Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Peverett Phile Phinale Pheaturing Phile Alum Graham Parker


Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Wednesday, we have come to the very last entry, kids. I have to say, 14,000 people are having sex right now. Twenty-five thousand are kissing. Fifty thousand ate hugging. And you... well, you're reading this. I can't believe I am finishing the Phile after 15 plus years. Most people just finish a bag of chips. People have asked me what I'm going to miss the most about doing this weekly blog and I think it'll be thinking. I spent way too much time thinking about it. The jokes, finding stories, interviews, research, it was a lot. All these interviews I have done and not one of them was with Kelly Clarkson. Why? Haha. Okay, let's start this thing with the last five stories on the Phile.

For most of us, putting on a seatbelt in the car seems like second nature. There aren't constant discussions about whether the invention of seatbelts is infringing on our personal freedoms, or whether wearing a seatbelt is a deeply personal choice. Given the current normalization of seatbelts, it's easy to feel like it's always been this way, but that's far from the case. When seatbelt laws were first introduced in the 1980s, there was a lot of backlash, with many people claiming they were unnecessary and the laws were invasive. A clip from the 1980s that first aired on the "Daily Show" went viral because of the parallels between people's arguments against seatbelts, and the current backlash against masking and vaccines. In the clip, you could see people claiming they'll never wear a seatbelt, that seatbelts prove "there's no more freedom," and a patrolman sharing how people complain of discomfort and wrinkled clothes. In a longer clip showing men from a small town in Michigan react to a seatbelt ordinance, one man claimed people were "in shock" at the concept of seatbelts. It wasn't long before people on Twitter drew comparisons between anti-maskers and the people arguing against seatbelts. This proves that sadly, people being defiant to safety measures is far from new. Hopefully, as with seatbelts, the general population will come around to COVID safety measures so this pandemic can eventually end. 

Ted Nugent was challenged by a black man during a political rally in Centreville, Michigan, where the guitarist called Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization.” Only around 100 people attended Nugent’s appearance on Friday (September 17th) as part of the Jack Coleman Presents Ted & Shemane Nugent Constitution Tour. Apparently, 600 attendees were expected. Nevertheless, a camo-clad Nugent took the stage to pontificate his right-wing views to the mostly white crowd. At one point, Nugent touched on Black Lives Matter, even goading the audience to challenge his opinions regarding the movement. “Aren’t there any BLM punks who want to come up and harass me?” Nugent asked, as reported by local news station WWMT. At that point, a black man named Jalen Brown approached the stage, asking for the mic from Nugent. Bravely, Brown stood directly in front of the stage and proceeded to speak in support of Black Lives Matter, despite a chorus of boos from the mostly white crowd. Nugent then resorted to personal insults, calling Brown a “varmint” and saying “black lives don’t give a shit about black lives” before calling BLM “a terrorist organization.” Prior to leaving the stage, Brown reminded the crowd that “we’re not here by choice” and “black lives matter, too,” but again, the crowd berated him with chants of “U-S-A!” and the ultimate cry of ignorance, “all lives matter!” Later, Brown told WWMT, “As soon as he said Black Lives Matter was a terrorist organization, I took that personally.” One can only admire Brown for standing up to Nugent, considering the latter’s track record for racist sentiments. Over the years, he’s asserted that “it would have been best had the south won the Civil War” in a Washington Times column and once said blacks were not hard workers while repeatedly using racial slurs. He also said once that if my dad wasn't a vegetarian he wouldn't have gotten cancer and died. Fuck that guy. Moving on...

The Skywalker saga may have ended its controversial run for good in 2019 but if you've been following the latest rumors, there have been rumblings all over the internet that a Star Wars Episode X could actually be in development, potentially spawning a brand new trilogy that will still be connected to the aforementioned saga and pick up where Episode IXThe Rise of Skywalker left off. Lucasfilm currently has its hands full with the MandoVerse so it would be safe to assume that they're not thinking ahead in terms of coming up with a brand new film trilogy considering we still have projects like "The Mandalorian" Season 3, "The Book of Boba Fett," "Obi-Wan Kenobi," and "Ahsoka" among others all lined up. However, according to a new scoop from The Den of Nerds YouTube channel, Disney is in fact working on a brand new trilogy that will directly follow the events of the divisive sequels. They didn't go into detail about the alleged project but the report claims that Lucasfilm is planning to resurrect Kylo Ren who died during the climactic moments of The Rise of Skywalker. Again, the specifics weren't discussed so as intriguing as it may sound, better take it with a huge grain of salt. Kylo Ren is definitely one of the redeeming qualities of the sequel trilogy and his death in Episode IX came as a huge shocker to a lot of fans. As it stands, it's still a little too hard to tell if Lucasfilm is in fact already developing a brand new "sequel sequel trilogy" just two years after the sequel trilogy came to a close let alone bring back Ben Solo from the dead. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how everything plays out.

It's been nearly two years since the Star Wars universe closed out the Skywalker saga in the most divisive way possible but it doesn't come as a surprise how until now, fans are still talking about Disney's controversial sequel trilogy which according to some people almost killed the franchise. This week, one of the key people behind the original trilogy and someone who is near and dear to George Lucas stunned the Star Wars community following her harsh criticism against the final three films of the saga. George's ex-wife Marcia Lucas made headlines after airing her grievances regarding the sequel trilogy in the newly released Howard Kazanjian: A Producer's Life biography. Turns out, one of the editors of the original trilogy wasn't a fan of Disney's take on the franchise and she made sure to call out the people whom she thinks should take the blame for the sequels turning out to be a critical flop. During one of her pieces in the book, Marcia blasted Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams, claiming that they know nothing about the franchise. Of course, Lucas' feisty comments hold a lot of merit to them but shockingly enough, the fans are divided by her statement. The way Disney handled the sequel trilogy surely left a bitter taste in a lot of fans' mouths. Disney, the greatest company to work for ever tried to make amends through the creation of "The Mandalorian" which eventually became a smash hit but it's still pretty evident that the atrocity that is the sequel trilogy is still haunting them today. Despite the MandoVerse getting some love from Star Wars diehards, I don't think Lucasfilm has recovered from the sequels.

Okay, I have to say I have received emails asking if the Phile is ending because of Cancel Culture. Nope. It's ending because I wanted it to end, so I can work on some other stuff, not think about the next entry and the entry after that, and so on. Cancel Culture is a real thing though. The term “canceled” has become a buzzword on social media. The idea of canceling public figures who have acted out in ways deemed problematic as a form of online activism started in good faith, but has since been construed. So, what exactly is cancel culture? It seems like there is a lot of confusion around the term. Many celebrities have faced online cancellations. From Republicans to Democrats, Joe Biden to Donald Trump, it seems like anyone and everyone is at risk of finding themselves canceled online. Canceled is no longer just a term reserved for the ending of an unpopular TV show, it is the idea to boycott people who have done problematic things. Sometimes, canceling can happen over silly things, other times, people are canceled for saying a racial slur or participating in sexism. If someone is acting as a white supremacist or other forms of active discrimination, boycotting their work in pop culture seems to send a message. Lisa Nakamura, a professor at the University of Michigan explained canceling best. “It's a cultural boycott…[It's] an agreement not to amplify, signal boost, give money to. People talk about the attention economy?when you deprive someone of your attention, you're depriving them of a livelihood.” If you do not agree with something someone says or does, it is your right to “cancel” them. J.K. Rowling is a great example of cancel culture. The Harry Potter author has made several controversial statements on social media. Her fans have not been afraid to speak out about what they feel is inappropriate behavior by Rowling. Some critics of cancel culture refer to it as “call-out culture” or stifling free speech. While cancel culture can go too far and turn into public shaming of people, sometimes it serves a purpose. Sometimes, the concept of cancel culture can be misunderstood. A recent example came from a social media post made by the estate of Dr. Seuss. Those in charge of the legacy of the author had decided to stop publishing a few children’s books that had problematic imagery. There was a misunderstanding that “social justice warriors” were calling for Seuss to be canceled when in reality, those close to the deceased author made the decision on their own. This misconception turned into an argument that people were demanding political correctness from the estate, but it was ultimately their own decision. There is also an idea that those who align with the left politically are the only people participating in boycotts. Right-wing aligned individuals have called for the cancelation of CNN for the way they covered Trump to Disney and even Keurig coffee makers. Both sides have participated in boycotts, which is their right as Americans! I believe that cancel culture can serve a purpose. By boycotting artists or companies who do not share your core beliefs, you are making a statement! However, it can get a bit out of hand. We should give people some grace and room to change and open up a conversation about issues rather than publicly shaming people. We can demand change and also give compassion and understanding while people grow. 

