Author Archives: Jennifer Carney

Brian Wilson: The (Third) TVD Interview

Brian Wilson answered the phone, shushing what sounded like a pack of attack dogs barking in the background. In that instant, my mind and our interview skipped to the very last track of Pet Sounds, literally the finest achievement in popular American music of the last 50 years (yeah, it’s even better than warm heartbreak of Blood on the Tracks or the ‘60s swan song of Bridge over Troubled Water), which closes with a cacophony of dogs barking. You can’t make this stuff up.

Brian Wilson’s own place in the pantheon of songwriters is long since assured—any song on Pet Sounds makes an ironclad case for his inclusion among the world’s greats—but while its songs have been cited, imitated, and generally pored over countless times since 1967, “Caroline, No” always stuck with me not because of any ambitions of being a pop standard, but because of its charming and unhinging smallness. It’s such an anticlimactic closer to a record that opens with the sparkly optimism of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” It, like life itself, is bookended by absurdity in the relatable, and beauty in yearning and dissatisfaction.

“‘Caroline, No’ is all about a girl who lost her charm and loveliness,” says Brian, “And the guy goes, [singing] ‘Can we ever bring them back once they’ve gone?’ And he goes, ‘Caroline, no.’ It’s a very sad song, but I like performing it because it’s a very beautiful tune and it’s a lot of fun to sing.”

We all know this. He doesn’t have to say these things about his work, but sometimes it’s worth articulating thoughts because we need to be reminded of basic truths. Then again, to talk to Brian Wilson is to talk to someone to whom every form of imaginable and deserved praise has long since been rendered predictable cliches.

I’m luckier than most—this is my second time speaking with him. (TVD also spoke with Brian in April, 2015. —Ed.) I’d like to think there isn’t a music lover alive today who doesn’t know that Brian Wilson is probably a genius, and suitably revered by other musicians they may know better and love more; Pet Sounds paved the way for everything from Sgt. Pepper’s to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—imagine how empty and incomplete and flat popular music would feel without Brian Wilson’s genre-defying and -defining influence.

Presumably at a volume louder than the dogs that leaked in on the phone when we began our chat, Brian had been in the studio, practicing the songs from Pet Sounds just before our call, meticulously fine-tuning his every note for the Pet Sounds 2017 World Tour.

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Ann Wilson:
The TVD Interview

Whether you know Ann Wilson by her legendary voice, or for any one of a dozen rock radio classics that she’s penned for Heart, or her brought-Robert-Plant-to-tears rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” from the Kennedy Center Honors a few years back, to try to encapsulate everything she’s meant to rock music in a few paragraphs is a fool’s errand. The bullshit she and her sister Nancy put up with for daring to play rock music while female is worthy of a few books alone.

As she embarks on a 20-date solo tour, which kicks off Wednesday (3/8) in her hometown of Seattle, it’s clear that connecting with her audience is more important to Ann than ever.

“I suppose I am addicted to it,” Ann says. “I’ve never been much good at talking, but I can sing, and when I sing I connect with people in a much deeper, higher way.” We chatted with Ann about touring, the state of the music industry for women, and what politics and digital streaming mean (or don’t mean) for artists today.

I love the setlists from your recent live solo EPs—especially the “Sympathy for the Devil” treatment of “For What It’s Worth” from last year. Are there more of these sorts of covers in the works? What are your setlists like for this tour?

It’s a whole bunch of different kinds of songs. I mean, “For What It’s Worth” is one type of thing, and there’s also ballads, acoustic stuff, and big rockers. It’s a very diverse set.

As a gal who was also super into rock and blues growing up, I always felt kind of left out, and so I focused even more on music. Albums became prized possessions. Did you have records that held that kind of place in your collection, or that continue to inspire you?

Totally, yeah. Back when there were records, there were some that I played until they wouldn’t play anymore, you know? Everything on the album sleeve, the lyrics and everything… I just completely absorbed it all.

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Peter Wolf,
The TVD Interview

America’s independent streak started in the city of Boston. From the moment the “shot heard round the world” rang out to the day someone said, “Not everyone can have MTV? Fine! We’ll make our own MTV!” Boston has embraced its contrarians. 

