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March 18, 2019 @ 3:57 pm

Episode 26. Peter Asher

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Episode 26

Peter Asher

 


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IN THE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC, there are certain figures who were  true catalysts, and brought together key people who went on to create classic, timeless music. Mama Cass and Van Dyke Parks were catalysts, as is our guest on this episode, Peter Asher.

But for Peter, as he relates in this episode, for him that catalyst was primarily Kootch,  AKA Danny Kortchmar, our guest on Episode Three. Kootch was instrumental in not only creating much of this music as a guitarist and songwriter, but also by famously bringing together people - such as James Taylor and Peter Asher - who went go to to create great music for decades.

 

 

ep506-own-master-class-james-taylor-11-9Peter & James at the `Sweet Baby James' photo shoot with Henry Diltz,
At a former farm in Burbank where the Oakwood Apartments now stand.
 

 

As James recalled about this momentous Kootch connection: 

"I convinced my parents to get me a plane ticket to London in 1968.  I called my friend Danny Kortchmar - Kootch, as we used to call him and still do - he was a key person in my life in terms of connecting with a lot of people. And he had toured a year with Peter Asher - of Peter & Gordon - during the British invasion.

So I took my demo to see Peter Asher. And as luck would have it, Peter had just signed on as A&R director for Apple, The  Beatles' brand-new label, and it was his job to find people for the label. He heard my demo and arranged an audition with Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

Paul said to Peter, 'This is great. You feel like producing a record?' And Peter said, 'Sure, I'll produce it.'

Peter was a key person. Peter was my manager - and is my dear friend - and we learned how to produce together. And that was my big break. It was a remarkable dream come true. It really was." 

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Peter, James & Kootch

Peter Asher's entire life reads like a remarkable dream come true, as he was present and part of so much of momentous music history. Born in London in 1944, his father Richard Asher, was a doctor, author and occasional pianist, and his mother Margaret was a musician who taught at several conservatories. While at the Guildhall School one of her oboe students was future Beatles producer, George Martin.


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Photo by KEVIN WINTER

 

But Peter - as Beatles fans know well - had a closer connection to the Fab Four than that. Paul McCartney dated Peter's sister Jane Asher, and actually lived in their home - at 57 Wimpole Street in the Marylebone district of central London.

 

Historic people lived on Wimpole, most famously Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who lived at 50 Wimpole until 1846 when she eloped with Robert Browning, leading to the play about their courtship, "The Barretts of Wimpole Street."

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Peter & Jane

Paul lived there - in an upper bedroom next to Peter's - for two years. (Though he toured during some of this time, as Peter tells us). Lennon and McCartney wrote "I Want To Hold Your Hand" here, and it's also here that Paul came up with the melody to "Yesterday" in his bedroom. 

 

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Paul & Jane Asher, 1964.

Peter was a performer from an early age, and worked as an actor on the London stage, and in TV shows and movies. Brilliant from the start, although humble, he was a member of Mensa, but said that was proof not of a high IQ, but his talent at taking tests. 

He met Gordon Waller at school, both of whom loved singing and playing guitar, and they formed the duo Peter & Gordon. Again, their timing seemed providential: they recorded a song McCartney wrote, "World Without Love," which Lennon didn't love and rejected for The Beatles. It became a number one hit around the world just in time for the British Invasion. 

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1964, written by Beatle Paul.

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Peter & Gordon

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Invited by McCartney to become head of A&R for Apple, The Beatles' new label, he signed James Taylor, and produced his first album, called James Taylor, at Trident Studios, where The Beatles were working on The White Album.  McCartney played bass on the single, "Carolina On My Mind." 

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Peter & Paul at Apple with Co-workers, Working.

 
 

When Apple began to collapse - which Peter attributed to the divisions between The Beatles, and Lennon's choice of Allan Klein as their new manager, who he called "a crook" - he and James moved to Los Angeles. There Peter got him a new record deal, and produced his next albums, including the landmark Sweet Baby James, which features "Fire and Rain." 

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Photo by HENRY DILTZ.

 

He speaks of all of this and more in our conversation, as well as much else from his remarkable history - such as discovering and producing Linda Ronstadt, managing her, James, Warren Zevon and others - while continuing to make his own music as a producer and songwriter on his own - with Clyde Jeremy as Peter & Clyde, and with his old pal Albert Lee. 

