During June, 2005, Jim
conducted a wide ranging interview with his namesake, Jim Smedley.
Part One covers
some of his early musical memories and recalls some musical highlights.
In Part Two, Jim talks about his own music and his approach to
In Part Three he talks
about some of the songs on American Dream.
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and now is the time to do it.
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Lesses Interviewed: Part One
by Jim Smedley
Part One | Part
Two | Part Three
the first album you ever owned?
Would you believe, the soundtrack to Calamity Jane, starring
Doris Day and Howard Keel? How embarrassing! Not only that - but I still have it! This may be the movie that started me on a life-long love affair with musicals, whether of the
Hollywood movie variety or live stage productions.
have any particular favourites?
Two of my all time favourite movie musicals are Little Shop of
Horrors, starring Rick Moranis, and Ellen Greene; and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with Tim
Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick. My two all time favourite stage musicals are Jesus Christ,
Superstar, and Les Miserables.
the way, is the right place to admit that I had a childhood crush on Doris
Day? Sadly, for Doris, when I got older I dumped her for Bridget Bardot!
Poor Doris, they say, she never got over it!
What was the first
single you owned?
An EP (extended play) recording of Scottish Pipe Band music, which I think I also still have!
Scottish pipe band
Probably because when we were children we were always taken to see an annual Christmas Pageant which took place in Adelaide. In fact it still takes place. Pipe bands featured prominently as part of the Pageant, and I still remember the excitement I felt whenever the bands marched past with the pipes and drums roaring away in
all their glory. To this day, I still get excited whenever I see and hear Scottish pipe bands.
The first CD you
I can't remember exactly which, but in 1994 (the year I bought my first CD
player), I bought only four CDs, all by Bruce Springsteen: Greetings From Asbury Park; The Wild, The Innocent, and The E-Street Shuffle; Born to
Run; and Born In The USA.
So you're a big
Springsteen fan then?
Absolutely! Ever since Born To Run, but even more than that, I became a true Springsteen fan after exploring his back catalogue, which in 1975
(his break through year), consisted of Greetings From Asbury Park; and The Wild, The Innocent, and The E-Street
Shuffle. Even now I get huge enjoyment out of those first two albums.
And your first
Don't Look Back, the D.A. Pennebaker documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England was my first video
purchase in 1995.
What about your
Again, I can't remember, but it was one of three Sergio Leone movies:
Once Upon a Time in America; Once Upon a Time in The West; or The Good, the Bad, and the
Didn't he invent Spaghetti Westerns?
That's the man. Mind you, Sergio himself hated the term, 'Spaghetti
Western', because he thought it undervalued what he was trying to do with the genre, which I think was to reinvent it in some way. Sure, his first two 'Dollars' films starring Clint Eastwood, may seem inconsequential today, but when I look at them now, I see a man working out new ways to depict the American West. His absolute western masterpiece, where I think all his ideas come together is,
Once Upon a Time in The West with Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson.
What was the
first live concert you ever saw?
Now you're really asking me to go back a long way! Of course, I can't remember, but one of the first international touring acts I do recall seeing was the great folk trio,
Peter, Paul & Mary, in the early '60s. I also remember seeing Bob Dylan play in Adelaide in 1966, and he may well have been the second major international act I ever saw perform live.
that with The Band?
To be honest, I can't remember - although it was during the period in his career when he was making the transition from a purely 'folk' performer, to a 'folk-rock' performer.
I remember that he did the first half of the concert solo, and that he came back for the second half with a backing band, but I don't remember which musicians formed the backing band.
And yes, his electric folk-rock set was greeted with lots of boo's and catcalls during the performance.
additional information about the 1966 tour...
great acts you've seen live?
During the '60s, I used to see live bands in Adelaide quite frequently. I still have enduring memories of seeing
The Twilights, performing in the late '60s. The Twilights
featured Glen Shorrock on lead vocals. Glenn Shorrock later sang with a couple of other seminal Australian bands,
Axiom, and Little River Band. The group did perfect covers of many Beatles songs, and I remember sometimes thinking their versions were even better than the Beatles!
During the early '70s I lived in London (1971-1976), and saw a huge number of great acts including:
Bob Marley; The Rolling Stones; Supertramp; Osibisa; Joan Baez; the Greek composer,
Mikis Theodorakis; The Who; David Bowie; Mott The Hoople, and many others, too numerous to mention - or remember!
When was your
first public gig & where?
Sorry, can't remember that either, but in the late 1960s I frequented an Adelaide basement folk club called,
The Catacombs. I used to sing there fairly regularly, as did most 'folkies' in Adelaide.
writing & singing your own songs?
I'm sure I did a few, but I was mostly doing covers. Mostly Dylan, Tom
Paxton, Phil Ochs, and songs by my other folk heroes of the day.
artists do you most want to see live?
Bruce Springsteen; Neil Young; Bjork; Pete Seeger; Steve Forbert; Bob Dylan (for about the fourth or fifth time); and… that will do for now…
Steve Forbert is one of the great (almost unknown), singer-songwriter's of the past 30 years. He had a hit back in the late '70s with a song called,
Romeo's Tune, and was hailed as the latest in a long line of "New Dylan's". Since then, he has released album after album of great songs, which sadly have been all but ignored by the traveling circus which is contemporary music and its promoters. I urge anyone with an interest in great songs to check out his extensive back catalogue.
'Great Gig In The Sky' lineup?
Wow. Assuming they were going to be appearing in a Woodstock type of festival
event, that is, as a series of individual performances rather than one big super group, it would have to include
Jimi Hendrix; Woody Guthrie; Bob Marley; John Lennon; George Harrison; Janis Joplin; Roy Orbison; Ray Charles;
and Buddy Holly; and how could you not include Elvis Presley? Assuming he really is dead of course! Oh, and
Keith Moon on drums, and John Entwhistle on bass guitar, backing up just about everyone.
Who are your
current musical heroes?
There are probably too many to mention, but Neil Young is certainly one, and
Bjork is definitely a musical heroine. And of course, Bob Dylan
is a perennial favourite.
For her unique voice; the uncompromising pursuit of her craft; and the way she honours her Muse by not churning out the same predictable music, album after album.
Again, too many to mention, but Bob Dylan would have to be at the top of the list. Others include
Woody Guthrie, Neil Young, and yes, even Bjork.
Never having seen Pete Seeger perform, or Neil Young, and dare I say it, missing
Bruce Springsteen's first London show in 1975.
Bruce Springsteen in 1975?
I'm almost too embarrassed to talk about it even now, 30 years after the event!
As I've already mentioned, I was living in London during the early 1970s, and I still vividly recall the saturation coverage that
Born To Run was getting on London radio. You couldn't turn on the radio and
not hear the song! The hype was everywhere, so when they announced that
Bruce Springsteen was coming to London to perform, and despite the fact that I thought
Born To Run was a great song, I decided that I was not going to be sucked in by the hype and therefore would not go and see him. Later, after I'd bought the
Born To Run album, and especially after I'd also bought his first two albums, I realized what a fool I'd been. And I've regretted my stupidity ever since!
let's talk about your music...
Sure... Fire away!
Read Part Two of this interview here… >
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