In today's Wall Street Journal, I interview singer Linda Ronstadt (go here) and author Pat Conroy (go here) for two different sections of the paper. Both Linda and Pat are fascinating people for different reasons.
In my "Anatomy of a Song" column for the Arena section, Linda talks about recording Different Drum in 1967. My chat with Pat [pictured above] for "House Call" in today's Mansion section centers on why he and his wife love living in a house overlooking a marsh along the South Carolina coast.
For my in-depth look at the evolution of Different Drum, I also interviewed former-Monkee Mike Nesmith [pictured above], who wrote the song; Wrecking Crew pianist Don Randi, who played harpsichord; and Bobby Kimmel, one of the Stone Poneys. What's fascinating about the song is that Linda was completely unprepared for the arrangement they sprung on her yet she nailed it right away. In addition, though the performance is credited to the Stone Poneys, only Linda from the trio appeared on it. The other two were asked to sit out while studio musicians played the new arrangement by Jimmy Bond.
I also wrote a history of the harpsichord on pop-rock recordings in the 1960s. There wasn't room in the paper for it but you'll find the fun article here. Both this one and my Different Drum anatomy are free—no subscription requirements.
Pat's new book, The Death of Santini, is absolutely stunning. I've been recommending it to everyone who still reads books. Pat, of course, wrote Prince of Tides, The Great Santini and Lords of Discipline, among books based on his brutal childhood. The Death of Santini is a memoir poetically detailing his struggles he had with his rough father in adulthood. I loved listening to Pat's voice and the rhythm of his language. He likes his spoken sentences short, and he has a warm, honey-coated sound.
JazzWax clip: Here's Different Drum, with Linda Ronstadt on lead vocal and Don Randi on harpsichord...