Hey, welcome to the Phile on a Sunday for the 1,000th entry! One. Thousandth. I can't believe it. When I decided to start this stupid little blog on a whim back in 2006 I never thought I'll make it this far. I'm just one guy working on this in Clermont, on my own. I do have a few PR firms I work with... Cyber PR, and LAFamos to mention two of my best ones, but mostly it's just me reaching out to people to do this, and word of mouth. Some people ask me why the hell do I do this and even though many of times I was gonna pack it in, I do it for the sheer love of it. I have no idea how long I'll be doing this for, I was gonna end it next summer, but I said a few months ago as long as Trump is president I'll keep trying to entertain you. Heath wise though who knows I'll be doing this for. If I hit another five years it'll be bloody amazing. I'll probably be dead before that happens. Really though I really love doing this blog and it has introduced me to some good friends, good art, books and music. And I have been turned on by some great bands and musicians like 3 Kisses, Burning Jet Black, None Times Blue, Neara Russell, Chas Hodges and Lee Negin. I also got to interview some of my favorite musicians... Graham Parker, Mike Gent, Kevin Hearn, and today Nock Lowe. Another thing about this blog I like is getting free swag. Ha. Kids, if you have a solid idea and you can make it as good as it could be with a blog or whatever you can really achieve things you never thought possible. But don't start a pop culture blog or you and I are gonna have a little problem, capiche? Haha. Alright, enough about me, let's see what is going on in the news, shall we?
I wanna start off with a happy story. A 44-year-old man has been to Disneyland for 2,000 days in a row. Every day for other five years, Jeff Reitz has visited the Happiest Place on Earth. Either this is a creepy hobby, or I'm a creep for thinking it's a creepy hobby. According to NBC Los Angeles, Reitz, who's a veteran of the United States Air Force, started the streak to keep his spirits up during a phase of unemployment. Beginning on January 1st, 2012, he bought an annual pass that allowed him to visit the park daily. Prices start at $1,049, which actually isn't bad when compared to, say, a gym membership... and this one you'll actually want to use every day. Eventually, Reitz did land a job, and started working at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System. Now he stops by the park at night. "He said it helps him decompress at the end of the day," said Disney spokesman John McClintock. After a year... and a free night in the Disneyland Dream Suite as a reward... Reitz decided to keep the streak going. "I'm still having fun with it," he said. "That's the only reason I'm still doing this. It wasn't about going for records or anything like that. That was a bonus. It's about coming and enjoying the magic of the park." After 2,000 visits, he still plans to come back daily and enjoy the park. He shared with NBC that his favorite part of the park is the people. "I love talking with the Cast Members, because the team is what makes the magic," said Reitz. The Disney team called Reitz a "hero" and helped him celebrate his 2,000th day at the park.
Remember a couple of months ago, when we couldn't get enough news about the disaster that was Fyre Festival? You know, that supposedly "luxury" music fest in the Bahamas, pitched by celebrities including Ja Rule and Kendall Jenner, that turned out to be nothing short of a disaster zone? Well, it seems the scam artist who put the whole fiasco together is finally facing criminal charges. Billy McFarland's Fyre Media was the company behind the now notoriously botched festival, and on Friday, he was arrested by federal agents at his home in New York, according to the "New York Times." McFarland faces a single charge of wire fraud that prosecutors said involved "a scheme to defraud investors, which included misrepresenting financial information" about Fyre Media. McFarland is accused of bilking said investors out of a million dollars or more, which is almost as funny as how he conned a bunch of rich kids into giving him thousands of dollars to stay in a cheap tent on a desolate beach and eat cheese sandwiches. The wire fraud charge comes with a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, though McFarland is likely to serve far less time if convicted. Still, he and his partner Ja Rule still face a number of lawsuits that will probably be enough to bankrupt them both several times over. It just goes to show that you should never screw over wealthy people... they've got enough money to hire lawyers.