Okay, sometimes when I get bored, which is not often as I am writing new lyrics for another album, making daily TikTok videos, writing my third novel and going through my record collection, as well as working full time, I like to go on Twitter and look up certain words. One of those words is "Foghat" and this is a tweet I saw many years ago...

Okay, I have to show you this...

Do you know what this is? The first ever picture ever to be put on the Internet. Look it up. Why that one? I have no fucking idea. Who are those women? So, when I started the Phile for the first few months or so, maybe the first few years it was pretty low key. But then this was posted on some website's forum after I started to do interviews...

I thought that was pretty cool. Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is the phinal...

Top Phive Thoughts About Getting Older
5. You know you are getting old when you throw your back out trying to grab a cookie. 
4. Being an adult is really just being keenly aware of each specific way in which you're fucked up. but also resigning yourself to not fixing any of them. 
3. Drinking coffee after 6 p.m. is the middle aged version of doing tequila shots: no good can come of it.
2. I looked in the mirror this morning like who punched me in there face? Turns out it was life. 
And the number one thought about getting older is...
1. Being an adult is mostly just whispering "for fucks sake" at least 10 times a day and drinking coffee at all hours. 

As always if you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, let's take one last live look at Pot Jefferson, shall we?

Looks like a cloudy day there today, but I wish I was still there. Okay, so, for the last eleven years or so (give or take) I have been having a good friend from New York appear on the Phile expressing his opinions on various subjects. Well, he's here with a the Phile's obituary. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man, you know what time it is...

The Peverett Phile 
January 8, 2006 - September 22, 2021 
Since his early days writing for Topo Gigio on "The Ed Sullivan Show," Jason Peverett was destined to share his unique take on life with the world. From day one of the Peverett Phile, Jason’s interviewing skills were not to be taken as pedestrian. I was on hand working security when he verbally eviscerated Yasser Arafat, during his freshman interview, causing the controversial P.L.O. leader to call him a “spotty little ginger” before storming out in a huff. His pointed dialogues with both the famous and infamous are every bit as legendary as that of the late, great James Lipton. Biting social commentary equally mixed with satire being the order of the day for over fifteen years. Jason decided to lay his beloved Phile to rest after his Pulitzer Prize winning, in depth interview with Jon Bon Jovi. Mr. Peverett has assured me that during his downtime, he will under no circumstances revert back to following Kelly Clarkson around shopping malls and there will be no need for that restraining order to be reinstated. Coming next… Jason’s New Interview Blog (that I suggested he call… Confessions of a Spotty Little Ginger from Port Jeff).  Best of luck to you, my brother… Love & Kisses, Laird. Peace. 

Our ultimate goal is to make as many people happy as possible while we live and as many people as sad as possible when we die.

Since December 6th, 2008 I got to interview many great people. Unfortunately in these 15 years some of them have passed away. So, here is the list of people I have interviewed on the Phile who have passed. 

Mike Finnigan

Kim Shuttuck 

Mary Tamm 

Joe Skinner 

Toots Hibbert

Sam Spoons 

Lee Abramson 

Jeremy Dale 

Chas Hodges 

Hod O’Brien 

Brian Howe 

Eddie Money 

Ed Asner 

Tony Lewis 

BJ Thomas 

Michael K. Williams

Thanks to all those folks for being on the Phile. So, another good friend who I have known for almost twenty years has been a constant guest on the Phile talking about football, answering questions, being a guest, and even interviewing me. I wanted him to come on and say something about the Phile. So, please welcome back to the Phile... Jeff Trelewicz!

First off I want to say that I have enjoyed the Phile. It’s impressive to me the level of celebrities you have had a chance to interview. From famous musicians and actors and everyone in between. You have an excellent interview style. I will not lie, I’ve bragged about knowing a guy that has interviewed Paul McCartney and Elton John and Neil Patrick Harris and Bill Hader, just to name a few. You’ve interviewed famous authors and not famous authors who barely sold a copy of his latest books but treated him like he was a best selling author. Whatever happened to that guy? Well, who knows. So I want to thank you for hours upon hours of entertainment from your interviews and other segments including Shower Thoughts. I will admit I was usually creeped out by the MindPhuck segments but that’s just me. I didn’t always agree with the comments in the Someone Phamous has Died segment but some were amusing as well. But of course my favorite segment was me beating you most times in Phootball Talk. Sad we didn’t get to do it the last two years, but I enjoyed it. I still have all the old databases so I can remember all the times I beat you! You haven’t really said what’s next for you, but know that you will have a built in audience whatever is next. Congrats on retiring the Phile. Thank you for mentioning me to random celebrities who for a second knew who I was and then instantly forgot it. Good luck! (I did my best to not make this sound like I was signing your high school year book, but kinda failed... so having a bitching summer!)

Phact 1. The almost final words of the British novelist, Roald Dahl, were “You know, I’m not frightened. It’s just that I will miss you all so much” to his family. After appearing to fall unconscious the nurse then injected him with morphine to ease his passing and he said his actual last words: “Ow, fuck!” 

Phact 2. The last words from the Challenger Space Shuttle before it exploded were “Uh oh.” 

Phact 3. WWII German Ace Heinrich Ehrler’s last words were “Theo. I have run out of ammunition. I’m going to ram this one. Good-bye. We’ll see each other in Valhalla.” 

Phact 4. Painter Vincent Van Gogh’s last words were “La tristesse durera toujours," which translates to “The sadness will last forever."

Phact 5. Monty Python member, Graham Chapman’s last words were “Sorry for saying fuck” to a nurse who accidentally stuck a needle in his arm shortly before he died. 

The very last guest on the Phile is an English singer-songwriter, who is best known as the lead singer of the British band Graham Parker & the Rumour. He is also a Phile Alum and one of my favorite singers ever. His latest album "Five Old Souls: Live in Southampton" is available on iTunes and Amazon. Please welcome back to the Phile... Graham Parker!

Me: Hey there, Graham! Welcome to the last entry of the Phile ever! How are you? 

Graham: I'm terrific, Jason. Great to be back on the Phile. 

Me: So, how have you been with this whole COVID thing? 

Graham: The thing about COVID is for there last four of five years I've been thinking I could deal with a year off Not that I'm doing big tours, I don't want to do that. No thank you. I'm doing like 12 date tours which is all I want to do. I'm saying to agents now don't put me in these inbeetweeny gigs, don't make me do the 8 hour drive. I've done that, man, I've done 40 years plus of this. Treat me with a little bit of respect. That's my ethos now, I deserve a little bit respect. Before COVID hit I thought man, I need a year off. I'd just like not to be preparing for a tour. It sucks a lot of oxygen out of the air even though it could be only six gigs. I've always had so many other interests in life other than playing music and then this pandemic came along and I was like oh, shit. Be careful what you wish for. I'm thinking did I curse everything? It was my fault. I cursed the world. 

Me: Hahaha. Nah, it was just some fucker eating a bat. You have been around for so long and like I said before my dad and I were huge fans. I really got more into you in the 80s. Do you hear that a lot? 

Graham: The 80s were great for me, Jason. Which is counter curative. 

Me: What do you mean? 