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Peter & Linda Ronstadt

Peter & Louise at the Hyde Park concert in London by Carole King, for which Louise opened and also played with her mom.

 
 
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Peter at the Pacific
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March 11, 2019 @ 5:19 pm

Episode 25. Carole King Part 5

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Episode 25

Carole King

Part Five

 

 The Great Song Adventure is happy and proud to present this, the final installation of our five-part series of episodes with Carole King. 

 

 

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 photo by Jim McCrary

 
On the morning after the first interview conducted by Louise and Paul, Carole - who is Louise's mom - told her daughter she had more to say. So they sat down again, and Carole shared much more, extending into our fourth episode, and this final one. 

It's a remarkable conversation, in which mother and daughter, both serious songwriters, discuss the art and business of songwriting as it has shifted in modern times. And much more. 

 


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 Credit: Buzz Photo/ RexFeatures

 

 

"Allow yourself to open," she tells songwriters about how best to allow songs to come through. "Don't judge what is coming out," she says. "Just keep going... " Always she stresses the value of writing songs not only for the outcome, but for the joy of the process. After writing a song, she says, despite whether you think it's great or not, it's important to appreciate the journey.

"You just had the doing," she said. "and the doing is what it's about." 

 

 

 

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Carole in 1947 with her parents Eugenia and Sidney Klein.

 

 

She also discusses the great difference of being a songwriter in her day, and existing - as does Louise - in this new digital world where record companies no longer do all the work for the artist and where recording artists and songwriters do it all for themselves, managing their own content and social media. "You have the answer more than I do," she says to Louise. 

 


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clockwise - Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Louise Goffin & Sherry Kondor

 

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2016 Hyde Park Concert, Carole with Louise & Kootch

photo by Elissa Kline Photography 

 

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This bumper collection of numbers penned by revered New Yorkers Gerry Goffin and his wife Carole King includes familiar hits (the Shirelles’ "What A Sweet Thing That Was," Bobby Vee’s "Sharing You," the Cookies’ "Will Power," the Drifters’ "When My Little Girl Is Smiling," overlooked gems (the Hondells’ "Show Me Girl," the Hearts & Flowers’ "Road To Nowhere," Walter Jackson’s "Anything Can Happen") and some new-to-CD rarities (‘You Turn Me On, Boy" by the Honey Bees, the Orlons’ "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," the Clovers’ "The Sheik" and Theola Kilgore’s "It’s Gonna Be Alright"). By 1968 Carole and Gerry had moved from the East Coast and were living apart in Los Angeles, where Carole formed the group The City. "Snow Queen" (heard here in a rare version by the Tokens) and "That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)" (here by Dusty Springfield, one of the Goffins’ biggest champions), were among the six Goffin and King songs on “Now That Everything’s Been Said,” The City’s album. After their divorce, Carole and Gerry did resume writing together, although much less prolifically than before. (Mick Patrick)

 

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 photo by Paul Zollo 

 

 

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James Taylor and Carole King, 1971, by Barrie Wentzell. 

 

 

 

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February 25, 2019 @ 3:04 pm

Episode 24. Carole King. Part 4


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 Episode 24

Carole King

Part Four

 

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Carole King is talking about the joy inherent in the act of songwriting, and how crucial it is for songwriters to embrace now only the outcome of writing a song, but the process itself. "The doing of it," she said, "must be the reward."   

The Great Song Adventure is very happy to bring you this, part 4 of our 5-part series of episodes with Carole King. 

The previous three episodes, all of which are available here also, were conducted by Paul and Louise in a remarkably charged, extensive and intimate conversation that went on for several hours.

 

But on the next day, Carole - who was in town to spend holidays with Louise and her family - told her daughter that she loved the interview we did, but that she had more to say. 

Louise, never missing an opportunity, set up her mikes again, and mother and daughter had another great conversation, which makes up this episode and our final one.  

 

 

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 Photo by Elissa Kline.

 

Given that she's among the most beloved and successful songwriters of all time, it's surprising, and also heartwarming, to hear how truly humble Carole King is. In our previous episodes she deflected much of the credit for her success to Gerry Goffin's great lyrics as well as Lou Adler's production and the greatness of other vocalists who recorded her songs, such as Aretha Franklin and James Taylor.