This story should be under the Trump Talk pheature but there's waaayyyy too many Trump stories to report right now. Anyway, when you're 87-year-old Buzz Aldrin, the beloved and world-famous astronaut who set foot on the moon just moments after Neil Armstrong did, standing around next to Trump for a photo-op must feel like a waste of your time and talents. But, being the good sport he is, Aldrin was on hand at the White House on Friday as Trump signed an executive order to revive the National Space Council... a document Trump himself didn't seem to understand at all."We know what this is, space. That’s all it has to say, space," he remarked meaninglessly as he opened the folder to sign it. "There's a lot of room out there, right?" At which point Aldrin, quoting his namesake Buzz Lightyear from the 1990s children's movie Toy Story, presumably in an effort to get on the president's mental level, said, "Infinity and beyond." Cue laughter. Except Trump was the only one in the room who didn't get the reference. "This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something, but it could be infinity, right?" he blathered. You know, a lot of people have said that a 10-year-old would do a better job in the Oval Office than Trump, and on this occasion, we can say they're definitely right.
Apart from his work as an actor... including as Farmer Arthur Hoggett in the classic Babe and, more recently, as the conniving Cardinal Michael Spencer on HBO's "The Young Pope"... actor James Cromwell has been an especially vocal activist for a number of progressive causes since the 1960s. Now it looks as if the 77-year-old may spend a week in jail because of his protest activity. Back in 2015, Cromwell was one of six people arrested and found guilty of obstructing traffic during a sit-in to protest the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, New York, which they said would have a disastrous effect on the environment. Three of those individuals paid a fine of $375 in relation to the charge, but Cromwell (who lives in a neighboring town) and two others (Pramilla Malick and Madeline Shaw) refused, receiving a sentence of seven days in the county jail. Cromwell doesn't seem rattled by the threat, and with an appeal filed, he now has a new deadline of July 14th to pay the fine... which, again, it doesn't seem like he has any intention of doing. Instead, he's having a laugh on Twitter. "If we don’t stay together, nothing will change," Cromwell said after the initial deadline to pay the fine came and went. "Power to the people." That'll do, James. That'll do.
Like clockwork, Kellyanne Conway has emerged from wherever she has been hiding for the last couple of weeks to talk about Donald Trump's gross tweets concerning "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski. And (gasp!), she is defending the President. Conway appeared on "Fox & Friends" (a.k.a., her "safespace") to explain why Brzezinski deserved to be mocked by the President of the United States. According to Conway, she was totally asking for it. "It's incredible to watch people play armchair psychologists, outwardly ridiculing the president's physicality's, his mental state, calling him names that you wouldn't want children to call people on the playground, you would punish them for doing that, and then all of a sudden feigning shock when he wants to fight back and defend himself and hopefully change the conversation." Just one thing, Kellyanne. He is the leader of the free world, and she is a morning show host paid to comment on politics. Okay, you can go crawl back into that swamp that Trump supposedly drained now. Bye, girl.
Hey, it's Sunday... instead of interviewing Nick Lowe on the Phile I should be interviewing these two people...
I bet that's a great album. Ever go to Goodwill? I have only been there once but I think I wanna go again and buy this there...
That looks like a fun game, right? Speaking of games, what about this one?
That looks fun. So, if you go to the beach today or during the summer I hope you don;t come across this...
Monkeys are funny. I love Lay's potato chips but I am not crazy about their new ad.
Once in awhile I like to show you what someone looks like when they are reading the Phile. Like this certain person for instance...
Kids, if you ever feel like cheating on your loved one I think you might wanna think twice after you see this pic...
I graduated from school in England and over there we don't have year books... so I always wondered what my senior year book quote was gonna be. I bet it wouldn't be as witty as this one...
Very clever, kid. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...
Top Ten Even More Things You Don't Want To Hear Coming From The Next Restroom Stall
5. Wow... you smell familiar!
4. Siri? Find me proctologists who make house calls!
3. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I swallowed a nickel... Oh, look at that! I do!
2. Hey, I like your shoes! Wanna trade?
And the number one thing you don't want to hear coming from the next stall...
1. Oh, man... I HAVE got to stop eating food...
For only $4.44, you’ll never again have to, GASP, sit upright while watching TV or reading. Alright, so, the other day my son and I were talking about when we used to watch "Sesame Street" when he was little. The show just doesn't seem the same anymore...
