Archive for the Phenomenons Category

DARLING PROVOCATEUR: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLOTTE RAMPLING

Posted in Film, Phenomenons on November 18, 2011 by Miranda Wilding



This article is written by KISA LALA at THE HUFFINGTON POST

“Being ready at 9 am in any country,” sighed CHARLOTTE RAMPLING, smartly turned out in a black suit after a late night of revelry in the West Village. THE LOOK had just premiered the night before in New York and GABRIEL BYRNE had popped out to greet her after the show.

GABRIEL recalled how he’d sweated over how to impress her while on a first stroll through Central Park together and seeing a night guardsman walk past had quipped, “Ah, night porter!” CHARLOTTE had ignored his remark and had kept walking.

Later GABRIEL had asked, “But wasn’t that funny?”

“You don’t know how many fucking times people have said that to me,” CHARLOTTE had replied.

CHARLOTTE RAMPLING’S films do not flash across neon lit marquees in middle America, but her carefully culled oeuvre (“Sort of my artistic choice…a way of living, of evolving for me,” she tells me) has garnered a cult of swooning devotees who admire her courage in picking unconventional roles spanning four decades of cinema.

More prolific than ever, she has recently starred in LEMMING, SWIMMING POOL and HEADING SOUTH, playing conflicted reclusive roles or evil camp cameos, like in the sci fi flick BABYLON A.D. She has also appeared in a MARC JACOBS fashion shoot, as well as an extended love fest with photographer JUERGEN TELLER, who played nude antics over a piano and gleefully peed into a flowerpot while CHARLOTTE, curled in bed, indulgently looked on.

All the excavation and over blown analysis into her enigma seems redundant when she is, more evidently, an artist committed to questing in life. While THE LOOK is a biopic, featuring conversations with friends, it is tamer and less confrontational than past roles that explore darker aspects of her nature revealing, instead, a more contented side.

We share a couch near a lovely blazing fireplace at a lounge in Soho. I tell her that I wished she’d included a conversation with a younger woman, beautiful and successful as she had been when young, to create a tenser dynamic. Ms. Rampling fixes me with her hooded leopard gaze.

“Hmm. I didn’t think of it…but it could have been good.” It was a bit early to talk about love, aging and mortality at breakfast, but I struggled to get past the platitudes.

KISA LALA: What about a crossover artist like TILDA SWINTON?

CHARLOTTE RAMPLING: I don’t know her, though I’ve met her once. She’s certainly someone I would identify with; we are on the same sort of path. I feel in some ways she’s stronger than me, able to take on certain things I can’t take on.

KL: When you’re born beautiful you aren’t expected to do much more in life…

CR: It’s all ready enormous. What beauty brings is huge. It brings great privilege, great power and potential to do many things. If you are beautiful, doors open for you; people smile at you; you are accepted in places where others aren’t. So the relationship that people have with beauty, in a sense, is almost deforming.

KL: Your older sister’s suicide gave you a sense of mortality at a very young age…

CR: Yes, because you know there’s a brutal end. However it will be. Her death was brutal and I had that in the face very young.

It sent me on a very deep search. Not necessarily to be rebellious or provocative. But it so happened, within that journey…it led me to get to the depth of something – a feeling, a life, or philosophy; to get my teeth into something, which made some sense and which wasn’t just [sighs] beautiful and suddenly finished – and what are we here for…and what on earth is going on in the world and how are we supposed to live. I started to quest and began my journey into life then.

KL: And you surrounded yourself with challenging men. DIRK BOGARDE coined that expression about THE LOOK you had. Was the film, in a certain sense, an homage to him?

CR: Yes, you’re completely right. The meeting of me and DIRK…it is an homage, this film almost could be made because of him. And because of the circumstances in my life then, I started something with him. And he was older. He became my master, my trusted friend, he and TONY [DIRK BOGARDE’S partner]. They were that side of my family that were gone.

KL: Being in a place of vulnerability you had protection from the right people perhaps?

CR: Perhaps…and is it because one has the animal instinct to seek out the people that suits one? You see people that go on life’s journeys and get muddled along the way. If you look at their lives they’ve always gone with the wrong people…Can you say it’s the wrong people? I don’t know…

I was working with these very iconic people, [like Visconti] who were able to inspire me into a way. You can choose many ways can’t you? Again, if you are beautiful and talented and I had made films and people were looking at me – and so I could choose.

KL: DIRK BOGARDE also explored a spectrum of sadomasochistic and gay roles: THE NIGHT PORTER, THE SERVANT, THE VICTIM…

CR: He’s gone into dangerous areas that at that time had not been exploited — not been seen with homosexuality — with things that were beginning to come into the open.

KL: You are fortunate you share this rich cinematic history with your public and with younger generations; it’s now part of collective memory. What about the personal impact of memory – is it a gift or a burden?

CR: I think you can choose. You don’t need the painful memories, because either you’ve resolved them. Denying always makes them want to come back. Denial is a mechanism that doesn’t work. But allowing them to come back in little by little, those memories, you can begin to be quite comfortable with them and it’s even nice to have that as part of the map of your life.

KL: That’s wise…

CR: But as human beings, we do need to learn to become wise… because we all can and it’s not something only given to wise old men with beards sitting on top of mountains.

KL: Letting go of the fear of exposure can be liberating – and you were finally public about your father trying to suppress what your mother knew about your sister’s death and having to go along with that for so long.

CR: By trying to control everything we become very neurotic, more and more desperate. It’s a huge tragic thing. The reason I talked about that when my mother died – because I wouldn’t say anything till she died and then I realized in some ways, bizarrely, I did want to talk about it…But then you know, it’s always going to be talked about – but that’s what I needed to do and I couldn’t not.

Now what happens with a lot of information is that it keeps coming back and back and back…[beating the couch emphatically] and soon as it’s out there, it sort of loops back through all the different channels and all the networks.

But what we need to do is go back to each time we do something and remember and respect why we did it.

KL: As long as it was a conscious decision and you weren’t drunk…

CR: Yes! And you weren’t forced into it.

KL: In the age of the internet, you’re not just separated from your public by film critics, people can access your films on line, give immediate feedback. Has that affected your relationship with the public?

CR: I find that a bit confusing and I suppose I am not that generation. Even for other things I don’t look at it. I get dizzy. Not even about myself, but generally. [laughs] It’s dizzying all this information.

KL: Do you think you’re more of a rebel in films than in real life?

CR: No, I am the same person.

KL: But perhaps you are straighter in terms of love; a serial monogamist? Are you a believer in true love?

CR: Yeah, I believe —well I say now, because each love evolves very much over the years. I’ve always been monogamous — [within it] I’ve been in love with people, but very platonically. For me, monogamous love is about learning how to be able to trust someone completely; so you need to be able to think you can trust them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have extraordinary feelings for other people and not feel guilty about them, but not necessarily go and wreck marriages and consummate…and you don’t have to do all that.

KL: It can be platonic, perhaps like with the chimpanzee in MAX? I like the idea of living in solitude, but together. With desire though, it doesn’t necessarily change with age does it?

CR: That’s right. Exactly. But I am able to somehow work through that differently because sexual desire, it’s not a priority…well it’s just less complicated, but I can quite understand why for other people it is.

KL: I am curious about your paintings. I often write about art and it says more about a person’s emotions than asking them to be literal about who they are in conversation.

CR: Those are my funny strange creatures I live with. One of my favourite artists is Giacometti. And I didn’t even realize that I was doing it, but those sort of Giacometti creatures come out of me…it’s the spirit of him, it could be his family. They are not sculptures but I work on materials with wood. I bring these people out of them that are rather like very strange lonely creatures that come out of the darkness. A person will come out…I’ve been asked to expose them and I might, but I need to be more diligent and work on them a bit more.

KL: I am wondering about the film’s reception in the UK.

CR: I know, in your own country, you always sort of wonder – so it’s going to be very interesting.

KL: Hmm… a tough audience there. But perhaps next, a knighthood is in the cards?

CR: Knighthood! [chuckles] I am not qualified to be a Dame. To be a Dame you have to represent England in a way that I don’t. No, I got the OBE because I represent England outside of England more…but thinking of me as an actor, I haven’t done all the classical theatre, all the great roles. Think of HELEN MIRREN and me. HELEN, who I adore, is a friend – should be a Dame.

I am the rebel, the revolutionary on the side.