 

That genuine humility comes across even more in this episode, and was her impetus for doing this. She wanted to talk more about the impact of the great musicians with whom she worked on her music, such as Danny Kortchmar, James Taylor, Waddy Wachtel and Charles Larkey. She speaks about her great love of playing with a band, and especially one made of players like these guys. Her great musicianship allowed her to become one more than the artist. She became one of the cats -  a serious musician who could jam with the best and create brilliant tracks in the studio. 

 

 

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 Carole and Louise, November 2018. Photo by Paul Zollo.

 

Carole even expressed surprise that bassist Charles Larkey, to whom she was also married for five years, would match her left hand on the piano for his bass parts Yet as songwriters know, the bass parts she plays on her songs is perfectly constructed, and needed no improvement. (As Louise's follow-up questions reflects.) 

She mentioned that  Waddy Wachtel wrote songs with Warren Zevon, but couldn't remember which. For the record, Waddy - who also produced many of Warren's most famous records - co-wrote Zevon's biggest hit ever, "Werewolves of London" (with Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass) = as well as "Nighttime at the Switching Yard," "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead," "Model Citizen," and "Angel Dressed In Black. 

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For decades, being a songwriter in America was rarely considered as serious or substantial a pursuit, especially when compared to other arts, such as being a composer, poet, painter, or writer. Often great lyrical songwriters, such as Dylan and Leonard Cohen, are lauded with a sideways compliment which reflects this bias. As in "He is more than a great songwriter; he is a poet." As if being a poet is a much more lofty role than that of the lowly popular songwriter. 

Yet in reality, songs which become beloved hits and standards, as have so many written and performed by Carole King. they reach many millions of people. We don't listen to these songs once, as we read a book or a view a movie. We listen to them over and over, often through the decades of our lives, and they take on a real place in our hearts and our minds, connecting us viscerally to our own pasts, as well as inspiring us to keep going. 

Maybe because songs are such a short form, and because great songwriters songs so seamless and perfectly conceived that they seem easy to create, the accomplishment of writing a song has been undervalued. Even songs so beloved that they become timeless standards, impacting our culture and resounding across generations, as have many songs by Carole King and previous guests such as Mike Stoller, Tom Petty, Chrissie Hynde and others. 

 

Somehow writing "Stand By Me," "Free Falling," "Message of Love," or "You've Got A Friend" seemed like a fluke to many, closer to winning the lottery than painting "Guernica" or writing  Moby Dick. 

 

Evidence of this bias abounded, most overtly in the music schools of colleges throughout America that offered degrees in composition but never songwriting. The implication being that songwriters would be best to aim higher - towards being a composer - to master composition and all it entails - allowing one to still jot off a pop song in their spare time. 

 

 

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Fortunately, this attitude has shifted considerably over the past many years, when it became impossible to ignore both the cultural impact and artistry of songwriting, as well as its potential as a viable career. Chris Sampson at USC somehow made this transition even at this venerable and traditional music school, now offering songwriting as a major. (And those students fortunate enough to be part of this receive an exceptional and rich education in the art, craft and history of songwriting.) Berklee in Boston also offered majors in songwriting, and soon countless colleges followed suit. 

Now even the government has officially embraced this righteous elevation of the songwriter to higher esteem. Starting in 2007, the Library of Congress began awarding the annual Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The first was given to Paul Simon, and in years since has been awarded to other songwriting icons such as Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Smoket Robinson and Bacharach & David. In its eleven years only one woman received this award: Carole King. 

 

 

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Carole and President Obama at Gershwin Awards


Still, eleven years? Seems too long to wait. Given how the award is defined, few songwriters better exemplify it:

The Gershwin Award, it is written, "celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding....The recipient-is recognized for entertaining and informing audiences, for drawing upon the acknowledged foundations of popular song, and for inspiring new generations of performers on their own professional journeys." 

 

The Great Song Adventureis happy to present this, the fourth part of our five-part series of episodes with Carole King. 

 

 

Paul Zollo, Carole King, Louise Goffin
Paul Zollo with Carole & Louise

 

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Stay tuned for the next part of this Adventure: Parts  5 of our interview with Carole King. 

