Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pheaturing John Wesley Harding

Hello, and welcome to another Tuesday entry of the Phile. How are you? It is so quiet in the Peverett house right now, because I have a headache. I'm telling you it's quieter here than dinner at Herman Cain's house. As if Cain’s troubles couldn't get worse, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accused Herman Cain of skimping on the pepperoni. Eddie Murphy, who was supposed to be the host of the Academy Awards, has dropped out. Boy, I wish I can drop out one of my jobs. When Eddie Murphy pulled out, they were stunned. They were shocked. I mean, you couldn't tell by looking at them because of the Botox, but they were stunned and shocked. The Italian prime minister announced he is stepping down. He's looking forward to spending more time with his wife and five hookers. Mitt Romney said if he's elected, he won't let Iran get nuclear weapons. Other Republicans were quick to respond. Newt Gingrich said it would be impossible to enforce. Ron Paul said it's none of our business. And Rick Perry said, "..." Everyone knows the world is ending in 2012. That's what the Mayans said except they didn't say that. All they said was their calendar would run out I 2012. I don't see what the big deal is about that. When my "sexy fireman" calendar runs out, I just buy a new one. By the way, if anybody wonders, I am not gay and I don't have a sexy fireman calendar. I have a "Doctor Who" calendar. A group of Occupy Wall Street protesters interrupted Michele Bachmann’s speech in South Carolina. In response, Bachmann’s supporters were like, "Man, if we existed, we’d be so angry right now!" On "Jeopardy" this week, Alex Trebek dressed up in a woman’s opera costumes to give clues. Yeah, contestants were like, "I’ll take ‘This Is Making Me Uncomfortable’ for 500, Alex." Have you been following this Penn State former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation story? From Penn State to the State Pen... Well, because this whole scandal, Penn State changed their logo. I don't know why, but they did. Here it is.

I am not gonna explain it it you didn't get the joke. I was thinking, if an older woman that likes younger men is called a Cougar, then is an older man who likes young boys called a Nittany Lion? Everybody should of seen this thing coming. The proof was on their t-shirts.

Okay, the other day I had Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee Mr. Patrick Gaspard here on the Phile to ask him about the President's American Job's Act. Well, Mitt Romney has said about the plan that it was "emporary little band-aids." So, I invited Director Gaspard back to the Phile again to discuss what he thought about what Mitt said. So, here once again, please welcome DNC Exec Director Patrick Gaspard in a pheature called...

Me: Hello, sir, welcome back. Can you tell the readers who don't know what is the President's plan?

Patrick: You said it, to pass the American Jobs Act and extend the payroll tax cut.

Me: And this would save the American families some money, right?

Patrick: Yes, a measure that would save working families an average of $1,500 a year. After his earlier remarks were widely criticized, he said the exact opposite at last week's GOP presidential debate in Michigan, right?

Me: All the press and media and even myself are talking about Rick Perry have a brain fart so to speak, no one is tlaking about this really, are they?

Patrick: While the media frenzy surrounding the debate focused on a gaffe from one of our other opponents, the most amazing moment from my perspective was Mitt reversing course on an issue that anyone running for president should have a clear position on: Extend a tax cut worth $1,500 a year to working families. Or ask the middle-class to pay more so millionaires and billionaires don't have to.

Me: Director, perhaps in his world $1,500 is not a big deal for him.

Patrick: But it's worth an awful lot to millions of families' budgets. And if he's unable to take a stand on something so critical to the middle class, how can we know how he'd react when confronting a crisis from the White House?

Me: Yeah, well, his kind of behavior is part of a disturbing pattern where Romney says one thing and then the exact opposite, right?

Patrick: Sometimes within the span of a few paragraphs, and hopes no one calls him on it.

Me: On Wednesday night, one of the moderators asked Mitt about his little problem. What was his answer, Director, I can't remember.

Patrick: "I think people understand I'm a man of steadiness and constancy."

Me: Saying it doesn't make it so.

Patrick: On reproductive rights, climate change, immigration, taxes, foreign policy, gay rights, gun control, and labor issues, Romney has reversed his positions... often dramatically... leaving his supporters and opponents alike feeling some combination of angry, confused, and betrayed. If he keeps up this pace, it's going to take all of us to keep track of Mitt's flip-flopping.

Me: It seems he's at least committed to that. Thanks, Director, once again. I always love talking politics with you. Makes me seem important.

Patrick: Thanks, Jason.

And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is today's Top Ten List...
Top Ten Topics You Don't Want To See Trending On Twitter
10. #WeCainDoIt!
9. #StuffPutInTheCaboose.
8. #TwitterBankruptcy.
7. #PeverettPhileLeadToMalePatternBaldness. 
6. Rotary Phones. 
5. Herman Cain 6-9 Plan. 
4. #PresidentPerry
3. More Kardashians On The Way. 
2. #AlRokerWardrobeMalfunction. 
And the number one topic you don't want to see trending on Twitter is...
1. #Oops!

This is so freaking cool and a huge honor. Today's guest is a folk/pop singer-songwriter and author. He has called his style of music folk noir and gangsta folk. Under his real name, Wesley Stace, he has written three novels. His newest album, "The Sound of His Own Voice" is now out in stores and on iTunes and he will be next appearing at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Pa tonight. Please welcome to the Phile one of my favorite singers and musicians ever... John Wesley Harding!

Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. I am so excited you are here. I have been a huge fan since "Here Comes the Groom" came out. That was in the 90's I believe. How are you?

Wes: I am very well, in the middle of a tour that is a lot of fun. My voice is a little croaky, but not too bad.

Me: Okay, first things first, should I call you Wes, Wesley or John?