KL: The edgy icon? Well, daring DAME CHARLOTTE, you definitely deserve it…

CR: Well, thank you. That’s very sweet. [peals of laughter]

THE HOLLIES PART II: A CONVERSATION WITH GRAHAM NASH

Posted in Music, Phenomenons on October 13, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by MIKE RAGOGNA at THE HUFFINGTON POST

MIKE RAGOGNA: Graham, let’s talk about the new HOLLIES DVD LOOK THROUGH ANY WINDOW. It covers from 1963 to 1975 and it’s loaded with vintage footage as well as interviews including those with you and ALLAN CLARKE.

GRAHAM NASH: It was really terrifying to see myself growing up. (laughs)

MR: (laughs) How did THE HOLLIES get together?

GN: It was basically me and ALLAN singing together since we were six years old. We’d sing THE LORD’S PRAYER at the beginning of class and stuff like that – we sang in little funny school shows and stuff. ALLAN and I could really sing together, so that became the basis of it. The (other) guys came up to us one day and said, “You know, you need a lead guitar and some drums and some bass.” Me and ALLAN had been just two acoustic guitars, so they had to prove it to us and they did; they played some of our stuff and it rocked. So we formed a band, which later – a year and a half later, in December of 62 – became THE HOLLIES.

MR: Can you talk about the reaction you all had to THE HOLLIES’ first hit record?

GN: I remember it to this day. We were going to do a show on the BBC and we were walking down the street in London and approaching two workmen who were working on a storefront. They had a radio there and out of the radio came BUS STOP. It completely blew our minds.

MR: BUS STOP is one of the great pop classics.

GN: And we did it in less than an hour.

MR: What was the session like?

GN: The session was interesting because our original bass player ERIC HAYDOCK had left the group that week. We were doing ABBEY ROAD in London at EMI later that week and we didn’t have a bass player. So BERNIE CALVERT – who had all ready played with TONY HICKS and BOBBY ELLIOTT in a group in the north of England – joined us. That was the very first thing he ever played on.

MR: And so many great recordings followed. One of the forces behind your recordings was RON RICHARDS, who oversaw production.

GN: He’s a brilliant man.

MR: How did you all meet?

GN: We were playing a show at THE CAVERN in Liverpool. It was a lunchtime show for the young working girls in the district there. They would have a show from twelve o’clock to one o’clock, which was exactly their lunchtime and I had, the night before, broken the last string on my guitar and I couldn’t afford to buy strings. So I played the entire show without any strings and RON RICHARDS was there.

He was looking for – in his mind, probably – the next BEATLES, because if THE BEATLES came from Liverpool, surely there were other bands. Although we were from Manchester, we were playing at that lunchtime show. He loved what we did, he loved the effect that we had on our audiences and how passionate we were. He invited us down to London. The first record that we released was sometime around March of 63. It was a hit and we haven’t looked back since.

MR: Now I also spoke with ALLAN and asked him about the story behind CARRIE ANNE – if there was a MARIANNE FAITHFULL connection there. So I also wanted to ask you the same question.

GN: The story with CARRIE ANNE is that we wrote it – started it – as a song for MARIANNE FAITHFULL. We’d all seen her and we all wanted her. She was a deliciously sexy young Catholic schoolgirl with all of the baggage that comes along with that. We loved MARIANNE and she actually came on the road with THE HOLLIES for a month or so. So we started it out to be a song about MARIANNE and then we chickened out. We tried to find a name that was kind of similar to MARIANNE and one that would not give the game away, shall we say. We came up with CARRIE ANNE; me and TONY started writing it mainly and then ALLAN came and joined in.

MR: The most memorable thing for me about that record is not just the hook and the fun production and the sound, but your reaching those phenomenally high notes.

GN: Yeah – well, you know, what can you do?

MR: Sorry to fawn, but I’m a big fan of your vocal abilities.

GN: Thanks. I’ve still got it too.

MR: (laughs) Do you have a favourite HOLLIES recording?

GN: No, it’s like trying to say which is your favourite kid. I have fond memories of all of them – of CARRIE ANNE, of BUS STOP, of STAY, of SEARCHING, of JUST ONE LOOK, of I CAN’T LET GO and on and on and on. I remember them all fondly. My favourite song, actually, is the one I’m writing now, which I’m going to play for you when we see you.

MR: Nice. Graham, at what point did you decide to leave THE HOLLIES and move on with your career?

GN: Hearing myself sing with DAVID (CROSBY) and STEPHEN (STILLS) in 68.

MR: And it was CASS ELLIOT who put that together, correct?

GN: CASS did, but that’s in opposition to what STEPHEN believes. STEPHEN believes that the first time we sang together was in CASS’ kitchen, but it wasn’t. It was in JONI’S living room.

MR: Now that’s a topic we could talk about all day…you and JONI MITCHELL.

GN: I loves JONES and she loves me. What we had together was very special and we both realize it.

MR: So, the various CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG configurations began – as did your solo career, with SONGS FOR BEGINNERS. Every track on that album is very rich with lyrics and emotion. What do you think of it now when you look back at the album?

GN: People seem to really like that record and I’ve often wondered why. I’ve been going back recently and listening to it and seeing what it is that I did…and yeah, they are some pretty decent songs. I’m serious as a heart attack about music and I wanted it to be the best. The reason that those songs didn’t end up with CROSBY, STILLS & NASH is because everybody was writing at the same time. And when you’re with CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG you can only have two or maybe three songs per album because the other three guys write. I had all these songs that were in my head and I had to do something with them. I would’ve gone crazy if they’d not been recorded. I needed it and we always said when we were together that it wouldn’t be a named group. We would use our names, because we were going to make music with whomever we wanted at any point in our lives.

MR: And there has always been an element of social consciousness in your music.

GN: Yes. My last show with THE HOLLIES, which was at THE LONDON PALLADIUM, was a benefit for children. When THE HOLLIES were on the road, we would very often go to hospitals and check out kids, go and take a guitar and play them songs and stuff. I’m a human being…We all need help in this world. This can be a pretty gloomy world if you choose to look at it that way. So yeah, I like to speak my mind…and I realize that not everyone’s going to agree with me. But certain people will.

MR: Beautiful. Are you going on tour to support the DVD?

GN: I’m about to leave for the airport and go to New York. CROSBY and I have a show in New York and then we fly the next day to Europe and start in Dublin.

MR: Graham, before we go, I want to thank you very much for your efforts over the years when it comes to trying to advance alternative energy use and development, your being one of the early voices of the anti nuclear movement and also for creating WIND ON THE WATER, your recording with DAVID that’s a masterpiece on protecting whales.

GN: CROSBY and I just made a DVD of a live show that we did about 2½ months ago. It’s an incredible concert and a fabulous DVD. The reason why I’m saying that is because the performance of WIND ON THE WATER on that recording is fabulous. We have to wean ourselves off this oil monster.

MR: We’ve sort of weaned ourselves off the nuclear monster, but there’s more work to do.

GN: Well, yeah, but the nuclear industry – even though it hasn’t been supported by any investment from Wall Street since its conception – relies on public funding. In these economic times and especially the times after the Fukushima disaster – with the information from THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES that over a million people were killed at Chernobyl – I think it’s a stupid way to boil water, when the sun is boiling down on us. I’m in Los Angeles right now and the sun is boiling here.

MR: In some parts of the country, it just doesn’t make sense not to use a natural resource.

GN: I agree. I have solar on my house here and where I live in Hawaii.

MR: Graham, what advice do you have for new artists?

GN: Believe in what you’re doing. Don’t waste people’s time, especially your own. Time is the only thing we have…time and family. That’s it, period.

MR: Do you feel at this point that there are a lot of artists who are actually doing that?

GN: I don’t care. There are a lot of people that are very involved in trying to make the world a better place, but of course, you can almost count the people that own the media on two hands. They want a bunch of sheep.

“Just lie down, let us rob you, buy another pair of sneakers and a soft drink and shut the hell up.”

I’m not one of those people and there are a lot of people here in America who feel the same way. They’re getting sick and tired of the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider and wider by the day.

MR: There will be a blowback, I feel, towards Obama, but I personally think that’s the wrong blowback.

GN: It is the wrong blowback. You’ve got to understand the incredible mess he inherited, but quite frankly, money buys the law. Money buys politics. Money buys congresspeople and senators and even presidents. That’s the way it is. So we have to fight to be heard, we have to fight for what we believe is right and we have to not waste time doing it – like I said before.

MR: Beautiful, Graham. Thank you for that. Terrible segue, but I need to ask you what’s coming up for you beyond the tour.

GN: Well, I’m working on ten records at the same time – all in my mind and on my computer. I’m doing STEPHEN STILLS’ box set right now, which will be three or four CDs. I’m working on the CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG live 1974 tapes, which will be at least a three CD set. I’m working on a benefit album that me and CROSBY have done, because we’ve sung with some incredible people. So I’m putting together that album as well as an acoustic record of me and CROSBY from 93. A bunch of stuff.