New York may get all the glory, but Peter Wolf is one of those contrarians that made Boston his own. He found his way to his adopted city as a young art student from the Bronx in the late ’60s, becoming one of Boston’s favorite sons—pretty impressive, when one considers how Boston generally feels about people from the Bronx.

In the midst of studying painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Wolf stumbled onto a chance to sing in a blues band, and found his love (and deep knowledge) of music transformed into a new passion: performance. That passion transformed again into a gig as a DJ for Boston’s legendary WBCN, and again still when he founded and fronted the J. Geils Band with a cadre of fellow rock and roll fanatics.

Wolf struck out as a solo artist in 1984, near the height of J. Geils Band fame, and he hasn’t looked back. Released just last month, A Cure For Loneliness is Wolf’s eighth solo album. It’s a rootsy reflection on his musical past that is reverent without lingering too long.

“Change is constant,” Wolf says, “but it’s not necessarily negative, so you just have to keep rolling on.” The twelve new tracks have been a long time coming, and bring together rock and roll, soul, blues, and even honky-tonk to tell tales of survival and reflection that are both lighthearted and heartfelt. It’s pure Peter. 

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Peter Wolf,
The TVD Interview

America’s independent streak started in the city of Boston. From the moment the “shot heard round the world” rang out to the day someone said, “Not everyone can have MTV? Fine! We’ll make our own MTV!” Boston has embraced its contrarians. 

New York may get all the glory, but Peter Wolf is one of those contrarians that made Boston his own. He found his way to his adopted city as a young art student from the Bronx in the late ’60s, becoming one of Boston’s favorite sons—pretty impressive, when one considers how Boston generally feels about people from the Bronx.

In the midst of studying painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Wolf stumbled onto a chance to sing in a blues band, and found his love (and deep knowledge) of music transformed into a new passion: performance. That passion transformed again into a gig as a DJ for Boston’s legendary WBCN, and again still when he founded and fronted the J. Geils Band with a cadre of fellow rock and roll fanatics.

Wolf struck out as a solo artist in 1984, near the height of J. Geils Band fame, and he hasn’t looked back. Released just last month, A Cure For Loneliness is Wolf’s eighth solo album. It’s a rootsy reflection on his musical past that is reverent without lingering too long.

“Change is constant,” Wolf says, “but it’s not necessarily negative, so you just have to keep rolling on.” The twelve new tracks have been a long time coming, and bring together rock and roll, soul, blues, and even honky-tonk to tell tales of survival and reflection that are both lighthearted and heartfelt. It’s pure Peter. 

We chatted with the Woofa Goofa about the new album, his fondness for independent radio stations, and why finding music in a record store is like coming home. 

I live in California now, but I grew up in Boston, and the late, great WBCN was a big part of what gave Boston such a unique musical presence. Just a few days ago, the City of Boston announced that April 13 will forever more be Peter Wolf Day. Was that a surprise to you?

Yeah. It was, but I knew it was going to happen. As it came down the pike, it was a very pleasant surprise. Also, it was nice that the ceremony for it took place at a shelter for homeless veterans. We ended up getting to play for the veterans, so that made it really even sweeter.

That’s very touching. I was thinking about that, and your legacy in the city, both in J. Geils Band and on ‘BCN. I work in Silicon Valley and I’m surrounded by a lot of very brilliant Millennials who find it hard to believe that media in different cities used to be very localized. Boston especially had all of these independent local TV stations and radio stations that weren’t part of a huge conglomerates. I know you’re still a radio guy… do you think independent radio will ever be as popular as it once was?

It’s an interesting question. As you experienced, we’re spoiled up here, because there is a lot of unique radio. A lot of the independent big commercial stations have become conglomerated by corporations that bought up everything. But what really saves Boston is there are so many great college stations.

Yeah.

Boston has kind of a unique stature as far as independent radio, so we get kind of spoiled. When you travel throughout the United States… other than college radio stations or small NPR stations, you don’t really get the same diversity. There are actually two NPR stations with some city funding [in the Boston area]. Then Harvard University and MIT have a great ones. Emerson College has a really fabulous one, WERS, that plays a lot of great music. I know I am leaving out one or two. There are some good commercial stations that are still mom and pop owned, like on the South Shore, WATD

The landscape of radio has changed tremendously. I think it’s not just because of the commercial buy-outs, but I think it’s the technological advancements that have fundamentally changed things. Many people have drifted to satellite radio in their cars; people on their cellphones find radio stations all over the world, or they just stream the different Spotify and Pandora stations.

