By Mary Kiser and Mark A. Leon
On Saturday, September 30, one of the most successful pop rock duos in music history, Daryl Hall and John Oates will be bringing their legendary songbook to the North Charleston Coliseum. When you think about pairings of rock royalty, a few names consistently come to mind. Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Townshend and Daltrey and Hall and Oates. From the #1 1977 Billboard smash ‘Rich Girl’ to the millennial re-boot of ‘You Make My Dreams’ featured in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer, the music of Daryl Hall and John Oates continues to be featured on song lists around the world. Their staying power is legendary and their sound timeless including fifteen top ten Billboard hits (six number #1 singles) and an estimated 40 million albums sold.
Both men have brought a unique creative spirit to the duo and that has continued as both have pursued solo efforts.
While Daryl settled in Millerton, New York, John moved to Nashville about fifteen years ago to launch solo projects including a new collaboration album project entitled ‘Arkansas’ and the recent release of his memoirs ‘Change of Seasons’ recalling stories of the 1970’s and 80’s from his partnership with John to their groundbreaking success.
We spent a few minutes talking to John about his book, current project and upcoming visit to Charleston.
John just completed recording the studio tracks for ‘Arkansas’ a personal project focused on a collaboration of the early years of popular American music from the 1920’s and 1930’s including Delta Blues, Ragtime and Swing in Nashville. With a great band, he will be touring this concept album of personal discovery with a 2018 album release and tour. John explains that his move to Nashville and his solo career have been a personal re-birth and one that has fueled a new level creativity.
In its purest essence, a musician is a storyteller, relying on lyrics, harmony and rhythm to draw human emotion and share a personal experience. This is the basis of the many stories John shares in his new book ‘Change of Seasons’ and for choosing to develop an album focused on Americana and the human spirit.
Inspiration behind lyrics
Almost every song has a basis of reality, but not every song is what it seems, as John explained. He spent time really helping us and the fans understand that not every song’s lyrics are as simple as they seem. Throughout the memoirs, John gets into detail on the events that led to many of the songs we all know and love. Here is a little snap shot of some of his cherished stories:
Picture, 3:30 AM on a cold December night in New York City circa mid 1970’s and John is sitting in a soul food restaurant on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village and an attractive girl with a red tutu and cowboy boots walks in. Two lonely souls in the West Village share a moment. John’s asks her out for New Year’s and then gets stood up. On New Year’s Day, John begins to pen lyrics. Later joined by Daryl, the classic ‘She’s Gone’ is born.
How often do you meet that sexy, hot girl that just uses men and spits them out? For most of us, that is the story of Maneater. For John and Daryl, that was only the inspiration. ‘Maneater’ is a metaphor for New York City. In the 1970’s and 80’s New York City was wrought with government corruption, racial tensions, limited employment opportunities, the local economy in turmoil, rampant crime and subways cars were used as canvases for street artists. Living in this time, was a force of inspired creativity for many artists, writers and musicians and for John and Darryl, this was no exception.
In the Chapter Road Trip (Page 203) of ‘Change of Seasons’, not only does he describe the pilgrimage to Los Angeles to work on a new album, but the vivid details of his storytelling put you in the backseat. When they hit the Arizona border on Route 53, John wrote, “140 miles an hour through Indian Country! Down the empty road I coaxed the revs up in fourth gear and shut down only to crest a rise blindly. From there on it was 100/110 for 40 or 50 miles” There was an essence of Jack Kerouac and the spirit of the road emulated in these recollections.
Staying grounded as a celebrity all these years
John was raised with good parents in a middle class setting with a solid sense of values and common sense. This level headed upbringing, along with a strong foundation of friends and collaborators, has kept John focused on the important things. There were moments, like all of us face, that try a man’s spirit. On the cusp of losing millions due to poor management, John felt his world crashing, but looking back, he saw this event as the greatest moment of his life.
As John described, “It woke me up from my pop star coma” It forced him to re-evaluate his life and principles. It was then he sold his possessions and moved to Colorado where he met his future wife. With a beautiful family, fans around the world, a creative renaissance of new music and ideas, John is clearly in the right state of mind.
During our talk, John explained that the book made him truly realize that so many unique things happened in his life that any one could have changed the course of history. If he had chosen one of three other schools other than Temple, he may never have met Daryl. If his first aired record in 1967 wasn’t on the same time as Daryl’s the idea of partnership may have never been planted. If the financial worries never came to light, he would never have moved to Colorado and met his wife.
These are the stories shared throughout the book. For fans of music, travel, free spirit, dreams and hope, there is so much to offer through John’s words.
Knowing how many devoted fans are in Charleston we asked John, “What are your thoughts about coming to Charleston, South Carolina?”
“We have an amazing band. I love playing with Daryl after all these years. We still have a great relationship. I know Daryl has an affinity for Charleston. He loves it there. We have an incredible band and have been on tour since May. The band is well oiled, we put on a pretty good show and I am excited for it.” explained John.
Spending time with John really helped us understand the man behind the guitar. He is impassioned with a soul for music, a love for the creative process and a genuine appreciation for the fans.
In his own words, “Honestly, what I care about is my music. I care about creating, I care about writing, I care about writing the next best song, working with an inspiring person, making another record, playing a great show in a place perhaps a place I have never been; these are the things that matter to me more than anything else.”
We want to thank John for his generous time and for John and Daryl for bringing their duo of magic to Charleston.
A few tickets are still available for Saturday’s (September 30th) show – Click here for ticket information
*Article Header Photo Credit: Stuart Berg