Tim Rose: Interview   Photo: Tim & me

I had the opportunity to chat with Tim several times over the past few years about his career and about life in general. He happily gave freely of his time to fans and had fascinating views on a range of issues, particularly those relating to the music business. I taped and transcribed the first of those conversations, on Sunday 1st March 1998, with the purpose of putting it on this website. I have deliberately not edited or amended the transcript since Tim's death, which makes my opening question seem rather impertinent and inappropriate. I don't think Tim would have minded.

B.M. For someone in their late fifties and an ex-smoker, you're still alive!

T.R. Yes and keeping well.

An article in The Independent recently suggests that you're kind of touchy about your age.

Only because it keeps it interesting. My age is not anybody's business but mine, to tell you the truth. They can put it in my obituary if they can find it. Everybody goes back to that original CBS release which was not necessarily true either. [There's a picture of his driving license on the back cover.]

Your voice is sounding as good as ever - perhaps even richer. Do you have to work at keeping it in condition?

When I was doing the Albert Hall with Nick Cave, I was getting ready to go on and he came over to say, "Good luck". He said, "You'll probably wonder where I'm going?" and I said, "No, where are you going?" "I'm going to do my vocal warm-ups." Now if you've heard Nick's voice, you'll know what he's like. I said, "Well I've done mine; I've had a cup of coffee and a cigarette."

Early Years

What kind of childhood led you into being a musician?

My grandmother played piano when she was a young girl in silent movie houses - chase music, all that stuff - so she had some piano training. My mother also played a little piano. My aunt - my mother's sister - who I grew up with, also studied opera. She sang around the house, so there was definitely music in the house. Then at High School in Washington, I won a prize as best musician in the school, but I lost the scholarship to a tuba player. My instruments at the time were banjo and guitar.

Are there any recordings of your time with The Journeymen?

I never did any recordings with The Journeymen. There are a number of albums - I don't even know if they are on CD format - but they were the second recorded group that Johnny Philips and Scott McKenzie played with. The first group that they recorded with were called the Smoothies. I did a single with them, playing electric guitar. Then they formed The Journeymen in the early sixties with a guy named Dick Wiseman on banjo and they made 2 or 3 albums for Capitol Records. I was in the Service at that point. Then they broke up and about that time Cass [Elliot] and I were breaking up. We had only been together a year or so, from '63 to '64. Then Johnny met Cass and that became the Mamas & Papas, then of course Scott went off on his own and did something and Wiseman went back to Philadelphia and taught school or whatever he does.

The Big Three had the potential to be very successful. How did it form?

Actually, the first professional group that I had when I got out of the Service was when I sang with a guy called Michael Boran. We had a group called Michael & Timothy. Boran had sung with Phillips & McKenzie in The Smoothies. He had gotten married in the meantime and so he never stayed on with The Journeymen or stayed in professional music. I played banjo and guitar, he played guitar and he had all this material which I thought was great. We toured a little bit of the folk circuit in this form, but it didn't work out too well. The only thing that was really good was when we did a cruise ship once and I toured the Mediterranean with Michael. The food was fantastic and the work was easy - we only did two shows a day. We had a great time. He got busted for a liaison with one of the passengers, 'cos her husband reported him. This was a married passenger that was bopping everyone in the crew, but he got busted for that and was restricted by the purser. It was gonna be a big scandal, but they finally smoothed it over.

When that ended, I met Cass in the fall of '62 and we went to Chicago that winter. We started singing with another guy named John Brown, not as The Big Three - we were known as The Triumvirate. John was a guy I'd met while touring with Michael. We never recorded, but did a number of dates. We did a lot of the same clubs that Michael and I had done, 'cos I kept the owners' names and all that routine. So we were back in Omaha and Johnny and I and Cass were not getting along. Johnny was not easy to work with. Neither was Cass. But the opening act for us in this club in Omaha was this guy named James Hendricks. I asked him if he would like to join Cass and me. I had to fire John - he was so heavy about that, he broke my guitar; put his fist through my guitar. So, we took the joint money and bought me a new guitar. Jimmy left his job as teacher and Sunday school teacher in Omaha and the three of us formed The Big Three.

  Photo: Michael & Timothy

Michael & Timothy

We auditioned for Bob Cavallo down in Washington DC. Interestingly enough, Bob today manages Alanis Morrisette and Prince, so he's still around. In the audience for the audition was this guy from New York, named Roy Silver, a big-time manager - he managed Bill Cosby. His partner, Freddy Weinfeld, owned the Bitter End in New York. Everybody in the sixties worked the Bitter End - it was a big club. So we went to New York as The Big Three, managed by Roy Silver and started work at the Bitter End. We were together that way for about a year, from May '63 to May '64.

