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Merry Christmas (again)! Greg Lake - FINAL INSTALLMENT

This is where writer Bill Murphy posts his interviews with the Crims, and other prog luminaries. It's a book in serial form -- that you become part of!

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Merry Christmas (again)! Greg Lake - FINAL INSTALLMENT

Postby LTinAspic on Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:15 pm

Seasons Greetings!

This installment of my December 27th, 1995, interview with Greg Lake picks up immediately where the previous one left off.

As always, feel free to comment.

Enjoy!


BM: Are you pretty satisfied, then? Given all we’re talking about, when you look back on your whole recording career, are you very proud of that? Are there things you wished you’d done different, or how does it stand? How does your career stand up, in your opinion?

GL: Well, [pause] I don’t even know how to begin to answer it. You know, in some ways I could sit here and say, “Well, I’m quite proud of what I’ve done, because a lot of it gave a lot of people pleasure, and a lot of it maybe was a good influence in music.” You know? And I think from that standpoint, I would feel quite proud. Um, and there are certainly aspects of my career that I think, maybe things I shouldn’t have done, you know.

BM: [laughs]

GL: Times when I should have said no, when I said yes. You know, I deeply regret, for instance, going into the whole ELP orchestral--

BM: Around the Works period?

GL: Yeah. Dreadful. I mean, just wish I hadn’t have done it, you know.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: And I capitulated, basically, to keep the band together and to give everybody, you know, what they required. But really and truly, that was the end of ELP at that time. You know, and it should have stopped. And it would have been better to stop. So there are things I regret doing in my career. But you know, I don’t know how long, I must have been playing over 30 years. And you’re not going to go through 30 years without some regrets, you know?

BM: [laughs] Yeah, true.

GL: And so, on a global level, from the sort of big picture standpoint, I suppose I’m pretty happy. I suppose, you know, I have to say I was one of the lucky ones who, without a great deal of talent had a lot of success, you know. That’s how I feel, really.

BM: Well your voice is certainly unmistakable. I mean, you can turn on the radio today and hear, you know, "I Believe in Father Christmas" or "Lucky Man" or "Take a Pebble." Your stuff is still on the radio. And how does that feel to turn on the radio and hear you? Does that still give you a thrill, or do you turn it on and say, “Oh, there I am again?”

GL: No, I’m always happy to hear something, you know. One always gets--you know, like when your mum gets a picture of you as a baby.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: And you go, “Oh God, put it away, please. Don’t do that.” You know? And there's always that twinge of, you know, feeling exposed, because you can’t say, “Oh, this was recorded over 20 years ago,” you know? But on the other hand, it’s a very nourishing feeling to know that people still enjoy the music, you know. It’s a lovely thing. One of the great things about any art, I suppose, is that if it stands the test of time, it’s so much better than being a current success, really.

BM: Ah, yeah. That is true. Bruce [Pilato, Greg's manager] tells me you’re heading into a solo career right now, trying to get something together with that. Do you think it’ll have any sort of guitar? Like with the Gary Moore collaboration you had, which was very powerful, by the way. Do you think you’re going to lean more toward guitar this time, or is it going to be more keyboard-based?

GL: I like guitar, you know. I’m a guitar person, really. And I like, I also like the modern technologies. And if I had everything I wanted, I’d, you know, I’d make it an acoustic guitar record with high-tech production. Yeah, but guitar-based music, I think.

BM: Yeah.

GL: Not because--only because I think it’s the best music, just because it’s the only music that I know how to express, you see.

BM: Well, I gotta tell you, that Gary Moore lineup was a big departure from anything you’d done before. Gary’s screaming guitars...

GL: I know, it’s a very strange thing. Do you know, it happened really, purely by accident, because I was in the middle of a solo album, and I needed him--I had co-written this track with Bob Dylan, and it was a sort of rock, it was a very simple thing, it was called "I Love You Too Much." It was sort of a 12-bar rocker thing. And I wanted this sort of really blinding guitar solo, and that’s not really my style of playing. So I said to my manager at the time, “Could you get someone who’s just a real, you know, blinding guitar player to come in?” So they looked around and ,anyway, they called me up. I was in Abbey Road recording, he said “I found someone who I think can do this solo for you.” So I said, “Fine, you know, who is it?” “It’s Gary Moore from Thin Lizzy.” I said, “Whoa.” You know, Thin Lizzy didn’t sound quite right. He said, “He’s a great guitar player. Just believe me, you know. Just get him in there, he’ll be great.” So I said, “Ok.” And Gary came in, and I’ll never forget it, he came in in his overcoat, you know, it was in the winter, with his guitar, and we rented a Marshall amp for him. And he walked into the studio, said hello, walked in, put his guitar on, never took his coat off...