 

 

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February 18, 2019 @ 1:32 pm

Episode 23. Carole King, Part 3.

Episode 23

Carole King

Part Three

 

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 Photo by Elissa Kline.

 

 

 

The Great Song Adventure is happy to present this, the third part of our five-part series of episodes with Carole King. 

  

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 Photo by Elissa Kline.

 

Conducted in her daughter Louise's home right before Thanksgiving, 2018, Carole King opened up about all aspects of her life and work more than she ever has before. There is much here on working with her husband and Louise's dad Gerry Goffin, and both the greatness and challenges inherent in their partnership. And much more. 

The first episode premiered on the eve of February 9th, Carole's 77th birthday, a perfect time to present this expansive and intimate conversation, and to celebrate one of the great lives in songwriting. 

 

 

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 With James Taylor. Photo by Elissa Kline.

 

In this episode, she also expounds on a subject started in Episode 1, which began with Carole playing the beautiful chord progression and singing the melody of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Hello Young Lovers," from The King & I, which leads into an intimate discussion of how she creates music, and her love of beautiful complex chords with rich melody. One of the great melodists of our time, she speaks about what makes a melody sturdy and lasting. And she delves into the mechanics of music, and even confirms the presence of the "Carole King chord" as it's known (also called here "C over K,"  a IV chord with a V in the bass.)  When you hear it, you recognize that sound. It's simple, soulful and sophisticated all at the same time, which is the essence of her musical signature.  

 

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As much of the world knows, even before her two-sided hit “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” went to number one in 1971, Carole King had already written eight other number one records with Gerry. Together they wrote a rich bounty of hit records (though both confirm they wrote a lot of lesser songs before reaching the great ones) - songs which are now modern standards, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" "Up On The Roof," "Locomotion," "Don't Bring Me Down" and so many others. 

 

She was one of the first to walk that bridge from being a hit songwriter for other artists to being a singer-songwriter herself, and making one of the most essential and beloved albums of that era, Tapestry, produced by Lou Adler. And her songs continued to be defining records for others, most notably "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor, and "Natural Woman," written with Gerry to a title by Jerry Wexler, recorded by the Queen of Soul, of course, Aretha Franklin.     

 

 

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Louise and Aretha at the Kennedy Center Honors

 Photo by Sophie Kondor.

 

 

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 Carole and Louise, November 2018. Photo by Paul Zollo.

 

It was Carole's idea to do the show. "Knowing of her reticence to do any performances or interviews," Louise said, "I didn’t ask her to be involved. But she  especially enjoyed the interview with Chrissie Hynde. She said she liked it because it was a real conversation, not just a series of questions, like most interviews."

 

 

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Sherry & Louise Goffin in Laurel Canyon, from the Carole King Family Archives.

 

"So when she was in Los Angeles to visit me and my kids, Carole took the time to do an interview with Paul and me. But first she went to the piano and started sounding out a standard by Rodgers & Hammerstein - “Hello Young Lovers,” from The King and I. Though she didn’t know it, I recorded the song."

 

 

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 Little Eva with little Louise, Brooklyn, 1963.

 

 

 

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Stay tuned for the next part of this Adventure: Parts 4 and 5 of our interview with Carole King. 

 

 

Paul Zollo, Carole King, Louise Goffin
Paul Zollo with Carole & Louise

 

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February 11, 2019 @ 5:05 am

Episode 22. Carole King, Part 2.

Episode 22

Carole King

Part Two  

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Photo by Mark Baptiste

 

Carole King is  explaining that long before writing famous songs with Gerry Goffin, she wrote a lot of "bad songs" first. As an example, she offers this lyric she wrote herself:  'I know I am the right girl, the right girl for you, ooh ooh ooh, and you, ooh ooh, are the right boy for me too.'" 

She then added, "I needed help. And God sent me Gerry Goffin!" 

 

 

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The Great Song Adventure is happy and proud to present this, the second episode of a remarkable five-part series of episodes with Carole King, which is without question the most expansive and unguarded interview she's ever given. 

 

Episode 1 premiered on 2.8.19, the eve of Carole's 77th birthday, the ideal time to present this expansive and intimate conversation, and to celebrate one of the great lives in songwriting.

