Q & A

(June 2011)

Q: Can you tell us what inspired you to record an album of your interpretations of other artists’ songs?

Dewey Bunnell: After 40 years of singing mostly self-penned songs, I liked the idea of singing some of those that got me interested in the first place.

Gerry Beckley: We’d always thought about the idea and finally the stars aligned.

Q: It’s an outstanding collection of songs and performances on BACK PAGES.  Why did you select these particular songs?  (Various songs here reference the road.)

Gerry: Our list was much longer of course…this is just the ones that seemed to work for all involved.

Dewey: The list was so much longer, but it was a matter of simply wading in and grabbing a dozen or so. I enjoy lyrical imagery and “road songs” are usually rich in that regard…but it  was not a conscious decision. I would have done “Born To Be Wild” if we had been limited to “road songs.”

Q: “Road Song” is a new song by Fountains of Wayne (whose Adam Schlesinger co-produced America’s 2007 album HERE & NOW).  What attracted you to this song?

Dewey: I love the song-writing craftsmanship of FOW songs…between lyric and melody, this is a well-balanced song with quirky twists and turns. Plus I like the opening line because I love Wisconsin.

Gerry: We love all of FOW songs…this is a new song from them but we probably could have done an entire album of their stuff.

Q: It’s interesting, for example, that you have songs by the Gin Blossoms and the New Radicals alongside songs by Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Buffalo Springfield.  What is it about the Gin Blossoms and New Radicals songs that attracted you to interpret them?

Gerry: Those two songs were favorites of mine from the more current collection of material … just good strong songs I think.

Dewey: I was honestly unfamiliar with both these songs before Gerry brought them to the table for the project. They are both excellent songs and came out nice. I think they represent another musical era of songwriting to contrast the vintage songs that we chose from our youth.

Q: What lead you to work with producer Fred Mollin and what do you feel he added to the album?

Dewey: We worked with Fred on album of ours called Alibi back in 1980. He initiated this project about two years ago and continued to encourage us to put together some lists of songs. He has good historic perspective and had a general direction for the album that we all agreed was worth trying.

Gerry: Fred came to us with the concept so he was involved right from the start. We always enjoyed working with Fred and he’s building quite a legacy with his latest work. He was nominated for a Grammy last year for his Johnny Mathis album.

Q: Can you talk about a few of the songs here and why they are important to you?

Gerry: I think you just need to see the list of writers that we chose to get a pretty good picture of who has inspired us over the years. When you collect songs of this caliber it’s just humbling to sing them. It’s a true reminder of how rich our generation has been in talent.

Dewey: A Brian Wilson song was a must…and I have always had a particular soft spot for “Caroline No.”  I think it lyrically speaks to the feeling of loss in a far broader sense than simply losing a girl. Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” is an anthem for me in the truest sense…a call to action….and I’ve always been a “child of the 60’s” at heart. Paul Simon’s “America” is a novel in a song and he’s a great songwriting Treasure. I have several of his songs on my short list.