MR: Graham, thank you very much for your time. This was very special.

GN: Thank you, kid.

THE HOLLIES: CHATTING WITH ALLAN CLARKE

Posted in Music, Phenomenons on October 13, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by MIKE RAGOGNA at THE HUFFINGTON POST

MIKE RAGOGNA: ALLAN CLARKE of THE HOLLIES…How the heck are you?

ALLAN CLARKE: So well. How are you, Mike?

MR: Terrific, sir. OK. Let’s talk about the new DVD LOOK THROUGH ANY WINDOW that captures THE HOLLIES from 1963 through 1975. How did this project come together?

AC: Well, a guy named DAVID PECK rang me up one day – he runs a firm called REELIN’ IN THE YEARS that has put out a lot of really great DVDs about some great people. He asked me if he could do a DVD about THE HOLLIES. I thought it was about time that something be done like that because nothing had ever been done about THE HOLLIES. It took him a couple of years to get the stuff together and some of the stuff that came to light even I had forgotten about. Most of the things that are on the DVD are full length performances and then there are interviews with myself, GRAHAM NASH, TONY HICKS and BOBBY ELLIOTT. It really spans that time between 1963 and 1975 because that covers most of our hits.

MR: On the DVD, you discuss JERRY LEE LEWIS and how you were inspired by his energy and that energy was in THE HOLLIES’ recording of I CAN’T LET GO.

AC: I don’t know how far back you go in your knowledge of music. I go way, way back, but when I was young, my favourite artists were JERRY LEE LEWIS, LITTLE RICHARD, BUDDY HOLLY and EDDIE COCHRAN. Those songs, at that particular time, had this feel that whenever you heard them, you had to get up and dance. And of course that’s what we did. It’s like whenever you heard the song GREAT BALLS OF FIRE the excitement sort of crept into the body and you had to get up and dance. I CAN’T LET GO gave me that same sort of feel. It got me the first time I heard the original song. I’m just glad that we were able to remake it and have a hit.

MR: There are many on camera interviews on the DVD. Can you share the one about CARRIE ANNE with us?

AC: Well, once we were doing THE TOM JONES SHOW in England and as I was walking down the corridor, I heard GRAHAM and TONY singing this song that sounded great and I thought I’d better get in there and see what was happening because I needed some of that song. (laughs) I think that TONY was pretty much doing it on TAMBOURINE MAN to rouse up CARRIE ANNE…and I got the middle eight on it, so I was really pleased.

MR: The way that you guys recorded your group vocals is shown on the DVD and it was very interesting to watch. There’s footage of the three of you around a microphone because, apparently, you wanted to be able to look at each other’s lips. Is that how it worked?

AC: There just happened to be a film crew in the recording studio that day and they asked if it was OK for them to come and get some footage of us recording stuff and we agreed. So none of that was really planned. We just happened to be doing what we always did earlier in our career; the three of us would be around one mic and we would pre record the bass track in a basic form and then put the vocals down, then do double harmonies. Then GRAHAM would usually add a treble harmony on top of all of that. We tried to be really careful not to overdo things. That just happened to be the way that we always recorded our harmonies. It was very raw.

When we first got to ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS and realized we would be working with four tracks, we thought that was really great, because when we went down to EMI to try and get a deal, we went in and played our whole menu that we did on the road in an afternoon and it turned out to be our first album. So you really didn’t have too much time to mess around.

MR: While we’re on the subject of EMI, what is the story of how THE HOLLIES got signed to the label?

AC: Let’s face it. If it hadn’t been for THE BEATLES I don’t think any of us would be where we are today. When they actually broke through on the charts with LOVE ME DO, all of the record companies in London were sending their A&R men up to Manchester and Liverpool to try and get as many groups as they could because they knew that there was going to be an explosion of Northern Sound and we were one of the lucky ones to pass our audition. I think we were one of the best after THE BEATLES. I think we only became signed because of them…but in the eyes of the public, we were THE BEATLES of Manchester. That’s what happened; a lot of groups got into recording because of THE BEATLES.

MR: On the DVD, we’re treated to footage of ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS with gents running around in white coats.

AC: Yes, that’s right – the engineers. (laughs) In the early days in England, all of the radio personalities were very posh and it was the same for all of the technicians in that studio. I don’t know why, but that’s how it was. It was really very strange.

MR: And there were the tea boys, many of whom became popular engineers or producers later on.

AC: Tea makers like TIM RICE used to go out and get tea for us in the early days.

MR: Wow. At what point did you start working with RON RICHARDS?

AC: RON came up to see us at THE CAVERN where we were performing one night and he just gave us a once over because he was supposed to be the guy that was going to take us into the studio and record us. He liked us straight off. GEORGE MARTIN got THE BEATLES and he got us. He was a great man. He had a great ear for songs and it was more or less down to him picking the songs that we recorded. We always knew that we had one song in the can when RON would tell us to “Come on up and have a listen.” Then we knew that we didn’t have to do any more to the song.

MR: Great. And ALAN PARSONS worked on HOLLIES recordings.

AC: He was actually an engineer at ABBEY ROAD before he went out on his own. He had such a great career with THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT. I did a single called BREAKDOWN on one of his albums myself and I really enjoyed it. He was just a brilliant engineer. I really enjoyed it.

MR: I remember it. Great track. By the way, THE HOLLIES’ ANOTHER NIGHT with SANDY, I’M DOWN and that hypnotic title track – is one of my favourite albums, which was beautifully engineered by ALAN and I think it’s an early sonic blueprint of what he did with THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT on ARISTA, obviously not arrangement wise. Allan, it seems that THE HOLLIES’ success also can be attributed to the team that surrounded you.

AC: You’re right. It was very much a combination of not only the group but the people behind the group. What we used to do when we knew we were going to have to get an album together was meet with everyone for about three weeks prior to recording and start getting ideas together. We got into a rhythm of being able to write songs that we thought would be great for the albums. And you’re right…I did love the ANOTHER NIGHT album and I wish it would have been a bigger hit than it was because we really thought that that one was going to help us break through again in America and that we’d be touring here. It didn’t really work out that way, but we enjoyed making the album and I think that a lot of that was because of RON RICHARDS and the ideas that he had for the songs that we wrote.

MR: Very nice. Now you recorded outside of THE HOLLIES as a solo artist. In fact, weren’t you one of the ones that caught on early to the music of a BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN?

AC: I could say that. I won’t, however, take any credit for BRUCE’S music and ability because he proved that all on his own. The story behind that is that there was a publisher who got some of his stuff before he broke and I remember this publisher playing his songs and thinking that they were great and wanting to record all of the songs, which I did. I even recorded a version of BORN TO RUN. But BRUCE got his out before me…and that’s history. (laughs) No, I’m a great admirer of his. Always loved his stuff and always will.

MR: Getting back to THE HOLLIES, can you tell us the story behind how you guys came up with that name?

AC: That was a long time ago now, but I think it had to do with BUDDY HOLLY, of course. It was also Christmastime so that influenced it as well. Ultimately, it was out of panic because as we were going to go on stage to play, the MC asked what he should call us and we just told him to call us THE HOLLIES and it stuck.

MR: Are there any cool stories that we might not know about you guys before you became a big group?

AC: Many people don’t know this, but GRAHAM and I played on the first ROLLING STONES single NOT FADE AWAY. We were just walking past a recording studio where THE STONES were recording and they asked us to come in because they needed some help. It was myself, GRAHAM and GENE PITNEY. I think GENE was clinking a two penny piece against a brandy bottle and I was playing maracas. But we were on the single. (laughs)

MR: Awesome. How did THE HOLLIES assemble originally?

AC: I met GRAHAM as a five year old 64 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. We got together and always sang together right up until our dads bought us guitars and we started playing skiffle. Then skiffle turned into rock & roll and we started doing THE EVERLY BROTHERS and BUDDY HOLLY stuff. After that, we got a band together and were in so many different kinds of bands that eventually it got to THE HOLLIES and we turned professional. But all of that was over the span of about 15 or 16 years.

MR: Nice. Then you had BERNIE come on for the song BUS STOP. Can you tell us how that came about?

AC: Well, ERIC HAYDOCK left the group and we needed somebody to replace him really quickly because we were in the midst of recording and doing live shows. As it turns out, BERNIE was around and he had worked with TONY HICKS and BOBBY ELLIOT in a previous group called THE DOLPHINS. He fit in right away. He was a very heavy and laid back bass player and that’s what we needed. He was quite different from ERIC.

