Q: How do you work?
A:Most of the time I work at night. I don’t really like to think of it as work. I don’t know how important it is. It’s not important to the average cat who works eight hours a day. What does he care? The world can get along very well without it. I’m hip to that.
Q: Sure, but the world can get along without any number of things.
A:I’ll give you a comparison. Rudy Vallee. Now that was a lie, that was a downright lie. Rudy Vallee being popular. What kind of people could have dug him? You know, your grandmothers and mothers. But what kind of people were they? He was so sexless. If you want to find out about those times and you listen to his music you’re not going to find out anything about the times. His music was a pipedream. All escapes. There are no more escapes. If you want to find out anything that’s happening now, you have to listen to the music. I don’t mean the words, although “Eve of Destruction” will tell you something about it. The words are not really gonna tell it, not really. You gotta listen to the Stapes(Staple?) Singers, Smokey and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas. That’s scary to a lot of people. It’s sex that’s involved. it’s not hidden. It’s real. You can overdo it. It’s not only sex, it’s a whole beautiful feeling.
Q: But Negro rhythm and blues has been around underground for at least twelve years. What brought it out now?
A: The English did that. They brought it out. They hipped everybody. You read an interview asking who the Beatles’ favorite singer was and they say Chuck Berry. You never used to hear Chuck Berry records on the radio, hard blues. The English did that. England is great and beautiful, though in other ways kinda messy. Though not outside London.
Q: In what way messy?
A: There’s a snobbishness. What you see people doing to other people. It’s not only class. It’s not that simple. It’s a kind of Queen kind of thing. Some people are royalty and some are not. Here, man, somebody don’t like you he tells you. There it’s very tight, tight kinds of expressions, their whole tone of speaking changes. It’s an everyday kind of thing. But the kids are a whole other thing. Great. They’re just more free. I hope you don’t think I take this too seriously–I just have a headache.
Q: I think you started out to say that music was more in tune with what’s happening than other art forms.
A: Great paintings shouldn’t be in museums. Have you ever been in a museum? Museums are cemetaries. Paintings should be on the walls of restaurants, in dime stores, in gas stations, in men’s rooms. Great paintings should be where people hang out. The only thing where it’s happening is on radio and records, that’s where people hang out. You can’t see great paintings. You pay half a million and hang one in your house and one guest sees it. That’s not art. That’s a shame, a crime. Music is the only thing that’s in tune with what’s happening. It’s not in book form, it’s not on the stage. All this art they’ve been talking about is nonexistent. It just remains on the shelf. It doesn’t make anyone happier. Just think how many people would really feel great if they could see a Picasso in their daily diner. It’s not the bomb that has to go, man, it’s the museums. MORE