Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Makes Me Wanna Yack And/Or Punch Rod Stewart In The Nose

This interview with Rod Stewart is taken from BILLBOARD.COM, and even with a mention of the possibility of recording with Jeff Beck, the man still makes my stomach churn. Having recently acquired newly remastered versions of the 4 Faces LPs from Japan, 4 of my favorite records of all the time by the way, and being reminded yet again that at one time, Fraud Stewart was once, possibly, the greatest rock and roll singer of our time, my blood boils at the fact that anyone could take this man seriously, or worse, that this joke of a performer has found a new, award-winning career ruining the great American songbook. This is one of the great, musical injustices of our time.

What is it about this collection that connects with you?

It's everything -- the warmth, the lyrical content, the beautiful chords they use, the way the songs are structured.

I met this American GI in a coffeehouse in the Valley and we were sitting there talking about the war. He was in the second wave of landings at Normandy on Omaha Beach-so he wasn't part of all the bloodshed-but he was telling me how he went to England for V-E Day and he had fish and chips and went into the pubs. He said, "By the way, Rod, are you still going to make an 'American Songbook'? You make those old songs sound brand-new." That was meant to be a Brooklyn accent; it sounded like Texas. [laughs] That was one of things that inspired me to go back and start recording again.

In the office, we were saying that "Moon River" was one of our favorite tracks.

That's my girl. Fabulous. I have to tell you, this one was going to be taken off by the record label. They didn't like it-I don't know why-they just didn't like it. They tried to get me to do an uptempo version of it, and I said "no." And I said, "Not only that, my wife absolutely loves it. When she hears it she cries, and if you want to take up the battle with her-she's 14 weeks' pregnant-then go ahead." So on that one they backed down. I'm so glad you like it. It's a girl's song.

"I Get a Kick Out of You" was the last one we recorded. I suddenly had a spasm in the middle of the night, and I thought, "God, we haven't done 'I Get a Kick Out of You,' and it's perfect for me." All of these tracks are brand new. There's nothing left over from the other four "Songbooks." People think I was just hoarding them.

The reinterpretation of standards has become a popular album motif. Do you think it's a fad?

A lot of people have done these albums now since I have done them. I won't mention any names. I hate to use the word "fad" because they're worthy of a better phrase. But this is the fifth and final one and I'll be sad to see them go, but I don't want to do any more after this one.

So what's next?

I want to do a blues album, and I want to do a country album. And I may record with Jeff Beck, and I may have to write a few songs . . . I've got a meeting with Jeff in a couple weeks in London, and we're going to see if we can work together and see what each of us wants to do. We're a little bit older now and we can tolerate each other.

How has your songwriting changed since then?

I've forgotten how to write songs now.

You certainly haven't forgotten how to write songs. How is it different?

Songwriting, let me tell you, was something that was thrust upon me. When we were in the Jeff Beck Group, we said, "OK, let's see if we can do something original," because everybody was trying to write songs then. This was the late '60s. Woody [Ronnie Wood] started strumming and he said, "Would you write the lyrics?" And I said, "Me? What? I've never written a song in my life!" So we wrote a couple songs as the Jeff Beck Group and we never looked back.


FD13NYC said...

To be honest, I've never listened or owned any of that Songbook dreck. I too want to always remember Rod from the great material he did in the long gone past. Hard to believe the last good rocker he made was Hot Legs back in 1978.

Let's face it, with age comes a certain limitation. As with many of these old/aging rockers. Obviously they can't belt it out like they did 30-40 years ago. If he wants to sing old standards to help pay for his ex-wives and 7 children all the power to him. He just won't get any money out of me. I spent my cash on the good stuff.

Sal Nunziato said...

What bothers me most about Rod, isn't the want/need to do standards. It's that every song on every volume has the same arrangement, with the same, lackluster vocal. It's absolute garbage and people eat it up.

Boz Scaggs did two standards albums that were excellent. Why isn't anyone paying HIM for 5 more volumes?

Anonymous said...

I long ago (and I mean *long* ago) gave up on Rod. I believe his last truly great album was "Never a Dull Moment." From there, it was a rather quick (and prolonged) decline. When it comes to aging rockers, I like to think of Neil Young, whose new album is amazing. The more I play it, the better it gets.

