July 2, 2012 2:39:07 PM
(From Thursday, June 28)It was now 8:10 a.m. I contemplated going back to bed but I decided to keep moving and to stick to my mantra. It was around this time I received an e-mail from Ringo Starr's publicist asking if I had time to interview Ringo around 9. OK, let me back track for a moment. I have been working with Mr. Starr's publicist regarding his July 3 show in Tuscaloosa. I had interviewed a couple of guys from the All Starr Band and I was under the impression I could send a few questions to Mr. Starr via e-mail and I was thrilled to have that opportunity. But to speak to a Beatle on the phone? I had never considered it an option.
I love The Beatles. My passion for music grew from listening to my parents' 45 (if you don't know, you don't know) of "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on my Show and Tell when I was a wee lad. No one has ever come close to capturing and creating what The Beatles did. I'm a student of The Beatles. I have read George Martin's book about the recording of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" numerous times. I love how George Martin made The Beatles sound.
So, at the confirmed time, my phone rang and the publicist, whose name is Elizabeth and to whom I will always be grateful, said she was connecting me with Ringo. I was extremely nervous. I've interviewed famous people before, numerous times, and I even worked in the music industry for a while as a chef -- if you see me sometime, remind me to tell you about when I was working for Lou Reed and he introduced me to David Bowie because I love to talk about it -- but this was different. This was Ringo and he was a Beatle.
Mr. Starr was extremely polite to me and called me "Jeff" several times during the interview. He was very gracious to answer the same questions he answers hundreds of times a day. I almost didn't know what to ask. I felt like Marge from "The Simpson's" when she wrote Ringo a letter and asked him if he liked hamburgers. But, although I'm a fan, I'm also a journalist and I proceeded with the interview. It was one of the favorite moments of my life.
When my time was up, Mr. Starr wished me well and said he hoped to see me in Tuscaloosa -- yes, there is a chance I will get to meet Mr. Starr in Tuscaloosa. I taped our conversation and will have it archived forever. I got what I needed for my story, I talked to one of my heroes who inadvertently helped me through what was a seemingly otherwise bad morning.
The day rolled on and it was capped by a performance by the Counting Crows at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. We took my fiancé's nephew, who is 11 and lives in Pass Christian. It was his first concert. He's a very talented pianist in his own right and he loves music and he loves The Beatles. I hope his first concert was a magical moment in his life.
And that's what it is all about -- those magical moments in life. I'm grateful for the experience.
How are you enjoying what the "new guys" -- Steve Lukather (Toto) and Gregg Rolie (Journey/Santana) -- are bringing to your show?
Absolutely. (Steve and Gregg) are great musicians and the both have great songs. That's what the All Starrs is all about. We like to be able to play together and this band has played really well. You have Todd on one end and Gregg Rolie on the other. Steve is just an incredible guitarist.
What is your favorite moment of the show?
I look forward to it all, really. We're musicians and we're working. If you start with good intentions, you can usually keep them. It's a live band and things can happen. But so far there hasn't been a 'wow' bad moment. We're getting better as the days go on and that's the point.
Will you be playing song from the new album (Ringo 2012)?
We're playing "Wings" and "Anthem" in the second part (of the show).
Are you happy with the way the new album has been received?
It's received as whatever it's received -- I've made a new record and it's been bought by five people, so I thank the five people who have bought it and listened to it. You know, I just do my part and make the record and I have fun doing it. I hang out with really cool musicians -- most of them are my friends, and I do it at home so I can have a cup of tea if I want one and just have fun. It's a serious job but I like to do a serious thing with a lot of joy and that's that. I love to play. The dream of being a drummer is still unfolding and I get to play with really good musicians. It's still working for me.
Did you enjoy working with your friend Van Dyke Parks?
I told Van Dyke "You'll always be Samba to me," and from that line we wrote the whole song. In the modern day, I write the basic tracks and we write the songs to the backing track. In the digital age, Van Dyke can be at home or in another studio and have some parts recorded and just e-mail them to me. You know, it's far out. Certainly I like to be in the room together, but this is the new way.
Is the track "Slow Down" from "Ringo 2012" something of a cautionary tale?
That's the one I wrote with (his brother-in-law) Joe (Walsh). I don't think it's cautionary. I mean, we've all been alive and I just think it's well worth taking a moment and slowing down instead of being in just a head-long rush all of the time and that's why we wrote that. We've both slowed down. We're not full-on anymore.
Do you enjoy working with Joe Walsh?
There's no one finer than Joe. Joe is incredible. I mean besides, he's an incredible man. But as a musician, he's just as incredible."
Are you happy to finally have The Beatles catalog on iTunes?
Oh yeah. I love it. There were several other offers but iTunes was the way to go. I love it. Any minute there's going to be a special compilation you can only get on iTunes, but don't tell anybody I told you.
We're you on board with Robert Zameckis' proposed remake of "Yellow Submarine" for Disney?
I was, but it fell apart. We hungout with (Zameckis)and what he did was incredible. The look of the new one was great. He did two minutes of it. Paul (McCartney) and I were with him all the way. We were there for this stage and that stage and then he got a couple of minutes together. I loved it. But things happened between him and Disney. The connection wasn't there. So, we said, "yes. let's dot it!" and then it fell apart. It looked really great. It is somewhat ironic --it had been upgraded and it looked more Victorian.
Courtesy photo Rob Shanahan