I went to do an interview, up north of Boston, to a station called The River. It’s owned by this one person, the building is an art deco building, and it was built just for a radio station. When you walk in, you’re walking into a time capsule! They have all the booths and they have a performance area, and it’s just… hearkens back to when radio was king. But for good or for bad, times have changed.

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Paul Weller,
The TVD Interview

The Modernist spirit has remained contemporary for nearly sixty years, and so too has Paul Weller. It seems impossible, but there he is, sitting across the table with a cup of milky tea and a pack of cigarettes. He’s impeccably dressed in a black tee shirt, slender trousers, and dapper pair of shoes. That’s the thing about being a mod; it’s a sharp, timeless style (really, a way of life) that’s all about attention to detail, and it gives a snapshot of what Weller is all about. But that’s not where Weller ends.

While he may be difficult to describe to someone unfamiliar, the most important thing to know is that the authenticity he stands for mattered at a time when it was possible for musicians to really matter.

And he still matters. While music may feel as if it’s spiraling into a madding cacophony of styles, Weller has perched himself above it all as he usually does. His latest LP, Saturns Pattern, is another musical point of reflection for him. He has always stretched and twisted his sound, abruptly departing from expectations only to find him again, and Saturns Pattern follows that M.O. It’s a rush of cosmic soul, psychedelia, blues, dance, and myriad other sounds. It’s opinionated, soulful, rollicking, and so much Paul Weller.

Hours before his sold-out show at The Fillmore in San Francisco, Paul talked about the importance of the new, being content with where he is, and even got a little wistful when talking about putting a record on a turntable for the first time.

On my way here, I was thinking about my college radio DJ days. I decided to start a mod music show and nobody had a clue what I was doing.

[Laughs] That was brave! Was that here in San Fran?

No, it was in a small town in Arkansas.  

Where is that, then? Midwest?

It’s in the south, right on top of Louisiana.

Ah, okay!

Mod culture follows you around in one way or another. You seem to embrace it. What do you think makes it so enduring?

Well, it’s just something that I’m really into, y’know? It’s kind of like any sort of code, philosophy, religion—whatever you want to call it. I think it’s something that once you’re into it, it’s integral to you. It’s really part of your life and the way you think and all that. But the reason why it’s endured so much is because it’s adaptable. I think because every generation comes along and discovers it, and kind of just adapts it and fills it and it becomes something else again, and mutates a little bit, and I think that’s why, really. It’s quite a concise way of living and thought, really.

There’s a famous old Pete Meaden quote that mod means “Clean living under difficult circumstances,” which is very apt, really.

There’s definitely a kind of mystique that drew me to it. In this day and age, the Internet has sort of demystified that whole scene…

The Internet has demystified everything.

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The Darkness,
The TVD Interview

Last of Our Kind is the first album in three years for The Darkness. It’s hailed as one of their finest records yet, and a maturation of their sound. “It is the best rock album you will hear this year,” says singer Justin Hawkins. “It is the best rock album you will hear until next time The Darkness makes an album.” It’s difficult to argue for a more appropriate title; they don’t make rock bands like The Darkness anymore.

“We’ve always been a cult band,” bass guitarist Frankie Poullain tells TVD, but that’s quite an over-simplification (and he knows it). It’s been over a dozen years since Permission to Land blasted rock music out of its same-y, neo-garage rut. Its influence punched the genre in the face and reminded people, who were too young to remember, what it was like for rock to be a fun, profane, exhilarating spectacle. With Last of Our Kind, The Darkness again unleash tongue-in-cheek bombastic rock music that delivers in spades and (figurative, possibly literal) pyrotechnics.  

Frankie opined on many different things when we caught up with him in the middle of The Darkness’ latest world tour. He talked to us about what it was like to feature over five hundred Darkness fans on the album’s title track, why the band nests sincerity in their kitsch, and why they continue to love the challenge of defying expectations.

You’d built your reputation as a live band before you ever had a record deal. Now that you’re on your fourth record and your own label, how have things changed? 

