Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 63

My Three Songs with Eric Bazilian

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 63 – My Three Songs with Eric Bazilian  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 63. This is the 53rd in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest.

My guest for this episode was Eric Bazilian. Many listeners may not recognize his name, but most likely know songs he’s written, arranged, or performed.

Eric and his good college friend Rob Hyman formed The Hooters in 1980. In 1983 they both collaborated with Cyndi Lauper. In 1985 they performed at Live Aid. And in 1995, Eric’s song “One of Us” was recorded by Joan Osborne, and was nominated for four Grammy awards.

In the show, Eric and I listen to and discuss songs including “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto.

Sign-Up to be a Guest on the Show!

Keep up with the show on our Facebook group, and Twitter. You can become a patron of the show on Patreon.

This episode can also be enjoyed as a podcast, which includes the entire interview, but no licensed music.

 Listen to the Podcast.

You can also find the show (as a Podcast – with no music) on these popular platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Audible, and Stitcher.

A transcript of this episode is available.

 Read the Transcript

Three Songs

  1. Sukiyaki – Kyu Sakamoto (1962)
  2. I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles (1964)
  3. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper (1983)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

Live From Berkeley!
Listen to our live shows on Amp!
Next show: Nov. 29 @ 1PM PT / 4PM ET

Never Miss a Show!

Be the first to know whenever a new episode is available.

Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California, it's Aaron's Radio Show with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 63. Welcome to My Three Songs where I play three special songs chosen by my guest, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today my guest is Eric Bazilian. His name may not be familiar to you, but I'm guessing you've enjoyed songs he's written, arranged, or performed. Eric and his good college friend Rob Hyman formed The Hooters in 1980. In 1983, they both collaborated with Cyndi Lauper and we'll talk about that a little bit later. In 1985, they performed at Live Aid. And in 1995, Eric's song "One of Us" was recorded by Joan Osborne with Eric on guitar and Rob Hyman on drums and Mellotron. That song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1995, and earned four Grammy nominations including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Now, according to Wikipedia, Eric plays guitar, mandolin, recorder, harmonica and saxophone. And I'm curious if and where the recorder fits into mainstream music, because I might have continued my studies in recorder past first grade. And also I'd love to talk with Rob Hyman about the Mellotron, it's a fascinating instrument and I recommend everybody google it. So I'll fanboy some more in a moment. But first, I'd like to say: Hi, Eric, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Eric Bazilian:

Hi, Aaron. I'm just great today. How are you?

Aaron Gobler.:

I'm doing wonderful. It's a little early for me to record a show. But that's what happens when I'm on the West Coast and most of my guests are on the East Coast. And I really appreciate you taking time out today to be on the show. You're currently the most famous person I've interviewed on the show. And I'm flattered and delighted to have the chance to chat with you today. I must thank Jonathan Dichter, my childhood neighbor, and guest from Episode 60 for connecting us ... and you told me that you've known Jon for several years now.

Eric Bazilian:

I've known him for close to 15 years, although we should have known each other all our lives because we grew up a few miles apart. And we knew pretty much all the same people.

Aaron Gobler.:

And when you first met him, was that some kind of epiphany? Like, like, why haven't we known each other longer?

Eric Bazilian:

Yeah, that's, I'd say epiphany is a good a good word for that. And totally, we connected instantly. And our sons who were the same age also, also connected instantly. And it was just sort of like, hey, let's be friends.

Aaron Gobler:

Again, I'm so delighted that that he was able to connect us. So Eric, I always make an effort to spotlight my guest and not blab on and on. But please indulge me in some fanboying since I have you as captive audience.

Eric Bazilian:

Sure.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. You know, when the first Hooters album came out, "Amore", when it was released, my older sister bought it and and I loved it. And it definitely didn't sound like anything else that I was listening to in the 80s. I was well aware that you were Philly's hometown music heroes of the 1980s. Now I had worked at a RadioShack store in Ardmore, on Lancaster Avenue, and I came to work one Sunday and your tour bus was parked at that pizza place across the street. It had a huge painting of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh from "Gone With the Wind" on the side of it. And I'm imagining that you guys were staying overnight at 23 East. Does that jibe with with your memory at all of your experience there?