BM: [laughs]

GL: ...put the headphones on, and said, “Ok, go.”

BM: [laughs]

GL: And bang, first take, he’d done it.

BM: Wow.

GL: And it was unbelievable. I mean, and you know, if you’ve ever watched Gary play...

BM: Oh, he’s phenomenal.

GL: He’s phenomenal! And then, he finished and I just said to him, “Gary, I’ve never seen anything like it.” And then of course the more I got to know him, I got to realize that Gary really is much more than a rock player or a blues player.

BM: Oh yeah.

GL: I mean, he’s Irish, and he’s got tremendous passion, and an uncanny skill for the guitar. And I suppose above all, he’s got his own sound, you know.

BM: Definitely.

GL: Which you can only get from the heart. It doesn’t come from any equipment or knowledge or anything, it comes from your soul. And he’s got his own sound. And so that’s how we got together. And yeah, that was a great band for a while there. It was a shame really, that at the time I was with Chrysalis Records. And they were a bit lost.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: And I got a bit lost with them, you know? Which was a shame, because the band itself [didn't] really didn’t get underway, you know. It really should have had longer to formulate and to really come together.

BM: What did it feel like for you to play "Schizoid Man" and "Crimson King" with Gary Moore, just screaming, belting it out on stage like that?

GL: It was fantastic. I must say, it was a great band. It was a really great band. And it was fun to play the music. It was really fun to play the music.

BM: Wow.

GL: I couldn’t compare playing those songs with Crimson, it was a different thing, you know.

BM: Yeah.

GL: But certainly, you know, I’m very proud of the things I did with Gary, Tommy R., and--great musicians.

BM: The word “passion” you used to describe Gary Moore seems to describe you also. You have a very emotive, heartfelt way of approaching music. Do you feel you’ve got a lot more songs like that in you? Where are you at right now in your song writing?

GL: I don’t know, but all I could say to you is I don’t know what I’ve got left in me, and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I can certainly tell you that I don’t think I’ve achieved what I could have done or should have done in terms of meaningful songs or songs that really said as much as I wanted them to say. I don’t feel like I’ve written my best song, if I can put it that way. Whether I ever will or not, of course, is another matter.

BM: Wow. So the music’s still in you somewhere, and you’re still looking to get it out.

GL: Well, perhaps the frustration’s in me. [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: You know, I don’t know. You’ll see with a lot of writers that you get a period in your life where you write some good stuff, and then you don’t, you know. I could give you an example, Bob Dylan for instance.

BM: Oh definitely. Good example.

GL: Right? He wrote, I mean, God only knows, phenomenal songs. And then like the tap was turned off, it stopped. You know? Now who knows, you know? Bob may come out and all of a sudden you might hear a wonderful song from Bob Dylan and then another, and another. And he might hit another period of sunshine. You just do not know as an artist. I have this theory that no writer, no song writer really writes anything. It flows through you, really. It comes from somewhere, it goes through you, and it goes out the other side. And unless it comes, it doesn’t go through you and out the other side. So I think every writer in a way is waiting for what I suppose is what they call inspiration. But I don’t know really what that means. It’s just, all I can tell you is that the best songs I’ve ever written, I kind of didn’t write them. They just were there.

BM: That almost sounds like what Robert was saying about his, the entity out there kind of plays through. Bill Bruford kind of alluded to that too, something out there that plays through from time to time.

GL: Yes. It is, there’s a sort of, I don’t know. There’s a universal energy that somehow, at some point you just tap into. But when you do, you know that it communicates with everyone else, because it came from that well, you know?

BM: Yeah.

GL: And it’s a very elusive thing, and at some points in your life, you’re not there. And you can write songs and you can work hard and you keep turning this stuff out, and for some reason, it’s just, it’s not part of the universal power. And other times, and quite often when you’re not thinking, there it is. You know?

BM: [laughs]

GL: And it’s the strangest thing.

BM: [laughs] Well let me ask you one last question. John Wetton said something to me that I’ll never forget. He said the music industry is completely different today, and guys like himself can barely get a record deal even though he had massive hits all along the way.

GL: Yeah.

BM: Do you think a King Crimson appearing now--this, I guess, is a two-part question--if King Crimson appeared today, would the music industry accept it and put it out? And how much has the industry changed and gone far beyond what it used to be?

GL: When you say King Crimson, you mean the original King Crimson?

BM: Yeah, the first Crimson, that experimental, oddball type music that you feel was so special.

GL: I feel that a time is fast approaching where a band like that would be accepted.

BM: Really?

GL: I do, because I think that aside from, I think Black music has developed well over the years. You know, when I listen to Black music in general, the standard has remained very high, very soulful. Production’s very good, writing’s extraordinary. You know, if I listen to Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, all these people, phenomenal music continues to come out from them. And also, a level of innovation keeps continuing. But on a white music front, you know, it’s become extremely bland I think.