Well, we’re more empowered. It’s gotten to the stage where we don’t rely on other people; we take control of every aspect of what we do, which obviously is what a lot of bands are doing these days because there’s less room for mistakes these days—there’s less of a comfort zone, or a buffer zone. The profit margins that bands used to make that the record companies make them make—which basically comes from manufacturing CDs, which are very cheap to make—now you haven’t got that luxury anymore. This is good, because now we can focus more on the music and it’s more… realistic.

It’s good, or we wouldn’t be alive anymore. One [band member] hasn’t made it this far, unfortunately. That’s why the album has a slightly more defined… well, it starts off reflective… it’s more emotional, probably, than most of our albums, probably to do with that situation, which is tough. You can tell from the subject matter of some of the songs; there are personal things going on there, too. Then there’s also stuff like “Mudslide” and “Barbarian” as well. It’s a nice mix of things, and we’re very proud of it. The consensus seems to be that it’s our second-best album.

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ZZ Ward,
The TVD Interview

It’s not easy to describe what ZZ Ward does, and thank goodness for that. When her first single, “Put the Gun Down,” became a critically acclaimed sensation in 2012, Ward’s relentless talent and drive was turned up to eleven. Just like that, her sonic finger painting with blues and soul and hip-hop and rock was everywhere, and so was ZZ Ward.

It’s been three years of touring and writing and touring some more for Ward. After much perfecting and polishing with the help of S1 (the Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with Kanye West, Eminem, Beyonce, and Madonna), she’s completed a highly anticipated EP, Love and War, which is out now. (The full-length album, This Means War, is due September 18.)

Perhaps the best thing about Love and War’s signature single, “Love 3X,” is that it is not what you might expect from an artist who is routinely compared to both Tina Turner and Etta James; ZZ Ward is all about creative turns. The summery pop of “Love 3X” retains all of ZZ Ward’s unmistakable swagger and soul, and is insanely catchy at the same time. It’s not fair to call it a balancing act, really, because ZZ Ward makes it all look so easy.

And so ZZ Ward continues to deliver a genuine alternative to music-by-committee and to fly in the face of critical expectations. When we chatted with her, she was about to embark on her Love and War Tour. She talked about her inspirations, on being a perfectionist, and what it’s like caring about every single bit of a project (including vinyl).

I see your dog Muddy in a lot of pictures with you. It must be great to have her with you on tour to kind of help you chill.

Yes! I take her everywhere. We’re ready to get on the tour bus for two months! She loves it; she spends more time on the tour bus than she has at home, so she’s used to it.

I’ve read and watched quite a few interviews with you, and I don’t think anybody has described you, as an artist, the same way twice. It changes from “blues and R&B singer” to “new rock chanteuse” to any number of categories. Does that bother or inspire you?

[Laughs] I don’t know… I mean, especially when people ask me what genre of music I am, it’s always really tricky because I think being a songwriter and a producer and a creator, it’s like… I’m not really thinking about categories I want to stay in when I’m working on music. I’m just thinking about what things make me feel like. So it’s always really a tricky question when people ask you, “So, what genre of music does your music fall into?” It’s like, wow, you really have to put a label on it? But that’s how it is. I’ve learned to give it my best shot and say it’s kind of a mixture between blues and hip-hop.

But I feel like, especially if something’s new, you have to compare it to something else if you’re telling your friend about it. “Have you checked out so-and-so? They sound a little bit like this.” And that always gives somebody a good idea of what they’re getting into. I’ve noticed that that just kind of exists, you know, when you’re an artist.

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Jack Tempchin:
The TVD Interview

Jack Tempchin is a product of a time when songs were expected to tell stories, and the songwriters who were masters of storytelling were sought after as aggressively as any first-round quarterback.

Tempchin’s tunes have taken root in so many minds, and have lifted so many hearts in the decades since he wrote “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “Already Gone” for the Eagles. The prolific songwriter’s music continues to fill arenas and sell millions and millions of albums for others. It’s been all about the songs, not the man. Despite the fact that Tempchin performed his music to audiences around the world for years, and despite the fact that he’d written hits for (or with) musical luminaries like Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker, Tom Rush, George Jones, and Tom Waits, the limelight has always been elusive for Tempchin—as have record deals.

That all changed when he was approached by Blue Élan Records who offered him his first contract since Clive Davis’ Arista Records in the late ’70s. That sparked something in Tempchin, and a backlog of songs came pouring out. “I was so excited that somebody was going to care whether I recorded something or not,” Tempchin tells TVD in our chat with him. So many songs were unearthed and so many more were inspired by this label’s confidence that his two-record deal turned into a three-record deal, with no signs of stopping.