Graham: Everything was different from the 70s quite radically and the ethos was more more we spend making a record the better it'll be and all that stuff. The image of acts that moved on accordingly. No one seemed to blink in America about me. 

Me: You have played so many shows. Is there a city that you never really liked going? 

Graham: Denver. It was always a strange market for me up and down. Even with the Rumour we never packed them out in Denver which is odd really. So many places up north, Minneapolis and Chicago were great and I thought Denver would be a match for us but we never quite clicked and it's been up and down. 

Me: I always thought you should have been as big and popular as Dylan or Elvis Costello. What do you think? 

Graham: Well, it didn't seem like that to me. With the four first records everyone sold a bit more than the last which I thought was a good steady way of doing things. It wasn't in my hands, it was the way it was. Every tour we were playing bigger places. My idea of stardom was playing the Hammersmith Odeon for about 2000 people which me and the Rumour did for three nights I think. Even the post Rumour, two nights completely sold out. I saw the biggest bands I've ever seen play in those places. I never really thought in terms if I don't make it to the stadiums I haven't made it. So it never occurred to me. It's been a lot of years without having to think of a day job. The worse thing is the press is still "oh, what a loser." 

Me: What? That's bullshit. 

Graham: Yeah, they're always like "oh, what a shame it must be so tough." And I'm like Jesus Christ, how much do you need? How much stuff do you need? The most frustrating thing is that imagery of the whole how sad it must be. I'm like no, I was having such a blast those first four years. I started off in 1976 in a field of one basically. There was nothing quite like what me and the Rumour were doing or songs like that at the time. It was a marvelous year, and the competition starts coming in. Things change and suddenly there was punk and new wave and people had names for things. There wasn't any names for me. They threw this pub rock nonsense at me which is something that I wasn't aware of until I was reading the press I got something to do with "pub rock." Which was guilty by association. 

Me: What do you mean by that? 

Graham: Because of my band members. Bands got branded as that which is the kiss of death. So I was lucky even to survive that white frankly. That is the kiss of death, no one knows what it is. The press talk about it now "in England in the 1970s pub rock was all the rage." It wasn't. I was in the suburbs living in '74, '75 after doing a lot of traveling and going up to London regularly in squats. It was all the squatting rage then. Nobody paid for anything. Some bunch of freaks I knew let me know when to come and we I came up to London I'd be in some monolithic house that had been empty for ten years. There was no market for these places that were worth multi-millions. Nobody I knew said, "Let's go down to the Hope and Anchor and see some pub rock." Nobody I knew in the suburbs heard of pub rock. I've seen the name Brinsley Schwartz, I said this before but nobody pays attention, in the back of the Melody Maker playing small gigs and I thought that must be a German heavy metal band. I said this so many times and nobody wants to know, nobody wants to write it down. 

Me: That's crazy. Why is that do you think? 

Graham: They just want to say the same story, there's a Rolodex: Graham Parker, pub rock. Punk Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen. That's it. That's the story so wherever I see a new review off an album they mention in the first few bars as if they listen to the album and then they go about my history. Then they go on to a history lesson which is totally incorrect. How many artists could be saying the same thing? This niche that I have just turns out that I would have this limited audience and it was limited to a lot bigger crowds in the early days and now it's limited to what you would expect. Like 45 years later or whatever it's been. 

Me: Why do you think you still sell out shows and do well in my eyes now? 

Graham: The one thing that has got me through so many gigs, especially in America, all over the place, flying to Little Rock, Arkansas for one gig. It's not my territory and nobody came and doing Texas so many times that were gigs that were half full often. The occasional year where I think that's great. Whatever you say about promotors,. I tell you what, I've got a lot of fans who have booked me in a lot of places way outside my territory and often paid me decent money for many, many years so as much as anything I'm lucky because of the music business support. 

Me: Do you think the labels they gave you, like the angry young man one limited you in a way? 

Graham: Well, it tends to. The only band I've seen, if you can call them pub rock, was about two years before my career and that was Dr. Feelgood in '74. What I liked about them was I knew I was on the right track because I cut my hair short from having it down to my ass. I was doing three minute songs that had roots influences, all kind of roots influences. I left psychedelia behind after four years of that. Not playing any in any professional sense at all. Just doodling away on the guitar and suddenly I started to get good with songwriting and it was because I was suddenly inspired by what I liked when I was a kid. When I was 14 or 15 R&B soul, then Bob Marley in '74 came along. But as far all those other acts with supposedly pub rock... Ducks Deluxe, Martin Belmont who was in the Rumour who you interviewed a few times, and Brinsley Schwartz, Nick Lowe. 

Me: I got to interview Brinsley and Nick. What did you think of Nick Lowe at first? 

Graham: I just thought he was a novelty act. He was producing my record. All I knew about him apart from this Brinsley Schwartz thing was he made this record called "We Love You, Bay City Rollers." He called himself the Tartan Horde and it was a minor hit in Japan. My manager told me that so I thought he was a novelty songwriter. It's only recently I thought oh, wow, he's good. 

Me: Recently? I've been a fan of his since the "Nick the Knife" album I think. I mean, "What's So Funny About Love, Peace and Understanding" is a great track! 

Graham: I thought "What's So Funny About Love, Peace and Understanding" tongue in cheek novelty song. And the Brinsley Schwartz albums when I finally heard them, by the time I got a record deal I got a free album I just thought "what is this lame country shit?" What I was influenced by was pop hits. It could've been listening to Radio One, the dreaded terrible station that wouldn't play new stuff and wouldn't get edgy for the most part. But there I was at 23 or 24 or 25 driving around listening to that. And I hear "You Can't Hurry Love" and suddenly I thought this is the shit. This is it. It certainly wasn't Pink Floyd and King Crimson or the Incredible String Band. I love all that stuff now, but I was one of those people that if I went for something it was at the expense of everything else. So suddenly I was writing songs that was almost all based on what was on the radio. I hear "Brown Sugar" even though it came out a couple of years later and I thought that's it, man, and suddenly I'm writing "Soul Shoes." 

Me: What other music did you have or liked? 

Graham: I had John Prine, I also had the Sparks album. And I was into Jackson Browne, and all this stuff. Then I discovered Van Morrison way before you would think. I heard a track and I went holy moly, what have I been missing. 

Me: What did you think of punk then? 

Graham: Punk wasn't even there in in 1976. 

Me: Yes it was. Haha. 

Graham: It was but the only thing I knew about it was I kept reading about it in the back pages of the music papers. There were a certain amount of people championing this thing that was going on in CBGB's in New York. They wanted that to happen in Britain, they wanted that anarchic kind of thing. I didn't know what it was, I hadn't heard it. Once I made my first record I was almost 100% in my own tunnel and writing songs that were coming from my own influences. 

Me: Okay, so, I'm gonna get nerdy for a minute. One of my favorite albums of yours is "Human Soul." Side 2 has this "Abbey Road" kind of thing of all these little songs going into each other. What was the thinking behind that? 

Graham: That came from the period when I was writing "The Mona Lisa's Sister" record. I had all these other songs like "Daddy's a Postman" and I had "Sugar Gives You Energy." That's only on one side, the other side is literally put together to be quirky pop like "Abbey Road" like you said. With those songs I thought I don't like all of these songs but I like a minute and a half. I was writing the songs for "The Mona Lisa's Sister" as well, I was so full of writing and great creativity throughout the 80s really. I would often have two albums worth of songs sitting there looking at me and I pushed a load of them aside and therefore made "The Mona Lisa's Sister" which is almost conceptual in its singer/songwriter nexus as it were. Then with "Human Soul" I thought I need to make something really quirky. I had these weird songs and I said to Brinsley who co-produced with me and John Jacobs, I said this has got to be "Abbey Road," if you remember has a real side with songs like "My Love's Strong" for instance and "Soul Time." Then the second side is completely off the wall. 

Me: "The Mona Lisa's Sister" is in my top five favorite albums of all time, Graham. 