MR: Yeah. That song became quite a classic in the US. Why do you think that is?

AC: It’s just one of those classic songs that lasts forever. It was written by a guy named GRAHAM GOULDMAN, who brought it to GRAHAM NASH when we were looking for new songs. The two songs that we took from him were that one and LOOK THROUGH ANY WINDOW, which wound up being a big hit here in the States.

MR: Let’s talk about some of your other hit songs, like your anthem HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER. Can you tell us the story behind that one?

AC: Well, TONY HICKS used to go around to publisher’s offices trying to pick up songs to play for RON. One day, he came upon the song on a publisher’s desk and asked the publisher what the song was like and he said, “You won’t like this one. It’s a ballad.” But TONY listened to it anyway and he really liked it. So he came back and played it for us in the studio and we said that it was slow, but it was great. The lyrics were fantastic and it actually meant something, so we knew we had to give it a try. It was very slow in taking off, but when it did, it was so big.

MR: I would say it’s one of the great pop records of all time.

AC: Fancy being the guy that sang that. (laughs)

MR: (laughs) Can you tell us about LONG COOL WOMAN IN A BLACK DRESS?

AC: ROGER COOK was a great friend of mine and we used to write a lot of songs together. That particular song we weren’t really taking very seriously. We used to meet at the studio and have a bottle of brandy and mess around with tunes and such. About 15 minutes after we started writing this song, it was over, done and written and I thought, “Wow, that was quick.”

So I brought it back to the studio and played it for the guys and the guys thought it was a great album track. They told me to play the guitar and sing, which I did…and again, the whole song was recorded in less than 30 minutes. I did one take of vocals and guitar and the guys said we should leave it like that because it didn’t need any more. It was one of those songs that had those HOLLIES harmonies and it went on the album. The next thing I knew, I had someone ringing me from the States saying that they wanted to publish the song because it was racing up the charts. We didn’t even dream that that song would be as big as it was. It was just one of those songs that came out of the ether and it’s a classic.

MR: I think for many guitar players, it’s still mandatory to learn your guitar hook.

AC: Everyone tries. (laughs) We were being inducted to the ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME a couple of years back and one of the posh guitar players that was playing there as well came up to me and asked me how I played that guitar lick because he couldn’t figure it out. And after I showed it to them, they were amazed at how easy it was and they were making it so difficult.

MR: That’s great. It’s also great that you guys were inducted into the ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME. How do you feel about your career and that of THE HOLLIES?

AC: Speaking for myself, I think that I am just one of the luckiest guys in the world to be able to have done what I did and enjoy it. I got paid for something which I love to do and had some great success. But, as I tried to tell my grandchildren who are now playing guitars and such, you have to be in the right place at the right time for these things to happen.

THE HOLLIES were and what followed after that was a combination of people getting together to make great music and the audiences actually going out and buying it and putting us where we were. It’s not just us five guys. There are a lot of other people that had to be in the mix. I’m glad because everyone seems to know THE HOLLIES and they know us for the music. I mean, I walk down the street now and people haven’t a clue who I am, which is nice. But when I’m in America and they play LONG COOL WOMAN in the store, I can’t help but enjoy how much everyone enjoys the music.

What a great thing to have achieved.

MR: And we can’t forget to discuss another song everyone loves, THE AIR THAT I BREATHE, from another terrific album, the self titled THE HOLLIES.

AC: Right. That one was originally recorded by PHIL EVERLY and RON RICHARDS’assistant played it for me because she thought it was a great song and that THE HOLLIES should do it. I loved the song, so I took it to RON again and we wound up putting it down and having another great hit. That’s one of the only songs where you can hear the first note and know exactly what song it is.

MR: That’s right. We also know STOP STOP STOP because of that banjo part.

AC: Yeah. The first time we came to America, we played at this theatre in New York and we were on with SOUPY SALES…remember him? (laughs) LITTLE RICHARD was also on the bill and JIMI HENDRIX, who played for LITTLE RICHARD at the time…and tons of others. One of those nights, we went out to a club owned by the guy who was producing these shows called THE ROUND TABLE and there was a Turkish belly dancer in there doing her bit. That’s where we got the idea for the song STOP STOP STOP. The lyrics were swimming round in our heads. Some of it we even wrote in a taxi. The idea of it was to get this Turkish theme by using the banjo and it worked very, very well.

MR: There was a period for THE HOLLIES when there was an absence of a certain ALLAN CLARKE. What happened?

AC: Well, when I was writing the songs of ROGER COOK before LONG COOL WOMAN was a hit, I was playing with the idea of doing some solo stuff and I had all of this material that I needed to do. I approached the guys and said that I had some stuff that we weren’t recording so I wanted to record it myself. I think that what they thought was that if I had any success of my own, I would leave the group like RYAN did and they weren’t really willing to put up with that, you know?

So I was told it was either stay with the group or leave the group and record on your own. I decided to leave and went into the studio and started doing my own stuff. The guys found another guy to replace me and I thought he had a great voice. They had about three hits with him. He reminded me a lot of SCOTT WALKER. But unfortunately for THE HOLLIES, he didn’t quite have the presence on stage that I had. After about three years, they all came back to me and asked me if I would like to come back to the group and I accepted because I never wanted to leave in the first place.

MR: THE HOLLIES’ seventies albums were terrific for the era. And have we spoken about that masterpiece from RUSSIAN ROULETTE – WIGGLE & WOTSIT – yet?

AC: That was a terrible song! (laughs) I don’t like to say that I had anything to do with the writing of that song, honestly. (laughs) It was a fun song. We were experimenting with different sounds and different ways of writing songs. That’s what those albums were more or less about. I thought the album A CRAZY STEAL was beautiful. We thought that we had a chance of getting hits with the newer songs we were making because they were different and more in the American way, but it wasn’t meant to be. The songs are still there though and they still sound great.

MR: Allan, with all of the success and experience that you’ve gained over your life and extensive career, is there any advice you would give to a new artist?

AC: (laughs) I suppose it would be the same advice that I am giving to my 18 year old grandson,who is a brilliant guitar player and songwriter. I tell him that the reason it all happened as it did is because I was in the right place at the right time and I was doing it for fun. It just happened to turn into a career without me doing anything to promote it at all. It doesn’t happen like that for everyone. What you’ve got to do is keep your feet on the floor and do the best that you can in anything that you do. Don’t make the music the most important thing and think you’re going to be number one; you have to just enjoy your music and I hope that it can happen for people the way that it happened for me.

MR: Now that THE HOLLIES have all been reunited for the release of this DVD, do you think there’s any chance of you doing anything else together?

AC: No, I don’t think so. I’m working on this project with GRAHAM and the other guys are working away in England somewhere. I left the group 10 years ago and one of the reasons I left was because I wasn’t able to hit the high notes any more. I figured I would rather be known for what was than as someone who tried to struggle on for too long. My wife was also diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and we decided that it was time I put my guitar away. We thought we’d just spend the rest of our lives hoping the cancer would go away, which it did and she’s doing beautifully.

MR: Beautiful, Allan. I’m happy for you both. Thank you so much for spending this time with us. We could talk about so much more.

AC: I could talk for the rest of the day about things that happened in our careers…the reason why GRAHAM left, how we met and stayed friends, because, as I said, we’ve been friends for 64 years and will be for many more. I will actually be seeing him later this year because we are being given BUDDY HOLLY guitars by an organization called THE BUDDY HOLLY GUITAR ORGANIZATION that has made 25 copies of his favourite guitars. GRAHAM and I both get one.

MR: I hope you both enjoy them for many years to come. Thank you again for your time and conversation. It was an honour.

AC: Thank you Mike for having me. The honour was all mine.

ROGER DALTREY: A ROCK & ROLL LEGEND REVISITS TOMMY

Posted in Music, Phenomenons on October 3, 2011 by Miranda Wilding


FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ROGER DALTREY feels that there aren’t many contemporary singers who could lead a band.

“A lot of the new people they choose on shows like American Idol and things like that — I don’t ever hear lead singers,” THE WHO frontperson stated.

“They always seem to choose to pick people that are great singers – fabulous singers – but they’ve never got the voice that makes a great lead singer.”

ROGER went on to name some of music’s most distinctive vocalists: “You hear ten seconds of Rod Stewart, you know it’s Rod Stewart. Ten seconds of Mick Jagger, that’s Mick Jagger. Ten seconds of Eddie Vedder, you know that’s Eddie.”

So, would ROGER join the panel of a singing show to fix what he believes is wrong?

“I’d probably throw them all out,” he said, laughing.