Hahahahaha. That's crazy. Okay, so being it's the 1,000th entry I thought I should invite a good friend who is kind of a regular on the Phile. During the football season we talk football, and I have interviewed him about his novels over the years. But originally he was part of the Phile in a pheature called...
Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been? Jeff: Hey, Jason! Always glad to be back here on the Phile! I'm doing all right. Life's been a roller coaster the last few years. So I guess I can't complain.
Jeff: So, this is the Phile's 1,000th entry and I wanted you to be a part of it as you have been a big part of the Phile for most of the eleven years I've been doing this. Can you believe it made it to 1,000 entries?
Jeff: Congratulations on 1,000 entries. That's quite the accomplishment. You should be very proud! It does not feel like a 1,000 entries, but I can only imagine how it feels for you have to do it 1000 times.
Me: Yeah, a thousand days. Ugh. I asked you this before when you were on an anniversary entry of the Phile but a lot has changed since then... what is your favorite pheature and what has been your favorite interview?
Jeff: Phavorite pheature? Oh, that's a tough one. I will probably have to go with your one liners after someone famous has died. I don't always agree with them, but they are almost always good for a chuckle!
Me: Is there anybody you wish I could interview here?
Jeff: You've landed some impressive interviews. Obviously I would say I wish you could interview Butch Walker. Great musician and producer. I think you and him would have a lot to talk about.
Me: Alright, enough about me... I have pheatured you here many of times about your books... you're still writing, right? Any new books coming out? I know you're working on a children's book. Can you tell us the premise of it yet?
Jeff: I am still writing. No release date for the kid's anthology yet. As of right now it features two short stories for younger audiences members. I'm not as inspired as I once was for writing, but the passion is still there.
Me: Of course you come here throughout football season to talk football... and coming up is our seventh year doing that. Any predictions on what the year is gonna be like?
Jeff: What's great about the start of the NFL season is any team has a chance to play in the Super Bowl at the start. Except for the Browns. We've seen a lot of high priced free agents move to new teams. So it's hard to tell just how they will gel with the new team. I'm excited to see a guy like Adrian Peterson in New Orleans or the return of Marshawn Lynch, who had retired but is now back in Oakland.
Me: I am so excited... I am going to be going to the Giants/Tampa game in Tampa. You have been to NFL games, right? This will be my first.
Jeff: Yes, I've been to a few NFL games. I've been in three different stadiums, Jacksonville, Tampa and Philadelphia. You will enjoy it! I look forward to hearing about your first experience. It's quite a different one then seeing it on TV.
Me: By the way, I thought you'd like these standings...
Me: Steelers are number one! And so is their practice squad. Hahaha.
Jeff: Those standings are 100 % accurate.
Me: Okay, so, this pheature like the old pheature is called Ask Jeff. We are both geeks, both like movies so I thought I'll ask you some movie geek stuff. First of, they are making a Batgirl movie. Who would you like to see play Batgirl?
Jeff: I am looking forward to the Batgirl movie. If anyone knows how to make strong female characters, it's Joss Whedon. I think Batgirl is in great hands! There are several names out there lobbying to play Batgirl, but I think Jane Levy would be a good choice. I could also see Alison Brie in the role, though I'm very partial to her.
Me: Yeah, she's cute. Alicia Silverstone is rumored to wanting to play Batgirl again... what do you think of that? She hasn't acted in a while. But she did feed her kid by chewing the food first like a bird. Did you see that video?
Jeff: No! Please no! Not Alicia Silverstone. Anything to distance from the trash that is Batman and Robin. Unfortunately I have seen that video. I did want to gauge my eyes out afterwards.
Me: For those that haven't seen it here's a screen shot...
Me: Hahahahaha. So, there was a debate about the Venom movie being a part of the MCU but now it's not. Do you think to should be?
Jeff: I'm really okay with it not being in the MCU. It's not like Venom will be facing off against Thor or Iron Man, so it truly doesn't need to be part of the MCU. But I do wonder if he will face Spider-Man, and if he does will they make it Miles Morales to separate it from the MCU Peter Parker.