Graham: Thank you. That album did very well for me, I was packing gigs all over America. I got this red from all the younger people who heard "Get Started, Start A Fire." 

Me: Really? Why is that? 

Graham: Because it got a bit of radio play. 

Me: Ahhh, that makes sense. "Struck By Lightning" was a great album as well. "Brand New Book" is one of my favorite songs of yours. What can you say about that? 

Graham: That's a great album, I had Garth Hudson on it. Basically there were three guitars often, I was playing electric on it, I was playing acoustic of course. The way that album comes off it as if it is straight down and raw. I didn't want it to be fat like the 80s. There's a lot of songs on there and again I was flairing with creativity and they go all over the place but they all have the same feel. 

Me: So, when you make a new album what are you thinking? Radio play? Or being cult status? Or you can just do what you want? 

Graham: I don't think about any of that at all actually. When I start to write songs I just think how is this going to sound. I start thinking of sequencing with a bunch of songs for the album so I do think in that kind of sense. Gradually I think what kind of album it is. To me it's about technical things, things that nobody cares about really. You talked about me being a cult, I was one of the rare artists that was still getting record deals into the 90s. 

Me: I'm glad about that. But why do you think that was? 

Graham: "The Mona Lisa's Sister" was on RCA in America, a major record label and I went four albums with them. In the 90s it was come on, you got to get down on the indie land, which I did after that. People who sold more than me also went down to indie land. 

Me: Why do you think that was? 

Graham: The record companies made it clear they wanted flash in the pan hits, they wanted commercial. I said to a record guy at a major record company, "Is it worth me bothering going to the majors?" And he said, "No. Don't. We don't care about you. We don't care about most of the acts. Even if they sold more than you and have your kind of music, just go to indie land." That's what happened after that. My perceptive and perception is different because of that long run of major labels and being called up by David Letterman every year. So I can't think it's a cult when I'm called on by David Letterman in my experience in my career. 

Me: Yeah, you were on Letterman for quite a bit and then you weren't. Why is that? 

Graham: Nirvana happened and Letterman went to another channel and I never got another look in. That's the way it goes. 

Me: You have a great live album out called "Five Old Souls," which I have to mention. What do you think of it? 

Graham: It's the best live album I've ever made by far. There's nothing that compares to it for me. I'm totally happy with it, best sound and exactly right for me now. It's all about where I am now, I'm at the best sounding record and songs for me at this point of time. 

Me: So, do you prefer to play solo or with a band? 

Graham: I do not feel any need to pin people to the wall. I just don't have any feeling to do that really. I don't sing like that now. The "Cloud Symbols" songs if you listen to a song like "Love Comes" I've never been that good before. The vocals and the acoustic, it's all live as well. So that's what I' m best at now, but having said that don't forget there's a horn section of "Five Old Souls" as there is on "Cloud Symbols." It's what we call roots rock, we're doing a lot of "Howlin' Wind" on that record. We're doing songs from "Cloud Symbols" and I thought those two albums relate to each other very much say. 

Me: Okay, so I have to mention This is 40 that came out ten years ago next year. That must've helped your career, right? 

Graham: Yeah, I had this huge bump for four years with that Judd Apatow movie. It was great. Out of the blue. 

Me: How did that come about? 

Graham: To correct another misrepresentation I had already got the Rumour on board to make a new album which turned out to be "Three Chords Good." Out of the blue, on a whim, almost on a dare I wanted to put Andrew Bodnar the bass player and Steve Goulding the drummer from the Rumour and I got hold of them on emails and said I've been playing with a drummer and I've been playing bass and I'm doing guitars, would they fancy doing an album, us three because they both worked with me since the Rumour. Steve made a joke about what if I got Bob, Brinsley and Martin and then I'll have a proper band. So it was also like a dare so I said, "The hell with you man, I'll do it." And I foolishly emailed everyone and everyone said okay. I thought this is going to cost me a lot of money. What the hell have I done? In for a penny, in for a pound. It must've been in a week or two the most my publishing company said Judd Apatow wanted to talk to me. I said okay, give him my number. We chatted and he was going to be in New York City and I said I'm going down, I'll meet him. So we sat and talked and he told me about this idea for a movie and I said yes, I'm the guy. That's how the movie came about. About three quarters into the conversation I said by the way, I just reformed the Rumour, which literally knocked him back in his seat. I said why don't he put them in the movie. So he said. Talk about the greatest impossible thing ever. 

Me: You did two albums with them, so why did you part again? 

Graham: Everyone was sick of the thing, everyone was weary enough. It's an intense thing. Touring, the whole part of it is intense and most of those six tours we did three in America and three in England with a bit of Europe thrown in I'm the one losing the money. I didn't lose a fortune but I lost enough to know that the next thing to happen is we're going to get hired in clubs instead of 2000 seaters. That's what's going to happen next. 

Me: Why do you think that is? 

Graham: These things have a shelf life. They're going to have a shelf life unless we're Duran Duran who can quit for 30 years and come back and play stadiums. It was a win win, but stop when we're winning. It cost me ten thousand dollars to put those guys in a room to rehearse. There are people in America, there are people in London, somebody in Yorkshire. It takes as long to come on a train from Yorkshire as it does to fly from New York. I had a crew, a small crew very modest, but the fact is there's ten thousand dollars and there's lights. People think that grows on trees, that doesn't. I'm paying for it. It's not the old days when we needed a fifty grand from a. record company. It's now all on my bill which we forgot about because we were having the time of our life. 

Me: But so many fans would love to have you guys get back together, Graham. 

Graham: Jason, I'm not going to be starving or drive myself into the ground to do this because want the Rumour. I know you do, great, but get with the program. I live in reality. I don't think ion anything else was happening we'd have thought we've done it, we've done our bit. We've reformed, it was great. We had spectacular nights, made two great albums and I think that's the natural flow of things really. 

Me: You have a point. Okay, so, with your early albums there was a lot of raggaeish songs, like "No More Excuses" for example. What did reggae mean to you? 

Graham: When I was 14 or 15 in England there was Johnny Nash who was. It wasn't called reggae then, it was called blue beat. On the one hand there was blue beat or rock steady, I don't remember the name reggae, not in the U.K. I was a mod which wasn't the mod of the Rod Stewart days, it was more of a skinhead look, very striped down with Levis and very short hair. I was about 15 or 16 and there was this scene with what were called discos even then. We're talking 1964 to '67, I had the scooter and stuff. Flower power might've been happening but I was oblivious to that, I was totally immersed in soul music. Those clubs, those discos would get packed out. I'd go on the afternoon on a Sunday at like two o'clock and it'll be packed out with skins and the best looking chucks around. There I was ten years later and I'm reviving old school styles of music, those were the songs I was writing, that became "Howlin' Wind." And I put an English spin on them. 

Me: Okay, can we talk about ""You Can't Be Too Strong," one of the greatest songs and meaningful songs you wrote. Where did that come from? 

Graham: Well, it's based on something I was involved with but didn't know about until it was too late. It does make you think a bit, let's face it. The weird thing about that song is I was to lighten up the whole thing, because I wasn't exactly devastated. It was just something out of my arena that happened without me knowing. Basically meeting someone when I'm touring and then became friends to a certain extent. We had letters back and forth in those days but then that got broken. I wasn't devastated, the song came out as devastation. It's not like I really didn't feel it, I did when I sang it. It's an interesting thing, singing is acting really. 

Me: What is the most deepest or hardest song for you? Does that make sense? 

Graham: When I was recording "Cloud Symbols" the co-producer Neil Brockbank unfortunately died half-way through making the album. We were recording "Love Comes," and even the lyrics, how did I write lyrics like that that feel so keening, so deep, so painful, so atmospheric, how did I write that when I don't even feel it. The thing is though when I came to sing it "Is the Sun Out Anywhere?" I can barely get through it now on stage. It starts to make me choke. That song is the most emotional powerful thing to me I've ever written. 