Tempchin released an EP, Room to Run, in May to tease his creative “explosion.” He followed it up with a thematic and poignant LP (released on Friday), Learning to Dance, which is his first album of new studio recordings in over eight years. His enthusiasm is massive when it comes to songwriting, as evidenced both in the lovely new album and through his songwriting “inspiration campaign” at GoWriteOne.com

“It’s impossible to overrate the importance of songs,” he says. There’s absolutely no argument from us. 

When you performed at The Troubadour in May, was that the first time you’d played all this new music live?

Yes! I hadn’t done any of those songs, and it was the first time I’d performed without playing guitar, too. [Laughs] This album was produced so differently, that I didn’t think about having to do the stuff live until I finished the album. And it turns out I couldn’t—I needed a whole band to pull it off. I rehearsed for quite a while with those guys because it was a first for me, standing up there and playing without doing my guitar.

Of course the second half of the show, I was doing my hits—stuff I had done before. Being back at The Troubadour and having all those people there… it was great to be there again.

When was the last time you’d played there?

Oh, let’s see… it was about five or six years ago when Timothy B. Schmit had a solo album that he was promoting, and I opened the show for him, just by myself at The Troubadour, and that was pretty great.

Hey, I noticed you interviewed Paul Williams. That’s pretty cool.

It was! He was such a fun person to talk to.

You know, I’ve known Paul for… we wrote a song together many, many years ago and we’re still workin’ on it. [Laughs] Man, he’s done so well. He’s so cool. That was a good article—thank you!

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Pete Townshend,
The TVD Interview

The way I see it, there was rock music before Pete Townshend got hold of it, and rock music after he got hold of it, smashed it to pieces, rebuilt it, and smashed it again. 

Townshend spent his musical life wresting respectability from critics, pushing the boundaries of convention, and simultaneously giving too many fucks and not giving any fucks at all. I think that’s where his greatness resides, in that duality of trying not to care too much while at the same time caring more than anyone else. Newly 70, he still moves the bar and lives to contradict. He remains both brutally honest and colorfully vague. So hard to pin down. (Our interview was no exception.) 

How else could the man write such perfect two-minute-fifty pop songs and nine-minute-plus suites? Pen the most memorable, gritty proto-punk and masterful latter-day operas? Be lauded as an electronic music pioneer and perform with his four-piece rock band, entirely without irony, in front of audiences at the Met? 

And now, he and partner Rachel Fuller have reimagined The Who’s finest work (no arguments, please; you are wrong) into a classical piece worthy of being immortalized alongside the original album. This isn’t a let’s-add-some-strings-to-a-rock-arrangement thing; it’s wholly respectful of its source material, and it’s damned impressive.

While Quadrophenia is entirely Townshend’s (it’s the only Who album written by him alone), what Keith Moon and John Entwistle brought to The Who’s masterpiece is irreplaceable. They, along with Townshend and Roger Daltrey, were the heart, soul, brains and brawn of that album, and there’s no escaping that. 

That’s not what Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia is trying to do. This “symphonized” Quadrophenia brings forth the immortal soul of a rock album that continues to matter. While fans will appreciate the involvement of Quadrophenia touchstones like Phil Daniels and Billy Idol, Classic Quadrophenia is as classical as it gets: Deutsche Grammophon, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a real live opera singer (the wonderful tenor Alfie Boe), and the London Oriana Choir. 

What made Townshend’s work matter to me at nineteen and why he continues to matter to me in my thirties is why, I suspect, even those less familiar with The Who will find beauty and solace in this presentation of one of the last masterworks of rock music. It’s on a different artistic level, and it’s what his fans should expect. Or maybe it isn’t.   

I still work myself to death just to fit in. Fortunately for us all, Townshend doesn’t.

Quadrophenia has always been an immensely ambitious, unwieldy thing. What has been the most satisfying result of committing it to a classical arrangement? 

That I had to do absolutely nothing!

In 2001, you held workshops for a potential stage production of Quadrophenia. What stalled that process at that time? 

