1. Mr. Woo said,

    August 23, 2016 at 12:53 am

    These are both great.

    The singer in “Useless” reminds me of Grace Slick.

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Mr. Woo,

      Thank you. Getting a band together and keeping a band together proved impossible for me. I had the songs but didn’t have the chops and couldn’t find loyal band members. But I’m sure it’s all for the better. I see why the most successful bands like the Beatles and Bee Gees were either family members or young friends who grew up together. A good, creative band has to be very, very tight, like a family.

  2. noochinator said,

    August 25, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Here’s a fun article from 2001 about one of your fellow songwriters—written by gonzo journalist George Gurley, one of the greats:

    Clean and Sober, But Still 5’2″, Paul Williams Has New Stature
    By George Gurley • 11/19/01

    I had only just met Paul Williams—the singer, Oscar-winning songwriter and actor who achieved a wild, campy fame in the 1970’s—and already I was lying to him. We were backstage at Feinstein’s at the Regency Hotel, where Mr. Williams is performing until Nov. 24. A waiter came by with champagne, and Mr. Williams—in recovery himself after lost years of drug and alcohol abuse—indicated that I should help myself.

    No, thanks, I said. I was planning an early night, I said, lying, to get ready for my interview with him the following afternoon. But if I had told Mr. Williams the truth—that several hours later, at 5:45 a.m., I’d be in a bar drinking whiskey, smoking pot through a carved-out apple and having a serious conversation about Dire Straits—I’m not sure he would have agreed to see me.

    But lying to a man in recovery doesn’t get you very far, and recovery is a big part of Mr. Williams’ life. Onstage that night, the 61-year-old, 5-foot-2 entertainer—whose songs have been recorded by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley, John Denver, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles and Art Garfunkel—got laughs with references to his under-the-influence past.

    “I’m relatively relaxed,” Mr. Williams told the middle-aged crowd at one point during the show, which included his hits like “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie and “What Would They Say?” from The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.

    “You know, I thought about it. I go, ‘What’s to worry about? TheTimes isn’t going to ruin your career. You did that yourself years ago.’”

    The next day, at 2 p.m., Mr. Williams was in his hotel room at the Regency. He wore a dark sweater, black pants and black tennis shoes. He had a goatee and thick spiky hair.

    “I’m always controversial, and I love to talk about recovery and all that,” he said, before offering me a Diet Coke or coffee. He said he was worried about getting “porky” from room service. “When I got sober, I weighed 187,” he said. “I weigh 137 now. When I’d run out of cocaine, I’d eat everything. I was a serious cocaine addict, and then all the empty calories in vodka.”

    How bad did things get? Bad enough that he wrote the songs for The Muppet Christmas Carol while on drugs. “I used to fall off stages,” he said. “I raced cars. At the Long Beach Grand Prix, I used to have a tube of cocaine on the straightaway while I was racing. Nuts. I made a hundred jumps; I was a sky diver. I loved the adrenaline. We would have a hit in the DC-4 before we’d jump, and 80 seconds of free fall felt like a summer vacation …. ”

    Mr. Williams was born in 1940 in Omaha, Neb., and had a “crappy” childhood. He was given hormone injections, which backfired and stunted his growth. When he was 13, his father, an architectural engineer, was killed in an alcohol-related car wreck. He was shipped off to live with an aunt and uncle in Long Beach, Calif. By ninth grade, he’d attended nine schools. He was always the new kid. “And I was crazy,” he said. “I’d whack somebody big right away in a public place, where they’d stop the fight right away.” After high school, he worked for an insurance company, as a jockey and as a stunt parachutist in a touring company.

    Mr. Williams’ first movie role was as a 10-year-old in The Loved One, with Jonathan Winters and John Gielgud. He was 24. While on the set of The Chase, with Marlon Brando and Robert Redford, he started writing songs, one of which was featured in the film. He auditioned, unsuccessfully, to become one of the Monkees, but soon he was writing hits for the Carpenters (“We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Rainy Days and Mondays”) and Three Dog Night (“An Old-Fashioned Love Song”).

    The 70’s were a magical time. He acted in Battle for the Planet of the Apes and appeared on The Tonight Show in his ape makeup and sang a love ballad. He played Little Enos in the Smokey and the Bandit movies. He wrote the Love Boat theme. He was nominated for six Academy Awards and won one in 1977 for “Evergreen,” which Barbra Streisand sang in A Star Is Born.

    He hit a wall in the 1980s, when the vodka and cocaine got out of hand. He did manage to write some intentionally bad—and brilliantly so—songs for Ishtar, the Warren Beatty–Dustin Hoffman bomb. Lyrics such as: “She said come look, / There’s a wardrobe of love in my eyes / Take your time, look around, / Try to find something your size.” While Ishtar was being filmed in Morocco, Mr. Williams fell over in a nightclub, hit his head and nearly died.

    “I’d wake up in the morning, and I’d find a suicide note written and a gun out,” he said. “And I would have no memory of the night before.”

    Mr. Williams also used to party with Robert Mitchum, against the wishes of his wife, Dorothy.

    “He was about a half-mile away, and I would call and it would be like”—Mr. Williams’ voice deepened— “‘Doughboy, what’s up?’

    “And I’d go, ‘Stephen Stills is here, and he wants to meet you.’

    “He’d go, ‘Stephen Stills, that would be, uh …. ‘

    “And I’d say, ‘From Crosby, Stills and Nash!’

    “He’d go, ‘Anything, uh, going on over there?’

    “I’d go, ‘Yes, indeed.’

    “He’d say, ‘I’ll see if I can cruise by.’ And he’d come.”

    On Sept. 22, 1989, Mr. Williams stopped drinking and drugging and sought help. “When I got sober 11 years ago, I thought I was done,” he said. In the early 90’s, he was nominated for a Grammy and played Andy Warhol’s press agent in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, but his passion was gone.

    “Everybody would come up to me on the street and say, ‘Are you writing? Are you writing?’ And it became a burden. I just went, ‘No, I don’t do that anymore.’”

    His career is doing much better these days. He’s writing the title song for the film of Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, starring Ben Affleck, and earlier this year he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, along with Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson. He’s got a part in the upcoming Rules of Attraction, based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel. He had a three-month role as a villain on The Bold and the Beautiful.

    “Music has happened for me again,” Mr. Williams said.

    He lives right above the Sunset Strip in a big house that once belonged to Peter Lorre, who died in the den. He plays bad golf, reads mysteries and hangs out with Richard Dreyfuss.

    His second wife, Hildy, showed up at the Regency. She’s the daughter of character actor Keenan Wynn, who appeared in Dr. Strangelove. Mr. Williams met her in recovery. They’ve been married 10 years.

    That was about when I confessed that I’d stayed out till dawn the night before.

    “Oh, yes?” Mr. Williams said. “Do you have a problem with it, George?”

    “Let’s end it with that,” I said.

    “Can I help you?”

    “That’s a great ending.”

    We stood up. “So if you decide you have a problem, call me,” he said, handing me his card. “So you think you have a problem, George?”

    “Well, I think I need to slow down, definitely.”

    “I’m here until the 24th—do you want to go to a meeting?”

    “Uh, can I have two more years?”

    “You can have two more years. You probably have the rest of your life.”

    George Gurley

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 25, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Barbara Streisand singing Paul Williams’ Evergreen. Babs is probably the no. 1 artist guys appreciate—or not—through their girlfriends.

  3. noochinator said,

    August 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    And Gilbert O’Sullivan at age 70:

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