Me: So, when you first started doing shows with the Rumour back in the 70s what did you think? 

Graham: That this is real, and in the sense it is but on the other hand it's acting. 

Me: Do you like listening to your music? Do you ever put on one of your CDs? 

Graham: It's hard for me to listen to things anywhere from beyond the last album. 

Me: Oh, wow. Since last summer I published two novels, Graham. You wrote some books, are you going to write more? 

Graham: It's not compelling to me. My literary agent who dealt with that stuff back then, she's like, "Graham, memoirs are popular now." I wrote my memoirs on Carp Fishing on Valium. But they're not memoirs, they're fiction. I think the best way too write memoirs is to turn it into fiction and then I can do anything I like with it. Memoirs seem so self indulgent. 

Me: Graham, you would write such a good memoir. Why do you think it's self indulgent? 

Graham: I don't know, there's something about it. I'm not Shakespeare, I'm not Einstein, I'm just a guy who wrote some songs and did some singing. 

Me: So, what's next for you? Another album I hope. 

Graham: I don't know what's next around the corner. My head is full of song ideas and I can't say I'm writing up a storm. My guitar in this pandemic sits on a stand glaring at me, most of the time. I definitely don't have an urgency and I definitely don't have an ambition. 

Me: So, why do you always wear glasses? Hahaha. 

Graham: Very simple thing. In 1974 or 1975 I met Dave Robinson who became my manager. I was introduced to him and he told me he'd been a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and I thought that's enough for me. He managed these bands which I didn't know anything about but at least he's done something. I never met anyone like that. I was completely green to the music industry so he's recording my songs in his studio and I happened to be wearing sunglasses, dark sunglasses and he said, "You look good in those. Keep them on." I said yeah, all right. So I did. I've been stuck with this bullshit ever since. Now I have to go on stage with very light glasses. 

Me: Really? Why is that? 

Graham: Because I'm going to be walking into things. 

Me: I recently had an eye exam and have early stages of glaucoma and have to have cataract surgery. What about your eye sight? 

Graham: My eye sight is pretty good with distance. It's reading that kills me, I have to wear reading glasses. Walking own stage with black shades, yeah, a bit ion a liability. Nobody wants to see that, particularly me. I look at photos of myself and think well, I look pretty good. Even now if I want to look you get and better than I do in a photoshoot I'll put on dark sunglasses. It covers up a wealth of aging problems. 

Me: Okay, so, as you know this is the last entry of the Phile and you're my last interview. I thought who should be the last one, and the readers and everybody that knows me knows what a huge fan I am of yours. I found a drawing that my dad did of you in a sketchpad, which I will show here... 

I plan on getting that turned into a tattoo. Don't laugh. Anyway, I was thinking who should be my last guest and I thought of you. So, I have to say thank you. You've been on the Phile a few times, but not in the last ten years I think. This was so cool to have you back. 

Graham: Well, I have not been doing any interviews right now, but I like your blog and you had some cool people on it... and a lot of people in my circles, so out of the blue I decided to do this. 

Me: I'm so glad you did. It means sooo much to me. 

Graham: You had a good run, man. Thank you for having me. 

Me: Thank you, sir.

Okay, that about does it for this blog. If you think about it I had some wonderful guests, and I am so glad that Graham could come back on and do the final interview. I want to thank my guests Laird Jim, Jeff Trelewicz and of course Graham Parker. So, this is the 1509th phinal entry. I began the Phile on January 8th, 2006 with no idea what kind of blog I wanted to do. Then in December of 2008 I had my first interview guest... Jill Wagner from "Wipe Out," and in a few years I decided what the Phile should be... a talk show format with a monologue, jokes, some other random stuff and then an interview. I reached out to people on MySpace, musicians mostly who were really unknown and then a few "bigger" names but then slowly over time my guests got bigger and bigger. I mean, I interviewed members of my favorite bands like Squeeze and Barenaked Ladies, two Beatles, one Monkee, Robert Plant, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Dave Grohl, Jon Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Barrack Obama. I interviewed artists, authors, actors, musicians, my sister Leila, puppets and close friends. Since I started this blog I have moved four times and got to do this thing from some other places... Long Island, MegaCon, Amtrak, Gainesville, Clermont ComicCon, Walt Disney World. I have been through a lot. I want to say thanks to you all who read this blog for all the years, especially to those that read every entry or so. I would not have done this for so long if no one was reading. I have to say thanks to the P.R. firms and managers and people that have helped me get these interviews. When I decided that the blog has to have a logo I asked my good friend Ron Mena to come up with it with my concept of a filing cabinet flying through space and that was the original one. Then over the years, it changed but still with the flying cabinet. Anyway, thanks to the people who did the logo... Ron Mena, Liz Isfelice and Tracy Brown. I had some cool people that contributed to different things on the Phile as well I'd like to thank two who have been a big part off the Phile... Laird Jim and Jeff Trelewicz. It was great to have them both on the Phile today. I also want to thank two musicians who I interviewed for the Phile... Dan "Foghat" Nowicki and Chris Nelson. I had no idea when I interviewed these two great musicians I would end up releasing music with them. Thanks to Dan for helping with Strawberry Blondes Forever and Chris for Null & Void. That about does it... I'm not going away for good. I still have my popular TikTok where I tell stupid jokes and other stuff. You can find me @jaypea68 if you want. I want to start a podcast, which we'll see and as far as blogging goes I am sure I will blog again sometime in the new year with a different title, format and who knows. Maybe I will get to interview Kelly Clarkson in the future after all. You know longer have to spread the word, but still don't spread the turd. That'll be gross. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. I will leave you with this... Love your fucking life. Take pictures of everything. Tell people you love them. Talk to random strangers. Do things that you're scared to do. Fuck it, because so many of us die and no one remembers a thing we did. Take your life and make it the best story in the world. Don't waste that shit. 

Give me some rope, tie me to dream, give me the hope to run out of steam, somebody said it could be here. We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year. I can't count the reasons I should stay. One by one they all just fade away...

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pheaturing Tom Jones


Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Tuesday. How are you? This is the penultimate entry, the second before the last. Phinale Eve. Call it what you want. Sunday night's Emmy Awards were a return to classic Hollywood form.... in that no actors of color won any major awards, and a white dude bummed everyone out by refusing to shut up. When writer and director Scott Frank won Outstanding Directing in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for his work on "The Queen's Gambit," he brought up three pieces of paper, talking for over two minutes, and ignoring the orchestra three times. The guy spoke even longer than Governors' Award recipient Debbie Allen, powering through his laundry list of "thank yous" with a complete inability to read the room. Twitter roasted him to shreds, calling him "an entitled piece of shit" and even editing his Wikipedia page. Frank's audacity made the telecast run longer than scheduled, making him the mascot of white male entitlement for the day. According to gossip site Celebitchy, "That Scott Frank douche from 'Queen's Gambit' just cost himself so many jobs with that performance. He showed everyone who he is."

CBS announced that what was originally a competition series to find America's Next Top Activist is now being re-edited as a documentary after social media backlash. The original concept of "The Activist"... the one that they filmed... had people competing in "missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events" about health, education, and the environment. Nobody involved in the production thought that that was in poor taste until real activists pointed it out. The show starred Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Julianne Hough, and Usher as the expert judges, deciding which community organizers contributed the most to humanity that episode. Chopra Jonas published an apology on her official Instagram account, telling fans "the show got it wrong, and I'm sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you." She insisted that she had only the purest of intentions, that just so happened to have involved a starring role on network television. The social media blowback prompted not one, but TWO apologies from Chopra Jonas's fellow judge, Julianne Hough. "The Dancing with the Stars" star said she was sorry about the show, and also sorry that she wore blackface as part of a Halloween costume. Whose apology was better? Find out on the new reality competition series, "The Apology," this spring on CBS!

Out of the Philippines this year, there was some sad animal news involving a one-eyed puppy. Cyclops, as he came to be called, was born with a single eye, no nose, and two tongues sticking out. Shocking pics of the deformed dog quickly went viral on social media, but sadly Cyclops did not survive. I have to show you these pics...

