March 17, 1950
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
August 19, 2010
Did being raised in Oklahoma affect your music?
Been: It had a great effect on me musically, but I don‚Äôt think it affected me lyrically, other than a desire to get out of there! When I would see movies that showed New York City or London or Rome, that was where I wanted to be. My father got transferred to Chicago, so we left when I was 12 or 13 years old. Because I had lived in Oklahoma, I was totally aware of southern music like Elvis and Buddy Holly as well as gospel and the blues. Then when we moved to Chicago, I got the urban blues influence. It affected me so strongly that I developed a deep love for music.
Try to stay innocent, but go into it with eyes wide open. Know that you‚Äôre dealing with people who are going to try and turn your heartfelt expressions into money. Try not to be offended by that. You better love this with all your heart because you‚Äôre going to encounter forces that are gonna try and rip that joy right out of you. You've gotta stay focused on why you‚Äôre doing it. I‚Äôm working with some bands now in San Francisco, producing and I guess you would say, mentoring them. I feel like I‚Äôm helping them avoid certain pitfalls that would derail their careers by months or even years. That‚Äôs very rewarding.
I don‚Äôt think of myself as an intellectual. It‚Äôs just that so many rock lyrics are like bad junior high school poetry that it just seems intellectual by comparison. As far as the dark cerebral thing, I think if you write about and confront the realities of life it‚Äôs going to include the dark and difficult aspects as well as the positive and joyous ones. Part of our rock and roll culture tends to praise misery. We tend to really like knowing that someone is so miserable that they can write these songs that really expose the black, dark, negative side, but I don‚Äôt think anger and blind intensity are desirable qualities. So what I‚Äôve tried to do over the years and the way my life has developed is to just find some kind of balance between the two. Not where the light is the absence of the dark and not where the dark is the absence of the light. It‚Äôs both of them together.
It‚Äôs important to give voice to your feelings and questions and doubts and fears, and confront them, but I think it‚Äôs a terrible place to stay - to be trapped in. I think it‚Äôs part of a process but I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs the end of the process. But I think some people are so depressed about their lives and have such low self-esteem that they like to hear that hopeless stuff because it validates their own negativity and I don‚Äôt think that‚Äôs healthy.
Either I will understand what I‚Äôve written because it has happened or it will happen. I think it‚Äôs because often when you write, you‚Äôre writing from a subconscious place. Something inside you is telling you what‚Äôs going on before you are conscious its going on. That‚Äôs not always the case. Some of the writing is reflective - you reflect back on something or at the present moment that‚Äôs what you‚Äôre feeling or thinking. But a lot of the time I‚Äôll start writing a song and it will be alien to me and it will be just later on it will turn into absolute action or flesh. And I don‚Äôt believe it‚Äôs because of suggestion from the song. I believe it‚Äôs like dreams - dreams will tell you what‚Äôs going on and later on the dream will make sense. I believe there‚Äôs a part of us that‚Äôs so far ahead of where we consciously are. We are so much more formed than we know, and like I said before, we‚Äôre always being formed. Somewhere inside of us we are far more advanced than we can consciously act out and until those things going on inside of us break through into consciousness we go through doubt, confusion and unawareness. But I think something inside is always talking to us, always trying to tell us something. And I think the minute you start questioning, ‚ÄúWhy is this going on?‚ÄĚ, that‚Äôs when movement out of the problem can begin. But the problem existed long before and the solution existed long before.
Song you wish you had written:
‚ÄėLove Will Tear Us Apart‚ÄĚ by Joy Division, ‚ÄúTemptation‚ÄĚ by New Order, ‚ÄúHow Soon Is Now?‚ÄĚ by the Smiths, ‚ÄúRing Them Bells‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúMost of the Time‚ÄĚ by Bob Dylan. And anything by The Band.
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