Justin Hayward on "Tracks Of My Years"
September 29-October 3, 2008
This BBC Radio 2 program gave Justin Hayward the chance to play disc jockey. Justin chose ten songs that are special to him, and then he discussed the reasons for his choices. Two songs were played each day.
This is a transcript of each day's show, with a few YouTube links so you can check out some of Justin's choices for yourself.
Host: Ken Bruce
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star by the Byrds
'Who Loves You' by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Justin Hayward: I always found their records kind of off-the-wall, and they didn't follow any rules, the Byrds, with making music. The bass line of that song doesn't ever come back to the root of the song - "da da da da da da da" - it's very interesting and I like that. Unfortunately, I went to see them with my girlfriend years ago (chuckle) at the Speakeasy - it must have been about '66 - and they weren't very good at all.
Ken Bruce: Ahh...
JH: But the records were just superb. And so many groups express that thing about, "Oh you wanna be a rock & roll star?" you know, it's one song you have to do in your early years, but they did it well.
KB: But you would never advise them as a live act, not to go and see?
JH: Well, they weren't around for very long either, were they? A couple of years maybe, the Byrds....made some fabulous records, though....very influential.
KB: Now, next it's Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and 'Who Loves You.'
JH: The end of the last U.S. tour last year, we were on the road for the best part of three months in America. And at the end I like to finish off, just come through New York for a couple of days. And I came with Dwayne, our American tour manager, who's 6'4" ex-American football player, and we went to see 'The Jersey Boys' on Broadway, and I was totally spellbound. Because I loved all of these songs anyway. And I realized, when I looked at Dwayne, he was crying like a baby, this music meant so much to him! He got so emotional, and I had a little "blub" too, because it's quite an emotional show. But I would recommend 'The Jersey Boys' to anybody. Forget - I hate to say it - 'Mamma Mia' ...all of those other shows about groups' songs. Go and see 'The Jersey Boys.' It's the best one, it's got the greatest music and the best story. It's so simple...it's brilliant.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
'I'll Play For You' by Seals & Crofts
'Raspberry Beret' by Prince
JH: Does anybody still remember Seals & Crofts? (chuckle) ...do people remember that they were....
JH: ....they were huge in the early 70s...and only three or four albums, I think there was....but I always really loved them. They made a deep impression on me. If you want to try and find their CDs now....very difficult. But if you look you can find the CD version at smaller sort of mail order places. And it's really worth it because I don't think they made a bad record, they were just brilliant.
KB: As you say, we don't hear very much....we still do find the occasional one on Radio 2, but that's about it.
JH: One of the forgotten groups of the early 70s. But everybody listened to them. Other musicians, particularly, really loved them. Great musicians themselves. Fantastic.
KB: Absolutely. Prince is next, and 'Raspberry Beret.'
JH: I suppose it's the lyrics of this that I love. Every word is so well chosen. I think he says something like....he was in the store, in the grocery store, and she "came in through the out door (laugh)" and then she goes on the back of his motorbike and everything. It's just a masterpiece of lyric writing, and I'm....I've always been a Prince fan.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1
Peg by Steely Dan
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by Crash Test Dummies
The Making Of 'Peg'
JH: If you've got nothing to do for about ten minutes one evening, and you're sitting in front of your computer wondering whether to look at your shares diminishing in value or something (chuckle)...one of those sites....instead of doing that, just go to YouTube and put in "Steely Dan," and there's a piece on YouTube and I think it's called 'The Making Of Peg.' It's the making of that track, and it's Donald and Walter sitting there together in the recording studio and looking at all of the tracks individually....putting the faders up. They had about six or seven different guitar players come in and do the guitar solo. Every one was brilliant, but every one was discarded until the last one. And there's the drummer talking about how he's sneaked these little things in. And it just shows you how particular they are. And anybody who loves this kind of music - and I know, just to be listening to this now - you've got to like Steely Dan. So go and spend ten minutes on YouTube and have a look. It's called 'The Making Of Peg.'
KB: Fascinating. Now again, like Seals & Crofts, these are people that the rest of the music business look up to and want to hear about.
JH: Yeah. Well, it's the state-of-the-art. I mean, I mastered recently some of the old - first seven - Moody Blues albums. Remastered them, because they were done actually very badly when they were first put over into digital from the vinyl format in the early 80s. There was such a rush to do all these things, to get them out on CD, they were done rather badly. But when I went back to the original vinyl masters and put them into the digital format again just recently, I used Steely Dan and the Eagles just as an example of what records should sound like....the clarity and all of that. You can hear everything on it.
KB: Sometimes, can you be striving for too much perfection on a record? Is it not sometimes better just to let a bit of the ordinary mistake go through?
JH: Of course, yes, I suppose so. But not if I'm there! (both laugh)
KB: No mistakes!
JH: No, please....! (chuckle)
KB: OK...Crash Test Dummies, you've gone for next.
