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Archives: Joni Mitchell – Never Boring…

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“Every journalist has their dream list of interview subjects. Mine was Marvin Gaye, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. I never got to Marvin Gaye, but Joni Mitchell more than made up for it. My last cover story for the magazine, and still my favorite. Years later, though, I was still chasing that elusive interview with Marvin Gaye. A mutual friend spoke to Gaye about it, and Gaye enigmatically sent me back a copy of What’s Going On signed in spangly colored pen. It read: ‘Dear Cameron – Keep Getting It On! Love Love Love, Marvin Gaye.’ A couple months later he was dead. Through earthquakes and rain damage, the record remains one of my most prized possessions.”
– Cameron Crowe – Summer 2000

Several days before beginning these interviews, I overheard two teenagers looking for a good party album in a record store. “How about this one,” said one, holding up Joni Mitchell’s ‘Miles of Aisles.’” “Naaaaaah,” said the other, “it’s got good songs on it, but it’s kind of like jazz.” They bought a Cheap Trick album.

When I told this story to Joni Mitchell later, I could see the disappointment flicker across her face for an instant. Then she laughed and took a long drag from her cigarette. “Here’s the thing, ” she said forcefully. “You have two options. You can stay the same and protect the formula that gave you your initial success. They’re going to crucify you for staying the same. If you change, they’re going to crucify you for changing. But staying the same is boring. And change is interesting. So of the two options,” she concluded cheerfully, “I’d rather he crucified for changing. ”

Joni Mitchell, thirty-six, has been living in exile from a mainstream audience for the last three years. Her last resoundingly successful album of new material was ‘Court and Spark,’ a landmark in poetic songwriting, performing and in the growth of an artist we had all watched mature. From folk ballads through Woodstock-era anthems to jazz-inflected experimentalism, Joni Mitchell had influenced a generation of musicians.

Then, in 1975, she released ‘The Hissing of Summer Lawns,’ her ambitious follow-up to ‘Court and Spark.’ She introduced jazz overtones, veered away from confessional songwriting and received a nearly unanimous critical drubbing. Mitchell reacted to the criticism by keeping an even lower personal profile. She spent most of her time traveling (the road album, ‘Hejira,’ was released in 1976), associating with progressive jazz artists and asking questions. With ‘Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, ‘ a double album released in the winter of 1977, she and pop music had nearly parted ways. In a time when the record-buying public was rewarding craftsmen, Mitchell seemed to be steadfastly carrying the torch for art. Her sales suffered, but this direction was leading to a historic juncture in her career.

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Oct 12, 2014

Archives: Pearl Jam – Five Against the World

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Happy Saturday. Thought it might be fun to look back on Cameron’s Pearl Jam 1993 cover story for Rolling Stone. It was the band’s first real in-depth interview just as Vs. was making its debut. There’s an even longer version that we might share one day, but for now, check out the published version.

Five Against the World

Pearl Jam emerge from the strange daze of superstardom with a new album full of rage and warrior soul.

There are two Eddie Vedders. One is quiet, shy, barely audible when he speaks. Loving and loved in return. The other is tortured, a bitter realist, a man capable of pointing out injustice and waging that war on the home front, inside himself. On a warm and windy late-spring day in San Rafael, California, it’s easy to see which Eddie Vedder is shooting baskets outside the Site, the recording studio where Pearl Jam are finishing their second album. It is tortured Eddie, the one with the deep crease between his eyebrows.

“Your shot,” calls Jeff Ament, the group’s bassist. He bounces the ball to Vedder, who takes a long outside jumper. It rattles into the basket and rolls away. By the time Ament retrieves the ball, Vedder has already disappeared into the studio. His mind is on a new song, “Rearviewmirror.” This is the last day of recording at the Site, and the track’s fate hangs in the balance. It’s a song about suicide… but it’s too “catchy.”

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Jul 19, 2014

Archives: James Taylor – Circular Magazine

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walkingman Happy Monday. I’m super excited to share a new addition to the site today, Cameron’s 1973 story about James Taylor from Circular magazine. Circular was Warner Bros. promotional magazine and this story profiles James and his latest album, Walking Man. Most of the quotes are from James’ longtime manager, Peter Asher. We hope you like it.

J. Taylor Ends the Wait

It was mid-1970 when America first stumbled onto a gently brilliant, yet fairly obscure album called Sweet Baby James. Seeing it as an oasis in the midst of psychedelia’s dying embers, the public catapulted a somewhat dazed and retiring Carolinian guitarist-composer named James Taylor to superstardom. Gold records, the cover of Time Magazine, adoring throngs . . . it all came in quick succession, and Taylor retreated to write deeply probing and introspective songs that filled infrequent, but well-crafted albums like Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon and One Man Dog.

