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That’s all you need to know.

October 28, 2011

I have a hard time when people dismiss Hall & Oates. Yes, even people that I love. You can’t deny the fact Daryl & John crafted some of the finest pop songs of all time, and if cheesy videos and synthesizer-crazy ’80s production do their damndest to work against past glories, well … similar criticisms have been lobbed toward the Smiths and the Style Council and I’m still not having it.

Sure, I still find the video for “Jingle Bell Rock” so horribly ridiculous that it’s actually the best bet to get me a little angry during the holiday season, but if you don’t find yourself finding something to enjoy in the likes of “You Make My Dreams,” “Out of Touch,” “Rich Girl” or “Private Eyes,” well, brother, I don’t know what else I can say to you.

Many of those songs were in my head before I even became a music obsessive. Sitting in the carseat in the back of a blue Chevrolet station wagon (with vinyl seats that hurt like hell when you got in the car on sunny days) as my mother drove around Denver, Hall & Oates songs flooded out of the radio. I couldn’t appreciate lyrics, hooks or changes at that point — I just new that what I heard sounded nice. So whenever I hear those songs again, it’s sense-driven memory and I love it. It’s part of the reason I implored the guys in my freshman-year dorm at Marquette to see them in Milwaukee when they came through town in the fall of 2001. None of them ended up going with me, but I still went. At one point I turned around to look at the audience and realized that I was the youngest person there by a country mile. Me and 2,000 carbon copies of my mother. But it was a great show.

And I have to give Daryl credit for still burning creatively and giving people reason to pay attention to him. I’m not going to suppose that his latest album Laughing Down Crying will have the same commercial impact as a Big Bam Boom or H2O, but if you’re not tuning into “Live From Daryl’s House” to get a taste of some cool new bands, you still get to see him jam with some absolute legends.

After talking to me for an article I wrote for my day job, Daryl was nice enough to take an extra 2 minutes and indulge me for this blog’s series, “Give Me Five.”

Give Me Five.
Five Burning Questions with Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates

What’s your favorite Beatles song and why?
Favorite Beatles song—I don’t know. I think “I Am the Walrus” maybe? I just think that it’s the most unique song they ever put on a record.

Who are three songwriters—living or dead—that you wish you could sit down and write a song with?
Uh, Marvin Gaye. I’ll just pick dead people. Let’s see. David Ruffin. Yeah, that’d work. I had my chance, but maybe that one hits a little too close to home. Maybe I won’t just pick dead people. I don’t know, it’s hard because I’ve written songs with so many people. I’ve sort of written songs with everybody I ever wanted to. I don’t know, maybe Smokey [Robinson]. It’d be interesting to write with Smokey. Interesting to write with [Bob] Dylan, although I did that too.

If you had to pick one song that you’ve written that you really think sums you up as a songwriter, what would that be?
I don’t know if I could pick one. But I don’t know, I’d go back in the day with sort of the early ones, like “Sara Smile” or “One on One.” I think those songs are beautiful.

What’s one song that you wish you could’ve written?
“What’s Going On.”

Is there anything you’re listening to these days that you’re particularly digging?
Well I’m digging all the bands that are on “Live at Daryl’s House.” There’s so much music right now, I can’t even pick one. I’m very, very into new bands. I think there’s so many people out there right now that are doing interesting things in spite of the way that—actually I think it’s encouraged by the way that the music business has gone. I think it spurs creativity and I think if you want to see who I like, just watch my show. I definitely like the way the music industry is now, because it’s back down to the artist. It’s not being run by the behemoth of the record companies.

Hall & Oates – One on One (From H2O, 1982)

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (From What’s Going On, 1971)

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