And you managed to produce two albums in that time?


But it didn't last?

No. There were too many distractions. There were musical distractions - Cass was very difficult to work with. She was always right because of course a fat girl's never wrong, and so in any kind of musical disagreement, everybody would side with Cass. I wanted to go rock. I wanted to take the folk genre and put in electric guitars, bass and drums; Cass said she would never do that with her music - she never wanted to be a rock singer. Famous last words, right? And so that led to a great disagreement. I was not easy to work with either, because I was very, very singular about what I thought we should be doing. A little intense and probably needed to lighten up a bit in those days.

Of course, we did manage two albums, but then the group broke up and Cass went off and did her thing and you can get her story from somebody else. [A recent biography of the Mamas & Papas on VH-1 paints a very drugged-out, self-centred and demanding character - and that was before she joined the group.] I formed another group called The Feldmans. There wasn't one Jewish guy in the group, but we thought it would be a funny name. There was Richie Hussan, Jake Holmes and myself. They had all been around in the folk days and this was the end of the acoustic era in New York. We did a lot of the clubs The Big Three had done and we were back in New York after 6 or 7 months together and we were working a place Called the Night Owl. A friend of mine, who was to become my manager, Lenny Maxwell, brought in David Rubinson from CBS Records. David said he was not interested in the group, but he was interested in me and would I like a deal with Columbia? I said yes, of course. The other guys were a little upset, but I figured this was a chance for me and the group was going nowhere, anyway. Jake Holmes did all right. He's been voted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame - he's the top commercial jingle writer in New York City and has been for the past twenty years, so he did OK. He also had a minor hit over here in Europe in the late 60s on Polydor [How Are You?]. Richard played bass on my first album.

What do you think of the current tour by John Philips and The Mamas & The Papas?

I didn't realise that Johnny was involved with that. I thought it was Scott McKenzie, his daughter and Spanky McPhalen., along with some other guy. I had gone back to university about ten years ago to get a couple of degrees. I thought it would be a nice thing to do at that stage. I took a young friend of mine down to see The Mamas & Papas - they were doing the Bottom Line in New York - and she sat there and said, "I don't know what these people are clapping for, but it must've happened twenty years before this." That sums it up.

The First Album

Your reaction to Jimi Hendrix at the time of Hey Joe is widely known, but if he had refused to record the song and had gone back to the States, as he originally was threatening to do, do you think your career would have been any different?

[Long pause & sigh] Yes, that's one of those blessings in disguise, isn't it? It probably would have been different, because Morning Dew, by Episode 6, had been out by the time Hendrix did Hey Joe. CBS had still not released anything of mine over here. They wouldn't release Hey Joe and they wouldn't release Morning Dew until Simon Dee called them while he was on pirate radio and said, "Look, I'm playing it all the time and people wanna buy it." Since my version of Hey Joe was never released as a single, I don't think it would have hurt me at that point for Hendrix to release it. I came across to the UK because my version of Morning Dew was released. It so happens that Hendrix had had a hit with Hey Joe, which people connected with me and so therefore it was useful to my career. Part of the mystique has been built up because of the tie-in between my version of Hey Joe and Hendrix's. That has been a positive over the years. I mean, if you're gonna be connected with other artists, there are worse guitar players to be connected with.

You're somewhat critical of CBS, yet putting Come Away Melinda onto the first Rock Machine compilation must have raised your profile.

It did and it didn't. It raised my profile among the anorak crowd, the trainspotters [ouch!]. It did not perceptively raise, as far as I could tell, my live audience - maybe it did, I'm not sure. I think a lot more people bought that album than bought my album, that is for sure. And I run into hundreds of people who have got either the original or the re-release of the Rock Machine Turns You On.

I'm sure there must be a lot of people who bought Rock Machine who subsequently bought your album.

Yeah, that was the idea. CBS at the time had a very large stable of artists whom they did not know how to promote or who did not have hit singles themselves and they didn't know what to do with them, so it was a guy named Dave Haus's idea to take a sample from each of them and put it together to see what happened.

The trouble is that in those days, people were obsessed with singles, rather than album sales.

Yes, they were obsessed with singles. A friend of mine said she was working full time back in '66 and she started in Newcastle and her first wage was 8 per week. So people didn't have much money back then. Singles were 2/6 (12 pence) and albums were 32/6 (1.66). The sampler album was 19/6 (0.98), so a lot of people picked that up, 'cos that might have been the only album they bought that month.