BM: [laughs] Oh, no doubt about that.

GL: ...And a feeling for a need for something to come out of white music which has got a bit of fire and a bit of difference, you know? Something for people whose roots aren’t really, don’t really lie in the blues or in Black music. That they want an alternative. You know, when I think back to the bands around the period of ELP that were there producing all kinds of new music. And that isn’t true anymore, you know. I also think one has to take into consideration that these things go in sort of eras, like the golden years of Hollywood when great films were made and real stars were there.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: Maybe music’s like that too, where it’s had a fantastic era, and maybe that era has come to an end. Although music will continue on, maybe its cultural significance won’t be the same as it was. And I think that’s what gave the music of King Crimson, or indeed of the Beatles or the Stones at that time, its added power is that it had a cultural significance. It wasn’t just catchy pop music with sexy image in a video. It really meant something to people. They almost used it as a beacon for their lives. However subtly that may be, they took the spirit of the music and used it as a carpet for their life. And nowadays it’s more like wallpaper. You know what I mean?

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: It’s not something you stand on, it’s just sort of to plaster the wall with for a while.

BM: [laughs]

GL: And maybe that’s what John Wetton was talking about. I mean, you know, John’s a great song writer too. The other thing is I think that both John Wetton and myself grew up in an age where one was a part of a band. You know, and maybe it’s not so easy when you get older to be in bands. They’re a young person’s thing, essentially. You know?

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

GL: So maybe it’s just that we’re old farts...

BM: [laughs]

GL: ...And you know, “Grow old gracefully, you bastard.” You know?

BM: [laughs]

GL: [laughs]

BM: Wow. Well I really appreciate your time today. I really had a good time talking with you, and I appreciate your music too. I’ve really enjoyed it for the last two or three decades, and I’m happy to be talking with you today.

GL: Good. Well thank you very much. It was very nice to talk to you. And if you need to talk again, all you have to do is ring up with Bruce.

BM: All right, I appreciate it, Greg.

GL: Ok.

BM: And take care of your health today, too.

GL: Auf Wiedersehen.

BM: [laughs] Bye bye.

GL: Bye bye.


And so ends my interview with Greg Lake.

Now we're working on Leslie Bradley (the man who helped develop the Mellotron) and either Pete Sinfield or Mike Giles. Lots more to come. Stay tuned.

I'll edit and post Part One of Ian McDonald, too. Very soon. Like, tomorrow.

Cheers,

Bill
--
"You make my life and times
A book of bluesy Saturdays
And I have to choose..."
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by coincidence

Postby picken on Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:59 pm

from VHRHL "The ground floor office, to the left of the front door, was where Greg Lake would visit on a late Friday evening with his guitar, and we would rock out together."

So will they ever get back together ?

Probably not but who knows.....

Bill thanks for posting this great stuff!
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Thank you Bill!

Postby crimcinnaman on Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:25 pm

Great stuff once again!

Thanks for sharing it here at ProjeKction, we are very fortunate to have you grace this site with these interviews.

Very enjoyable.
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My President is a Moron"
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Re: Thank you Bill!

Postby Gilesfan on Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:13 am

crimcinnaman wrote:Great stuff once again!

Thanks for sharing it here at ProjeKction, we are very fortunate to have you grace this site with these interviews.

Very enjoyable.


Indeed!
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Re: Thank you Bill!

Postby LTinAspic on Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:22 am

Gilesfan wrote:
crimcinnaman wrote:Great stuff once again!

Thanks for sharing it here at ProjeKction, we are very fortunate to have you grace this site with these interviews.

Very enjoyable.


Indeed!


You're welcome! All of you. Thanks for the comments. They fuel our efforts to post things. :)

We have a LOT more planned.

Stick around.

Bill
--
"You make my life and times
A book of bluesy Saturdays
And I have to choose..."
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Postby aspic tongue on Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:36 am

Excellent interview as always!
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Postby MarkSullivan on Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:10 am

Great stuff, as always. Couldn't come along at a better time. Meaningful content's gotten a bit thin around here lately...
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Postby vrooom on Wed Dec 20, 2006 2:18 am

MarkSullivan wrote:Meaningful content's gotten a bit thin around here lately...


You put in, you take out... No input, no output...


Darren
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Postby Indyrod on Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:05 am

Mark, did you miss my entry about ordering the Nancy Sinatra hits? Don't worry, I'll write a cool review. Lot of content there, and far from being thin.

These boots are made for walkin'...

love the song in "Kill Bill" too.
Everyone thinks I'm psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.

de gustibus non est disputandum
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Postby jtmack on Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:47 am

:?
Last edited by jtmack on Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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