Me: What do you think of the casting of Tom Hardy as Venom by the way?
Jeff: I think Tom Hardy will make an excellent Venom. He certainly is more intimidating than say Topher Grace was.
Me: So, what are you looking forward to more? The Last Jedi or Infinity War?
Jeff: That is a tough question! You're putting me on the spot. But if I had to pick I'm going to go with Last Jedi only because I've been into the Star Wars movies longer.
Me: Who do you think will die in the Infinity War, Jeff?
Jeff: I think Captain America will die in Infinity War. I know Chris Evans wants to be done with it. And with Bucky and Falcon available to pick up the Captain America shield, they have options.
Me: And who is the last Jedi?
Jeff: The last Jedi to me is plural. It's Luke and Rey.
Me: Alright, thanks so much for being here again on the Phile. In a few months I'll have you back again for Phootball Talk: Touchdown... our seventh year. Get cracking on the graphic. Take care, chat soon.
Jeff: I will come up with a bad ass logo for the 7th season! See you then!
Hahahaha. Okay, so, I couldn't have the 1,000 entry without having someone else that has been on the Phile many of times. I wondered what his rules for a happy life is so I thought I would invite him here and he can tell us. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man... you know what time it is.
Good morning, humans..... Happy Sunday, phuckerz! Here's my 7 simple rules for living a happy life... 1. Never give anyone the power to make you act, feel or speak in a manner that runs contrary to who you are. 2. Keep your inner circle of trusted friends small. 3. Stick to telling the truth... Lies are difficult to remember and always come to light eventually. 4. Surgically remove false and/or toxic people from your life. 5. Allow more time for people and things that make you smile... leaving less time for those that don't. 6. Tell people what's on your mind without any concern of waiting for the right moment. 7. Fuck as often as possible... because orgasms are awesome... and people make really stupid faces when they cum. Come on... like you were expecting some dime store philosophy, psycho babble, Dr. Phil style bullshit outta me? Don't hold your breath waiting on that, cupcake...
Well, my friends, after spending so much time on Twitter, it was only a matter of time before our president learned how to use memes. This morning, Donald Trump posted a video to Twitter. The video is a clip from when Trump appeared at WWE's WrestleMania in 2007 and tackled someone. It's been edited so that the man he tackled has CNN's logo for a head.Yes. This is real. Trump's bizarre tweet seems to be a continuation of last night's Twitter rant, where he once again bashed the media for saying he should get off social media. He once again singled CNN out as "fake news." And then defended his social media use as not presidential, but "modern day presidential." Oh, and then he made sure to give a shout out to our veterans. What is happening?
Some people have the best luck no what the odds are... lucky bastards. You know who had the best luck this past week? Mika Brzezinksi, because she fights fire with extortion charges. Healthcare/wealthcare/shmealthcare be damned, the news coming out of Washington that everyone's talking about is a feud between the President of the United States and a TV host he decided to attack on Twitter. By now you must have seen the tweets, but to recap...
Alrightey. Now, on "Morning Joe" on Friday, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were like, "we see your petty tweets, and will spill the tea on you trying to blackmail us into more favorable coverage." They also wrote in an op-ed for the "Washington Post." "The president’s unhealthy obsession with our show has been in the public record for months, and we are seldom surprised by his posting nasty tweets about us. During the campaign, the Republican nominee called Mika 'neurotic' and promised to attack us personally after the campaign ended. This year, top White House staff members warned that the 'National Enquirer' was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas." Hey, um, this is blackmail. "New York" magazine confirms, "In mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting 'Enquirer' owner David Pecker to stop the story. (A spokesperson for Kushner declined to comment). Scarborough says he refused, and the 'Enquirer' published the story in print on June 5, headlined 'Morning Joe Sleazy Cheating Scandal!'" In a dumb tweet, Trump confirmed that he has this kind of pull with the "National Enquirer."
This is bad, but odds are Trump won't face any consequences. Happy Fourth of July!
The 62nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Author Laura James will be the guest on the Phile next Monday.