FD13NYC said...

I guess of course Rod is the bigger name. That's why it sells. I remember those Boz records, they were pretty good.

We should block out all the crap Rod's put out in the past 20-25 years and listen and enjoy all the great music he gave us in the 70's. Thankfully there's a lot of it.

Where did you get the Faces remastered stuff? I probably need an upgrade.

Sal Nunziato said...

You must have played the new Neil about 7,000 times then, because after 3 listens, I gave up completely.


The Faces came out in Japan.

soundsource said...

See to me that's the crime when our legendary rockers die too young,. I mean who amongst your intrepid readers wouldn't have longed to hear Jim Morrison's reading of As Time Goes By or even more how about that Janis Joplin / Gram Parsons duet on a remake of Baby It's Cold Outside, ah the pity of it all. Why is that the good all die young..........

Anonymous said...

One of my fav quotes about Aging-

You can tell you've got old if you can remember when Rod Stewart mattered... How true.

Anonymous said...

A truly nightmarish vision, Soundsource. In that vein, check out this recent feature on

A few years ago Ron Wood and Rod Stewart were apparently working on an album together to be called You Strum and I'll Sing but abandoned it. Some of the songs made it on Wood's new solo album in Rodless versions. Would be interesting to hear the original sessions.

Bruce Handy

Anonymous said...

What happened to Rod used to annoy me too...but then I thought, why not? What were his options? A steady decline into irrelevance probably. Instead, he long ago decided to have fun, live it up, make money and sleep with some of the world's hottest women. Would you have done it any differently?

Sal Nunziato said...

I would have done exactly the same thing, except for the bad standards albums.

steve simels said...

Greil Marcus, contemplating Rod's astonishing artistic decline -- this was sometimes in the early 80s, if memory serves -- nailed it exactly.

Rod would have done anything necessary to be a success. Including, in the early days, actually being an artist, if that's what it took.

Max Frost said...

Remember the Greil Marcus quote about Stewart? "Rarely has anyone betrayed his talent so completely."

Tak said...

I was a Rod fan before like everybody else here.
The last album I can relate to is...Atlantic Crossing, maybe.
I think the problem of his Standards stuff is that he is trying too hard to be like Frank Sinatra...he ain't!
On the other hand, Boz sings standards simply because he loves those songs and we listeners can feel that way.
A friend of mine gave me Rod's second songbook album but I've never bothered to open(sorry, my friend).

steve simels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gene Oberto said...

We have a habit of falling asleep with the TV on, I know, not the best habit to have. Usually, one of us will wake up and turn it off.

I have a case of a chest infection that has a nasty cough attached. Thankfully, the socialized medicine here gave me an appointment, a lab test and a liter of some dynamite cough syrup that about 20ml puts me out for the night. Oh, yeah, it stays the cough, as well. All for about 30 bucks.

I come out of the coma a bit last night and the TV has on the movie, "Lords of Dogtown" the skatensurf movie about Venice in the 70's. It has a pretty good soundtrack, and through the fog, what do I hear but Mr. Stewart singing "Maggie May", just a few hours after I read your tirade.

It's a long story, but it occurred to me that if he sang the standards with as much sincerity as "Maggie" or "Handbags and Gladrags", or as much effort as Michael Bublè or Harry Connick, Jr., we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Anything Should Happen said...

Great point about Boz Scaggs.

Rod's artistic decline started when he put leather pants on and started wiggling his behind, singing Do You Think I'm Sexy.

His voice is shot now.

I've no problem with Rod having fun and chasing young birds, I just wish he'd stop releasing albums.

He's a big market over here of middle aged women who ensure that his gigs sell out.

I'd debate vigorously about Hot Legs being a good rocker. It's complete tosh.

Stay With Me is a good rocker, compare that to Hot Legs.

His cover of Downtown Train was ok though but that's not much testament for the past 30 odd years is it?

Easy target really, but he makes himself that way. Particularly with these great American Songbooks.

If he's not forgotten how to write songs why's he been doing covers for the past 100 years?

You make these songs sound so fresh? You make great songs sound tired and shit, you nob.

Faces are dispatched, albums get poor - spot a connection.

Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

Dear Rod, you are as relevant to the Great American Songbook as Jon Bon Jovi is to garage.