Eric Bazilian:

I'm sure we played there when we had a tour bus. I think that might have been a Philly, a hometown show in the middle of a tour. We did not sleep at 23 East, nobody slept at 23 East. Unless they passed out at the bar which I don't remember ever doing. No, I'm sure we all went to our homes that night. But we were on we were on tour and we did do a show there.

Aaron Gobler.:

But you guys had played the night before. So I just assumed that that was your bus, but it could have been some other bus.

Eric Bazilian:

No, that was our bus. That was definitely our bus.I remember the Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh on the side.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Okay. And I also have to tell you one other quick story and that is like, this may seem like a non sequitur, but I never really cared too much for the band Loverboy but I saw them twice in the mid 80s, only for the opening bands. I saw them once in Long Island where Zebra opened and then in Philly because I wanted to see The Hooters open and had to sit through the same Loverboy show twice. I know that's like a first world problem, right?

Eric Bazilian:

We did a whole tour with them. We were on the road with them for four months. And it's funny because I admit I was not a fan of Loverboy. But I became one. First of all, they could not have been nicer to us. We had done a tour, the summer before with a band that I was a huge fan of they will remain unnamed because they were not kind to us, at all. It was very deflating. So Loverboy, as rude as the other band was, Loverboy was nice. And I really grew to appreciate how good they were as a band. Although not my not my thing, really. But they were a great band. They played great. They sang great. They had some really good songs. Okay, "Working for the Weekend" was a little cheesy, but you know what, they sold it. It was a great show. And they're still at it. God bless them.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah.

Eric Bazilian:

Well, it's funny. We did not open for them. I don't know where you saw us because we did not open for them in Philadelphia. We did not open for them in Philadelphia.

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, did you open for them at the Nassau Coliseum?

(Eric:

YES)

Aaron Gobler.:

Maybe I saw the both shows. Okay, so I went, I was going to Hofstra University. So my memory was that, that I saw the show twice. I probably saw, I must have seen the show once with The Hooters and once with Zebra. So maybe they came through twice on that tour. And in any case, I have the ticket stubs. So yeah, but I you know, I regret that I never saw The Hooters at a small venue, in the 80s I was going to like large concerts and it was just in my later years that I started going to things at smaller and smaller venues but uh my 22 year-old daughter has my Hooters t-shirt. And my wife also went to see your one of your shows. So in any case, that's why they say a 'gantse megillah' That's, that's my that's my deal. And I want to thank you for indulging me so

Aaron Gobler:

So now to you, Eric, I can ask you about your hair in the 80s or what it was like to have one of your songs covered by Prince. Or if anyone asked what your Grammy acceptance speech would have been. Or for you to sing a bar or two of "One of Us" in Brad Roberts' voice. I'd also love to have an extended conversation about God, good Samaritans, and just being excellent to each other. But perhaps we can save those questions and answers for another time. But here's one thing I'd love to know. What was it like to perform at Live Aid and Amnesty International? Only handful of years after forming The Hooters? There were like a gazillion -- or a bazillion -- people at those concerts, like what was that experience like?

Eric Bazilian:

So Live Aid, for me, it was pretty much a blur. I mean, there's no way you could be prepared for that, for the first time, you know, to walk out in front of 100,000 people. You know, we were worried about things like not having a soundcheck and what is it going to sound like? Will I be able to hear anything at all? What the hell are we doing in front of 100,000 people here? I do remember that it was fun. I remember that. I mean, I've seen most of my memories of that show are really just from watching YouTube video. And I watched that and I go, "You know what? We were damn good." You know, and I always thought that it was very fitting that we were the first band to play, we got to welcome everyone to our hometown, to Philadelphia. So you know, you know, we were on stage for less than ten minutes. I do remember Jack Nicholson saying, "Go get them guys!" on our way on stage. I mean, it was. It was quite it was quite a moment. The Amnesty show I, you know, I was more prepared for I remember that a bit better. We got to do a full set at that, which was great. You know, it didn't have the cultural impact that Live Aid had, they say Live Aid was the Woodstock for that generation. Yeah, and I had an interesting experience in September, I did a show in Germany. I was a guest artist with the biggest band ever in Germany, they do a show with various guest artists every few years in an indoor soccer stadium that holds 70,000 people. And my set was twelve minutes long. And I decided that this time, I was going to remember it. So I walked out on stage, I did all my breathing, and all of my mindfulness and I remember every second of those twelve minutes, which were magical, they were an amazing band and I had a great time, a great audience and the here to hear the sound of 140,000 hands clapping while they sing your song in German is pretty awesome.