This is sooooo cool. Today's pheatured guest is a s an English singer-songwriter, musician, producer, and in the top five people who I wanted on the Phile so I am so glad he's here for the 1,000 entry. On July 19th Yep Rock will be rereleasing six of my favorite albums ever... "Nick the Knife," "The Abominable Showman," "Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit," "The Rose of England," "Pinker and Prouder Than Previous," and "Party of One." It's an honor to have him here. Please welcome to the Phile, one of my favorite singers of all time... Nick Lowe!
Me: Yeah, I've been doing this blog for a long time. Thanks for being on the Phile. It's such an honor to have you here. I have been huge fan of yours since "Nick the Knife" came out. How are you?
Nick: I'm well, thank you for having me.
Me: Before we start talking about your music I have to mention you knew my dad, right? When was the first time you met him?
Nick: In New York at a Rockpile show I think.
Me: Dad told me a story once how he was at a Dave Edmunds show and someone thought he was you then at one of your shows someone thought he was Dave Edmunds. Haha. Anyway, I want to ask you about your Christmas album "Quality Street" first, sir. It's not a normal Christmas album. Did you plan to make it that way?
Nick: Yeah, I think you can can say that. My initial reaction was a bit snotty and snobby about it when it was first suggested I should go about and do one. I didn't think it was a good idea and then over the course of the afternoon of that day it was those same snotty and snobby thoughts actually made me change my mind. I thought wait a minute, this is a much more maligned genre of record making so why not have a go at it and see something that is fun and doesn't involve chestnuts roasting on an open fire and one horse open sleighs. I say that rather loft fully but there are a couple of tunes that people know on this record.
Me: I love your version of "I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day," and even your version of my worst Christmas song ever... "Silent Night." There are a few that people would be familiar with on the album. Did you deliberately find unknown Christmas songs?
Nick: Yeah, actually we... I say "we" because I had some help with a little firm I make my records with and tour with... we all kind of got into it a bit. There's no sort of tradition in England with Christmas music. I would think the latest song to join the kind of canon of Christmas tune you hear every year is probably "Lullaby of New York," the song Kirsty McColl did with the Pogues which is a fabulous song. Do you know the one I'm talking about?
Me: Yeah, I love that song!
Nick: That's probably the last one that will be there forever along with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day," Slades tune and going back to "White Christmas." That sort of thing. But there really isn't any sort of tradition of people making Christmas records like there is in the United States. There are thousands of Christmas songs that you can access now, most of which are not very good songs. There's some great records but you can make a fantastic record out of not very good songs. What we wanted to do is find some really good songs that no one had heard before and that was kind of a tall order but we managed to dig one or two up.
Me: There's some original songs as well, though, right? Isn't "Christmas at the Airport" an original? Is that a true story?
Nick: Yes, I never thought I could write the whole record of original tunes but I thought maybe I ought to do at least one to show that I have been concentrating "Christmas at the Airport"... I actually wrote it after I came back from a show I did with Mavis Staples in Switzerland very soon after this project was proposed. I supposed I was a bit hung over and I had to hang around in this airport and I suddenly had this idea to write one of those we are going to Torremolinos tunes. Those sort of holiday oompa oompa that the Brits go for in the holiday season. I thought it would be kind of fun juxtapose a tune like that with a hideous proposition being locked into an airport. It is kind of ridiculous... it would never happen but it was just an idea I had. When I was sitting in the airport I just wrote the whole thing and then fiddled around with it a bit when I got home. That was it really. It's a daft thing, but there we are.
Me: And "I Was Born in Bethlehem." No you weren't, you were born in England. Haha. What's the story behind that song?
Nick: Haha. That one is slightly more serious. I dreamt that one. When we were at the height of making this record I was eating and sleeping Christmas songs and I wouldn't say I was fast asleep but I was coming round one morning and the title came into my head. I thought "I Was Born in Bethlehem" was a really great title and the first kind of line came into my head just as I was waking up. It sometimes happens where a very vivid dream can just sometimes vanish, just run through your fingers almost mentally, like sand or water. I thought that would happen with this song. But I got out of bed and it still sort of hung around. So, I got out of bed, picked up a guitar and started fiddling with it. I was remembering it and it was still staying with me so wrote another couple of lines and got to the end of a verse and then had a shower and then I did forget about it. All that was left was these few lines written on a bit of paper with the weird music that I write which is arrows, dots and dashes and I couldn't make head or tails of it but later that day it came back to me. I sort of wanted to make it sound like you met Jesus on a plane or something and he was a really once bloke. He started telling you this story that everyone knows and I just wanted to make it conversational, and see if I could dig up some poignancy in that way.