He was born on February 6th and succumbed to the birth defects in less than a day. Cyclops was born in the Aklan province of the Philippines, to a dog owned by local resident Amie de Martin. Martin first posted the trending photos of the pooch, sharing that the mother dog might have ingested toxins prior to Cyclops’ birth. Cyclops' mother was also a “menopausal puppy” which may have had something to do with the genetic physical abnormality. Since Cyclops had no nose, he was not able to feed off of his mother. Although a veterinarian supplied Cyclops with formula food, it was quickly clear that the little guy would not survive. After the puppy’s death, Martin preserved the rare specimen in a glass box, rather than simply burying him underground. Maybe Cyclops will become a scientific step in further understanding. 

Phile Alum Morgan Wallen addressed his use of the n-word during a July sit down with "Good Morning America," in which the country singer also claimed he and his team donated $500,000 to Black organizations. According to a new Rolling Stone report attempting to trace the donations, it appears the money hasn’t materialized with any organizations besides the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), which Wallen specifically mentioned by name in the interview. Calling the $500,000 number “exceptionally misleading,” BMAC told Rolling Stone that they received $165,000 from Wallen in April, which was used to make grants for black musicians through a COVID-19 emergency relief fund. However, the organization said it was “disappointed that Morgan has not used his platform to support any anti-racism endeavors” after meeting with Wallen and his management in February and March “in an effort to help him understand how deeply harmful, offensive, and unacceptable his use of the n-word was.” During the "GMA" interview, Wallen told host Michael Strahan that he and his team decided a total sum of $500,000 represented the spike in his record sales after the n-word “incident,” but did not name any other organization besides BMAC. In an effort to verify Wallen’s statement, Rolling Stone reached out to 56 other state, regional, and national black-led or black-founded charities... none of which said they received any money from him. The publication created the list from a variety of sources, including multiple directories of black-founded nonprofits and roundups of highly visible Tennessee charities in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. The charities include longtime national groups like the NAACP, popular regional organizations like Black Lives Matter Nashville, and music-focused groups like the National Museum of African American Music. While it’s possible Wallen made anonymous donations, Rolling Stone points out he typically makes any charitable efforts well-known. Not only did Wallen prominently launch a charity to “help children, adolescents, and teenagers find families that can provide warm, loving homes” in July, but he also headed a recent event called Morgan Wallen & Friends which his publicist noted in a press release raised a whopping $725,000 for Humphreys County flood relief in Tennessee. Beyond not delivering on his charitable claim is the greater problem of Wallen not making any attempts to atone for actions by being actively anti-racist. Back in July, he told Strahan he hadn’t “really sat and thought about” an overall race problem in country music overall, and it appears Wallen didn’t take BMAC up on the offer to work together in order “to create awareness campaigns and initiatives around anti-racism.” And with country radio reembracing Wallen with open arms, there’s no reason for him to look back. 

America’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has been forced to comment on the curious case of Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s testicles. The bizarre episode launched on September 13th, as the first images of the 2021 Met Gala captured the attention of millions. Minaj tweeted that she wouldn’t be attending the fundraiser, because as she said, “They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. if I get vaccinated it won’t [be] for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research.” She added that she’s “working on that now,” and asked her followers to wear masks. But then the rapper did two unusual things: she explained the source of her vaccine hesitancy, and she told the whole world about the bulging ball sack of a man she had never met. As she recounted, her Trinidadian cousin knows a guy. This poor fellow, the story goes, got the COVID-19 vaccine and “became impotent. His testicles became swollen,” and even worse luck, “His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” As many of her followers pointed out, either Nicki Minaj’s cousin or his STD-ridden friend are fibbing. But the Met Gala was a big deal and Nicki Minaj has a huge platform, and so it fell on Dr. Fauci to put out the misinformation fire. Fauci has led he White House’s COVID-19 response through two administrations, and he appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper to discuss more pressing concerns: The safety of children returning to schools, and when kids under the age of 12 would be eligible for vaccination (“sometime in the fall”). Then Tapper asked the big question: What does Fauci think of Minaj’s cousin’s buddy’s balls? Specifically, is there any evidence that any of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines cause reproductive issues? “The answer to that, Jake, is a resounding no,” Fauci said. “There is no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen. So the answer to your question is no.” Tapper pressed Fauci on what health officials can do to halt the spread of misinformation. “It’s very difficult,” Fauci said. “There is a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information and to essentially debunk these kinds of claims.” He added that the mistake “may be innocent on [Minaj’s] part. I’m not blaming her for anything. But she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis as except a one-off anecdote. That’s not what science is all about.” Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Health also felt the need to debunk. “There has been no such reported either side effect or adverse event,” the Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh said. “And what was sad about this is that it wasted our time yesterday, trying to track down... because we take all these claims seriously, whether it’s on social media or mainstream media. As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad or, I dare say, Dr. Hinds, anywhere else. None that we know of anywhere else in the world.” To Minaj’s credit, she held an ongoing conversation with her fans about the safety of the vaccines, sounding much more jab-curious than anti-vax. She pointed out that, “A lot of countries won’t let people work without the vaccine,” encouraging her fans in those situations to seek inoculation because, “They have to feed their families.” She added, “I’m sure I’ll be vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour, etc.” This adds to an already colorful summer for Nicki Minaj. Last Friday, her husband Kenneth Petty pleaded guilty for failing to register as a sex offender. Both members of the couple are currently being sued by the victim of his attempted rape for alleged harassment and witness intimidation. 

Have you ever seen this real 7-Up ad?

It says it all. That's 100% real by the way. Sometimes I like to get on Twitter and look up certain words. One of those words is "Foghat" and here's a tweet I saw back in 2014. Man, that was a long time ago.

Speaking of Foghat, I was going through TikTok the other day and I saw a video of two little girls dancing. In the background was a wall of record album covers and yes, there was a Foghat one.

So, I have to mention something in case I forget tomorrow on the last entry, as I have a lot planned. I have used a lot of different graphics and stuff on the Phile, which I have created myself but sometimes even I need help. A friend used who I used to work with, Liz Iafelice, has done some cool stuff for the Phile, like worked on the logo and some of the interview graphics. There's one she dod for me that I don't think I ever used, and I love it so much that I have to show it here...

I think the reason I didn't use it is because the font is so small, but if you look closely there's a Led Zeppelin 8-track, a Stones one and then a Peverett Phile one. It's still so cool. When we hear about an ex with a damaged car, it immediately evokes Carrie Underwood. The country belts in her karaoke classic after seeing her boyfriend cheat. "I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats, I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights, I slashed a hole in all four tires, maybe next time he'll think before he cheats." This woman didn't go Full Underwood... or even close... but her ex wants her money, nonetheless. A guy asked his ex to pay for damages after he was so surprised to see her, he accidentally hit something with his car. She emailed the Phile...

"I broke up with my ex Ryan because I found him on Tinder talking to other women. I moved out of his house and I’m living in my own apartment. A few days ago Ryan messaged me begging me back. Ryan said he was sorry and that he wants to get back together. I told him I needed space. He asked if I was seeing anybody and I said no. Ryan told me. 'I’m not seeing anybody either I’m still so in love with you.' Yesterday when I was walking back from the grocery store I saw Ryan at the Wendy’s parking lot with another woman. At first I assumed she was a friend until they started kissing. For my own amusement I stealthily walked up to the car and knocked on his window. Ryan was so shocked he put his car in reverse and hit something. He drove off and later texted me that I needed to pay for the damages. I blocked him. Am I wrong" No, you weren't behind the wheel, and by the laws of reason you are not at fault for this damage. And it's karmic justice at its finest. Your ex is a moron. 'You damaged my car by making me put it in reverse and press down on the pedal without letting up while you were outside the car!'" I was so sure you were going to scratch his car or something and then the plot twist came and it's just hilarious. Did this guy win his driving license in a lottery? Maybe next time he thinks before he puts his car in reverse?! 