 

Conducted in her daughter Louise's home right before Thanksgiving, 2018, Carole opened up about all aspects of her life and work. In this episode she shares more about the charms and challenges of working with her husband, Louise's father Gerry Goffin, writing "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for The Monkees and more about them., as well as her decidedly mixed feelings about the musical based on their life and work, Beautiful. She also discusses her friend and collaborator James Taylor, and their great musical chemistry.

 

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"It's been that way since the moment I sat down to play with him for the first time," she says. "There's something incredible about our musical connection that transcends time, or who we are, or where we are... When we sat down to play, it was like we were one instrument... and that has remained true every second of our musical life... Even if we don't see each other for years," Carole said, "we sit down and we know exactly where we're supposed to be. It's a magical, inexplicable thing." 

"But I must add, my writing with Gerry was also a magical, inexplicable thing." 

  

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Carole & Gerry at the National Academy of Songwriter's Salute to Goffin & King, Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, December 3, 1988. Photo by Mark Blake/SongTalk

 

That magic has only seemed to increase over the years, as their songs - and ones Carole wrote on her own and with others - have become beloved, modern standards. 

 

 

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Goffin and King, 1960.

 

 As students of songwriting know, even before her two-sided hit “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” went to number one in 1971, Carole King had already written eight other number one records with Gerry. Together they wrote a multitude of great songs and made many hit records (though both confirm they wrote a lot of lesser songs before reaching the great ones) - songs which are now modern standards, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" "Up On The Roof," "Locomotion," "Don't Bring Me Down" and so many others. 

 

 

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Carole reacting to Aretha Franklin's amazing performance of
her song "Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

 

 

She was one of the first to walk that bridge from being a hit songwriter for other artists to being a singer-songwriter herself, and making one of the most essential and beloved albums of that era, Tapestry, produced by Lou Adler. And her songs continued to be defining records for others, most notably "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor, and "Natural Woman," written with Gerry to a title by Jerry Wexler, recorded by the Queen of Soul, of course, Aretha Franklin.     

 

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It was Carole's idea to do the show. "Knowing of her reticence to do any performances or interviews," Louise said, "I didn’t ask her to be involved. But she  especially enjoyed the interview with Chrissie Hynde. She said she liked it because it was a real conversation, not just a series of questions, like most interviews."

 

"So when she was in Los Angeles to visit me and my kids, Carole took the time to do an interview with Paul and me. But first she went to the piano and started sounding out a standard by Rodgers & Hammerstein - “Hello Young Lovers,” from The King and I. Though she didn’t know it, I recorded the song, which opens the first episode."

 

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Carole & Little Eva

 

 

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Carole King & Gerry Goffin at their West Orange, New Jersey home

 

 

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Goffin & King with Paul Simon

 

 

 

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Photo by Jim McCrary

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Louise Goffin & Carole King, photo by Elissa Kline Photography

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February 8, 2019 @ 5:17 am

Episode 21 Carole King, Part 1

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Episode 21

Carole King

Part One

 

 The Great Song Adventure is happy and proud to present this, the first of a remarkable five-part series of episodes with Carole King. 

 

Today is the eve of Carole's 77th birthday on February 9th, a perfect time to present this expansive and intimate conversation, and to celebrate one of the great lives in songwriting.

 

Conducted in her daughter Louise's home right before Thanksgiving, 2018, Carole opened up about all aspects of her life and work, including much on working with her husband and Louise's dad Gerry Goffin. 

 

Because, as students of songwriting know, even before her two-sided hit “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” went to number one in 1971, Carole King had already written eight other number one records with Gerry. Together they wrote a rich bounty of hit records (though both confirm they wrote a lot of lesser songs before reaching the great ones) - songs which are now modern standards, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" "Up On The Roof," "Locomotive," "Don't Bring Me Down" and so many others. 

 

 

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Goffin and King

 She was one of the first to walk that bridge from being a hit songwriter for other artists to being a singer-songwriter herself, and making one of the most essential and beloved albums of that era, Tapestry, produced by Lou Adler. And her songs continued to be defining records for others, most notably "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor, and "Natural Woman," written with Gerry to a title by Jerry Wexler, recorded by the Queen of Soul, of course, Aretha Franklin.     