Aaron Gobler.:

Wow. So it's like I imagined different mindsets here right? Like when you were at Live Aid this was like surreal, and you're almost like an out-of-body kind of thing like us like you said you don't remember it and and like if you watch the videos, you... probably it's not as poignant to you like because you were not like, when you were there, it was like a blur. But like the one you're describing right now, it's like you're all there, all of you is there. All of you is like picking up all this.

Eric Bazilian:

Sure. Well, I get plenty of poignancy from the video.

Aaron Gobler.:

Yeah, I mean, I just I watched it last week and yeah, it's very excellent performance. Just lots of lots of energy; everybody just seemed like at their best and I forgot that you guys had actually opened for the actual the whole Live Aid show. I didn't realize that was... you can't tell from the video except I guess Joe Piscopo and Dan Aykroyd perhaps or somebody introduced you guys, right, right before you came on? Yeah. And what was it like to say like, just, you know, be there with somebody like Jack Nicholson, just by the way?

Eric Bazilian:

It just seemed like a regular day at the office. You know, it was just a guy standing on stage, it looked like Jack Nicholson. And he was nice to us.

Aaron Gobler.:

Yeah, nice. So you've traveled the world, worked with many other incredibly talented people and I'm guessing, have had a life that not many folks experience? Can you share your proudest accomplishment? Or some really strong memory? From your career?

Eric Bazilian:

I think I can honestly say that every time I get on stage is my proudest accomplishment. Every time I connect with an audience, whether it's ten people or, or 100,000 people, it's just, it transports me. Yes, the fact that I've written some songs that that everyone knows and likes, and that's pretty awesome. Yeah, I wrote "One of Us" which, which, you know, Prince covered, and everyone in the world knows, that's pretty, that's very cool. But really, it's the personal connection. That's the reason I do it. And it's still the biggest payoff for me.

Aaron Gobler:

And so when you're, even with a crowd, a large crowd, do you feel there's some intimacy? Like do you ... or does in your person, in your body, do you feel some kind of like, human kind of connection, especially with the amount of humanity that may be in the audience? Does the size of the audience change how you feel about a particular performance?

Eric Bazilian:

You know, I've gotten to the point where I sort of have a process that makes me connect with the entire audience. First, I connect with other people on stage. And then there's like an energy field that emanates from that, and goes out to the people in the front row. And then that goes out to the people in the tenth row. And that goes up to people in you know, in the balconies. So in a way, I feel like I am connected to the entire to the entire audience, no matter how large it is.

Aaron Gobler:

Nice. I guess it could be I guess, some performers you can actually see, you can feel like they're just kind of disconnected. And they're just kind of in their zone, but not really making a connection. I did watch a video of you performing maybe it was, it was at some beach venue somewhere and you were singing "Amore" and you were like kneeling down and singing right to the audience, right at the front of the stage. That kind of engagement just showed a great comfort level with just being engaged with people who are there.

Eric Bazilian:

I love that. I just... that's the whole thing to me.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. I've seen I've seen a lot of concerts and the ones where the performer connects with the audience. You know, I'm thinking like James Taylor, or Kenny Loggins, Bonnie Raitt or others, it made it from a much different experience than say, what seeing The Cars, who were just kind of really technically amazing, but just never really connect with the audience at all. So, so I appreciate all that. -------- So you know, we're here to talk about three songs that are meaningful to you. So I'd like to jump to the list and the songs you chose were "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto from 1962. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles -- I think I've heard about that group before -- from 1964. And "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper from 1983. So I'm eager for us to listen to those songs. And I'm really interested in knowing like why each of them is meaningful to you. So let's listen to your first song "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto.

