Music was the means to an end, but the music turned out to be the end . . . Music isn’t something to fall back on; music is a part of my life.
David has described singer/songwriter/actor/activist Charles Aznavour as his sort of surrogate mentor: He’s been an enormous impact in my life. During a real critical point in my life, early on at about 19 or 20, and when I experienced my first divorce, he was kind of a guy who I discovered and suddenly became a salve for the wounds. His music, in a way, recognized what I was experiencing but couldn’t understand and sort of acknowledged my feelings. I think in a very strange kind of way I just became attracted to this man’s music, and eventually met him in 1980 and have since become very close friends. I think every one of us looks for a hero somewhere in our psyche or soul or whatever, and he has become sort of my surrogate father friend. He is the grandfather, the master, and I am the protégé . . . I don’t do his music the way he does it – I do it my own style – but it’s the spirit of his music that really attracts me so much, and I think he’s happy that someone understands. At this point in my life, I’ve been where I wasn’t before, and I think the music takes on a whole new level of meaning and understanding than it did before.
When asked what makes him cry: Music usually does it to me, music and the right context, which can be anywhere, at any time. That’s what’s so wonderful about music, the unexpectedness of tears. I cried taps at the JFK funeral. I wept with Elton John when he sang at Diana’s funeral. I cried when my daughter sang a solo at the Christmas pageant. I wept at the film, Death in Venice, when Mahler’s 5th Symphony accompanied Dirk Bogarde’s bittersweet longing for the love of a young boy. There have even been moments, though not in recent days, when I’ve wept with pride to hear my country’s national anthem. Music and feeling and tears are inseparable. Oh, and I also cry when I hear the crap they play on the radio these days … but for different reasons.
I enjoy music with staying power. I’m not really drawn to anything just because it’s happening now.
I went through times with the music where I would say music stymied me more than anything, because once you get into the business of music, it’s quite different from the actual singing part of it.
I think there is a perception of country music that is probably stereotypical. Country music is a fusion of many kinds of music. Country music can be very sophisticated. It’s not just with the fringe and the hat.
The Sound of Silence … it was really the beginning of the whole folk rock movement as far as I remember, you know, and it certainly is one of my very favorites of Simon and Garfunkel. I met Elton John in like 1977. He was there at the Greek Theater, and of course Starsky and Hutch was a big show at that time. And there were very few people that I was really like, WHOA, and he was one of them. When I first heard that first album that he did, it just blew me away. It was a little bit like when I first heard James Taylor. Everybody was so fresh in those days, and the music and the lyrics were so accessible and clean, and I loved it. Anyway, I met him backstage. … the first song that really blew me away of Elton John’s, “This Is Your Song.”
I gotta say as an old warrior — I can’t believe I’m saying that about myself, an old warrior of the seventies — it really warms my heart to see a contemporary artist like Amy Winehouse, who’s wonderful, picking up on the magic that is Carole King (singing “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”). She wrote so many brilliant songs, and whether it was yesterday or today, the sentiments are still the same. A great song is always a great song. That’s why they call them standards.
There are some songs that I attach to certain times and places. … I love skiing. I’ve skied since I was six years old. I was in the Austrian Alps skiing on a glacier … it was like 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the sun was setting over the mountains, the parking lot was just about empty, the PA system was still on in the parking lot, and they played contemporary music. I got my beer and came out and stood on the porch of this chalet, looking out over the mountains, and on came Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares To You,” and it echoed off the mountain peaks around, and it was like I was taken to another place. I was there, but it was unbelievably beautiful, and so that’s a song that’s always stuck with me.