GETTING PERSONAL

I’m not one to ask questions that I personally want to know the answers to during interviews. When I’m talking to musicians, I’m trying to find out the secrets behind the songs for “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits,” and when I’m interviewing movie stars, I’m focusing on getting interesting stories that my employers will be able to play on the air for years to come.

But every so often, there will be something I’ve always wanted to know about a star’s work, so I end up asking a question to fulfill my own personal curiosity. For instance, I’ve always wondered about the lyrics to the matchbox twenty song, “If You’re Gone.” The song goes, “If you’re gone, maybe it’s time to come home.” I always thought the lyrics would have made more sense if it said, “Now that you’re gone, maybe it’s time to come home.” That “If” always bothered me, and when I got a chance to talk to Rob Thomas about his hits “Bent” and “Smooth,” I asked him about it. He explained that the person the narrator is singing about hasn’t left yet, but that the singer is so worried and scared that his girl will leave him, he’s thinking about what life would be like if she was gone.

My questions have been as foolish as asking Peter Cetera if it strained his voice at all to sing so high (no, that’s his natural tone) to asking the late Dan Fogelberg why he didn’t sing “Same Old Lang Syne” the night I saw him perform in Philadelphia just a few weeks before New Year’s (it turned out Dan sang the song every night no matter the season, but it was a hard song to sing and he would skip it if his voice wasn’t up to the task). I’ve also asked famous antique collector Meat Loaf if he ever visited the antique mall in Pennsylvania my mother has a stand at (he hadn’t) and Bret Michaels of Harrisburg, PA’s Poison about his band’s early rivalry with a band from my hometown of Lancaster, PA, the Sharks. Bret admitted that after the Sharks won an MTV contest for undiscovered talent, he and his fellow members of Poison decided to move to L. A. because they knew the Sharks would always overshadow them in Pennsylvania. A good decision as it turned out!

I once even gave a star advice, not that they needed it. One of my friends was a fan of country singer Clint Black. When he started out, Clint was always photographed wearing a cowboy hat, but recently was mostly seen without one. My friend wanted to make sure I told him he looked better in a hat and I did. Clint laughed and told me that his wife often was blamed for him dropping the hat, but it wasn’t her fault. He said his record company did a contest where if you found one of Clint’s hats which were hidden at the local mall when he came to town for a concert, you got free tickets to the show and a chance to meet Clint. He explained that’s what started the rumor that he would be going hatless, but that he was already back to wearing hats.

Sometimes I’ve said things I’ve just always wanted to say to stars. I once did a phone interview with Billy Joel to talk about his number one hit, “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (and I’m still amazed that he didn’t do any research before writing that song. As a student of history, he knew all those facts off the top of his head!) At the end of the interview, I just had to tell him about the night I saw him perform in Allentown in 1974. He went over so well that he ran out of songs to play by the final encore and ended up playing the instrumental “Root Beer Rag” a second time!

After that, Billy asked me a question. He wondered if I was related to his favorite author, Jonathan Carroll. I’m not, but because of Billy’s recommendation, I read one of Jonathan’s books and it was pretty good!

There was also the time I participated in a roundtable interview with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I had recently discovered “Buffy” on DVD and had pretty much watched every episode in just a few months. So I couldn’t help but make a personal observation. I said, “I’ve recently become a big fan of your work on “Buffy.” The show proved to me that you can play anything. Do you think there are any acting challenges left for you?” Sarah replied, “Well, thanks. You’re my new best friend!” She went on to say that her goal is just to do different roles.

So if there’s something you’ve always wondered about a star, put it in the comments section and I’ll ask them about it the first chance I get! At least it will stop me from asking a personal question for myself…

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One Response to “GETTING PERSONAL”

  1. Flash Says:

    This may be strange, but I was wondering if Clint Eastwood smoked his cigars differently for each character. He always was chewing on something, sometimes it is on the right side of his mouth, sometimes the left… Does it change in each movie or from character to character?

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