It's something that has always amazed me - you would pay 32/6 for an album, yet you could see the artist live for 10/- (50 pence). It's what I paid to see The Beatles and what I paid to see Orbison.

I did a show just recently up in South Shields and a guy showed me a stub from when I was there 30 years ago - 3/6 (18 pence)! He also had stubs for a couple of weeks before - Cream at 3/6 - and a couple of weeks after me, Hendrix at 3/6. So that was the top club price in those days.

Influences & Precursors

What artists paved the way to allow you to develop your music in the way you did? Are we talking about Dylan, The Beatles, Steven Stills, The Byrds?

It's a different perception here than it was in America - a different road. Dylan was instrumental in the singer-songwriter kind of thing.

In the New York clubs?

By that time, working in the New York clubs, Richie Havens, Phil Ochs; Dylan was no longer working the club scene. Dylan was a little older than me and had got into the business a little before me. But in that way, he did kind of pave the way for the single songwriter. Also the acoustic thing - it grew out of the acoustic guitar thing. There weren't too many single singer-songwriters when I started recording in the mid-sixties. There were a lot who grew out of having been in a group. You could go down a list of people who became solo artists - Rod Argent, Rod Stewart. They were first known because they were in a group. Then later, Peter Gabriel. They all went single later. But as far as when I came along, people like Hendrix came out, myself, Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley, Richie Havens, Johnny Halliday in France - there were probably 8 or 9 others. It was still a rarity to be an American singer-songwriter here in England in the late sixties. It wasn't the Atlantic Bridge that it became later on. So Hendrix and I were among the first to come over here and be bigger here than in America.

Leonard Cohen was another.

Yes Leonard was, but he was from a different school. He was a singer-songwriter, but he wasn't rock 'n' roll. Same with Joan Baez & Judy Collins. Baez was never as big over here as Collins was. But they got in the business before me so they were well established before I even came to New York. Leonard had written Suzanne, so they were moving along and they were a little step ahead of us.

Leaving aside your most recent album, of which you'll be most proud at the moment. Which of your earlier albums are you happiest with?

Well, none of them, to tell you the truth. I mean, I'm proud of bits of all of them. There's none of them where I can say that's exactly what I meant to do and that's exactly what came out. But there are portions. If I could take all the 7 or 8 albums that I've done, including the few things I did with Cass, I would say there are fourteen really definitive tracks that I would love to say represent me.

The Missing "Best Of"

There has only once been a Best Of album and it's not available any more.

There was a Best of Tim Rose? I never knew that. I don't know how that would be possible, because so much of my stuff was in so many different places.

There was an album came out in '87 called I Gotta Get a Message To You.

It never came out. I know it was announced. It was reviewed. It never came out. It was never released. I talked to the guy who was supposedly gonna do it - a guy named Roger Dobson - for some reason, he never released it.

Who was responsible for assembling your musicians on the first album?

It was a combination of myself and Bob Johnston.

The man who produced Dylan and Cohen?

Yes, that's him. I did my first single for CBS with Bob. I didn't do it with David Rubinson. David was not allowed to produce music - he was a spoken word producer at the time. I was assigned to Bob Johnston. We went to Nashville and did my first single with all those Area Code 615 guys - Charlie McCoy, Kenny Buttrey, that had worked with Dylan. It was called Bringing it Home and was written, strangely enough, by Chip Taylor [brother of actor John Voight, writer of Wild Thing for The Troggs]. The song, Mother, Father Where are You was the A side and that was recorded at Nashville. After that, I was assigned to Rubinson and did what became the first album.

When it came to musicians, we were looking for a drummer and Bob Johnston suggested Bernard Purdie. Bob, at the time was also producing Aretha [Franklin] for CBS and he had used Purdie on Aretha's albums. Anyway, Purdie went ahead and did some stuff with Simon & Garfunkel and all that stuff. That's how I heard about Purdie. Papalardi had played with Cass and me and so that's how I knew about Felix.

  Photo: Tim in 1967

He also went on to produce Cream and to form Mountain.

And be shot by his wife, also. That was Felix. Eric Weissberg, I knew from my days with Cass and the folk clubs - he had been with The Terriers and was a well-known musician around New York. Richie Hussan had been my bass player with The Feldmans, so that's how he got on the date. Jay Berliner was another guitarist I had met - I had started to do commercials then in New York, as a jingles singer and player, so I had met Jay on jingle dates. The piano player, Charlie Smalls, was a friend of David Rubinson. The backing singers were a friend of mine and his wife - David Lucas and his wife, who I did a lot of jingles with. They did all the oohs and the aahs.