“I quite like the idea of The Voice — that new show, simply because they have to choose the voices. They might present me with fifty voices and if I didn’t like any of them I couldn’t work with any of them. It would be pointless.”

He made the comments while promoting his latest tour, ROGER DALTREY PERFORMS THE WHO’S TOMMY, which kicked off earlier this month.

“I rediscovered how fabulous it is as a piece of music and I decided it needs to be heard,” ROGER said of THE WHO’S 1969 TOMMY album.

The CD, mostly composed by bandmate and guitarist PETE TOWNSHEND, became a Broadway musical in 1993. A film version was released in 1975. But ROGER said that his new tour gives him a chance to present his side of TOMMY.

“I loved the film, but it’s Ken Russell’s view of Tommy. The stage play was what it was and that was Pete (Townshend) and (theatrical director) Des McAnuff’s view of it. But to me it’s always been the music that’s important and I can never get bored with that because it’s brilliant. It’s a classically written piece of music and I’ve never seen Tommy as one person. I’ve always seen Tommy as all of us. We’re all screaming, ‘See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.”’

ROGER said his voice has bounced back since he had a precancerous growth removed from his vocal chords just before THE WHO performed during the 2010 Super Bowl half time show.

“It’s sounding better than it’s ever sounded and this is an extremely long show. It’s richer. It’s got a different resonance…But it’s like Johnny Cash. His voice wasn’t the same at the end. But it was his best work.”

ROGER’S tour wraps up in the United States on OCTOBER 25 in Seattle.

He’ll visit Canada for five dates after that.

ON LINE:

www.thewho.com

ROGER EBERT: LIFE ITSELF

Posted in Books, Literature, Phenomenons on September 14, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

ROGER EBERT is a fixture at the TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL…and this year is no exception.

Not only is the PULITZER PRIZE winning movie critic planning to squeeze in 15 to 20 screenings, he’s also promoting a new memoir LIFE ITSELF, which hit stores Tuesday. ROGER is scheduled to sign copies Wednesday at a downtown INDIGO BOOKS and on Friday at THEATRE BOOKS.

After a bout with thyroid cancer, ROGER no longer has the ability to speak. He remains a prolific writer, however…and a voracious user of social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS emailed ROGER a list of questions about his new book.

Here are the responses…

CANADIAN PRESS: In the book, you recall some of the things you’ve done and the places you’ve been with incredible accuracy. You say that when you were ill and bed ridden, you started walking around London “in your mind,” picturing the streets you’d turn down and the roast turkey and peaches you’d order during such an outing. Was that process part of why you wrote this book and how did it jog your memory?

ROGER EBERT: Not being able to speak, I found myself stuck inside my memories and I was surprised how many and vivid they were. Before I got sick, I was much more outer directed and didn’t realize how much stuff was squirrelled away in there.

CP: You paint some very vivid pictures — from an exact description of how your beloved STEAK & SHAKE burgers are made, to what it was like to work in a newsroom in the 60s and 70s. It sounds like it must have been a lot of fun revisiting some of the things you’ve done — can you talk a bit about your writing process, including how you decided what to leave in and take out?

RE: There could have been a great deal more about movies, but I didn’t want to write a movie book. I was more interested in the mysteries of life, especially after cancer changed my life so dramatically and forced me to confront my mortality.

CP: Can you talk a bit about the way you pieced this together — did you work from journals? Interviews with family members?

RE: I worked entirely between my head and the keyboard. No journals. Some old family photo albums helped a little and many of those photos are in the book. Basically I wanted to explore a midwestern boyhood and the unexpected paths it found.

CP: You also write about some of the amazing places you’ve visited and your compulsion to return to the same spots, the exact cafe, even the exact table. Your wife CHAZ calls it “touching your bases.” You say it’s a way to “measure the wheel of the years.” Can you elaborate on that?

RE: I sit in a particular cafe or sprawl on the grass in a particular park or read a newspaper in a particular greasy spoon and say, “I’ve done this before. I’m doing it now. I will do it again.” It was pretending immortality. Now I’ve touched a lot of those bases for the last time. After one of our vacations in London, a friend asked CHAZ, “What did you see?” She said, “We saw the places Roger saw on his previous trips to London.” She used to joke that it was hard to get me to do something the first time and then impossible to get me to stop doing it.

CP: You didn’t set out to be a movie reviewer. You wanted to be an op ed columnist and then a novelist. You say in the book that your 1967 reviews are written in much the same style as today. Why do you think your style hasn’t changed?

RE: I always write subjectively, in the first person. My writing isn’t formal, as based on theory. It’s my voice.

CP: You discuss your struggles with alcohol in the book. You haven’t had a drink since 1979 and talk about going to ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS meetings in a church hall on Bloor Street at the film festival that year. Did you have any qualms about including that in your book and how did the decision to stop drinking change your life and writing?

RE: I felt I couldn’t leave it out and make any sense of what happened during many years. Stopping drinking saved my life, probably lengthened it and made it a lot happier. There will not be a tragic final curtain.

CP: In the book, you note that stars used to be less protected and cocooned and write about the access you used to have, including being on the set of BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID. Why do you think this change has happened and how has it affected your job?

RE: The stars were more self confident in those days. They didn’t shelter within a cocoon of publicists. That means in interviews they came across as more colourful and interesting.

CP: You say in the book that, generally speaking, your favourite movies are the ones about good people. What do you mean by that?

RE: Sad movies don’t make me cry. Movies about goodness make me cry. I am moved by people trying to be nice, decent and brave.

CP: Going back for a moment to your favourite places — you also vow in the book to keep visiting them. How are you feeling these days and how does your health affect your ability to travel to film festivals?

RE: My health is fine, except for my obvious troubles — and problems with shoulder and back pain after the surgeries, as they were trying to rummage around and find bones and tissue to transplant in a facial reconstruction.

CP: The book’s final chapter is entitled GO GENTLY and in it, you say that you don’t fear death. Earlier in the book, you write that you and your high school classmates had no idea how lucky you were and that your job running a campus paper was pretty much the best gig you’ve ever had, about how you miss the majestic theatres of old. Did writing this book help you take stock of your life and make you view it any differently? If so, how…?

RE: At the time, it was simple a life — mine. Now I realize what good fortune I’ve had. And how many people helped me.

SEEDS WE SOW: AN ILLUMINATING CHAT WITH LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM

Posted in Music, Phenomenons on August 24, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by MIKE RAGOGNA at THE HUFFINGTON POST

MIKE RAGOGNA: Lindsey, how are you?

LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: Good. How are you?

MR: I’m doing fine. It’s an honour to speak to you, sir.

LB: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

MR: I’ve been a fan since your first solo album LAW & ORDER. Of course, I loved the FLEETWOOD MAC material. But I’ve really enjoyed all of your solo material as well.

LB: Well, that’s nice to hear. We do our best. What can I say?

MR: Lindsey, you’re on your sixth solo album now, SEEDS WE SOW. No surprise. You produced, mixed and performed virtually every note. Oh…and you wrote almost all the songs.

LB: Well, pretty much. There’s a ROLLING STONES cover at the end, SHE SMILED SWEETLY and I cowrote one of the songs, STARS ARE CRAZY. My road band is also playing on one of the songs. But yes, for all intents and purposes, I did. I must have control issues. Yes?

MR: (laughs) Naw, you’re just ubercreative. STARS ARE CRAZY is one of my favourite tracks on this new album. Who cowrote that with you?

LB: A gal from San Jose named LISA DEWEY.

MR: Very nice. And which song is the band on?

LB: THAT’S THE WAY THAT LOVE GOES.

MR: I especially love that song’s line:

That’s the way love goes/It goes/It goes…

LB: Yes, exactly. (laughs)

MR: Lindsey, why is it that it goes, it goes like all the time? What is it about love and all that? Why can’t folks just get that stuff straight?

LB: Well…the thing is, I have gotten it straight finally – it just took me a while. You know, all of those years in FLEETWOOD MAC were very exciting and creatively satisfying much of the time – not all of the time, but much of the time. Personally, they left a little to be desired.

There was a lot of dysfunction within the band. I don’t think that having two couples that had broken up and were working together without ever really having a chance to come to any closure…I don’t think that was a very healthy situation, though it was certainly part of the whole package that people were interested in and it kind of brought out the voyeur in everybody. But it wasn’t always the most fun for us. I did see, during those decades, a lot of people I knew who were parents at that time and were not really there for their kids or their spouses and were doing what they thought they had to do to be rock & rollers.