Aaron Gobler.:

Eric, I recognize this song from my childhood, but I paid more attention to it in 1980 when Taste of Honey sang it in English, you know, I'm eager to know what inspired you to to choose the song for your list?

Eric Bazilian:

Well, I was eight years-old when that song came out. And I remember hearing it on the radio for the first time and obviously not understanding a word of the lyric, but I totally knew what the singer was saying. It was and I was just devastated by it. I was just captivated by, by that by the emotion and by the melody and I actually feigned illness to stay home from school the next day, so that I could listen to the radio and hear the song again. You know, I actually learned learn the lyrics. I was able to sing the song, half-assed in Japanese just from listening to the record. I knew nothing about the story behind it, you know how it came to be a hit in the United States, which I did learn much later. Fast-forward twenty years in 1982, when we were starting to work with Cyndi Lauper and she was working at the time in New York as a hostess at a Japanese Piano Bar. And I asked her if she knew the song. And she said, of course, I have to sing the song every night. So she filled in the gaps for me as far as the lyrics went, the words that I didn't understand. And that reawakened the song for me. Now, fast-forward, again, four years to our first trip to Japan, with The Hooters and I mentioned in one of the interviews that that was one of my favorite songs, and then really the first song that I ever loved. And that I knew the song, I could sing it. And as it turned out, we were doing a national TV show that following evening, and I performed the song on national TV in Japanese.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Oh, wow. Okay.

Eric Bazilian:

But story does not end there. Now, we fast-forward again to 2012. And I get an email from a someone in Tokyo, a woman who was producing a documentary about the song, because unbeknownst to me, after the tsunami, that they had the tragic tsunami, that song that we know as "Sukiyaki", which is actually called "Ue o Muite Arukō" became a national song of mourning in Japan and had a renaissance there, and they were doing a documentary, and someone had unearthed a YouTube video of me performing the song. So they asked if they could interview me, my perspective on the song, you know, from a foreigner's perspective, an American's perspective, someone who loved the song without really knowing what it meant at the time, and which was another amazing experience. Now, I should also add that, that when I did go to Japan, I learned what the lyrics were and what they what they meant. And it was actually amazing to find out that the that the lyrics were as beautiful is the melody. The song actually, it's called in Japanese it's called "Ue o Muite Arukō" which means something to the effect of, "I lean my head back to keep the tears from falling down."

Aaron Gobler:

Wow. That's, that's a pretty, it's pretty intense title. And does this does the version, the English version by "Taste of Honey" does that have any kind of connection to the actual lyrics that you know?

Eric Bazilian:

No, it doesn't at all. It's a travesty. I mean, God bless them. But it's to me, it's unlistenable.

Aaron Gobler.:

And it's basically similar, almost the same music but it's, it's just a whole different set of lyrics.

Eric Bazilian:

Yeah. And a whole different, whole different vibe. You know, you know, Kyu Sakamoto's version had that beautiful swing to it. And that whistle, you know, the whole song is just this beautiful cry. This cry to the universe. And you know, many people have covered it, and no one else has gotten that, come close to that, to that feeling.

Aaron Gobler:

It reminds me of something someone might see on Pinterest, and then try to create it themselves, and never even get close to what the real thing is. And so so that definitely has a lot of meaning to you. Because like you said, it likes obviously resonated with, vibrated with you very, very early. And to actually then perform it seems like a full circle.

Eric Bazilian:

And then to perform it again, on this documentary in 2012. In a room, in a hotel room with Japan's most iconic singer-songwriters.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, that's pretty incredible. And that's only a year after the tsunami. So, yeah, wow it must have been very intense.

Eric Bazilian:

Yeah, it was very intense. Yes.

Aaron Gobler:

Is there anything else you'd like to share about that song?

Eric Bazilian:

Really, that it's the first song I've ever loved. And it may be the last song I ever love.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Okay. So wonderful. So the next song on your list is "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles. Now, I don't have the necessary license to include this song. But you've offered to play some licks of it for us.

Eric Bazilian:

One, two, three. (Guitar and Singing) "Yeah, I'll tell you something / I think you'll understand / When I say that something / I want to hold your hand / I want to hold your hand / I want to hold your hand / I want to hold your hand."

