2006 interview with
Mark Tucker, Perfect Sound Forever: http://www.furious.com/perfect/jpjonesinterview.html
2002 Radio Interview with Dan
Love the 'Tiger Woods' [track 13, Salvation Street] production! A paean to arguably the
most accomplished golfer of this generation. Do you have a golf game?
Do I have game.... is that the question? Well,....I do have a set of
clubs, but don't play much these days. I spent a couple of summers at Franconia Golf
Course in Springfield, MA, when I was a kid, caddying and playing some. When I was
15, the last year I played regularly, I was just starting to break 80, but haven't seen
much of that since. Tiger Woods, as it appears on the CD, was thrown together
almost as an afterthought. The production gave me fits, as it wasn't really a live
performance with the guys, but pieced together as I made up the song-- I prefer doing
everything live, especially when the musicians don't know the song yet. Woods is without
question the best golfer in the contemporary competitive world, for whatever value you
place on that. Golf is the most mystical of games-- I think Alan Watts might have said
that. Anyone who feels that to be true should read Michael Murphy's Golf in the
Kingdom-- a wonderful little book
With over 300 recordings to date....it would seem your very purpose is to write...as
you put it 'life and death'. Did you know coming into this life you'd be a songwriter?
I don't really have any idea how many
"recordings" I've made-- well over 300, but I
think you're referring to a line somewhere about how many songs I've made up. As far as
knowing what I'd be coming into this life.... my memory doesn't really go back much before
I was born.... truth is, I don't see myself as a songwriter, except in a loose sense. I
don't have any idea what I really am. I don't have any idea what we are, us human beings.
All I know is that the one supreme drive in all of it is the need to create. So one of the
things I do is make music. God, am I thankful I can do that.
People reading your lyrics, especially those with NYC connections as I will feel a
sense of poignancy from your words. Example from 'Salvation Street' title track:
"today I carry a prayer for
everyone we meet
saints and sinners all around us
under our feet
Nefertiti smiling and my
vision is complete"
Tell us more about that Egyptian/middle east/NYC connection if you can.
All the songs on Salvation Street were written before 9/11. The CD was mastered on the 4th
and 6th of September. On the 14th I began a series of shows at
The Big Kahuna in
Bridgton, ME. It was impossible to play some of my material then. My guess-- and it's only
a guess-- is that some part of me tunes into issues in our world that are beyond my own
knowing and that this comes out in my writing. On the afternoon of Sept. 11 a friend in NY
emailed me a line, one line, a line from a song called Atlantis Revisited--"and
the winds came up and blew it all away." I was horrified to realize that when I
wrote that song back in the 80's, I was seeing the WTC in the back of my mind somewhere. I
wept hard on and off for the next few weeks. I didn't have anything like that in mind when
I came up with Salvation Street. Only the sense that there is a place in all of us where
we transcend our regional/religious factionalism and are redeemed in our celebration of
life. Reconciling those differences that sometimes seem so huge, so important, so
intractable, offers a vision that completes an otherwise impoverished view of what it
means to be human. Nefertiti is the name of the wife of an ancient Egyptian King. It means
"The beautiful one has come."
You mention on your site you've shared billing with BB King, "Boss"
Springsteen and other luminaries. Did you get to trade licks with them on stage? Any of
them captured in audio?
No, only opened the show. The BB King reference is inaccurate. He was playing the
blues room at Pall's Mall (in Boston), while I was next door in the larger room, opening
Little Feat. I remember Lowell George cursing Warner Bros. for not offering more tour
support. I was blown away by Little Feat at the time-- I had never seen anything like it.
seemed as if they were hardly moving, hardly playing their instruments at all, and people
were dancing on the tables, literally. I was absolutely blown away by Richie Hayward on
drums. I met Bruce Springsteen the first time while we were both recording our first (and
for me, the last) album for CBS. I came to a session at 914 Studios in Nyak, NY, and he
was running over time and asked me if I'd mind if he finished. I didn't know him at all
then, but was happy to oblige. Later we met again briefly in Providence, RI, where I
was opening the show. His manager only booked gigs where he was the headliner. All I
remember then was this little guy with a secret smile and an obvious sense of
confidence. I was green, a kid, with a long way to go in discovering who I was in
the panoply of the music biz.
John Hammond Sr. had quite a rep for his dominant personality, perhaps even conflicts
of interests in his music dealings. What sticks out in your mind of 'being discovered' by
My "being discovered by John Hammond" sticks out as one of the sorrier moments
contacts with the official music industry establishment. Whatever Hammond's
might have been, he was a giant to me.
Here was a man who put Louis Armstrong in the
studio with white cats, got Bessie Smith recorded, "discovered" Dylan and
Springsteen, etc., etc. When he came to my house to hear me play, he made comments
like, "Never close your eyes while you're singing," and so on. I had no idea
what to make of it. He asked me to play my most "ambitious" piece. I quickly
thought of a 12 minute song called Crossroads Where I Stand, then played By a
Thread instead. If he wanted ambitious, then I figured the shortest song I had written
that put it all in two and a half minutes was the way to go. Later he wrote saying that I
deserved to be in the studio and he was going to schedule some sessions as well as get me
booked into Mike Porco's Folk City on 3rd Street in the Village. I met Mike Porco and he
was agreeable. I was pumped. Time passed and nothing seemed to be happening according to
plan, so I responded with an angry letter of disappointment to John Hammond(!). Had he
forgotten? Was he serious? Hammond was insulted and washed his hands of the whole matter.
I thought I was being strong, forthright. Like I said, green.
That was in 1975, I think. Today I'm impressed that I even got a chance to meet the man.
And grateful that he saw something of value in what I was doing.