It just seems that it was an exceptionally good, tight group.

Well, yeah, but we'd never met before; it was not as if we'd played together. It just happens that we had musicians there from three or four different schools of music and somehow they gelled a lot on those tracks.


How aware were you at the time of the ephemeral nature of pop music success?

I never felt that I had made it. I'm not stupid - you know, you can deceive yourself a lot, you can play games with your head - you know, there are the trappings of success and then there's real success. I had a lot of the trappings of success. I had the publicity, I stayed at nice hotels, but the bottom line was that I certainly knew that the Rolling Stones were making more money than I was. It was marginal - I was aware that if you didn't pay attention, it didn't happen. I had the opportunity to work with Paul Simon and Arty Garfunkel and I saw how much work Paul put into it. And it was a business; it was not fun.

You would have been a very different person today, if you'd had a major single success.

Oh, yeah. I probably wouldn't have lived this long.

You're glad things went the way they did?

Well, you don't have a choice. It happened the way it happened.

You toured with Tim Hardin, who was on a course to self-destruction. He didn't handle fame too well.

I knew Tim in the sixties and he was zany then - I mean he was drugged-out then.

How did you manage to avoid the pitfalls?

I just said no. Sounds like Nancy Reagan. My thing was, I loved to drink, so I hung out with the drinking crowd. I did not get into drugs - even grass, I very seldom smoked grass. One thing I enjoyed about England, the first time I came over here, was that they didn't do drugs. Everybody just was the pop crowd, so I felt right at home. Then, in the late sixties, the drug thing exploded and then I kinda lost touch with what was going on, 'cos I just did not do dope, LSD, any of that.

To change theme, a bit: living in New York, born in Washington, which team - Giants, Jets or the 'Skins?

Well, I'm not much of a fan, but if I had to say, well, I read USA Today over here, and I still follow the Giants. Not religiously, like I'm not a fan, but yeah, the Giants. The Redskins, I lived in Washington till I was 17, so I really don't have much connection with DC.

Over the years, have you had any input into any other artist's work - produced albums, performed as a musician, done backing vocals, whatever?

I played rhythm guitar on the Chambers Brothers first album - actually, I brought the Chambers Brothers to CBS. [They had hits in the States with Time Has Come Today and Shout.] I played guitar, banjo and mandolin on Steve Stills' first album when he was with the Au Go Go Singers. I played on an album with the Serendipity Singers when they had their first couple of hits in America [Through With You and Castles]. Later, I produced an album that was released over here on Mouse Records by a group from Baltimore called The Devas. Kind of a Hare Krishna.

I produced a number of things that never got released. People would ask me to do stuff and I never took it seriously at the time. I should have taken it more seriously because I really did have a good opportunity which I never took advantage of. I wanted to be an artist.

But you knew your way around a studio, so you could do the job they wanted you to do.

I liked music. I liked the producing. I liked the process of making records. And people saw that. It was to my benefit to pursue that. I did not, by choice. It was not that I didn't have the opportunities; I just didn't take advantage of the opportunities that I had. So today, if they come up, I take advantage of them.

The Lost Years

Tell me about the "lost years". You settled back in the States and went into banking?

Like a salmon swimming upstream, it just wasn't happening. I finally went back home. So I borrowed some money from my mother to get a ticket on the old Laker Airways. I went to New York, tried to connect with some old people; couldn't re-connect with music at all; I did some construction work in the late seventies. I couldn't get work as a singer 'cos I'd been out of the jingles scene for so long - yesterday's hero.

I gather money was pretty low at that stage?

Zippo. Money was absolutely zippo. I had lost touch with all my royalties - I wasn't even getting my royalty cheques. I was kinda out of it, so I did some construction work. A friend of mine called me when I was working on sheet rock -what you call plasterboard here - I was a plasterboard hanger - I would finish interiors - and a guy called me on the phone one morning and sang something to me over the phone. He asked if I could sing it and I said yes, so he said, "Be at the studio tomorrow morning and sing it for me." It ended up being a Wrangler bluejeans commercial and it ran for five years. I went and got my college degree on that one. So needless to say, I didn't have to do any sheet rocking for a while. In the early eighties, I did about a dozen national tv commercials, so the money was quite good there for a stretch. I got my college degree, but when that finished, for some reason the people who hired me for jingles, they were no longer in business - they also had left the business, so my contacts in jingles dried up, so I went and became a Wall Street stockbroker.

