What do Joe Namath, Tammy Wynette and Townes Van Zandt all have in common? They're subjects of three articles I wrote for today's Wall Street Journal. Yeah, it was a busy, fun week. [Photo: Agenta Images]
For the Mansion section, I interviewed Joe Namath on his '60s bachelor pad in New York—why he chose it, how it came to be furnished and what life was like for the celebrity Jets quarterback before the team won the 1969 Super Bowl.
As a child of the '60s, I can tell you there are few things more electrifying than answering the phone and hearing, "Hi, Marc. Joe Namath." I also can tell you that Joe remains one of the coolest guys around. His voice swings like a hammock and his words sound like an orange being squeezed. He remains as nice and as optimistic as can be. And what a talent! A cultural icon who changed the game on and off the field.
If you haven't yet watched Namath, try to find it on HBO's on-demand station. You'll find my article in the Mansion section or online here.
My second WSJ article today is for the Arena section on Tammy Wynette's 1968 hit Stand By Your Man. For this "Anatomy of a Song" feature, I interviewed co-writer and producer Billy Sherrill, guitarist Jack Kennedy and pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins—all of whom were at the recording session.
I love interviewing country artists in Nashville. Billy, Jack and Pig are such terrific session artists and fabulous, fun spirits. There's so much great country music out there. I'll share some with you down the road. You'll find this article online here.
And lastly, I wrote about a new double-CD release on Townes Van Zandt—a luckless, enormously talented country singer-songwriter who died in 1998. Van Zandt has become a mythic figure for the alternative-country and roots genres today. Back in the '70s, country hits tended to have a slick, processed sound but Van Zandt was different.
Not only did his songs and singing style harken back to country's folk roots but his life story was as tragic as the subjects of his lyrics. Van Zandt suffered from depression, a heroin habit, guilt over a girlfriend who was murdered while hitchhiking, precious albums that didn't quite take off and all the rest. The new release, Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972, features Van Zandt stripped down, so you can hear just how exceptional he was. You'll find my article online here.
On second thought, you may be better off just picking up a copy of the paper. The photos for all three stories are terrific.
JazzWax clips: Here's a clip from the Joe Namath HBO documentary...
Here's Tammy Wynette singing Stand By Your Man in 1975...
And here's Townes Van Zandt...