Not until the recent Walking Man, however, has James appeared content and positive in his work. The mood of the new album is bright and confident, the songs strong and true. In short, James Taylor has presented a solid case against the John Lennon school of thought that “genius is pain.”

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Jun 23, 2014

Archives: Brothers and Sisters

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We dip into the archives again with this (brand new to the site) feature on the Allman Brothers Band release of (the now classic) Brothers and Sisters. Cameron talks with Capricorn Records’ Mike Hyland, guitarist Dicky Betts and co-producer Johnny Sandlin for the August 6, 1973 issue of Circular Magazine.

Brothers and Sisters Album Ambles On In

Mike Hyland, Capricorn Records national publicity head, is glad that Brothers and Sisters is finished. Now that it’s on the stands a full year after its initial release date (under the fallacious title of Lightnin’ Rod), Mike will no longer have to spend his Macon days explaining to everyone from The Peoria Street Press to The New York Times why the new Allman Brothers Band album has been delayed another few weeks.

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Jun 7, 2014

Archives: Black Sabbath – San Diego Door

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Black Sabbath – Circa 1972

Cameron interviews Black Sabbath’s one and only Ozzy Osbourne for this 1972 interview for the San Diego Door. Ozzy is at his talkative and entertaining best here, so do check it out.

Black Sabbath Interview

You mentioned a few minutes ago about how tedious is to be on the road for as long as Black Sabbath has. 

Yeah. And as soon as you go home, you’ve got to start thinking about the next tour, so you’re not getting any rest. It’s not that the physical work is so tiring, it’s the mental work. You’ve got new albums to think about. You got to worry about whether you’re overexposing yourself, whether you’re not doing enough. You’ve got all this bullshit to think about.

Y’know before we went on this tour, I had an infected throat. I had a very bad throat that I noticed three days before we came (to America for the tour), which wasn’t any fault of ours or our management because we were going through this big change-around in the business-side. We didn’t know whether to go on the tour or not. So we just came over anyway… I couldn’t work the first week. My throat gave out completely. This is… what… our seventh tour of America. Major tours, too. We all feel very, very tired. We’ve done seven tours in just over a year, now. We’ve worked so much in this country it’s driving me loopy.

Are you happy with the new album?

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May 18, 2014

Deep Purple – Circular Magazine

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Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and bass player Glenn Hughes- Houston Astrodome in August 1974. Courtesy of CNN

Here’s new addition to the Journalism archives. It’s Cameron’s interview with the always quotable, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple. This Q & A was done for Circular Magazine’s November, 1974 issue. Cameron also spoke with Ritchie on related (and different) topics during the same time period for the following publications:

A Cynic’s View of Deep Purple

The additions of singer David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes, Burn, the well-publicized American tour on Starship One, the California Jam . . . It seems like the last Deep Purple barn-storming ended just a couple weeks ago. Yet those prolific rogues are assaulting Fall with another burst of activity. A strong new LP, characteristically titled Stormbringer, has just been released. An international tour is already underway. Suffice to say Purple is back for more pillage with scarcely a moment’s rest. 

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Mar 1, 2014

Stephen Stills: Captain Manyhands

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Courtesy of Henry Diltz.

Courtesy of Henry Diltz.

Happy New Year everyone Today marks singer/songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Stephen Stills’ 69th birthday. Cameron has interviewed and profiled Stephen quite a few times over the years with Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy and Creem magazines. Both as a solo artist and as part of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young). Check them out below:

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Jan 3, 2014

Archives: Boston Takes Over…

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

We’ve got a brand new Journalism addition to the site today as Cameron profiles the rock group Boston in this lengthy interview for Rolling Stone.  Boston was on top of the world and dominating the charts and sales, but feeling the sting of being a critical after thought. Topics include the bands history and the pressure on founder/leader/perfectionist Tom Scholtz to deliver their sophomore album…

Boston: The Band From the Platinum Basement

THE PHONE RANG AT SIX IN THE morning, early in 1975.

Twenty-eight-year-old recordman Paul Ahern grumbled into the receiver: “Who the fuck is this? This better be good!’ “It’s McKenzie. You gotta hear this, PA….”

As employees in Warner-Elektra-Atlantic’s regional office several years earlier, Charlie McKenzie and Paul Ahern were the young lions of Boston-area promotion. McKenzie had the ear, Ahern the rap. They became buddies with all the jocks and, one golden month in 1972, broke Yes and the J. Geils Band and placed thirteen company singles and album cuts on the Top Thirty playlist of Bostons WRKO. They had dreamed of finding the band that would take them off the street and make them “the idle rich,” but their era passed. Ahern moved to L.A. for a better job with Asylum Records. McKenzie left WEA but continued to work for other record companies in Boston. And he hung on to the dream…. You gotta hear this,” he was saying that early morning” in ’75. “Local guy, Tom Scholz … the group has no name. The whole tape is like this!”

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Nov 25, 2013


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