 

 

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It was Carole's idea to do the show. "Knowing of her reticence to do any performances or interviews," Louise said, "I didn’t ask her to be involved. But she  especially enjoyed the interview with Chrissie Hynde. She said she liked it because it was a real conversation, not just a series of questions, like most interviews."

 

"So when she was in Los Angeles to visit me and my kids, Carole took the time to do an interview with Paul and me. But first she went to the piano and started sounding out a standard by Rodgers & Hammerstein - “Hello Young Lovers,” from The King and I. Though she didn’t know it, I recorded the song, which opens the first episode."

Happy birthday! 

 

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Carole & Little Eva

 

 

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Carole King & Gerry Goffin at their West Orange, New Jersey home

 

 

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Goffin & King with Paul Simon

 

 

 

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Photo by Jim McCrary

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Louise Goffin & Carole King, photo by Elissa Kline Photography

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February 4, 2019 @ 1:06 pm

Episode 20 Fred Tackett, Part II

Episode 20

Fred Tackett

Part Two

 

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Born in Arkansas, Fred Tackett is best known for being a member of Little Feat. A remarkable musician - he plays guitar, mandolin and even trumpet - he’s also performed with many other great artists, including Bob Dylan during his Born Again tour, and on his albums Saved andShot of Love.

 

 

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Fred at home. Photo by Louise Goffin.

 

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Fred (on the left) with Bob Dylan on his Born Again tour, 1980. Photo by William McKeen.

 

The list of other great artists with whom he’s performed and recorded is voluminous, and includes Tom Waits, Harry Nilsson. Ringo Starr, Rickie Lee Jones, Jimmy Webb, Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, Rita Coolidge, Nicolette Larson, Aaron Neville, Van Dyke Parks, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Boz Scaggs, Rod Stewart and The Wallflowers.

 

 

Born on August 30, 1945 in Arkansas, he was not a founding member of Little Feat, but gradually became folded into this band distinguished for their great and soulful musicianship. He became friends with Little Feat genius, the late great Lowell George, and contributed a song, “Fool Yourself” and acoustic guitar to Dixie Chicken, their third album. He also played guitar on Time Loves A Hero, their sixth album. 

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When Lowell decided to do a solo album (Thanks I’ll Eat It Here, 1978), he invited Fred to write songs with him. Lowell recorded one of these songs, “Honest Man” and also a song Fred wrote himself, “Find A River.”  Lowell went out on tour to promote his album, with Fred in his group. Less than ten days after the start of the tour, Lowell overdosed on heroin and died in his Arlington, Virginia hotel. 

 

Thanks I'll Eat It Here

 

 

“We were driving down the New Jersey Turnpike,” Tackett remembered, “in this bus and we stopped at this pizza joint off the highway. Everybody in the band shared a cheese pizza but Lowell bought a large pizza with everything on it, carried it to the back of the bus, and he ate the entire pizza by himself. He died two or three days later. So, when people ask me, 'What really killed Lowell?' I say, 'It was a pizza on the New Jersey Turnpike.” 

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Patricia and Fred Tackett. Photo by Louise Goffin.

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Photo by Louise Goffin

  

Little Feat disbanded during this dark time of Lowell’s death, but reunited - with Fred now as a full member of the band - in 1988 -with former members Paul Barrere, Richie Hayward, Bill Payne, Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton, and also new member Craig Fuller. In 1993 Fuller was replaced by Shaun Murphy. 

 

Not only does Fred play guitar on their albums since joining, he also plays mandolin and trumpet, and also has written many of their songs. including several written with Paul Barrere, such as “Marginal Creatures” and “Night On The Town.” On Kickin’ It at The Barn, Fred sings his first lead vocal on a Little Feat album, on his song "In A Town Like This," which also became the title song of his 2003 solo album. In 2011 he released another solo album, Silver Strings. He and Paul also toured as a duo and made album as Paul & Fred.

 

 

 

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These days he lives with his wife in a beautiful old house in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon, and it’s there that Louise went to conduct this interview. 