I wasn’t going to be one of those guys, so I waited. I didn’t jump into the family scene like that and I was just lucky enough to meet someone relatively late who I fell in love with and who fell in love with me. I actually have three beautiful kids now. So the loving is there and it’s evolving. It was just one of those lucky things for me. I feel blessed that I didn’t jump in before I was ready and I feel even more blessed that it was something that happened for me at a time when the odds of it ever happening were not that great. That’s not to say that you don’t write about things that are bothering you in the moment. I think one of the themes on the record is that you have to make a choice and you have to have faith that things are going to sort of work out all right. The love is actually not gone – it finally showed up – that was the beauty.

MR: Nicely put. Very happy for you. I want to hear what you have to say about ILLUMINATION. My personal interpretation is that it’s about coming out of the fog, you know?

LB: Well it is, it is. It’s somehow evolving into a place where you can see things clearly. You can look at choices we make as individuals, if you look at the state of the world or the state of America right now. But that’s just a word. It really comes down to the decisions we make and the choices we make as individuals that define who we are – the sum total of those choices. Then who we are as a people or as a world is the sum total of all of those put together. So hopefully we’re poised for some new clarity fairly soon, I would hope.

MR: Let’s get to your first single IN OUR OWN TIME. Again, it seems like it’s about relationships in the way we’ve been talking about them. Wait, sidebar here…I feel like a lot of people now take for granted what you’ve contributed to popular music through your body of works, experimenting and playing. Your guitar work on this song, for example, harkens back to your live version of BIG LOVE, where this amazing speed meets emotion thing occurs. With IN OUR OWN TIME, if you close your eyes and forget about the musicianship, you easily could dismiss it as a loop, especially since we’re being bombarded with them on pop radio and everyone’s using them live lately. I mean, you were playing parts in that style for years, but where’s your cred, Lindsey? Makes me wanna holla.

LB: The thing that’s been nice for me for years is that I’ve had this mainstream thing with FLEETWOOD MAC and that sort of feeds the financial side of things. The solo work has never been anything more than looking at the more esoteric side of what I do – the left side of the palette, the risk taking side of things and really the side of things that helps you to grow as an artist, take chances and keep your idealism intact. You know, some of those things were certainly there years ago and are still there. So it’s nice to have both, I have to say.

MR: OK…the song WHEN SHE COMES DOWN. One of my favourite folk songs is WILD MOUNTAIN TIME and I love how you have a little nod to that in the chorus.

LB: Yes, exactly.

MR: Obviously you have a love of folk in addition to a love of all kinds of music.

LB: Well, I started playing very young, when my older brother started bringing home ELVIS PRESLEY records. Of course when the initial wave of rock & roll started to peter out and we started to see all the little FABIANS show up, that’s when I got interested in folk music. That kind of kept me going for a while until THE BEATLES showed up, you know?

MR: And you had a friendship with the late JOHN STEWART, one of my favourite singer/songwriters.

LB: Yes, I did. I loved THE KINGSTON TRIO. I was a big fan of JOHN’S as a solo artist.

MR: And you worked with him on a couple albums. How did that come about?

LB: He actually sought me out because back in the late 70s, I had mentioned what a fan of his when I was in print a few times. So he sought me out and I worked on some of his records at that point. Yeah, we kept in touch over the years.

MR: I’ve been talking to a lot of jazz artists and I’ve been asking them, “Do you miss Miles?” So, I guess it’s fair to ask you, do you miss JOHN?

LB: Well, sure I do. We had kind of lost track over the last ten or fifteen years. He moved back up to Northern California and I’d only seen him a few times. But I miss the spirit of what he was about. Absolutely.

MR: That’s beautiful. Getting back to SEEDS WE SOW, the song ONE TAKE seems to focus on a particularly bad boy.

LB: Well, again…it’s just about people who have perhaps lost their perspective about how they’re impacting the world because all they care about is feeding their own ego or what they think they need. There’s a kind of mass hypnosis that a certain faction of the country has fallen into – certainly Wall Street. The corporate world, in general, has become so powerful and to some degree has displaced governmental power in a way that is unprecedented. Again, I think these are all good people who have just kind of lost their perspective on things a little bit. It’s just a little slice of some people that we all might know somewhere.

MR: Now this album is released on your own label. Right?

LB: Yes.

MR: So you are in the same boat as many of the kids that are coming out with new projects. How are you approaching this?

LB: Call me back in six or eight months and I might have more perspective for you – the album doesn’t really come out until September. We did take it around…my deal had run out with WARNER BROTHERS. It’s ironic, to some degree, that I’m putting it out myself. I’m excited about it and I think it’s a breath of fresh air.

Even if you hearken back to years previous, with WARNER BROTHERS in particular – just taking WARNER BROTHERS as an example of a large label – there have been any number of wonderful people that I have a high regard for that have floated through that company over the years, from MO OSTIN on. WARNER BROTHERS, though, never really interfaced with me in a constructive way with the solo work and I think the reason for that was because they kept thinking, “Well, let’s get back to what’s really important here,” which to them was FLEETWOOD MAC, obviously. So even at a time when the model of the large company was not broken – as it is today – and wasn’t so dominated by the bottom line mentality that exists today, it was hard.

A friend of mine is over there now and you think, “Well, this is a guy that I’ve known for close to twenty years,” and you would have thought that he would have found a place for me over at the label. But he did not feel that he had the power to do that – he started talking to me about the amount of money that he had to make every quarter and I’m going, “OK. Whatever.” Again, that’s its own kind of mass hypnosis. It’s not his fault. It’s just the way things have gotten.

If you backtrack to the fact that they never really got my solo work to begin with and it’s just that much more difficult with large labels or small labels today. I talked to (someone at) GLASSNOTE and he loved the album. But he’s got these kids working on his staff – kids by my standards – and it wasn’t that they didn’t like the music, but they just didn’t know. You know, there’s a demographic consideration. It’s symptomatic of what seems to be wrong with the business and so IRVING AZOFF and I sat down and we said, “Screw it. Let’s just put it out ourselves and see what happens.” It will be exciting to see how that works.

MR: With the bigger labels, it’s alleged good business sense to just sign new artists because you get them on the cheap, they don’t have contracts for years with their royalty rates that have gone up etc. While we’re on that subject, what advice do you have for new artists these days?

LB: Oh boy, if I only knew. I don’t have any particular insight into any marketing advice or strategies at all, other than in the same way there were a ton of independent labels in the 50s and early 60s, which all went away at some point. Now you’ve got the internet. So that does level the playing field a little bit and it gives people the opportunity to be heard on their own terms. Because of that I would say, as a new artist, I guess it’s one thing to have a clever marketing idea, but I think it’s most important to find something you can call your own.

MR: I have one last question for you about one of the songs on the album: END OF TIME. I love the line

When they finally come to bury us/Maybe then we’ll tell the truth

LB: Yeah. (laughs)

MR: That’s great. What growth have you seen from your first solo album to this album?

LB: Well, I think that you have to look at what my life was like back then – that was like 1981. Probably, I never would have made a solo album at all had there not been a certain political backlash to the making of the TUSK album. Now I don’t know if you know any of the story behind the TUSK album. But to me, that was in reaction to this ridiculous Michael Jacksonland we were in, in a post RUMOURS environment and being poised to make RUMOURS 2 and me saying, “That’s like the beginning of painting myself into an artistic corner.”

There is this axiom in the business: “You run it into the ground and move on,” and I was not interested in doing that. If you isolated my songs from TUSK as a first solo album – this is a roundabout way of answering your question – but what happened was, in the wake of TUSK not selling sixteen million albums, there was some kind of an edict that came down within the band that said, “Well, we’re not going to do that any more,” and it kind of left me treading water a little bit as a producer and as a band member because there was this sense that we were going to backtrack into previously known territory, which was a very deliberate and artificial thing to do.

So I think that first solo album LAW & ORDER was probably a bit of a reaction to all of that. I think if you look at it, it doesn’t really have a centre per se – it’s more of a variety show – it’s way more ironic and tongue in cheek in some ways and it probably reflects to some degree the way that we were conducting our personal lives.

You can kind of see the evolution of moving more and more towards the centre and I think that’s one of the things that I’ve learned over time – you have to look for what’s essential and you have to look for the centre. Of course, if you cut to my personal life now – because I did see many of my friends who weren’t there for their children during those decades and I didn’t want to be one of those and I waited long enough to meet someone, fall in love and have children at a relatively late age – I think that was…maybe it was karmic. But it was also something which grounded my personal life and it was such a gift that I could appreciate, unlike a lot of people who didn’t seem to appreciate their families, or couldn’t, at the time they were having them. I think that also reflects back on, not just this album, but the two I did back to back four or five years ago, UNDER THE SKIN and GIFT OF SCREWS. This one seems to me to be the most overview of the range that I can do…It seems to bring everything that I’d ever tried to do as a solo artist into a focal point, but I think it’s doing it from a real centre more so than ever before…and that would be how I sort of track the growth, for sure.

