Fans fragen, Al antwortet - Teil 3

Our questions, Al answers
February 27th 2011

Al graciously answered all of our recently accumulated questions before the
show at the City Winery in New York.

You'll notice that many of the answers are short, sometimes just one word. I
had the sense that Al was feeling rather pressed for time with the long list
of questions I gave him. After the last question he elaborated a bit on some
the previous questions.

Q. Does the song Bad Reputation refer to anyone in particular?
A. No.

Q. On your albums, who writes the music for parts that are played or sung by
musicians other than yourself?
A. It varies. Sometimes I do it, other times the musicians create their own
parts, and sometimes it is the producer. Examples: I wrote the parts for
the backing female vocalists on Mona Lisa Talking. When there is a lead
guitarist, that person often writes his/her own part. When Laurence Juber
is producing the album, he often writes the parts for backing musicians.

Q. When you refer to hoop skirts in A Child's View of the Eisenhower
Years, are you referring to skirts that were often made from a circular
piece of fabric and had a poodle appliqué on them?
A. Well, I didn’t know about a poodle or any other designs, or how the
fabric was cut, but yes, I’m referring to skirts that flare way out in a
circular shape. (Al demonstrated by reaching both arms out to the side with
his hands at about hip level.)

Q. In the song Ear of the Night, is there a significance to the phrase
military hair, other than that it rhymes with solitary air? Bob in PA
notes that some military women have long hair which they put up for duty
and let down for more, uh, relaxed times. He finds this type of hairstyle
very sexy and wonders if “military hair†might refer to it
A. That phrase was primarily included because it rhymed with solitary
air. Secondarily, it refers to the short haircuts that many military women
wear. The narrator of this song, as I imagined him, found short hair sexy.
This says nothing about whether I myself find short hair sexy, or not.

Q. Regarding the song Year of the Cat, can you tell us anything about the
musical collaboration between the late Peter Wood and yourself on this song?
A. Yes, Peter wrote the riff for most of the song, as well as the chords.
I wrote the riff for the middle section of the song. [Al then told me which
lines he was referring to. I think it was the lines starting with: She
looks at you so cooly, and her eyes shine like the moon and the sea...but
I'm not absolutely sure since Al was talking faster than I could write.]

Q. Regarding the song Year of the Cat, are the lyrics based upon a
true-life story?
A. No

Q. Is there any connection between the Year of the Cat girl and the In
Brooklyn girl who came to study astrology?
A. No.

Q. I (Bob) have a hazy recollection that some sportscaster once used the
Lord Grenville seven-note riff (the one that appears prominently at the end
of the song) as bumper music. Do you recall anything about this?
A. No, I don’t remember anything about this.

Q. Was Night Train to Munich based to some degree on a movie by the same
A. No.

Q. Was Night Train to Munich inspired by the movies The Third Man or
39 Steps, or both?
A. No.

Q. Have you read anything historical by Antony Beevor?
A. I'm not sure. I know the name. Probably, but I couldn’t give an exact

Q, As a songwriter, which of your own songs do you consider to be your
A. My answer to this would vary from day to day. One day it might be Old
Admirals. Another day it might be The Dark and the Rolling Sea. A third
day it might be Somewhere in England 1915. And there are some others.

Q. Regarding Modern Times, is there any sense in which the old friend
in this song is your earlier self?
A. No.

Q. Regarding Modern Times, is there any sense in which you are voicing
your own thoughts about your earlier albums or lyrics?
A. No.

Q. Regarding Modern Times, is there any sense in which you are trying to
reconcile your earlier songs with your songwriting during the Modern Times
A. No

Q. Regarding Beleeka Doodle Day, the opening lines of this song are:

I could have gone to Cambridge with Lionel, I think I tried to raise a
pound Just to see the University and see the sights she hung around.

Is this actually the first Al song to mention Mandi? Is Mandi the she that
hung around?

A. No, these lines actually refer to Jenny, the same woman as in Samuel
Oh How You’ve Changed. Jenny and Lionel were at Cambridge together. This
song was written after Jenny committed suicide at the age of 23. I was
thinking about visiting
Cambridge with Lionel as a way of visiting Jenny’s spirit. By the way,
Jenny looked something like Marianne Faithfull, only she had ginger colored

Q. Is there a chance you might work again with Alan Parsons? Would you
consider asking Alan to produce one of your future albums?
A. I talk with Alan with somewhat regularly. My sense is that he is
semi-retired, though I could be wrong about that. I also have the feeling
that producing may be in the past for him, though again I could be wrong. I
suppose anything is possible.

Q. You have done several concerts/initiatives for charity. Recently there
came into my hands a record by Jonathan Elias "Requiem for the
Americas-Songs from the Lost World" performed by various artists for charity
in 1990. Among all the people involved, in the column of performers is
mentioned Al Stewart. Is this you? And if so what was your role?
A. Yes, that Al Stewart is me. I was invited to sing on this recording,
but somehow it never happened. I guess they forgot to take my name off the
list of performers.

Q. Were you ever contacted to be involved in charity projects after Live
Aid? I mean the British Band Aid (Do They Know it’s Christmas?) or the
American USA for Africa (We Are the World.)
A. No, I was never asked. If I had been asked, I would have done it.

Q. Do you know when you are next coming to the UK, or elsewhere in Europe?
A. No, I don't know, sorry. There’s no date set at the moment.

Q. What happened to the proposed UK tour with all the other ‘60s folkies?
A. I’m not sure exactly, I think the promoters may have been unable to
find a time when everyone was available. The scheduling didn’t work out, in
other words.

Q. How do you now look back on your days at Les Cousins and Bunjie's? Was
it a golden period in your artistic life?
A. Well, sure, it was a lot of fun. Everyone there was just starting out
in their careers, it was kind of like being in class together. [Al mentioned
several names of those who performed at these venues, but he said them
too fast for me to get them down.]

Q. Have you got any plans to write a book (your memoirs or anything else)?
A. Maybe. There will come a time when I will no longer be able to tour as
extensively as I do now, and that might be a good
time to do some writing.

Later, after the show, when Al was signing my poster, he commented that he
thought this show at the
City Winery had gone very well, and added: At least as well as could have
been expected under the circumstances.
I then asked:
Q. What do you mean by Under the Circumstances?
A. Well, doing seven shows in nine days.

I had thought about these seven shows in nine days as I looked at the
schedule for this tour in the days before the City Winery show. Watching Al
and Dave on stage, it looks as though they expend a lot of energy. It's
amazing to me that they can maintain a schedule like that.