Me: Where did the title of the album come from, sir? It's a candy in the U.K. so was it named after that?
Nick: Well, you know of course that has something to do with it. You know I've never heard of anybody buying them out of season or run down to the store in the middle of summer to get a box of Quality Street.
Me: Haha. This album and the last four you released, you changed your singing style to more of a crooner... if that's the right word. It's very Sinatrish. What inspired you into going in that direction, sir?
Nick: I think it rather chose me rather me thinking I'm now going to start "crooning." But there's no doubt there was a point when I thought well, I have to change my act now, I'm getting older. It was almost one door closing and I was waiting for another one to open. It was really after I had my brief career as a pop star in the 70s and I suppose into the 80s... I really enjoyed it, it was very good fun, but it was very exhausting as well, and when I felt the inevitable wheel turning and the public getting tired of me... I think it happens to everyone eventually unless you're Keith Richards or Elton John or Cher or Neil Diamond... Those peoples careers seem to just role through the decades as pop stars. Unless you are one of those people which I'm definitely not sadly, you have to get ready so that the public will get fed up with you and will look for somebody else. They'll say, "thank you very much, and you are on the way." When that happened to me and I knew it would happen because I've been a producer as well, I had a foot in this sort of artists camp and was upstairs yakking it up with the suits on the 14th floor. When it happened I had very mixed feelings. On one hand I thought, "oh, blimey, bang goes it all" and on the other hand I thought thank God that's over. I'm gonna lie down in a darkened room and recover cause I was in quite a bad way in the mid 80s, I made myself quite ill. And it was during that time I thought right, I've done quite well up to now and why is I didn't think I really started. I had a couple of hit records and I've written a couple of good tunes, and kicked a few boxes but I didn't think I've done anything really, really good. So I kinda thought I'm gonna have to rethink what I do. Sorry, didn't mean to rant.
Me: Hey, that's okay. So, you didn't feel that you hit your stride as a songwriter in the Kippington Lodge Days or the Brinsley Schwartz days?
Nick: No, I didn't really... even when I was young I wanted to be an old guy. I liked old guys' music. It's very obvious what stuff I like, like the blues. I loved all kind of American music and what happens to it when to comes over here as well... when Brits knock around with it. I like all kinds of American popular music, whether its country and western, blues, soul.. but also jazz, show music, Broadway, film music... all kinds of music like that. I like European pop music too. But my influences have always been from the United States and I always wanted to be old enough I felt to be able to put across this emotions which I thought were more adult. It didn't really suit me shouting my head off when I was a kid. It never really felt right and I always wanted to grow into it really. By the time I turned forty I thought now I can do something good, but still it has to be fun. I didn't want it to be earnest. Earnestness is the worst in pop music I think.
Me: Do you think "What's So Funny ('Bout Peace, Love and Understanding)" was a milestone for you as a writer?
Nick: Definitely, yes, I always thought that was the first original idea I had. Because when you start songwriting you just rewrite your heroes catalogue. Then you move on and rewrite someone else's catalogue. It's all very obvious where you are getting it from. One day when you are rewriting your latest heroes catalogue you'll use a little bit of the first persons catalogue you rewrote... you take a little idea from them and put it together with the fourth persons catalogue. And so it goes on, the next song you'll write you'll have a little bit of the latest plus the fifth, fourth and couple of bits from the second guys' and presto, you've got yourself a style and then you're away.
Me: You mentioned you used to produce, do you still do that, or mostly record your own stuff? I love the stuff you produced in Graham Parker's early days.