And in the meantime, The Gambler was released?

The Gambler had been done in the late seventies. It was financed by Phonogram, but never released by them. They liked the demos, but hated the master. The Gambler was terribly over-produced for what it was - shoulda been about half as much as what was on there. They turned it down and the producer didn't get a deal for that until 1991.

So, Wall Street stockbroker? Is that something you've kept going?

No. After the market crashed in '87, I didn't have the heart to stick it out. It was just a job. I wandered around for a couple of years - I'd been married by then and finally I started doing voice-overs. I got myself a voice-over agent. Then I got back into music more seriously after that. I'd kinda dropped music for about ten years in the eighties - as a singer/writer - I was doing a few clubs around New York, but nothing seriously.

What do you attribute the current resurgence in your career to?

That same producer of The Gambler [Pierre Tubbs] and another friend of mine brought me back a couple of years ago to do some demos. Now The Musician had been re-released on Demon, The Gambler album was out, the first CBS album had been re-released 3 or 4 times in the past twenty years.

  Photo: Tim on cover of The Musician

There was a resurgence of interest on a kind of minor level - a small level, I should say.  While I was over here doing some demos - this was in the fall of '96 - an old guitar player friend of mine got a call from an agent, wanting to know if I wanted to do a date at the Half Moon, which was the last club I worked here, twenty years ago. I said yes, not immediately, but I ultimately said yes, and there were two hundred people there, in this small, little club. They gave me 600 for the night, which I said was great, you know, for just me and a guitar. The man that got me there became my English manager - George McFall - and he took me to Ireland a month later. We did five dates and some tv and got it started again. Nothing ever happened with those demos we did, by the way. And then, of course, I'd met Nick Cave by that time and he asked me to be on the Albert Hall with him. And a few of the songs on the Haunted album were what I had sung with Nick at the Albert Hall. So it's all kinda been a surprise - I mean it wasn't planned by anybody.

Personal Stuff

Say something nice about your ex-wife. [The cover of Haunted offers thanks to the judge who granted his divorce.]

Uh, she was beautiful. The first day I met her, in New York, she walked into a restaurant - Joe Allen's, you have one here in London - I'd never seen her before and this woman stood at the door and I knew exactly who it was. I fell for her immediately. We had a wonderful first year; then we got married. Nobody's fault: she's a beautiful giraffe and I'm a zebra and it just didn't match. She's a wonderful woman, got a wonderful heart: she's a good person. We were just not compatible - it's a terrible word, but it's true. As for the divorce, she handled all that. I would have been perfectly happy being separated by the way. But that was her business. I fondly say that when we divorced, she got the inside of the apartment, I got the outside, so everything worked out nicely.

To quote the headline in The Independent in their recent article about you, has it been a "life of thorns"?

No it hasn't. It's been a very interesting life. I can't complain. I do not walk around going, "Poor me". It's been very diverse. There are not many singers who are coming back from my era and still doing well out there, who have been a stockbroker, sheet rock fitter, air force navigator … there really aren't too many. So it's been a circuitous route to where I am, but this has always been what I do best. I'm a good singer and a good musician and I've written a few songs, but I'm a better interpreter of songs.

In terms of the people interpreting your songs, you've got Nick Cave doing Long Time Man, Hendrix doing Hey Joe, Jeff Beck and even Lulu doing Morning Dew. What do you think is the best version of one of your songs?

There are sixty-two versions of Morning Dew. I heard a version of Hey Joe that was done in Nashville in '67 - someone sent me a single of a guy in Nashville. I should've kept that record - it was the best version I ever heard of it. Somewhat similar to mine, but different. It was a bit like early Wilson Pickett; it was sensational. Pickett did a version also that was interesting. Morning Dew has been done by The Grateful Dead quite a few times. They really stretched it out into something. Nick's version of Long Time Man was interesting. There was a version of a song called When I Was a Young Man which was a single in France by a guy named Burtis McClay. He did a very good job on that, I thought. A group in Holland also did a very interesting version of Morning Dew. So there have been a number of interesting cuts. Most of them seem to copy my arrangement or do a version of my arrangement.

And that's something you don't get royalties on.

I only get royalties on the song, but not on the arrangement. I don’t get any money at all from Hendrix, 'cos it was the arrangement he copied. [Hey Joe was a traditional song, arranged by Tim Rose.]