 

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Louise & Fred. Photo by Patricia Tackett

  

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January 28, 2019 @ 2:44 pm

Episode 19 Fred Tackett

 

Episode 19
Fred Tackett
Part One 

 

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Born in Arkansas, Fred Tackett is best known for being a member of Little Feat. A remarkable musician - he plays guitar, mandolin and even trumpet - he’s also performed with many other great artists, including Bob Dylan during his Born Again tour, and on his albums Saved and Shot of Love.

 

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Fred at home. Photo by Louise Goffin.

 

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Fred (on the left) with Bob Dylan on his Born Again tour, 1980. Photo by William McKeen.

 

The list of other great artists with whom he’s performed and recorded is voluminous, and includes Tom Waits, Harry Nilsson. Ringo Starr, Rickie Lee Jones, Jimmy Webb, Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, Rita Coolidge, Nicolette Larson, Aaron Neville, Van Dyke Parks, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Boz Scaggs, Rod Stewart and The Wallflowers.

 

 

Born on August 30, 1945 in Arkansas, he was not a founding member of Little Feat, but gradually became folded into this band distinguished for their great and soulful musicianship. He became friends with Little Feat genius, the late great Lowell George, and contributed a song, “Fool Yourself” and acoustic guitar to Dixie Chicken, their third album. He also played guitar on Time Loves A Hero, their sixth album.

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When Lowell decided to do a solo album (Thanks I’ll Eat It Here, 1978), he invited Fred to write songs with him. Lowell recorded one of these songs, “Honest Man” and also a song Fred wrote himself, “Find A River.”  Lowell went out on tour to promote his album, with Fred in his group. Less than ten days after the start of the tour, Lowell overdosed on heroin and died in his Arlington, Virginia hotel.

 

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“We were driving down the New Jersey Turnpike,” Tackett remembered, “in this bus and we stopped at this pizza joint off the highway. Everybody in the band shared a cheese pizza but Lowell bought a large pizza with everything on it, carried it to the back of the bus, and he ate the entire pizza by himself. He died two or three days later. So, when people ask me, 'What really killed Lowell?' I say, 'It was a pizza on the New Jersey Turnpike.”

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Patricia and Fred Tackett. Photo by Louise Goffin.

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Photo by Louise Goffin

  

Little Feat disbanded during this dark time of Lowell’s death, but reunited - with Fred now as a full member of the band - in 1988 -with former members Paul Barrere, Richie Hayward, Bill Payne, Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton, and also new member Craig Fuller. In 1993 Fuller was replaced by Shaun Murphy.

 

Not only does Fred play guitar on their albums since joining, he also plays mandolin and trumpet, and also has written many of their songs. including several written with Paul Barrere, such as “Marginal Creatures” and “Night On The Town.” On Kickin’ It at The Barn, Fred sings his first lead vocal on a Little Feat album, on his song "In A Town Like This," which also became the title song of his 2003 solo album. In 2011 he released another solo album, Silver Strings. He and Paul also toured as a duo and made album as Paul & Fred.

 

 

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These days he lives with his wife in a beautiful old house in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon, and it’s there that Louise went to conduct this interview.

 

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Louise & Fred. Photo by Patricia Tackett

  

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January 22, 2019 @ 2:49 am

Episode 18 Joachim Cooder Part 2

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Episode 18

JOACHIM COODER

Part 2

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January 21, 2019 @ 4:24 pm

Episode 17 Joachim Cooder Part 1


Episode 17

JOACHIM COODER

Part 1

 

 

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Parenthood, as Joachim Cooder explains, means a lot to him, and has informed all his music. It's the same for his father - the legendary Ry Cooder - who not only raised his son in a remarkable house of music, where living legends came constantly to make music, but specifically set up his most recent tour to provide Joachim with sufficient income to raise his two little kids. 

 

Joachim has not only played drums live and with his dad on many projects, including Ry's recent and remarkable The Prodigal Son, he also helped co-produce that album. He brings his decidedly new school sensibilities to his father's old school music. Whereas daddy Ry plays all his elegiac slide-guitar lines in real time, just like records have been made for decades, Joachim employs exotic sonic loops, which they fold into the tracks. 

 

So when not gainfully employed working with his famous father, Joachim's been busy building his own tower of song with new materials. Last year he released the glorious EP Fuschia Machu Pichu (named after a local plant), with beautifully hypnotic songs such as the title track, as well as "Everybody Sleeps in the Light" and the tender, haunting "Gaviota Drive." 