Wes: Wes or Wesley, depending on whether you're my mother or not.

Me: You named yourself after Bob Dylan's album, right? You spelt Harding correctly, unlike Dylan. was the original JWH an outlaw?

Wes: No, we both spelled Harding "wrong". But in fact, I spelled it right, because I was copying Dylan's spelling of Harding rather than the original spelling of Hardin.

Me: Have you ever met Dylan?

Wes: The short answer is no, though I did bump into him once, literally.

Me: You did meet Springsteen I know. He chose you to be an opening act, which is very rare for him to do. How did that come about? That must've been a huge honor.

Wes: It was. I met him by chance at a concert by someone else, in fact The Rock Bottom Remainders, and he happened to know some of my music. He's a wonderful man.

Me: By the way, my dad was a huge fan of yours as well and actually wrote a song he was gonna shop to you. Did he ever contact you or your management that you know of?

Wes: I'm sure no one has ever contacted me about that. And no one, so far as I know, has *ever* tried to sell me a song, but it's nice to think that someone might.

Me: Wes, your book "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer" is now added to the Peverett Phile Book Club. Briefly tell the readers what the book is about?

Wes: It's about murderous classical composers in the early twentieth century, set against a background of brewing anti-German sentiment in Great Britain.

Me: How long did it take to write?

Wes: About three years.

Me: Is Charles Jessold a real person?

Wes: No. I made him up.

Me: This is your third book? You and another favorite musician of mine named Graham Parker have both written books. What do you prefer, writing songs or writing novels?

Wes: They're totally different things. One is very social and public and collaborative; the other is very lonely. I think it's very good to be able to combine the two, and I'm sure GP would say the same.

Me: Have you ever worked with GP? You and he could make some killer music together.

Wes: Certainly. He's played at the Cabinet of Wonders and we've done a few gigs together, and sung a few duets over the years. And just the other day he left me a sarcastic message via the sound guy at McCabes which I greatly appreciated, because GP is great.

Me: Speaking of music, let's talk about your new album "Sound of Your Own Voice". I was gonna download it off from iTunes but I am such a big fan I ordered the CD, t-shirt and poster from your website. That's your 15th album I think. Do you still get a joy making new music after all these years?

Wes: Absolutely. Now more than ever, for various reasons.

Me: I love the song, "There's a Starbucks (where Starbucks Used To Be)" and the video which I will ask you about in a minute. Do you like Starbucks? I drink Starbucks coffee every day myself. Do you think Starbucks will ever sell your CD's?

Me: I do like Starbucks. It's not my favourite coffee ever and I was very sad when they actually stopped barrista-ing it and started pushing buttons, but I am often relived to see a Starbucks in the middle of nowhere. Who isn't? Do I think they'll ever sell my CD? I have no idea, and I don't mind at all, so let's say yes.

Me: I also love the songs "Sing Your Own Song" and "The Colloquy of Mole and Mr. Eye". Who is Mole and Mr. Eye? I bet you can write a book about them.

Wes: Mole is a "crustie" as we call them in England. He's kinda homeless and lives under ground. Did you ever hear of the Mole Man? Well, he's like that. Mr Eye lives on the Upper West Side at the top of a huge apartment building and never does downstairs - all his food is delivered. The point is: for different reasons, neither of them choose to live at ground level. And the song is their discussion as to why this is, and where the similarities and differences between them lie.

Me: Okay, the Starbucks video... where was it filmed, Wes? It was brilliantly done. Were those people extras?

Wes: No extras were used in the making of that video! The video was made at 28 different Starbucks locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, mostly on the same block.

Me: I laughed when that guy gave you some money like you were a real busker. Did you ever busk?

Wes: Yes, that's why I have such a loud voice. I started at the Memorial in Hastings, just like the song "Top Of The Bottom" says.

Me: Did the Starbucks folks know you were filming a video outside their stores?

Wes: Not sure. Don't think so.

Me: What part of England are you from, Wes? You live in America now, right?

Wes: Hastings. I have lived in America since 1990. I now live in Philadelphia.

Me: I am from England as well, born in London but lived in Oxford. I am now living in Florida outside Orlando. Do you remember playing in Orlando, opening for the Barenaked Ladies? It was at a club that no longer exists called The Junkyard.

Wes: I remember it well. I also remember that it was the 'Miami Weekly' (or something like that) 's gig of the year.

 That must've been 'The Orlando Sentinel'. I have to ask you about the musicians on the album... Peter Buck, The Decemberists... how did you choose such great musicians?

Wes: I chose them because they're great. How did I get into the position of asking them and they saying yes? By knowing them as friends.

Me: You always had great musicians, Wes. Didn't you have Elvis Costello's band on your first few albums?

Wes: Yes. Pete and Bruce Thomas. That was an exciting place to start. I could use them better now though. I didn't know what I was doing back then.

Me: Wes, oh my God, it's really been a huge honor to have you here. I have five main people I want to interview before I end the Phile. Graham Parker was one and I interviewed him twice. Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds are two others, and then it's you. The fifth believe it or not is Kelly Clarkson. Anyway, please come back to the Phile when your next book or CD comes out. I have a million questions for you. Was this fun?

Wes: Yes, but I wasn't actually speaking to you in person. I don't think anyone will believe that - my answers are so pithy.

Me: No they weren't. Thanks again, Wes.

There you go, another entry done. Thanks to Wes for a fantastic interview and I hope to have him back again soon. I didn't get to mention his website. It's Johnwesleyharding.com. Thanks also to Exec Director Patrick Gaspard. Alright, the Phile will be back on Sunday with singer Megan Burtt and then on Monday it's singer Eddi Reader who was one of my dad's favorite female singer's of all time. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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