Plans for a New Album

Is there an album of new material planned?

Yes, there is. It is to an unspecified label. There are four or five labels that have offered me contracts so far; I haven't decided on which of them. But there will be a new CD. I haven't decided on which direction I will go. It will be an acoustic direction, but I'm not sure if it will be solo acoustic or me and a number of top players doing acoustic stuff. That, I'm not quite sure of. And I'd also like to work with one of the producers - I like another ear in the studio.

Your last album was very difficult to get hold of. Was it actually made principally for selling at gigs?

No. It is supposedly being distributed by a nation-wide distributor. It was meant to be a nationally released album but the label is … well, that's past history. It wasn't actually deleted on the day of its release, but the label have decided not to include themselves on the national system of computers. I do not know why they have done that, but the album has been hard to get. The re-release of the first two albums [on single CD] - that's available everywhere.

It's a shame that your old material can be obtained, but your new stuff can't.

It's frustrating, but it's out of my control.

I want to chide you about your live performance. My Calvinist upbringing - or simply my conservatism about music - leads me to question the level of profanity in your live set. [Tim chuckles.] Do you think it spoils the songs and loses their impact? This is particularly the case on the album, Haunted.

No, it's part of what I do. I mean I'm not Tony Bennett. I'll never be Tony Bennett, or Shirley Bassey.

The image you portray is essentially blue collar.

Yeah. What I do up there, that's what I am. I mean, it's not always what I am, but it's part of what I am. When I did the Queen Elizabeth Hall, I cut down on the use of certain words, but the same sentiment is there. You know, I'm wry, I'm ironic, it's just part of my make-up.

  Photo: Tim in performance, 2002

You seem to have always been bigger in Europe than in the States. Has that disappointed you?

You can't control it.

So you just accept it?


Music Interests

Musically, what are you listening to at present?

I'm actually featured in Mojo answering exactly that question. What do I listen to? Not much. I really haven't got my hook into too many contemporary things. I have nothing to do with Chemical Brothers or Prodigy or All Saints or anything like that. It's nothing to do with what I do. I've tried to listen to Beck and I've tried to listen to some of the solo singers. I like a little of what Joan Osborne does. She never made it big here, like Alanis Morrissette.

One Of Us is a fantastic song. Although made in Philadelphia, it has a Canadian sound to it.

It has a very Bryan Adams sound. I like Bryan - though he's not exactly new, but there hasn't been a group that's come along or one singer that I kind of like the body of work. I like individual songs, but not the entire output.

What about older stuff?

I still put on Led Zepplin. I mean that recorded sound was one of the greatest in rock. I mean, it just was fantastic. An album I've been trying to dig up, because I like the tracks was an album by a group called Prelude. They did a Neil Young song, called After The Goldrush, a capella. I don't even know if it's available on CD. As far as more up-to-date stuff is concerned, I was given the whole Oasis catalogue by Creation Records, listened to it and then I think I gave it to a friend. Some of the stuff Peter Gabriel does is interesting and some of the stuff that Leonard Cohen continues to do is interesting. I listened to Dylan's new album.

It's being raved about - getting great reviews - the best he's done for twenty years.

I don't see it, but then I'm an artist and it's not our job to be critics of other artists. But for my personal taste, no, I'm not a listener. I don't go around listening to other people's music. I'm not the type of performer that is making hit singles, so I don't have to worry about the veracities of the market. Maybe I should, but I don't. So I'm not trying to capture the next sound. I happen to have heard a few things from Madonna's new album and I think it's terrific. People are putting her down because she sounds too stilted and trained, but I think it's very nice. I think it's the best thing she's done.

I know someone who bought Q Magazine on the strength of the pictures of her.

Well, I wouldn't go that far. But I think she's a very shrewd woman and very wise and I think she's done a hell of a lot with her talent.

Now that you are back to touring, what kind of audience are you getting; what age group?

Anywhere from about twenty to fifty. People who were there and people who couldn't have been. One of the reviews somewhere called me "modern", which I am, 'cos I'm not doing a retro act. I'm not standing there saying, "This is the sixties again". I'm doing new stuff and also I'm not doing the old stuff the old way: it's just not 1968 anymore and I don't want it to be. It's a big help to me that I have songs that are in a catalogue that are in people's memories and consciousness. That's the whole reason I'm working.

  Photo: Tim at Hebden Bridge

My grateful thanks go to Walter Ocner from New York for bringing me and Tim together to produce this interview and to Tim for spending a fair chunk of his Sunday afternoon giving it.


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