Nick: I don't really do it anymore. I do my own records, but I haven't actually produced another artist for such a long time. I sort of chucked it in really, when a change happened in the 1980s in the way people made records. My production style became redundant in pretty much over night. It's kinda becoming back again now. People definitely ask me more nowadays if I want to produce them but prior to that it was rough and ready and I would sort of knock them out pretty much. But I'm more considered about it now... about songwriting. I sort of let them gestate. I don't force the issue like I used to when I was a kid. It takes a lot of work to make it sound like it doesn't take a lot of work at all. Like they always say about writing, it's a lot of work to make it look like you just knocked it off.
Me: I have to mention "Cruel to be Kind," your biggest hit I think. Was that an easy song to write?
Nick: Ahhh, that's a good question. That song went through so many stages. It was a Brinsley Schwarz song originally and we were very keen on the Philly sound, the Gamble and Huff records or the early and mid 70s. One of the songs we liked was by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes called "The Love I Lost" and "Cruel to be Kind" was originally a knock off of "The Love I Lost," it had the same sort of driving bass line. It was a cool little item but when the Brinsley's broke up "Cruel to be Kind" went into the trash can along with "What's So Funny ('Bout Peace, Love and Understanding" and the rest of our repertoire like all bands. When a and breaks up the bands repertoire goes away as well. And "Cruel to be Kind" only surfaced when I signed to Columbia Records much later on in New York and Gregg Geller, the A&R guy, who was a wonderful man, signed me. He heard the Brinsley song and he made me record it. He sort of put pressure on me, and I didn't want to do it, I thought it was done and it was over. But he said, "You should do it again. I insist you do it again." By this time I was with Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, even though we couldn't call ourselves Rockpile at that time for contractual reasons. But we did a version with those guys and it came out quite differently but of course it became a nice little hit. It's still a great little song. I do it now and people really like it.
Me: You have such a cool wit with your lyrics, sir. Does that ever get in the way when you write?
Nick: Yeah, I really think it does. Sometimes when I listen to my early stuff, especially from the time I was starting to get a reputation, a very good reputation, but a reputation nonetheless... I listen to it now and I really do cringe. Some of that stuff which was over written, over punny and that sort of thing, and sometimes it was a pretty good idea but sort of messed up as I was being a little bit clever clogs with it. Some other snags I did the idea was great but forced. I could hear the way I forced it through, but yeah, your original question and point was well made. If you're not careful you can mess it up. Unless you're a comedian or someone like Richard Stilgoe who writes humorous songs, you should stay out of rock and roll I think. Haha.
Me: Ha! Another song I have to ask about is "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass." That song also sounded like just a jam session? Am I right?
Nick: Yeah, I used to spend a lot of time in the studio back then, and I think that's probably the one and only time I've actually gone into the studio and had a vague idea about something. I brought it forth in the studio. Normally that never works. You'd think it does at the time, but it never really sustains. I've had a go, especially after that song was so successful. I thought I could just turn up! With any half-baked sale notion I've got, it would just come out marvelous. Of course that's not true. It never worked again... there's plenty of bad efforts. But with this song I had a vague notion, that's why it's credited to the bass player and to the drummer as well because they kinda brought it on. I should of added Bob Andrews on the credits really, as his piano was his first go, run through... he was never better. He said, "Alright, give it to me once again, I think I've got the hang of it." I said, "No, it's alright. You can go home now." It's terrific. It was a collaborative effort, it was the one and only time I've ever done that that it ever actually worked.
Me: I have to talk about the 1980s, which you mentioned. You said it wasn't really the greatest time for you, but it as in that time I fell in love with your music. Of course it was also the era of Rick Astley, I know how ghastly you find him. Haha. You were kind of hard on him on the song "All Men Are Liars." Did you ever hear back from him?
Nick: Poor Rick. No. Occasionally I still do that tune and for some reason in America they really love that tune. Occasionally when I do it I can feel them waiting for that line. And when I do it they roll in the aisles, holding their sides like it was the funniest thing. Over the years it made me think leave poor Rick Astley alone, what's he ever done. It's a real shame but the time I did it his song "I'm Never Gonna Give You Up" was on all the time and I loathed it. Now I think it sounds pretty good but back then I really loathed it. I hardly ever do that song, probably because of that line. But whenever I do I think it's a shame about poor Rick, I don't really want to have a go at him. He's probably a really nice bloke, but I never met him.