MR: Well, if it matters, this is my favourite solo album from you. And just for the record with TUSK, I think it’s in the same category as JONI MITCHELL’S THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS, in that, back in the day, people didn’t know what to do with the experimentation that went on with both of those albums. PRINCE and many others have publicly commented how JONI’S album was their favourite and lately people have begun to say that TUSK is now their favourite FLEETWOOD MAC album.

LB: Well yeah, it’s mine too. It’s hard to be objective about the music, but it’s my favourite for what it represented – for the line in the sand that I drew, for the fact that it was, in many ways, the beginning of the way that I still try to think, in terms of prioritizing what’s important, you know?

MR: Yeah, I do.

LB: The choices that I’ve made have not always afforded maximum profit, you know? Sometimes that’s driven the band crazy, but that’s the trade off. I’m in this place where I really am happy with who I am as an artist and as a person. That’s the tricky thing about choices – you don’t always know that those choices are good in the moment. Sometimes, it takes the perspective of time when you’re making choices that are not universally popular with your peers. (laughs) I don’t know. I feel good about those choices and I think if there was a trade off, it was the trade off that I’ve been happy to make.

MR: Lindsey, I so appreciate your time. It’s an honour to talk with you because you are one of my favourite musicians, writers…You know, all that. (laughs)

LB: Oh, I appreciate it so much, man.

MR: All the best with the new album and maybe six months from now we’ll talk about it again?

LB: Love to. Absolutely. All right. Take care.

AND I SHOULD KNOW…

Posted in Feminism, Media, Phenomenons, Television on August 17, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by ROSEANNE BARR at NEW YORK MAGAZINE

ROSEANNE BARR was a sitcom star, a creator and a product, the agitator and the abused, a domestic goddess and a feminist pioneer. That was twenty years ago. But as far as she’s concerned, not much has changed.

During the recent and overly publicized breakdown of CHARLIE SHEEN, I was repeatedly contacted by the media and asked to comment, as it was assumed that I know a thing or two about starring on a sitcom, fighting with producers, nasty divorces, public meltdowns and bombing through a live comedy tour. I have, however, never smoked crack or taken too many drugs, unless you count alcohol as a drug. (I don’t.) But I do know what it’s like to be seized by bipolar thoughts that make one spout wise about Tiger Blood and brag about winning when one is actually losing.

It’s hard to tell whether one is winning or, in fact, losing once one starts to think of oneself as a commodity, or a product, or a character or a voice for the downtrodden. It’s called losing perspective. Fame’s a bitch. It’s hard to handle and drives you nuts. Yes, it’s true that your sense of entitlement grows exponentially with every perk until it becomes too stupendous a weight to walk around under, but it’s a cutthroat business – show – and without the perks, plain ol’ fame and fortune just ain’t worth the trouble.

Winning in Hollywood means not just power, money and complimentary smoked salmon pizza, but also that everyone around you fails just as you are peaking. When you become #1, you might begin to believe, as CHER once said in an interview, that you are “one of God’s favourite children,” one of the few who made it through the gauntlet and survived. The idea that your ego is not ego at all but submission to the will of the Lord starts to dawn on you as you recognize that only by God’s grace did you make it through the raging attack of idea pirates and woman haters, to ascend to the top of Bigshit Showbiz Mountain.

All of that sounds very much like the diagnosis for bipolar disorder, which more and more stars are claiming to have these days. I have it, as well as several other mental illnesses, but then I’ve always been a trendsetter, even though I’m seldom credited with those kinds of things. And I was not crazy before I created, wrote and starred in television’s first feminist and working class family sitcom. (Also its last.)

I so admire DAVE CHAPELLE. You did right for yourself by walking away, DAVE. I did not have the guts to do it, because I knew I would never get another chance to carry so large a message on behalf of the men and women I grew up with…and that mattered most to me.

After my 1985 appearance on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON, I was wooed by producers in Hollywood, who told me they wanted to turn my act into a sitcom. When Marcy Carsey — who co owned CARSEY WERNER with her production partner Tom Werner (producers of THE COSBY SHOW) — asked me to sign, I was impressed. I considered THE COSBY SHOW to be some of the greatest and most revolutionary TV ever.

Marcy presented herself as a sister in arms. I was a cutting edge comic and she said she got that I wanted to do a realistic show about a strong mother who was not a victim of Patriarchal Consumerist Bullshit — in other words, the persona I had carefully crafted over eight previous years in dive clubs and biker bars: a fierce working class Domestic Goddess. It was 1987 and it seemed people were primed and ready to watch a sitcom that didn’t have anything like the rosy glow of middle class confidence and comfort and didn’t try to fake it. ABC seemed to agree.

They picked up ROSEANNE in 1988.

It didn’t take long for me to get a taste of the staggering sexism and class bigotry that would make the first season of ROSEANNE godawful. It was at the premiere party when I learned that my stories and ideas — and the ideas of my sister and my first husband BILL — had been stolen. The pilot was screened and I saw the opening credits for the first time, which included this: CREATED BY MATT WILLIAMS. I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party.

Not one person noticed.

I confronted Marcy under the bleachers on the sound stage when we were shooting the next episode. I asked her how I could continue working for a woman who had let a man take credit for my work — who wouldn’t even share credit with me — after talking to me about sisterhood and all that bullshit.

She started crying and said, “I guess I’m going to have to tell Brandon [Stoddard, then president of ABC Entertainment] that I can’t deliver this show.” I said, “Cry all you want to, but you figure out a way to put my name on the show I created or kiss my ass goodbye.”

I went to complain to Brandon, thinking he could set things straight, as having a robbed star might be counterproductive to his network. He told me, “You were over 21 when you signed that contract.” He looked at me as if I were an arrogant restaurant server run amok.

I went to my agent and asked him why he never told me that I would not be getting the created by credit. He halfheartedly admitted that he had “a lot going on at the time” and was “sorry.” I also learned that it was too late to lodge a complaint with the WRITERS GUILD. I immediately left that agency and went to the WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY. I figured out that Carsey and Werner had bullshitted Matt Williams into believing that it was his show and I was his star as effectively as they had bullshitted me into thinking that it was my show and Matt Williams was my scribe. I contacted BERNIE BRILLSTEIN and a young talent manager in his office, BRAD GREY and asked them to help me. They suggested that I walk away and start over, but I was too afraid I would never get another show.

It was pretty clear that no one really cared about the show except me and that Matt and Marcy and ABC had nothing but contempt for me — someone who didn’t show deference, didn’t keep her mouth shut, didn’t do what she was told. Marcy acted as if I were antifeminist by resisting her attempt to steal my whole life out from under me. I made the mistake of thinking Marcy was a powerful woman in her own right. I’ve come to learn that there are none in TV. There aren’t powerful men, for that matter, either — unless they work for an ad company or a market study group. Those are the people who decide what gets on the air and what doesn’t.

Complaining about the created by credit made an enemy of Matt. He wasted no time bullying and undermining me, going so far as to ask my costar JOHN GOODMAN, who played ROSEANNE CONNOR’S husband DAN if he would do the show without me. (JOHN said no.) That caused my first nervous breakdown.

To survive the truly hostile environment on set, I started to pray nonstop to my God, as working class women often do and to listen nonstop to PATTI SMITH’S PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER. I read THE ART OF WAR and kept the idea She that cares the most wins upmost in my mind. I knew I cared the most, since I had the most to lose. I made a chart of names and hung them on my dressing room door; it listed every person who worked on the show and I put a check next to those I intended to fire when ROSEANNE became #1, which I knew it would.

My breakdown deepened around the fourth episode, when I confronted the wardrobe master about the Sears Roebuck outfits that made me look like a show pony rather than a working class mom. I wanted vintage plaid shirts, T shirts and jeans, not purple stretch pants with green and blue smocks. She bought everything but what I requested, so I wore my own clothes to work, thinking she was just absentminded. I was still clueless about the extent of the subterfuge.

Eventually she told me that she had been told by one of Matt’s producers —his chief mouthpiece — “not to listen to what Roseanne wants to wear.” This producer was a woman, a type I became acquainted with at the beginning of my stand up career in Denver. I cared little for them: blondes in high heels who were so anxious to reach the professional level of the men they worshipped, fawned over, served, built up and flattered that they would stab other women in the back.