That was a good workshop. I put up some of the music on my website at the time. The band was entirely acoustic. Joe Penhall—who wrote a number of good plays and has lately done the book for The Kinks’ musical—was working on the book. Everything was going well until Joe realised there is no proper ending. He was the one who stalled. At that workshop I met John O’Hara who went on to be the arranger and music supervisor on the 2009 UK theatre tour of Quadrophenia conceived with the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. That was a planned six-week run that lasted for six months. It had a great young cast, many of whom have gone on to great things.

You’ve been tinkering with Quadrophenia since its original release. When The Who toured behind it after the album was first released, you spent a lot of time explaining it to audiences, and it took twenty-five years to perform it in concert to your (reasonable) satisfaction. Do you still feel the need to explain what Quadrophenia is all about? 

It isn’t really about very much…. its loose story and its non-ending are what need to be explained. The function of rock music is not to tell tidy little stories that work like soap opera episodes but to provide music for the internal story of the listener. Of course there is also the function of live congregation: gathering to join together to listen to music that a group of people feel reflects all of their unspoken feelings and emotions. Rock is different in this respect to conventional opera and theatre musical.

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Paul Williams,
The TVD Interview

I was brushing my teeth the other night when I had a “GREAT IDEA” about how to intro this interview. Writers: you already know how this went down. 

I had been spending a lot of time with these hazy childhood memories of Paul Williams on The Muppet Show, his most famous songs running through my head. Something clicked. YES! I finished brushing my teeth, washed my face, got a drink of water, sat down at my desk and it was… gone! It was like someone had wiped that area of my pre-frontal lobe clean.

I racked my brain. Was it something about his unlikely stardom? No… What about how he champions aspiring songwriters as President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)? No, that wasn’t it either. Was it something about that guy who made that documentary about how he thought Paul Williams was dead? Nah, but that’s a great story. Okay, it had to be something about him winning the 2014 Album of the Year Grammy with Daft Punk. No, I couldn’t find a thread. I was furious with myself. The “GREAT IDEA” was gone.

Then I remembered something from talking with Paul. I put my head back and I drifted down into that region of near-sleep where dream thoughts percolate and vanish when you hear a noise and you come to. My dog barked, and I opened my eyes. 

Paul Williams would say that this is the most important part of the creative process: letting go and being optimistic that the right thing will come, even if it’s not the thing you thought you wanted. Even if what you end up with is nothing like what you pictured (and then spaced out on) while brushing your teeth, sometimes it works out all right.  

My germ of a “GREAT IDEA” wasn’t meant to be. And that’s okay, because Paul Williams says so. Williams had so much more to say, of course; we talked about his fascinating life, his love of helping people (he’s a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor as well), and his passion for showing a digital generation the true value of music. 

You’ve said that you started writing music as a way to “journal” your experiences from very early on. Do you remember what first inspired you to express yourself in that way?

You know, I’ve always said that songwriting is a gift. I started out wanting to be an actor. But I was [also] one of these tiny little kids who sang “Danny Boy” for his dad. Well, when I was thirteen, my dad was killed in a car wreck. At that point, it’s like music disappeared out of my life. I quit singing, and all I wanted to do was be an actor. At the time, my mother shipped me off to live with an aunt and an uncle that I didn’t know in Long Beach. My mother was told she couldn’t afford both of us, so she kept my little brother and so I was shipped off. At that point, I wanted to be an actor. Obviously, I wanted to be somebody other than myself at that time.

But when the acting career fizzled when I was around twenty-seven… I’d done a couple of movies I did—I did one called The Loved One with John Gielgud. It’s a very interesting picture about the funeral business. Then I did a movie called The Chase, and I thought that was going to be a big break for me; I had a few lines in it. But when it was released, I saw that my part in the movie was cut out! So, there I was with no money, depressed, and no career; the phone stopped ringing, then they came and took the phone out…

All of a sudden, this little guitar I had became the cheapest therapy in the world. As soon as I picked it up, I started writing. I guess there was some piece of me that felt like I’d done it before. I didn’t think that at the time, but looking back I do. And then, of course, the first time you play a song for somebody—especially a young lady that maybe said that didn’t want to go out with you—and suddenly her head tilts to the side and she says, “Oh, that’s really nice!” And you think, “Okay, something major just changed!”

Beyond the joking, the fact is that when I started writing songs, I finally felt like I was home. It was absolutely home.

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