 

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Image result for joachim cooderFather & Son in Cuba, making The Buena Vista Social Club

 

Lest you think he is being noticed only because of his lineage - an easy assumption to make - listen to the dimensional beauty of these tracks, and the poignant lyrics (almost all inspired by Joachim's own parenthood) and beautifully heartfelt vocals. It's music far different and more modern than that his father makes. Yet it shares an essential element: it is real. Genuine. From the heart. Not contrived. 

 

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Joachim's music possesses the single attribute Ry finds missing in most modern music: artistry. As he said, too many players he hears these days have developed no artistry, no style or grace, only urgency. “Can’t they hear that they’re flat?” he asked with disbelief. “If you don’t feel it,” he said, “Fine. Do something else. Go get a sandwich.”

 

 

Timeless music, as Ry has shown by example over these decades, is all about a  purity of intention, of stripping it down to essentials. It's not about how many notes you play but by how deeply one note can make you feel. It's a lesson Joachim, born in the summer of 1978, learned well. 

 

Of course, Ry was not the only legendary teacher around. Drummer-extraordinaire Jim Keltner kept a set of drums at the Cooder home, and showed Joachim just enough to get him started. Perhaps sensing that his father owned much of the map of modern guitar playing already, Joachim knew he needed to walk his own musical path. It started with drumming - as well as co-producing with his father and other artists (including their great Buena Vista Social Club celebration of Cuban music) - and branched off into creating his own sonic collages, which led to his own songs and style. 

 

 

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 Photo by Amanda Charchian

 

 

Nowadays father and son blend their approaches effortlessly and without question. When I asked Ry if he ever looped his guitar, he laughed and said, "No! Never. That is my son's thing. I just play."

 

Not only did Joachim bring  deeply soulful, creative drumming to this album,  he also created many of the sonic landscapes – “tone centers,” as Ry put it – on which these tracks were built. 

 

After the album was complete, father and son assembled a new touring band. None of which would have happened if not for Ry's love for his son and their work together.

“I wouldn’t do it if [Joachim] wouldn’t do it," said Ry. "He’s got a new baby. Four days old. And my little granddaughter’s 2 ½.  And we have to leave them behind. Gonna go out and make some money. Put some beans in the pot.”

 

  

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The collaboration evolved gradually, as Ry tried to figure out the best way to make a record about both of them. But how to connect that new school with the old one?

 

The revelation came when Ry realized that he could solve two problems at once. Wanting to make an album about now, this moment in our history some 18 years into the 21st century, with so much madness, hatred and sorrow streaming through America, he was drawn to the redemptive, hopeful glory found in the timeless gospel songs he loved. He felt an album of his favorite spirituals, mixed in with some fresh originals, could be right for now. Yet he knew a traditional approach to classic gospel songs would not conjure the magic he wanted.

 

And that’s when he tried singing the old Pilgrim Travelers’ beautiful “Straight Street” over one of Joachim’s tracks. The result was unexpected, and beautiful. And the journey of Prodigal Son had begun.

 

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Ry Cooder, 2018.

 

It's an album of great sonic beauty, a rich, fertile fusion of Joachim’s grooves and sound collages with Ry’s exquisitely poignant guitar work on these new and old spirituals is stunning.

That spirit is very much alive in Joachim's haunting and inspired song cycles, and the beauty of his soul that shines through in each on Fuschia Machu Pichu. Wisely, he employs his dad to play guitar on his music as well.

We were happy to talk to him about all of this and more, his own music, being raised by Ry and how much his kids have inspired his songwriting.  We spoke this past summer over the phone just days before he embarked on a national tour with his dad.

Fuschia Machu Pichu, he said, is "probably the thing I've been most excited about. I feel like this is the most real thing I've ever done, the most representative of who I am. I feel like it's not part of any other thing. It's very just me with my influences I've had since I was really young, growing up around people like Ali Farka Toure or seeing John Lee Hooker live at a really young age. There's certain things about this record that makes me think about all those things and how I've come up through these things."

This is Part One of our two-part talk, conducted by Paul Zollo, with Joachim Cooder. 

 

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