They are the ultimate weapon used by men against actual feminists who try to work in media and they are never friends to other women. You can trust me on that.

I grabbed a pair of wardrobe scissors and ran up to the big house to confront the producer. (The big house was what I called the writers’ building. I rarely went there, since it was disgusting. Within minutes, one of the writers would crack an utterly tasteless feminine hygiene joke that would make me want to murder them. Male writers have zero interest in being nice to women, including their own assistants, few of whom are ever promoted to the rank of writer, even though they do all the work while the guys sit on their asses taking the credit. Those are the women who deserve the utmost respect.)

I walked into this woman’s office, held the scissors up to show her I meant business and said, “Bitch, do you want me to cut you?” We stood there for a second or two, just so I could make sure she was receptive to my POV. I asked why she had told the wardrobe master to not listen to me and she said, “Because we do not like the way you choose to portray this character.”

I said, “This is no fucking character! This is my show and I created it — not Matt and not Carsey Werner and not ABC. You watch me. I will win this battle if I have to kill every last white bitch in high heels around here.”

The next battle came when Matt sent down a line for me that I found incredibly insulting — not just to myself but to JOHN, who I was in love with secretly. The line was a ridiculously sexist interpretation of what a feminist thinks — something to the effect of “You’re my equal in bed, but that’s it.”

I could not say it convincingly enough for Matt and his hand picked director walked over and gave me a note in front of the entire crew: “Say it like you mean it…That is a direct note from Matt.”

What followed went something like this: My lovely acting coach ROXANNE ROGERS (a sister of SAM SHEPARD) piped up and said, “Never give an actor a note in front of the crew. Take her aside and give her the note privately – that is what good directors do.” She made sure to say this in front of the entire crew. Then she suggested that I request a line change. So I did.

Matt, who was watching from his office, yelled over the loudspeaker, “Say the line as written!” I said, “No, I don’t like the line. I find it repulsive and my character would not say it.” Matt said, “Yes, she would say it. She’s hot to trot and to get her husband in bed with her and give it to her like she wants it.”

I replied that this was not what she would say or do: “It’s a castrating line that only an idiot would think to write for a real live woman who loves her husband, you cocksucker.”

ABC’s lawyers were called in. They stood around the bed while the cameras filmed me saying, very politely, over and over, “Line change, please.” After four hours of this, I called my then lawyer BARRY HIRSCH and demanded to be let out of my contract. I couldn’t take it any longer — the abuse, humiliation, theft and lack of respect for my work, my health, my life. He explained that he had let it go on for hours on purpose and that I had finally won.

He had sent a letter to the network and CARSEY WERNER that said, “Matt wasted money that he could have saved with a simple line change. He cost you four hours in production budget.”

That turned the tide in my favour.

BARRY told me Matt would be gone after the thirteenth episode. Which didn’t stop him from making my life hell until then. Some days, I’d just stand in the set’s kitchen weeping loudly. The crew would surround me and encourage me to continue. CJ, one of my favourite camera operators — an African ­American married to a white woman — would say, “Come on, Rosie, I need this job. I have five kids and two of them are white!”

I was constantly thinking about my own kids being able to go to college and I wrote jokes like a machine — jokes that I insisted be included in the scripts. (Lots of times, the writers would tell me that the pages got lost.) But thanks to BARRY, my then manager ARLYNE ROTHBERG, ROXANNE, my brave dyke sister GERALDINE BARR, the cast of great actors, the crew — who became my drinking buddies — the wardrobe department and the craft services folks, I showed up and lived out the first thirteen episodes, after which Matt left. Without all of them, I never would have made it.

(Most of the crew now work for Chuck Lorre, who I fired from my show; his sitcoms star some of my costars and tackle many of the subjects ROSEANNE did. Imitation is the sincerest form of show business.)

Matt stayed just long enough to ensure him a lifetime’s worth of residuals. Another head writer was brought on and at first he actually tried to listen to what I wanted to do. But within a few shows, I realized he wasn’t much more of a team player than Matt. He brought his own writers with him, all male, all old. Most of them had probably never worked with a woman who did not serve them coffee. It must have been a shock to their system to find me in a position to disapprove their jokes.

When the show went to #1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate 1 to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy — or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with #1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and GEORGE CLOONEY [who played ROSEANNE CONNER’S boss for the first season] took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat.

I sent that to ABC.

Not long after that, I cleaned house. Honestly, I enjoyed firing the people I’d checked on the back of my dressing room door. The writers packed their bags and went to join Matt on TIM ALLEN’S new show HOME IMPROVEMENT, so none of them suffered at all. TIM didn’t get credit either.

But at least everyone began to credit me.

I was assumed to be a genius and eccentric instead of a crazy bitch and for a while it felt pretty nice. I hired comics that I had worked with in clubs, rather than script writers. I promoted several of the female assistants — who had done all the work of assembling the scripts ­anyway — to full writers. (I did that for one or two members of my crew as well.)

Call me immodest — moi? — but I honestly think ROSEANNE is even more ahead of its time today, when Americans are, to use a technical term from classical economics, screwed. We had our fun; it was a sitcom. But it also wasn’t The Brady Bunch; the kids were wiseasses and so were the parents. I and the mostly great writers in charge of crafting the show ­every week never forgot that we needed to make people laugh, but the struggle to survive and to break taboos was equally important. And that was my goal from the beginning.

The end of my addiction to fame happened at the exact moment ROSEANNE dropped out of the top ten, in the seventh of our nine seasons. It was mysteriously instantaneous! I clearly remember that blackest of days, when I had my office call The Palm restaurant for reservations on a Saturday night, at the last second as per usual. My assistant HILARY, who is still working for me, said — while clutching the phone to her chest with a look of horror, a look I can recall now as though it were only yesterday: “The Palm said they are full!”

Knowing what that really meant sent me over the edge. It was a gut shot with a sawed off scattershot, buckshot loaded pellet gun. I made HIL call The Palm back, disguise her voice and say she was calling from the offices of TOM CRUISE and NICOLE KIDMAN. Instantly, HIL was given the big 10 4 by The Palm management team. I became enraged and though she was uncomfortable doing it (HIL is a professional woman), I forced her to call back at 7:55 and cancel the 8:00 reservation, saying that ROSEANNE — who had joined TOM and NICOLE’S party of seven — had persuaded them to join her at Denny’s on Sunset Boulevard.

The feeling of being used all those years just because I was in the top ten — not for my money or even my gluttony — was sobering indeed. I vowed that I would make a complete change top to bottom and rid myself of the desires that had laid me low. (I also stopped eating meat for a year, out of bitterness and mourning for The Palm’s bone in rib eye steaks.)

As inevitably happens to all stars, I could not look myself in the mirror for one more second. My dependence on empty flattery, without which I feared I would evaporate, masked a deeper addiction to the bizarro world of fame. I had sold my time and company at deflated prices just for the thrill of reserving the best tables at the best restaurants at the very last minute with a phone call to the maître d’ — or the owners themselves, whose friendships I coddled just to ensure premium access to the aforementioned, unbelievably good smoked salmon pizza.

I finally found the right lawyer to tell me what scares TV producers worse than anything — too late for me. What scares these guys — who think that the perks of success include humiliating and destroying the star they work for (read Chuck Lorre’s personal attacks on CHARLIE SHEEN in his vanity cards at the end of TWO & A HALF MEN) — isn’t getting caught stealing or being made to pay for that; it’s being charged with fostering a hostile work environment. If I could do it all over, I’d sue ABC and CARSEY WERNER under those provisions. Hollywood hates labour and hates shows about labour worse than any other thing. And that’s why you won’t be seeing another ROSEANNE anytime soon.

Instead, all over the tube, you will find enterprising, overmedicated, painted up capitalist whores claiming to be housewives.

But I’m not bitter.

Nothing real or truthful makes its way to TV unless you are smart and know how to sneak it in and I would tell you how I did it, but then I would have to kill you.

Based on TWO & A HALF MEN’S success, it seems viewers now prefer their comedy dumb and sexist. People do what they can get away with (or figure they can) and CHARLIE is, in fact, a product of what we call politely the culture. Where I can relate to the CHARLIE stuff is his undisguised contempt for certain people in his work environment and his unwillingness to play a role that’s expected of him on his own time.

But, again, I’m not bitter. I’m really not.

The fact that my fans have thanked and encouraged me for doing what I used to get in trouble for doing (shooting my big mouth off) has been very healing. And somewhere along the way, I realized that TV and our culture had changed because of a woman named ROSEANNE CONNER, whom I am honoured to have written jokes for.