Universal Mayer Hawthorne's most recent release, How Do You Do, is hard to…
- Posted on Sep 29th 2011 2:00PM by David Chiu
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"I haven't had time really to do it," Hall tells Spinner about the long hiatus between solo records. "The opportunity presented itself. Over the past 10 years was when I came up with the ideas for these songs. I'd say a decade of changes that caused this album to happen.
"This has been a transition that had been going on for a long, long time. It has its ups and downs, and I think it shows in the lyrics. The ups and downs were certainly a part of the lyrical experience."
'Laughing Down Crying' is an eclectic album that draws from Hall's diverse tastes. "I have called it sort of a box set of my mind," he says, "because it seems like I've encompassed all of these styles that I've been familiar with and developed since I was a kid. I sort of mixed and matched them within the songs and from song to song. If you listen, you can hear my entire styles in one space."
The album's first single, 'Talking to Myself,' came from Hall and his family sitting at a restaurant where everybody was talking simultaneously. "I guess it was me who said, 'Talking to You (Is Like Talking to Myself),' because nobody was listening, and that's how the song started. We started banging on the table, the kids and me, making this song up. That's a real '80s song in my '80s style. I haven't done any songs [like that] since those days, so I'm resurrecting that musical way of thinking."
'Laughing Down Crying' also features three songs recorded with longtime musical collaborator, Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, who died of a heart attack last year shortly after working on the track 'Problem With You.' During the later stages of recording, Hall says it felt like Wolk's spirit was actually in the room. "When I listen to the songs he played on, 'Wrong Side of History' [and] 'Lifetime of Love,' the bass playing on those songs are just sick, it's just amazing. I think ['Problem With You' is] the best thing he ever did on record that I know of that showed what a great guitar player he was. When I hear it, it gives me strange feelings, but they're feelings ultimately of joy. I loved the guy."
Hall has devoted a double episode of 'Live From Daryl's House' to the new album. Beginning as a Web-only series four years ago, the show features Hall performing music in an informal setting. (The series was scheduled to be shown on television for the first time as of Sept. 24.) Past guests on the program include Dave Stewart, Guster and Toots and the Maytals, and Hall is planning to bring 'Live From Daryl's House' on the road, something that he had previously done with guest Todd Rundgren at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
"It's a challenge to bring the spirit of that show on to a stage," says Hall, "because the whole idea of the show is that there is no stage, that' there is no fourth wall, there is no audience. We have managed to pull that off. We really tried to recreate the root of it. I think [we're going to be] doing more and more of this with various acts. I have a lot to choose from and that's going be something that I'm going to continue doing."
As for the prospect of working with John Oates on a new duo record, Hall says that he doesn't think that will happen. "We're pretty much on to our own thing now. We're more interested in being ourselves than half of anything else. We love doing what we do, what we did together, there's no question about it. We are very, very proud of our work that we created. But we're sort of interested in being ourselves now."
In the last couple of years, there's has been renewed appreciation for both Hall and Oates' music with 'Live From Daryl's House,' a boxed set and a Grammy nomination, not to mention a tribute album from The Bird and the Bee. "There's been a generational shift in what young people like about music," explains Hall. "It's a really different world and I seem to fit into it. With all the guests that I had on my show, it's sort of obvious that I fit with all of this. It's just a great thing and it's what every artists hopes that is going to happen -- that you can cross generations, and John and I seem to be doing that."
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