Aaron Gobler.:

That's awesome. I, I guess I should have maybe done my, you know, Ed Sullivan impression at the beginning of that. But thank you for performing that. I like the way you compressed it, you know, the opening and the ending. So I really appreciate that. This has to be one of the most recognizable pop songs ever. I mean, I think it's hard to overstate just how many people were like inspired to create their own music after experiencing The Beatles.

Eric Bazilian:

Well, I was one of the boys, the boys, I guess it was mostly boys of that generation that saw them on Ed Sullivan and said, that's what I'm going to do. Sorry, Mom and Dad, sorry, grandma and grandpa, no medical school for this kid. Right? And so that's another kind of, that's another thing where it like totally vibrated with you. And you're like, Okay, this is something, this is what I have to do, What ... the entire performance resonated with me like that from the very, very beginning. "One, two, three, four, five. Close your eyes, and I'll kiss you." But it was during, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" that it all came together. That was I remember, it was actually during the second bridge during the second um "And when I touch you I feel happy" that I, I knew that this was this was my path. Many, many times I've been asked what is your favorite Beatles' song? And my answer would always be well, you know, are we talking about you know, the early times? Are we talking about the Revolver, Rubber Soul period? Are we talking about post-Pepper? And, and I was asked that question once in an interview, and a friend of mine was with me. And he said, I'm gonna make that, I'm gonna make it easy for you, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." And I didn't have to think about it for a second. And I just knew he was right. Because that was the song, that was the song that broke them in the United States. That was the song that brought them to to Ed Sullivan. It was that song, that song boils down the entire Beatles experience to two minutes and however many seconds. You know, the musicality of the melody, the simple but elegant lyrics, the the joy, the depth that we're not aware of when we're listening to it, it boils the whole thing down. That's The Beatles in a nutshell, as far as I'm concerned.

Aaron Gobler.:

And a lot of that early music, like that's, you know, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" can be written off as like, you know, bubble gum, you know, like all the girls, young women screaming, you know, boys, men also screaming too. I know, I saw a cover band called The Fab Four, perform a few years ago. And it was through that show that I really got to understand, like, say, George Harrison's contribution to the Beatles, because I had never seen The Beatles live. And so having someone you know, just having the performance like that made me realize his involvement in the group and then watching the "Get Back" documentary, it just, it just gives such so much more definition to the individual musicians, and then makes you realize just how incredible it was, the four of them, you know, together. I used to not, I used to think Ringo was just like, you know, this throwaway drummer and he could be could put any drummer in there. And then I saw a video of him playing riffs. And I'm like, that, just that is ... that's part of the song that is like a backbone of so many of the songs is the way he played. Yeah. So it's interesting that you're saying that that this one song really kind of distills a lot of that into one masterpiece.

Eric Bazilian:

I actually did get to see The Beatles twice.

Aaron Gobler:

Where have you, where did you see them?

Eric Bazilian:

So I saw them in Baltimore in 1964; and I saw them in Philadelphia in 1966.

Aaron Gobler:

And where were they playing in Philadelphia?

Eric Bazilian:

At JFK Stadium, which is where I played at Live Aid. And you could, you could hear them and they were great.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, and then just to understand that they only toured for like, like that for a couple years. It's pretty incredible. And is there anything else you wanted to add about that song?

Eric Bazilian:

What else is there to say? It's, you know, it might be the defining song of the 20th century.

Aaron Gobler:

So when you say defining, you mean like, you mean like, it ..., it was some kind of... captured some zeitgeist at the time, or it was... or it changed... IT changed the world?

Eric Bazilian:

All of the above. I mean, The Beatles. Yeah. As far as I'm concerned, The Beatles were the biggest, had the biggest impact. Culturally, societally, since the, since the Renaissance. I mean, maybe since the, you know, the apocryphal crucifixion and resurrection, if it happened, which, whether that actually happened or not, doesn't matter, because it had a huge impact on on civilization. I think The Beatles had just as much impact. They, in so many ways, and that was the song that that pushed them over the top. And just even where the song had its roots, you know, the song had its roots in, in Black American music. I mean, The Beatles were mostly inspired by you know, Black American artists. And yes, the song was you know, for white boys with with long hair but but you can really hear the r&b roots in it, you know, you can hear the Chuck Berry and even you know, the guitar part that John Lennon is playing you know, he's going (plays guitar riff) which is totally Chuck Berry; he invented that.

Aaron Gobler:

You're right. Yeah, you know, I'm able to listen to songs and pull out the different instruments in my mind as I'm listening to the song. I know they were in love with Chuck Berry and I've seen pictures of them together with Chuck Berry and that he was a huge influence on that .. but I never actually took out John Lennon's you know, riff there, like you just did and that is that's the, that's Chuck Berry. You know...

Eric Bazilian:

And George's little riff before the verse. (Plays guitar riff) No, no, that's I'm sorry that "She Loves You." That's "She Loves You."

Aaron Gobler.:

Again, after seeing that cover band of them. It just blew my mind like how important he was to the songs when you just basically saw McCartney and Lennon up front. It was it was Ringo and George that were also really... it was all four of them were needed.

Eric Bazilian:

And that during the two minutes and however many seconds of "I Want to Hold Your Hand. I went from seeing Paul and thinking he's my favorite Beatle. And then seeing John and thinking No, he's my favorite Beatle. Then seeing George thinking, No, he's my favorite Beatle and then Ringo, No, he's my favorite Beatle. And that's when I realized they are all my favorite Beatle.

Aaron Gobler.:

Oh, there you go. Yeah, what a... yeah go ahead.

Eric Bazilian:

It was it was a four-headed organism. Really five heads if you count George Martin and his amazing contributions.

Aaron Gobler.:

I think Mick Jagger made some kind of remark about The Beatles being something like a "four-headed monster" or something. Wow. And then they were so I mean, like The Beatles, we could have a whole show about The Beatles, right? Obviously, the Beatles inspired The Stones. The Stones inspired The Beatles and The Beatles inspired The Beach Boys and The Beach Boys inspired The Beat-- you know, it was all this kind of ecosystem. You just wonder if The Beatles weren't in that ecosystem, what music would be like, just among those bands? Yeah, it's actually makes me sad to think of a world without The Beatles.

Eric Bazilian:

Yes. I'm sure I'm sure you've seen the film "Yesterday."

Aaron Gobler.:

No, I haven't seen the film "Yesterday"

Eric Bazilian:

Oh, oh. You got that to look forward to. Talk about a world without The Beatles. Yes. Go and see it.

Aaron Gobler:

This guy is the only guy who knows about The Beatles.

Eric Bazilian:

Right.

Aaron Gobler:

And yeah, I do have to go. I do have to see that movie. Because then I can, then I don't have to... I can actually experience that. So yeah, I'll have to check it out. So Eric, the last on your list is "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. And that features Rob Hyman. Let's give that a listen and we'll talk about it on the other side.

Aaron Gobler.:

Eric, along with your composition, "One of Us," I'm guessing this song is one of your most cherished collaborations. It's a timeless tune. Really. One that continues to be on playlists 40 years later. Why did you choose to include this song on your list?

Eric Bazilian:

Well, aside from the fact that I'm very proud of my contribution to it, I didn't write the song. But I did play the guitar parts on it and came up with them. I'm very proud of that. But this song was the last song that was written for Cyndi's album, which, you know, Rob and I were basically the band for and it was a last-minute thing that they came up with. And I remember when they played me their very first draft of it, they had a verse, which was very different. And the chorus, which was the same. And the first time I heard it, I just knew this was a song we're going to hear for the rest of our lives. It was the first time I ever had the experience of hearing something and knowing that it had legs, knowing that it was eternal. I was a little tiny bit jealous that I hadn't written it, but that's okay. I knew that I had a couple of them in me. But just to get a taste of that. It was it was incredible. Just feel like I was looking looking into eternity, you know, then I got to contribute, you know, you know, my, my musical sense. I actually, I actually kind of wrote the intro section and came up with those guitar parts.