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Let's have a live look at Port Jefferson, shall we?

Oh, a story day I think. Look at though scary looking clouds. It's like it knows tomorrow is the last day of the Phile. Haha. 

Today's guest is a Welsh singer. His career began with a string of top-ten hits in the mid-1960s. He has toured regularly, with appearances in Las Vegas. has sold over 100 million records, with 36 Top 40 hits in the U.K. and 19 in the U.S., including "It's Not Unusual," "What's New Pussycat?," the theme song for the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball, "Green, Green Grass of Home," "Delilah," "She's a Lady," "Kiss" and "Sex Bomb." His latest album "Surrounded By Time" is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Please welcome to the Phile... Tom Jones!

Me: Wow! This is a big deal for me! You're one of the last interviews I have on the Phile and I'm so glad you are here. Welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you? 

Tom: I am good, Jason. Great to be here. 

Me: So, I read you are a record collector in your younger days. I collect records but no one collected records more than my dad when he was alive. When did you start collecting? 

Tom: Not only in my younger days, I still collect records. I love records. I've got all kinds of recordings. Blues, a lot of blues things, gospel, blues, country. That's when I started getting interested in music with those three main ingredients as far as I'm concerned which then of course turned into 50s rock and roll. I was a teenager in the 50s so that hit me like a ton of bricks. So I've never been right since. I've been affected by it ever since. 

Me: Music has changed a hell of a lot since then, right? 

Tom: It's a strange thing because people say well, about music changing the essence of it I don't think has changed. It's still three chords and the truth. Hopefully. 

Me: What was it like before you were "Tom Jones"? 

Tom: Let me see, when I was a kid I would listen to Mahalia Jackson album, I had a Big Bill Broozy album and then I started playing Frankie Laine because it was a big one that I liked. I liked voices, I liked people to sing. 

Me: Ha. So, what did you think of Biob Dylan when he first came on the scene? 

Tom: When Bob Dylan first came out for instance people were making a fuss of him and I said, "He sounds terrible to me." And they said, "Yes, but he wrote the songs." I said, "Well, God bless him." That's okay but as far as the singing of them I wasn't impressed. But I was only listening in those days, you see, I was listening to singers but of course once I listened to Bob Dylan then I realize that he's creating these masterpieces it's a different thing. 

Me: Okay, so, what about Chuck Berry? What did you think of him? 

Tom: I always thought that Jerry Lee Lewis sounded better than Chuck Berry as far as singing was concerned. But then we know that Chuck Berry wrote those songs as well and played guitar. So he was an innovator. Like Dylan, I think Dylan referred to him as a poet of rock and roll, a rock and roll poet. Chuck Berry was unbelievable rock and roll right there. John Lennon said, "If rather they're going to rename it rock and roll they could just rename it "Chuck Berry." Because that's how much the influence, the Beatles were influenced by Chuck Berry. We've got to take those things into consideration when we hear a voice what it is. 

Me: You don't write your songs, right? You'd rather just sing them? 

Tom: To me you see singers are like actors, they don't have to write the script of a film or a play in order to make it great or to give it their own interpretation. Macbeth, whoever does Macbeth they don't say, "Oh, you didn't write that, did you?" No. Or Othello. William Shakespeare did, you know what I mean. There's two things, there has to be a great writer and there has to be a great performer to perform them. And that's where I come into play, I listen to the songs and try to inject my own feelings into the songs. Like an actor does with a part. 

Me: So, I interviewed Cat Stevens on the Phile a few years ago and you cover his song "Popstar" on your new album "Surrounded By Time." I love your version! What made you pick that song? 

Tom: Okay, well I remember when Cat Stevens wrote that song because I used to do a lot of TV shows with him in the 60s and he said to me one day, "The record company wants me to be more of a pop star and I want to write songs that have more depth than that." And I said, "Oh, right, okay." And he said, "I might even write a song called 'Pop Star' one of these days." And I said, "Oh, right." And he did so what he was doing when he wrote it was sort of making fun of the record company. Sort of saying well look, this is if you want me to be a pop singer this is it. And he did "Pop Star" but in a negative way. Now when I listen to it I listen to it as a positive song. 

Me: Why is that? 

Tom: Because all budding pop stars will say, "Mama see me, mama see me, I'm a pop star. I'm on TV. Come and see my first gig." And that's the way I see it so I sing it like that, not as a negative but as a positive. 

Me: Did you love being a pop star? 

Tom: Definitely. One hundred percent. I wanted it when I was a child I was singing it all kinds of things in Wales where most people sing anyway. So any chance I ended up singing I would do it. I wanted to become a pop star. That was my goal in life. 

Me: Okay, so, when you became a pop star what was that like? 

Tom: When I got "It's Not Unusual" I recorded it in 1964 I thought this is it, this is the beginning. And it went to Number 1 thank God, then I was up and running. But I've been aiming for that all the time. The only thing I didn't expect was being Knighted by the Queen. I never dreamed of that. 

Me: Why do you think you wanted to be a big famous pop star? 

Tom: Well, I didn't want to be a big famous pop star, I wasn't aiming at that. The first thing I wanted to do was make a living singing rather than having to do a job of work that I had no interest in whatsoever. The only thing I really loved was music. And I thought if I could turn this hobby into a profession then that would be fantastic and that's what I was aiming for. How far it would take me I didn't know. But as long as I could make enough money not to do something I didn't want to do that's what I was aiming at. But I didn't know how big it was going to get. And I didn't know how long it was going to take but that was the initial thing. When I was a kid in school I'd be up on a Friday night, the teacher would be getting a register together and she'd say to do something and she'd say, "Tommy, run a little concert or something." So I would be the master of ceremonies in the class and get people up to do different things but then my friends would say, "But, Tommy, you're the best singer in the class, why don't you just sing? We'll just listen." I thought if I could do this as a profession then that would be it. And it is it. I thank God every day of my life for giving me this voice. Because he couldn't give me anything better than that. I hope I've done as well as I should've done with it. 

Me: Are you still having fun doing it? 

Tom: Yes, that's why we called the album "Surrounded By Time." Because we are surrounded by time, we can't do anything without it. I'm starting to run short of it. 

Me: Shut up. Why do you say that? 

Tom: Because I'm 80-years-old now. It's different when I was 20, it's a different feeling. So now time is even more important to me now that I'm 80 as when I was 20. 

Me: What did your friends and family say when you said you wanted to make music? 

Tom: There was a lot of amateur singers in waves you see, we see a lot of people sing so there's like no big deal. I was one of the many that can sing in Wales. "What makes you think that you can make a profession out of it?" There's not many professional singers, more now but not then, from Wales. I said I think I can do it, I was listening to the radio and I didn't hear anything that I thought was any better than I was. Or there was something that came on and I thought I could never sing like that. Or I could never do that. I never thought that. 

Me: Why is that? 

Tom: Because it wasn't true. Unless I wanted to be an opera singer that's a different thing, but being a pop singer I thought I can do this. And that's what sort of drove me on and seeing my father was a coal miner. So the first thing on my mind was I got to get him out of that coal mine. So I did. He was in his 50s and I was in my 20s and I had a couple of hit records and a new red Jaguar car and I was driving back from London. I drove back to Pontypridd in South Wales where I come from and when I got there on Sunday my mother was making sandwiches for my father. I said, "Where are you going?" He said, "I'm going to work." I said, "You can't go to work, I'm only home for a couple of days." He said, "Yes, but I'm a coal miner. I work for a living." I don't think they thought singing was like making a living. I said, "Dad, I'm making a lot of money and you're still going to the coal mine. That's not right. What about if something happens to you? It's a dangerous job. I wouldn't forgive myself. I make a lot of money now." He said, "Yeah, but how long do you think that will last?" I mean honestly nobody in my family there's no professional singers or musicians there you see. So I had to say to him, "Look, I'm going to see how much money I do have, I'm going to check it all out and if I can assure you that I could put the money in the bank, as soon as I can get enough money in that bank see what you would make now until you're 65." Because he had to work until he was 65. He was only in his 50s there and I said whatever that number is I'll match it. I'll come up with it, I'll make sure of it. So when I got back to London I talked to my accountant and he said yes, and he worked it out what he would've made if he was alive. A coal miner is a dangerous job. So I said I could put that in the bank for him. "Would you then stop?" And said yes. So I did and I got him out of there. He was like 57, he should have worked until he was 65. But I couldn't let that happen with a clear conscience when I was making money singing. Doing something to me was easy, like second nature. 

Me: That's so beautiful you wanted to do that for your dad, Tom. It must've felt good, right? 

Tom: Yes, I wanted to do that ever since I was a kid. He used to bath in a tin bath by the fireplace after the war. I was born in 1940 and I used to watch him come home from coal mine and in those days he was still covered in coal dust. They didn't have showers at the pit head at that time so he would come home and my mother would fill up a tin bath up. We didn't have indoor plumbing and she would put this bath by the fire and fill it up with the kettles of water and he would bathe in front of the fire. And I thought my God, I hope that one day I'll be able to get him out of there. And stop this. 

Me: So, you never went to the coal mine to work? 

Tom: No, because I had TB when I was a kid you see. Whatever I do I can't go to the mines. So I knew I wasn't going there but to see him do it was a terrible thing. A lot of other men were there, all his brothers were coal miners, all my uncles on my mothers side as well were all coal miners. I was is glad when I was able to get him out of there. 

Me: You were on TV a lot in your career, sir, and you even had your own show. What did TV mean to you in your career? 

Tom: Well, that's why I recorded that "Reality Television Talking Blues." It's all about television and what the influence the TV had on us all. As I was saying I had TB when I was a kid so I was bedridden for two years so my mother bought me a television set in 1952. So ever since then TV has been a big part of my life and then going on television but I used to watch a Sunday night variety show in the 50s when I was a kid in quarantine and I thought a guy's whose name was Frankie Vaughn and he used to come on the TV on a Sunday night and I thought I can do that. And I met him and told him so. I did meet him and we did a duet together and I had to tell him that story about watching him on television. So yes, it's a big part of our lives and that's what got me across especially to the American and Canadian audiences, or North American audiences I should say, is television. Like you said I had my own show in the late 60s. 

Me: So, we talked about Bob Dylan and I didn't mention you cover "One More Cup of Coffee" on the new album. Did you ever know Bob Dylan? I wish I could've interviewed him but I did interview his son Jakob. 

Tom: No. I'll tell you there closest I ever got to him on Music Cares which is a show they do from Los Angeles about six years ago I think now. They wanted two honor him and he said he would but he didn't want to perform on the show but if they could get ten people that have recorded his songs that he liked if they can get them to do the show then maybe he would show up. Well, I was one of the ten people that he chose because I had recorded a song called "What Good Am I?" which was on the "Praise and Blame" album. I'm always frightened to ask songwriters what they think of songs. I didn't have to ask him because he picked me to do it because quite a few people had recorded the song but he liked my version and I went in and did it for him. So he actually came there, did a speech on stage but Bob is like the Scarlet Pimpernel, we seek him here and we seek him there and he's gone. So I didn't really get close. The make-up guy who did his make-up hard to go the Grammys the following day and the make-up guy said, "I made you up yesterday when Bob Dylan and he told me to tell you you did a great job with the song." I said, "Thank you very much." I can't wait to find out what he thinks of "One More Cup of Coffee." 

Me: Okay, so I was told I have to ask you about "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Carlton on the show would dance to "It's Not Unusual." Did you get a kick out of that back then? 

Tom: Yeah, yeah, of course. 

Me: Did you know about it beforehand? 

Tom: They told me what the episode was going to be like from It's a Wonderful Life when his guardian angel comes to Earth so they wanted to use me as Carlton's guardian angel. I said okay, because I knew I'd watch it, I was a fan of the show anyway and I saw Carlton was a Tom Jones fan. He mentioned art before and for me then to show up and I knew Quincy Jones was doing the music so he said, "It'll be great if you come on and do 'It's Not Unusual.'" The we could do it together maybe and I'll be the guardian angel. I don't know if I saw the episode but Carlton said when I showed up, "Wow, you're white." Because I was supposed to be his guardian angel and I'm white. So I was going to say and wish I had said it, "It was either me or Michael Jackson." 

Me: Hmmm. What do you mean? 

Tom: Michael was getting very light skinned at the time. But I thought it might be a little bit too controversial but I said I knew all this writing and I knew soul singers like that I loved doing it. I got to know Carlton, I got to know Will Smith, I got to know all the cast and they're great people and I knew Quincy Jones of course. 

Me: So, there was no hesitation with you doing it? 

Tom: I said as long as they don't make fun of the song, "It's Not Unusual" was my first hit and very important to me. They said no, they're making fun of Carlton trying to dance like you. 

Me: Tom, I lost my parents from cancer in 2000 and I'm sorry for your loss, you lost your wife of 59 years to lung cancer. How were you then? I was a fucking mess when my dad passed away. 

Tom: Thank you. I didn't think I was going to make it to be honest with you. I didn't think I'd be able to sing again. 

Me: Oh, man, why is that? 

Tom: I thought how am I going to get through those songs now that she's not here? I always used to ask her every time I made an album she would be the first one I would play it to to get a response. Well, track by track when I did a song I would ask her what she thought of this. The last album is the first time I ever recorded an album without playing it to her. She never got to hear it. So some of the songs on there like the opening song for instance is called "I Won't Crumble With You If You Fall." I was with my wife for the last two days of her life, I was on tour and they told me that it was terminal lung cancer so I flew back to Los Angeles and went straight to the hospital and stayed there with her for ten days. I said, "Linda, I don't think I'll be able to carry on. I won't be able to sting because it will stick in my throat and she said, "Look, you must do it because I got to leave. I know that I'm dying, I know they've told me." She was the only calm person in the room by the way. My son and myself were both bloody basket cases. She said, "You've done all you can, it's not your fault. It's my fault." Because she used to smoke cigarettes. She said, "Don't you fall with me." 

Me: So, what was it like when you went back on stage back then after she passed? 

Tom: I went to Hampton Court and opened the show there in June 2016, Linda died on there 10th of April 2016 and I opened in June. I didn't think I was going to though. But then the audience you see they lifted me as well. I went on the stage and they seem to feel what I'm going through, it's uncanny but it happens and then they lifted me up. So thank God for the people that were there that got me through it. It was a terrible time and I got through not and the therapist said time is a healer, believe me. I got her asked with me in my flat in London. She's the last person I talk to at night and the first person I talk to when I wake up. 

Me: Can you give any advice? I started this thing 15 years ago and a lot has changed with my life since then. Any advice on growing old? 

Tom: You've got to live every day. That's the advice I would give two anybody. You mustn't waste a day, don't waste any time. If you want to do something with your life, especially with young people now, I know it's difficult with the situation we're in but once we get out of it and hopefully we'll get back to normal go after your dreams. Go and do what you want to. An old man once told me that in a paper mill that I worked in when I was a teenager. He said, "I hear you can sing." I said yes and he said well go for it. Because when you're old like me that's all you really will have left, the memories. make sure they're good ones. That's a fact. 

Me: So true, sir. Tom, thanks for being on the Phile. This was great. 

Tom: My pleasure. Thank you.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Tom Jones for a great interview. He's a legend. Okay, tomorrow is the day, my loves. The Phile will be back tomorrow with The Peverett Phile Phinale Pheaturing Phile Alum Graham Parker. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. 

Give me some rope, tie me to dream, give me the hope to run out of steam, somebody said it could be here. We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year. I can't count the reasons I should stay. One by one they all just fade away...