JH: Oh, I like this. Yeah, this is one of those records I have to play every sort of six months. And anybody who can write a song with....how many? ...twelve Ms in the title, you know he's gotta be going for it. He's gotta have something to offer. But everybody loves this record, as long as you don't listen to it too much. Listen to it every few months, it's just brilliant.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2
Going Up The Country by Canned Heat
I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
JH: (hushed voice) This is going back in time now, the Moody Blues history. (regular voice) But our first tour of the United States, we were offered some gigs by a guy called Bill Graham, who owned two big concert venues: the Fillmore East in New York and the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Only they were like three months apart. And we wanted to go over there and do these gigs - we had nothing much else going on - and we wanted to get to San Francisco. But we decided to work our way across the country, picking up gigs. And our agent at the time in the U.S. had no idea of what were capable of or what people would be listening to, that sort of thing. But he put us on the Canned Heat tour. They were quite famous at the time - '67, '68 - and they were the world's best boogie band. And so we opened up for them for a few weeks, and it was the best thing we ever did. They introduced us to a whole new audience, and I just love that. And 'Going Up The Country' of course is a classic.
KB: It's back in peoples' minds again because of a television commercial, isn't it?
JH: I believe so. I noticed it last night, yeah, and I thought, oooh I'm coming to see you today and I've got to talk about this. But I wouldn't mention that.
KB: No, no, no.
JH: I hadn't thought of it just because it was on the telly last night, OK...
KB: We're introducing it to a whole new generation.
KB: Now they know what it is, OK (chuckle). And Bonnie Raitt, what a fine singer.
JH: What a fabulous singer. And you can hear in this song really, and this recording, the influence of Bruce Hornsby....on every single record that he's involved with. Of course, I think he co-wrote the song. But it's him with his beautiful piano parts, and I think he gives the record that little twist that really makes it emotional, and yeah, so....'I Can't Make You Love Me'...what a great title.
KB: Beautiful. How does he get that particular sound that he always achieves?
JH: I don't know, I don't know. It's the weight he has under his fingers, I think, and the way he plays and the touch of a piano...it's just brilliant.
KB: No one sounds like him, though.
KB: But as you say, this is a simply beautiful song.
JH: Truly beautiful, yeah.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3
My Pretty One by Cliff Richard
'Alone Again Or' by Love
JH: Cliff, there he was, you see. He never got the credit, people just pass...."ha ha, Cliff" ....but I think he made some great records. Always turned me on when I was a kid, as well with the Shads, and all of those early things in the early 60s. But in the early 90s we in the Moodies did a few songs with Alan Tarney, who records....who's the recording producer of that song, 'My Pretty One,' and he's got that distinctive sound. It's probably more Alan Tarney's sound on that record than it is Cliff, actually. And I just adored working with Alan, it was just so good. And he does it all himself on this little BBC old computer - not BBC, but it's called BBC Computers - and he puts all the drums and things together. If you really ask him nicely, you can get to play guitar like I did (chuckle) on our record, but that's about it. He does the rest. But it's truly the sound of Alan Tarney, and a great song as well, 'My Pretty One.'
KB: Unmistakable sound. And your final choice is 'Alone Again Or,' the version by Love.
JH: This is one of those records that just evokes a particular feeling. And it's a haunting kind of record and....we played with them in the 60s once, Totally Untogether Night (?), it's a club on Sunset Boulevard. But they made an impression on me and I love this record. It evokes so much the time of the 60s and....great time for us in the band and for me personally.
KB: We've been talking about distinctive sounds in production and in playing. And of course, the Moody Blues brought a whole new sound to records, to albums.
JH: Mm hmm (he agrees)
KB: With the work in the late 60s and the early 70s, how conscious were you that you were, by bringing in great orchestrations on your albums, that you were changing things for other people?
JH: I don't think we were aware that we were changing things. We were making it work for us, I think. I came from sort of a background of Buddy Holly and folk music and a bit of electric guitar, and the Shads as well. And then Mike in the band though, came from....he was a great piano player and he had some kind of classical, basic sort of classical knowledge. And he bought an instrument called the Mellotron in the mid 60s, and we were the only people really to use it on stage. But it had orchestral sounds in it and I think, with my writing, and his songs and my songs, it made them work for us. And unconsciously, really, it gave us that orchestral sound. And we were blessed by the combination of the people in the group all coming together to make this sound, never thinking that it would change anything really. I think we just wanted to be interviewed by this sort of arty critic from the Observer or something (chuckle), that was our greatest ambition. But blow me, you know, we went on to sell all these albums (chuckle), it was wonderful.
KB: Marked a scene change in the way albums were made, I think.
JH: Ah, I think so...I hope so. And Decca were a big part of that, too, because they recorded us beautifully in beautiful stereo, which was their "thing" at the time. And of course, it stood us in great stead in years to come.
KB: And these years - and of course, there've been one or two since then - but it hasn't stopped you going out on tour. This time, you don't have three months between the dates though, that's the thing...
JH: (chuckle) No, we haven't got to work our way across the U.K. for three months. That was America we worked our way across. No, that's right, we're back on the road through this autumn. We're always on the road, we're on the road maybe six, seven months a year.
KB: And a live CD...
JH: ...and a live CD, yes. It's just....Murray Lerner, the guy, film director, who - I think it was called 'Portrait To Love,' the story of the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 - he'd filmed our whole set, unbeknown to the rest of us, and now that's being released on DVD. It's quite good actually, it's not bad.
KB: Great days for the Moody Blues, eh?
JH: Yeah, not bad. No complaints (laughs)
KB: Oh, we can always think up some (laugh). Justin, great to see you.
JH: Lovely to see you, as always.
KB: Thanks for choosing these tracks for us.