Me: A lot of coo artists covered your songs, sir. You were Johnny Cash's son-in-law for a long time of course and he recorded "The Beast in Me" which seems like it was written for him. Was it written with him in mind?
Nick: Oh, yeah, I did actually write that song for him. Graham Thompson wrote this great book about Cash and he really concentrated on the years I knew him, which was really the lowest point of his career probably from the mid 1970s to up until he did his records with Rick Rubin. It was not a great time for him and Graham Thompson wrote a terrific book about that part of his career which people have sort of skated over a bit. In the book I tell the whole story about that song but I had the idea for it one night he was playing at Wembley and he had a huge touring party. It was a family affair, the kids all came out... auntie this and uncle that. It was a really big deal. He was working his arse off trying to keep this whole thing afloat. He really wasn't a well man at all... Anyway, I got this idea for a song Carlene told him about it. He said, "Oh, I'll come around and hear it on the way to Wembley." He turned up at the house and I hand't really finished it, I hadn't got it right but he turned up the house with every one. I mean like everyone, the whole band, all the roadies, the nanny's, the cooks, Uncle Tom and all... all turned up at my house and crammed into the sitting room on the way to Wembley, this huge bus parked outside in the street, to hear this song and it wasn't ready for him. It was very, very embarrassing. Funny now, but at the time it was incredibly embarrassing. When I finished trying to sing his song in front of all these people I never wanted to hear it again, I went completely off it. He said to me, "It's not right, it's not right. It's a really good idea so keep working on it. Let me know, but keep working on it." And I said, "Oh, alright." Like I said I never wanted to hear it again but every time I saw him after that he always asked me about it. The fact of the matter is it's one of those songs where the first verse is really good... I had the first verse definitely. It was so good I couldn't think of anything else to say. It seemed like I got it all in the first verse and that's not a song. Anyway, every time he asked me I always mentally got it out of the box and had another look at it. But nothing would ever come. Then at one time he was playing at the Albert Hall... I think it was the last time he played in London actually... I went to see him and he said, "How's 'The Beast in Me'?" again. He always asked me with a twinkle in his eye, because he knew it was an occasion when I played it to him first, it was an occasion I didn't wish to remember. It was encouraging, so that night I went home and I finished it just like that. I finished the whole thing. I sent it off to him and I didn't hear anything until my step-daughter Tiffany had stayed with him at their house in Jamaica... I was talking to her and she said, "Grandpa is singing your song all the time to everybody." The next thing I knew it came out on "American Recordings" and I was really thrilled about it. It is a good song and he sort of knew it was. He was a brilliant bloke, I really, really loved him. Still do actually.
Me: Your back catalogue from "Nick the Knife" to "Party of One"... my favorite era of yours are being rereleased from Yep Roc... II can't wait to get the whole set with the lunch box by the way. Anyway, there's some new unreleased tracks on a few of the CDs, but you haven't released any new music since "Quality Street" came out four years ago. Is there a reason for that?
Nick: I move a lot slower now and I'm far more critical. I write the odd song, It's so expensive to make records the way I like to make them in the old fashioned way. Old fashion in respect using real musicians in a real recording studio. That's a really expensive way to make records, that's why nobody does that anymore. And also the results are the way I like them, and a few other people like them, but the general public in the main stays away in droves. It makes them nervous when they hear the home made kind of quality I like so much in music. But the general public has been trained off that sort of thing to an extent and my sales are such that I have to have a really good body of work to record another record.
Me: Well, I'm so glad that your greatest era is coming out on CD again, Nick. Thanks so much for being here on my little blog for it's 1,000th entry.
Nick: It was my pleasure. Thank you for asking such musical questions. Congratulations on the 1,000th entry... here's to 1000 more.
Me: Ha! I doubt that'll happen. When you do release more music I hope you come back again.
Nick: Bye, Jason, bye.
Shit, there were so many other questions I wanted to ask him about but I loved that. Anyway, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests... Jeff Trelewicz, Laird Jim, and of course Nick Lowe. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Julia Othmer. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker