just two old friends singing about life and what a beautiful day it is.I love that song.  The song ‘Crazy Heart’ goes… I was lucky enough before the movie was made to be invited out to LA to spend some time with Jeff and the Director, writer of the movie Scott Cooper and  T. Bone Burnett, during the course of the week that I spent with those guys, like, I started writing ‘Hold On You’ and T. Bone started writing it with me, and eventually, I left town and he brought a couple of friends in and they all finished the song together and I’m amazingly proud of that, it was just a highlight of my life.

I wanted you to tell us about the experience you had out there, you said that you’ve recently been feeling the winds of inspiration kind of to start performing again?

Yeah, haven’t quite gotten out there and done that.  The last time I performed was at this huge birthday party in LA, back in, in December, my whole path as a writer is a little bit wierd cause I spent most of my time just writing and recording but continuously writing and continuously recording, you know, and I sort of didn’t do a lot of playing out even though I enjoy it, what I do is, I’m trying to motivate myself to go out there and do it, it’s usually, you know, a lot of fun for me and the people in the audience when I do, but it’s just one of those humps that I’m kind of stuck behind right now.

Is there any artistic or musical avenues that you haven’t explored that you have an interest in pursuing?

Aaaah man, there’s so many, you know, writing on other instruments, instruments that I don’t particularly play, you know, bongos or whatever, every time I pick up something new and start playing with it, most of the time some new kind of music comes out, for me, the most interesting thing that I really want to do a lot more of is just improvisational songs, in other words songs that aren’t written, so you turn on a tape recorder and you sit there and you just play and sing, and I can do that pretty well. I haven’t done that a lot but I have a fantasy of like recording like, a thousand songs that way and be sure to share the results with you when I do that.

You mentioned the last time I was talking to you that you’re already thinking about the next recording project. What do you see in the future?

Ohhhh it’s looking good, at least, you know, by my standards looking really good Paul, I’ll tell you why, because, I’m sure I don’t have time to tell you about the whole recording process that I went through with this new record I made, very briefly with this amazing engineer in Nashville, gave me just an unlimited free use of his studio,  just because he likes what I did, so I went there many, many, many, manytimes and had all the time in the world to lay it all out and from everything I recorded I chose the songs that would be on the album called “Goodwin.” But this thing, I think the record’s been done for about three months now, I’ve written seven or eight songs that I think there as good as anything I’ve ever written in my life and I’m really excited, think I’ll go and probably sometime in late May or early June and just try and cut an entire record in three hours with songs that I’ve written that I like since I finished the last album.

Is there any particular reason that you say to do it in three hours like that?

Yeah, once again it’s challenge, you know, to do something in real time like, you know, when you turn on the radio and you hear a three minute song, you’re actually living in the illusion that a bunch of people went into the studio and played and sang for three minutes and there the song was, but you know how it works these days, like, you know, there’s dozens if not a hundred hours recording parts and pieces and bits of it and adding stuff and people coming into the studio over weeks and months and eventually you have what seems like a real three minute song, that’s really not, it’s like, you know, thirty seven hours condensed into a three minute experience, so it seems like, to go in there and play it straight, you know, from top to bottom, it’s a challenge.  I think Bob Dylan recorded ‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’ in one day, I believe that’s true, and of course I think the Beatles cut their second record in one day too, so, there’s no reason, if you can present something that’s a performance, it’s why it shouldn’t literally be a performance, and not this massive collage you know, which is, you know sometimes over thought and, I want to be something not an illusion, I want to be something that is like literally a performance.

That will be very interesting to hear. I hope that everyone out there has kind of gotten a little picture in their mind of what it is that  you mean.  On that note you just mentioned Bob Dylan, last night I was talking with friends and I wanted to know your opinion on, in your mind anyways, who are the greatest songwriters?

Well that’s a tough one, you know, because some people like Bob Dylan that have written many, many, many extremely brilliant, wonderful songs, and there are other people who have written one or two in their entire career, but they’re, they’re wonderful songs too, so, you know, I can’t say someone who would be prolific and amazing, for me has been any better than somebody, you know, loving one or two great ones and being amazing, because when you’re listening to the songs, just in the middle of, for you, it’s an amazing experience and you don’t think about the other two songs they wrote that were great or the other ninety five songs that were great, I mean, you can only listen to one song at a time, so that’s the way I’m feeling music as a listening experience.  Oh I could name a hundred people, whose music I absolutely love, man, like, you know obviously Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, the great songs that Smokey Robinson wrote, the Stones, man “Beast of Burden,” you know, there are French pop artists like Jaques Brel, phenomenal songs, I have to say that, you know, if I had to list my favorite songwriters or acts, there would be at least, at least a hundred names on it, because they all touched me extremely deeply.

Not just of the songs that you wrote, but just in general, is there a song, or a couple of songs that have just tremendous meaning to you?

Oh yeah, but Paul, like, there are like, so many, so many songs that just have deep, deep meaning for me, it would be really tough for me to say you know that there’s only one or two, but the song Michael McDonald wrote and recorded called ‘Matters Of The Heart,’ which I just think is burningly brilliant or you know, “Papa was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations, or you know, I cannot really say here’s my top five, any one of those top five, any one of the 95 behind that you all all have great meaning for me…

I wanted to ask you when somebody listens to the new album, ‘Goodwin,’ what is it that you hope they get out of the experience of listening.

Well, I hope they like what they’re hearing, from the beginning of a song to the end of the song, I was trying for a certain kind of purity from the performance, you know, but for people who don’t know me who are hearing this, I’d just like them to know that this record, like every record, is a transition period and I just happen to document by writing and recording the song.

It’s been a great pleasure to speak to you as always, always great talking to you, but before we go is there anything you’d like to say to all the people listening out there?

Well, like I said the last time you interviewed me, I think you asked me this question and I’d just like to say that I hope you’re all having a good day and doing things that you really love to do, what more can you say to people or want for people?

I do remember you telling me that, you said you hope everybody has a good day because good days are the building blocks of a good life. When I heard the album I was listening to the duet with Jeff Bridges, ‘The Good Day Song,’ and it made me think of that conversation.

Yeah, (John laughs) I know what you mean, you know, totally what that song was about, it was such a joy doing that with Jeff. He’s such a generous soul and so deeply appreciate him, he’s making a lot of my days really good and has for many years.

He definitely captured I think, your friendship together. Hearing you do the duet with him, I remember years ago when I was listening to your music, and it was right after I had been exposed to his music.  Has it ever been a passing thought about performing with him, or maybe collaborating with him on an album?


Yeah, I think that’s very  likely to happen, in fact the last few times we performed, we were both at parties, Jeff was there and we both played songs, I think he inspires me to go out and perform, I love collaborating with him, we’ve written many songs together which I totally love and totally look forward to anything we do together, it’s just such fun and we’ve been doing it for years so I think you can probably look forward to that.

Everyone out there can check you out online at babyrecords.com and again, thanks so much for the interview, always a pleasure to listen to your music and always a pleasure to talk to you.


Paul, I’m really glad that my music has found you and that you like it so much.  It means so much to me.

It means a lot to me too and have a good one, a good day.


You too man.  Good days, you know.

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON