Saturday, 29 September 2012

Interview: 'Ian Hunter: Ballads Of Mott The Hoople... & Beyond!'

... & BEYOND

At Last... now it can be told – the prehistory
of Mott The Hoople, working on songs intended
for Tom Jones with Deep Purple’s Roger Glover,
the Golden Age of Mott The Hoople with hits like
“All The Young Dudes” and “All The Way From Memphis”,
David Bowie, Tony DeFries, Bob Dylan, and the
drawbacks of Glam-Rock, to post-Mott The Hoople,
Movie music, Mick Ronson, Prince, and Def Leppard
...Ian Hunter tells all.

“Nostalgia is starting to focus too late,
intelligence is starting to itch,
there ain’t no Rock ‘n’ Roll no more
just the music of the rich ...”
                      (Ian Hunter - “Apathy ‘83”)

‘Zig-Zag’ was the first-ever magazine to enthuse about Mott the Hoople. Pete Frame writing ‘I used to watch Ian singing ‘and I’m just a Rock ‘n’ Roll star’ and think to myself ‘not yet you ain’t mate, but it’s just a matter of time’. The accuracy of Frame’s prediction is impressive, with this early evidence of Ian Hunter’s long-term fascination with Rock Stardom as just as strong an indicator to the band’s future. No-one writes about the Rock life-style with quite the mythopoetic vision of Hunter. When Noel Gallagher wrote ‘in my mind, my dreams are real’ the Rock life-style he was imaging must have had something of the sleazy glamour of Ian Hunter’s ‘you look like a star, but you’re out on parole’. For Ian has written some of the most perfect crystallisations of Rock’s tacky glory ever committed to vinyl – or CD. His Rock dreams travel all the way ‘from the Liverpool Docks to the Hollywood Bowl’, in Tour Buses lost ‘in the middle of the night on the open road, when the heater don’t work and it’s oh-so cold’. With Mott it was songs like “Saturday Gig”, “All The Way From Memphis”, and “Ballad Of Mott The Hoople”, then – solo, it was “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and beyond. ‘Rock is a loser’s game’, but it’s one he’s perfectly suited to.

Mott was a band in constant crisis. They fought to survive, fought major personnel changes, management, and each other, but they triumphed. Rock archivist Charles Shaar Murray records that for their first five years they ‘staggered along from bedrock poverty to (comparative) wealth, cursing each other out, lurching from one disaster to the next, knowing that they had to keep moving while not having much idea of how or even where, sometimes keeping it together, sometimes falling apart, going from elation to misery’ (‘New Musical Express’ 18 May 1974). And it’s where that dream crashes into reality that Hunter’s obsessively autobiographical lyrics work best.

The date (March 26th 1972, Zurich) added to the title of “The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople” records their first break-up, the one that came immediately before David Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” ignited their second-phase career. Then ‘Dudes’ became the first of seven Top Fifty chart singles. Until their final and more permanent split was announced in the 28th December 1974 issues of the music press. Since then Ian Hunter has effortlessly switched to solo work in collaboration with a variety of other inputs, on albums like ‘All-American Alien Boy’ (1976) – with three-quarters of Queen, ‘Short Back And Sides’ (1981) – with Topper Headon, Todd Rundgren, Tymon Dogg and Mick Jones, ‘All The Good Ones Are Taken’ (1983) – with several members of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Banders, and – of course, his projects with the late Mick Ronson.

Ian Hunter is still touring, the ostensible reason for the current trip is ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ (2000) – a thirty-eight-track double-CD* covering Ian’s post-Mott solo career, while he’s also using the tour as a dry run for what he claims will be his soon-come next solo album ‘From The Knees Of My Heart’ (a joke title, which actually turns out to be 2000’s ‘Missing In Action’ !?!?), but now he plays the ‘Star’ with greater justification...

“One more crowd shoutin’ ‘turn it up loud’
one more rose at my feet,
one more ring from that cute little thing
one more reason to heat...”
                     (Ian Hunter - “Big Time” 1990)

ANDREW DARLINGTON: Do you still get nervous before gigs?

IAN HUNTER: Scared, me? No. It’s home. It’s my house. No. I live inside it. Big ‘Ead – I just feel totally in control.

I saw you sound-checking with “All The Way From Memphis”. Do you still get a buzz from doing the old Mott the Hoople songs? It’s funny, because I hadn’t been for a few years. Me and Mick (Ronson) had an American band but I felt that when Mick died (from liver cancer in April 1993), for some strange reason I rang them up and said ‘that’s it’. ‘Cos I think that’s where it stops. Then – later, I was in the house. I was feeling a bit drab. And basically, when I write, I need to get out now and again. And this time I felt I wanted to go slightly rougher and slightly younger. It’s these young lads that keep me going, you see? As long as they keep it down a bit, you know what I mean? I like the Beatles myself you know, just as long as they KEEP IT DAHN A BIT (laughs)!!!! But you know, I wasn’t moving on stage. And if you’re not moving on stage and if it doesn’t come naturally, you look real stupid if you force it and it was really worrying me because I was thinking ‘I’m virtually static, is this it? Maybe I’m elderly now so I don’t move like I used to’, and I missed it. Then all of a sudden, we were in a place called Upsala (in Sweden) and we did two shows in one night and on the second show I started moving again. I love stuff like that. And the last couple of dates I’ve really enjoyed. ‘Cos I’m getting right back in. For a long time I didn’t do that. So – this is me just getting out having fun.

What did you think of Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s solo revival of “All The Young Dudes” (his single got to no.25 on 23 June 1990)? Not a lot. He did it great live at that Wembley thing, that sounded good. I think Buff (Dale Griffin) was on that too. But I didn’t like the record much, no. He didn’t do it that great. Nobody can do that song. I’m the only one that can do it. BOWIE can’t even do it. Bowie did do it before he gave it to us, and even he can’t do it. To me it’s the quintessential early-seventies theme. But when Bruce Dickinson sings ‘who needs TV, when I got T Rex’ it’s totally out context with the decade. T Rex were a good singles band. But there was never really much weight with Marc. Marc never said anything other than ‘buy my records, I want to be a fucking star’. But he was very good.

You wrote what ‘Q’ magazine called the ‘greatest music book ever written’ – ‘Diary Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ (Panther, 1974, ISBN 0-586-04041-2), and I’m still waiting for ‘Part 2’. Many people have written about the Rock life-style, but few did it with the insider-perspective that you achieved. Will you write a second volume? I haven’t, no. I always seem to be doing something for some reason. You grow up and you have kids and you have mortgages and all the rest of it. But I’d just got married when I wrote that book, and I wasn’t going out with girls every night and all that kind of stuff. So I had a lot of time on my hands. And that’s what I did with that time. It was dead easy though. All you have to do is write... write what goes on, truthfully. You have to leave some bits out, what Keith Moon said to me. I missed a bit out with him, y’know... stout fellow! But basically – just tell the truth as it happens. I didn’t find it difficult at all. I just considered it more like reportage than a book.

Like you, I grew up in the 1950’s and sixties when all my greatest influences were American – Movies, records, magazines, styles. Oh yeah, you used to come out of the cinema and want to kick ‘Curry’s window in. It was so ‘Back to Reality’.

And you’ve always retained that ‘fan’ attitude to Rock ‘n’ Roll, working consciously within its tradition. Yes, I was a fan for a long time. And I remain very much a fan. Still of the same people though, not of newer people. Always of – particularly Little Richard, and to a lesser extent Jerry Lee Lewis. But Little Richard to me was the Governor. He is brilliant. He’s amazing. It’s like – there’s nobody better. He’s the best voice ever in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Maybe Paul Rogers is near, but Little Richard is the guy for me. I’d never heard a voice like that. He does things he doesn’t even know he’s doing. Like, you could never learn them in a million years. And his band, he had incredible bands, he has great sensitivity. People just think ‘Little Richard – ah, y’know, big mouth with a great voice’. But no, he’s a great musician. He’s the governor.

But, taking into account your experiences during the intervening years, do you still see Rock in that same way? I really don’t know. When I like something, I REALLY like it. But I never thought I’d ever be... I mean, I’d lie awake at night and imagine ‘The Marquee’, you know? Being in a band at the ‘The Marquee’! That was like, for me, the living end.

And then you became part of that myth, you became a star in America. Was it still as magical? It gets you into places, y’know. And I really wanted it at first – recognition, people looking at you, all that kind of stuff. I think most English kids do because you don’t get much respect when you’re trying. And then when I did make it, I just thought ‘WHAT? – people are gonna find me out! I ain’t gonna last longer than six months, so I’ve got to keep this money because I’m going to be digging holes in the road next year’. But now I really enjoy myself doing these gigs and I really enjoy myself writing the songs... and there’s not a huge ego need like there was. I no longer have that need. I can’t be bothered with all that stuff. I like to be... I’m a quieter kind of individual. And that’s kinda nice. I still see others doing it, and I’m glad I’m not like that anymore, ‘cos... music is full of failures. And when you’re really egotistical, it’s failure all the time. Every day you’re trying to write a song. I mean, you only write maybe ten a year that are workable. But every day, if you’re that driven, you’re trying, and it’s very hard. But – you get paid for it, so I guess that’s alright!

So, can you tell me how it all began for you? You’re talking about me personally? I started out as a bass-player for this guy Freddie ‘Fingers’ Lee. He made a couple of singles, and he’s still around. He’d go in the studio for three hours, and he’d do one twelve-bar song. He had a song called – what was it? oh yeah – ‘working on a railway, working in the USA’ (sings), a twelve-bar. He wrote the lyric in three seconds. Then Tom Jones covered it, and Freddie made a fortune, he made a lot of money out of it. And I thought ‘ah, there’s some money in this writing lark’. ‘Cos Fred never liked my voice. He always said ‘you shouldn’t sing, but you could write, you could be a good writer’. He wrote, so I just started writing ‘cos of Fred. And then I started working with Glover, y’know? Roger Glover?

No, I didn’t know that. Oh yeah, me and Roger worked for ‘Francis Day & Hunter’ as staff writers in the Charing Cross Road. We used to get fifteen quid (£15) a week! We were trying to write for Englebert Humperdinck and Tom Jones. We never got a cover – but yeah, that’s how we started out.

That’s before Roger Glover moved on to join Episode Six (and later still Deep Purple)? I seem to recollect that name. Yes. I remember Episode Six used to wear kaftans and things. Disgusting. I never did that. I just thought it looked stupid.

Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan recently published his own memoirs in book form, called ‘Child Of Time’. Memoirs of a what...?

...of a Deep Purple I suppose (mutual laughs)?

Wasn’t Island A&R man Guy Stevens an important catalyst in putting Mott the Hoople together. Yes. He had Procol Harum. He came up with their name as well. But then he lost Procol Harum because he went into... he was in jail for speed. But while he was in jail he read a book called ‘Mott the Hoople’ (by Willard Manus). And he gave the name to this guy that he discovered in jail, ‘cos he thought this guy was great. Then the guy died. So he really didn’t want to give the name to us, ‘cos he thought there was a bad vibe with it. We had the hardest job getting this name off him. My attitude was ‘fuck the bad vibe, it’s a great name’! The other guys had had a band called ‘Silence’ with Stan Tippens. But he became our tour manager. And we became Mott the Hoople.

Bob Dylan is usually quoted as the greatest influence on your vocal style. The Stones and Bob Dylan, yes. Because I couldn’t really sing, and there was no way I was going to get a deal with any British label. They all thought you had to be a proper singer. But then these guys started coming out, Bob Dylan, Sonny Bono, and Leonard Cohen... they couldn’t sing either, and it was like – if these guys could get signed, then I could signed. I thought ‘that’s how you can get in’, because no longer did you have to have that legitimate voice. And I loved Dylan. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I loved that too.

You met Bob Dylan at a later point in your career. Yeh.

What was he like? He was great. He – er, had a reputation at that time for being a very awkward person to talk to. A bit of a lad. But he was fine with me. I met him a couple of times. No problem. First time he danced down Bleeker Street with one foot on the pavement and the other foot in the road going (thump thump) ‘MOTT THE HOOPLE MOTT THE HOOPLE’. Here I was, talking to Dylan, and I thought he didn’t like Mott the Hoople by the way he was acting, y’know? I thought ‘I don’t need this shit mocking me’. But then he turns round and says ‘no man, I dig Mott the Hoople! “Half Moon Bay”. “Laugh At Me”’. And I knew he had the records. I know the band (or the Band?) had the records too. But yeah, I copped off him. There’s no doubt about it (laughs).

You performed Sonny Bono’s “Laugh At Me” for a number of years. It always seemed like an odd choice of material to me. Naw. Not really. Because plenty of people laughed at me! They don’t laugh at you after you’ve achieved something, because then they always knew you could do it, but before... a lot of people laughed at me. And you react in one of two ways. When people laugh at you you either survive it and it makes you stronger, or you just cave in. That’s what separates the men from the boys. To me – everytime somebody laughed at me, it just made me a little more firm in what I was going to do. More resolved in what I was going to do.

Can you tell me how you got involved with the DeFries ‘Mainman’ management scene? He was managing David (Bowie), and it was David that got him to manage us. He didn’t want to manage us, because he knew how big David was going to be. David didn’t know how big David was going to be, but DeFries did. But David insisted that Tony (DeFries) manage us. And sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. I wasn’t keen on him, y’know. I thought he was fantastic in some ways, I really did. I thought he was great. But in other ways I wouldn’t have trusted him as far as I could throw him. We never actually signed for him, I had the contracts all the time. I wouldn’t let any of the band sign for him. David trusted him, but I didn’t. But then David’s very intelligent, and I’m not. David even thought McGovern was going to be the President (a Democrat contender who ran for US Presidency against Richard Nixon, and failed)!

I always felt you seemed ill-at-ease in all that glitter ‘n’ glam scene. You may never have done the kaftan thing, but you did do ‘Top Of The Pops’ with tinsel in your hair, and it didn’t seem quite natural for you. Naw. I felt like a bricklayer’s labourer, in gilt. I felt particularly uncomfortable with the whole thing, DeFries and all that. I was just an ordinary Working Class bloke, all this was a little effete for me – ‘AY-FEET’ or whatever you call it. But y’know, it gave me the opportunity to gain a successful situation. And they was right in a way. I mean – we was on a roll, so it was great. I ain’t knockin it. I enjoyed it.

In ‘Diary Of A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’ you seem to deliberately exclude some aspects of the Rock life-style – drugs, for example. You write ‘use your loaf, nobody ever made it stoned’. (Laughs) I did?

You did. And in a ‘Melody Maker’ interview you said ‘the drug scene over there (in America) scared us to death... I felt like a vicar’ (27th March 1971). Well, that just goes to show you, don’t it! (laughs). Can’t believe a word I say, can ya? I probably thought that at the time. ‘Cos I mean, we never used to get stoned. And when we went over there none of us would have a joint. None of us.

The Mott albums from that period were recently re-issued on CD, and came out to favourable re-appraisal. Yes. Uh-huh.

Do you look back on those albums with pleasure? No. I mean, that guy did that. And now I’ve got to beat him. It’s as simple as that. I look back on them with absolutely nothing. I don’t feel a thing. I never look back. I can’t look back. I can only look forward. I still feel I’m a viable proposition and I’m still happening. But whether I am or whether I’m not, why should I want to look at that shit? I don’t think I even have any of those albums. What interests me now is what I’m writing now. I mean, to look back and do all that bullshit is alright when you’re seventy-five or something, then you can go ‘ah, we weren’t too bad after all’ (in frail quavering voice). But right now I’m not the slightest bit interested. No – neither was Mick (Ronson). We never sat around listening to old records and all that like people seem to think we do. Never.

I was wary about asking directly about Mick Ronson. Do you mind talking about him? I don’t want to talk about him personally. But professionally I don’t mind.

I came originally from Hull, and used to see Mick regularly when he played back-up for singer-songwriter Mike Chapman. That’s right. He played with him for a while. He was great. But, like me, Mick never particularly wanted to be, like, huge. He just wanted to have a good time (laughs), which he did. On a regular basis. On a DAILY basis. You know? And he had a great time. He did what he wanted to do. The thing is – my grandmother always said ‘you have to do what you want to do’. It’s a terrible thing if people don’t do what they want to do. A lot of people, they have that problem. I’ve never had that problem. I’ve always done what I wanted to do. And if it’s gone a bit – like, funny, if it got a bit boring or something, I’ve left that situation. And Ronson was the same. That’s how we felt about it. We left each other very often for the same reason. But somehow we survived.

Do you look back on Mott as something you’re happy with? There was a lot of trouble in the band, especially when it got big. I could see what was going to happen, it was turning into something else. When you get big, you either turn into something else, or you stop. That’s not how it is in all cases, I mean – in some cases they get thrown in and they’re flying all the way. But I had the choice, and I stopped. If that’s what it takes, then I don’t want it. I just don’t have that make-up. Some do, some don’t. I just happened to be in this particular situation, and it was making me nervous, you know? Even so, it would have been fine if it hadn’t been for the Business end of it. I just don’t like the Business end of it. And I don’t know if it’s because I’ve known them for so long and I just recognise them all (lawyers, accountants, etc.) I can smell them a mile off. I don’t know what it is y’know. For them (accountants, Music Industry suits) it’s just numbers morning noon and night, numbers, you know? Then the tax thing struck, and I didn’t want to give it to them. Particularly as they (the Government) were pissing it up the wall at the time. So I had to leave. Now, I do fine. And I don’t have to deal with all that crap. The only real time I’m depressed now is when I’m tied to a deal. When I sign a deal and I do the album and I go out and I do the tour for the album, and I do that – that’s the only time I feel miserable. The rest of the time, when I’m just like I am right now (playing dates without any particular sales pitch) I feel fucking great. I like what I’m doing now. It’s a lot of fun. Pays well too.

Is it easier working solo? I’m not a solo artist. I really am not. I never have been. It just seems to be that way. I’m always part of a band. I’m playing tonight as part of a band. I just never seem to get into a regular band situation, because – I don’t know, perhaps nobody asks me or something? But I much prefer a band. I do write solo. I’ve never been able to sit down with another person to write. To me it’s a very personal thing. We’d never write together with Mott, what we used to do was write separately. Mick (Ralphs) would write solo, I’d write solo and we’d just bung ‘em in and if there were pieces missing we’d help each other out. You can come in with a riff and go ‘I’ll give you this, put that there’. You can do it that way. That is how we did it. But I can’t even bear to have somebody around while I’m actually writing. I don’t mind later if it gets chopped around, but not at the time. I’m so fixed on what it should be that it just pisses everybody off anyway.

Can you tell me something about your Movie soundtrack work. I’ve never done an entire soundtrack. But I have songs in eleven Movies... I think it’s eleven. Some of those Movie songs were already on record and they just took ‘em. “Cleveland Rocks” was one. “All The Way From Memphis” was another. The others – I did a couple of things with Arthur Baker, off the wall things they were, for Horror Movies like the first ‘Fright Night’ (1985). They happened at a time when I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I started doing stuff like that. It was great. I had a song in a film called ‘Teachers’ (1984, with Nick Nolte) one of the best songs to come through, ‘questions arisen, is this a prison? some say it is, some say it isn’t’. That’s school. Good song. I still sometimes do that one (“(I’m The) Teacher” is on the Capitol Records soundtrack album alongside ZZ Top, Bob Seger and Joe Cocker). So – it’s a lucrative thing, yeh.

At one point you also went out on the road supporting an American politician’s election campaign. Yeah, yeah. But it wasn’t really politics for me. Todd rang me, Todd Rungren. And I was just flattered. Todd rang me up and asked me to do it with him. So I just went out on the road for that reason. I met all those guys. They thanked me profusely for being on board and all the rest of it. But I really wasn’t ‘on board’, I was just having a good time with Todd.

Do you listen to a lot of new music? I don’t really listen to much music at all to tell you the truth. No, I’m a baseball fanatic. Every night I watch baseball, it’s on seven days a week. That’s what I do. That’s my idea of a fun time. Truthfully, I don’t listen to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Never ‘ave, because if it’s good I wind up copying it, and if it’s bad it’s not worth listening to anyway. I never did listen much, and when I did – it was singles really, Stones’ singles and stuff like that. But I loved Prince. I thought he was amazing. Me and this guy who’s a Swedish star, we went to see Prince one night in Stockholm. And I was like a kid, we were like twelve-year-olds, fifteen feet from the front. That guy is incredible, what he’s doing with the drums and stuff like that. He’s a great guy. HIS NAME IS NOT PRINCE. HIS NAME IS NOT VICTOR. HIS NAME IS... VINCE! (laughs). But his clothes, I don’t know who makes them for him! And it’s even the same with Prince. I just sort of hear the stuff, on MTV, and think ‘that’s great’. I’ve never sat at home and really listened to him. No, I’m not really a listener, because the only stuff I love is indelibly printed in my brain from the fifties. And you don’t really hear that on the radio anymore. The only radio I listen to if I do listen in ‘Western Connecticut State University’ which is a college station. And that’s fine to listen to. But American radio is much too polished. It sounds like an L.A. album production. And I don’t like listening to that. It’s just too smooth. I like it when some kid walks in and you can hear the chain going in the toilet, and he goes ‘ah, I’m not listening to this’ and he shuts it off. That’s what they do, y’know, and I like that attitude.

What about Oasis? In fact “Once Bitten Twice Shy” would be a great song for Oasis to cover as one of their high-profile ‘B’-sides. I have no problem with Oasis at all. They’re a good band. People say they’re very derivative. But they have a sound of their own. Especially vocally. But I mean, that song’s been covered a lot – Status Quo just did a version. It was a big no.5. hit in the States in 1989 for a heavy metal band called Great White. And, y’know – there’s a guy in France, and he just sent us a list of all these artists who’ve done our songs over the years, he’s included everything – Thunder, The Presidents Of The United States, Hanoi Rocks – there’s over fifty people done ‘em!

Do you still do studio work for other musicians? I did a track for Def Leppard. A piano track for – I forget what they call it, ‘Rev’ something (‘Retro-Active’, 1993, with Ian billed as ‘Honky-Tonk Messiah’ on “Ride Into The Sun”). But I don’t do too much. I might do this thing with a Norwegian star I just got offered. That might be a bit of fun. There’s lots of interesting things that are coming in.

You’ve been involved in all aspects of recording from performing, to production for the likes of Generation X, Jane Aire and the Belvederes (a Virgin 1979 LP) and Ellen Foley (her 1979 ‘Night Out’ LP). Do you keep abreast of new studio technology? No. I have a sixteen-track at home. And I have a work station – ‘M’, or whatever the fuck it is, M7 I think it is now. It’s like a work station. So I know how to work these things. But I don’t really wanna go in the studio, especially if I’m doing a Movie soundtrack thing – there’s so much involved. So much you have to do. That’s boring. Terribly boring. I’d leave that to an engineer or something. And I can’t be bothered with all this ‘have you got this on DAT and have you got this on...’. No, I don’t know why, but I still just like cassettes. I’ve got everything in me ‘ouse (house), I’ve got them all, but I wind up using cassette. There’s always a cassette player around, know what I mean? And if I’m doing anything I’ll just bung it on a cassette. ‘Cos with my stuff, why set it all up just to put it on cassette? And basically I still write with just guitar and snare too, even though I’ve got a studio. It’s probably a very old-fashioned attitude, but I write that way because I feel the song should be there before you start. Then everything else you do is going to make it sound better. I’ve tried doing that ‘you start with a verse and ah-the-rest-will-come, y’know? Put a couple of things on here and a little...’, but it never works for me. I don’t even know how to do these clever one-chord things that they make into hits right now. I don’t seem to be able to get it. I’m just me. I just keep doing what I can. There’s no real style attached to it. Some would say it’s dated, and some would say it’s timeless. You take your choice.

That’s something posterity will decide. Yes. And I’m comfortable with that.

If I can throw a quote at you, ‘there ain’t no Rock ‘n’ Roll no more, just the music of the rich’. You wrote that in 1976. Yeah, well. It’s probably even more apropos today than then. I guess that meant that things were tightening up on the Business end, and they had, and they continue to. One wonders when it will end. You know, I’d rather have entrepreneurs running it than these people (accountants), ‘cos every three months they panic ‘cos you go out of profit – which is hilarious in this business. It just doesn’t work that way. They should be dealing Shares or something else. They should leave this business to the mavericks, they’re so much better at it.

Are you working in new songs on this tour? Erm. I’m only doing one in the set tonight. But there’s about eight I could do.

What about “Michael Picasso” featured on the ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ double-set, the one you wrote for Mick Ronson? Yes, I’m doing that one. I felt I had to write something real quick. It had to be real, simple, and heartfelt. Because the danger with something like that, is that it can’t be too light, and it can’t be too heavy. I think we got it. I think we captured it. It’s very difficult y’know. Because I’m still very good friends with Mick’s Mother and his sisters and all these kinda things. So when I come to England, the relatives come to the gig and stuff like that. I think his Mum’s coming tonight (Minnie Ronson). I was talking to her today on the ‘phone, she said ‘look, tell me the song before you do that one, because I’ve got to get out’. (A long pause) But I think it’s a good song. Yes. (An even longer pause) Funny thing – time, when you actually look at it. A lot of time has gone over the abyss, but when you talk like this, it brings it right back like it was last night...

                                                           ...somewhere in the mist
a long long time ago,
people used to stare
at the Spider
with the platinum hair...”
     (Ian Hunter - ‘Michael Picasso’ - 1993)

38-track double-CD
(May 2000, Columbia 496284-2)


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