Aaron Gobler.:

What does it feel like in your body when like, or what was... what were you experiencing when you heard it? It sounds like you had this, like in your bones, you felt like this was going to be something special.

Eric Bazilian:

It was a sense of awe. I really wasn't awe that they had written this and it was just such a great song and that it moved me. You know, I just I felt I felt the song. I felt the story. You know, everything, the melody, the lyrics, the sound of her voice, you know, she's an incredible singer. And you know, and Rob's sense of chord changes and melody it was just like wow, this is how good it has to be.

Aaron Gobler:

And then did you feel like your contribution was kind of vibing with that you know, you kind of meshed your... it was easy enough for you to mesh your feeling into the song? Like it wasn't a technical experience for you, it was more than a technical experience? Your contribution?

Eric Bazilian:

It was totally emotional. I have a very clear memory of those guitar parts and where I was and how I was standing and sitting, when I was recording in the two different rooms where we did them, you know, the guidance that I was getting from the team, you know, from Rick Chertoff the producer, from Bill Whitman, the the engineer, you know, you know, "Why don't you try it with this pickup instead?" And, you know, "try putting this part there." It was, it was something.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, so I'm seeing some parallels here. I had watched a short documentary about the song "One of Us" and it included long segments of conversation with Joan Osborne. My understanding is that you, Rob, and Rick Chertoff, were already working with Joan Osborne on a project like when that song entered the fray. And were you also in that kind of situation with Cyndi Lauper? Were you already teaming together to work on her album?

Eric Bazilian:

Yes. We were the band on her album, we had spent months in Philadelphia with her working through the the songs and the arrangements. And then several months in the studio in New York, and "Time After Time" came towards the end of that. That was the one more song that they needed. And, but yes, with Joan it was a similar situation. Rick Chertoff had gotten his own label, his own record label, and she was the first artist that he signed. And again, Rob and I were the band. And this time, we were writing the entire album together. So we were spending every day, you know, what it should be, coming up with ideas. And then one night, I went home, we all went home after the session. And my, my new girlfriend had just moved over from Sweden, we actually we watched the documentary about the making of Sergeant Pepper on TV that night, which mostly features George Martin in front of the four, the four-channel console at Abbey Road, and, and she was interested in the idea of four-channel recording and asked me what that was. And I said, That's what those wires on my dining room table are, that's a four-track recorder. "Oh, record something for me," she said. And as it turned out, I had this guitar riff that I've been playing that day. (Plays guitar riff) So I used that, made a little recording. And then she said, sing something. And literally, I, I put the machine on record and sang, and that's what came out. And that's where the Brad Roberts connection comes in. Because I heard the sound of his voice going, "if God had a name" (sings in bass-barritone voice) in my head. And that's how I sang the entire song. So and by the way, we got married two years later, and 27 years after that we're still married.

Aaron Gobler:

Nice.

Eric Bazilian:

Not me and Joan. Sarah, my wife. Joan and I are still very much in-touch too. But I brought the song in, that my demo in the next day and, and played it for, you know, for Rick and Joan and Rob Hyman, who was part of the team as well. And then when, when it was over, Rick said, Joan, do you think you could sing that? Which was totally, totally unexpected, it never occurred to me that that was a song that anyone would want to sing, let alone Joan Osborne but she said, Yep, I can sing it. And we 10 minutes later, I'd written up the lyric, she sang it, we recorded it. And we all knew. The same feeling as "Time After Time." But this time I had written it.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Yeah. So you had that you had that one, and there's more than one in you. But that was the one that came out right at the right time and had all these wonderful stories attached to it. And I do recall in the interview with Joan Osborne, she was talking about like the meaning of the story to her that song, the meaning of the song to her. And that really resonated with me because and I also saw you, and you talk about it in the documentary as well, that we, each of us personally has their own view of what God is or represents. And that I've often felt that God is represented in connections between living beings. And so this is kind of you know, the song basically, I felt really matched up with that, you know, what if God is one of us? So, you know, there are a lot of... and then in the moments which Joan talks about as a Good Samaritan, you know, in the moments when something is needed, love or an action or something that a person can, or and a living being can embody something godlike you know, so I think... I don't know...does that kind of encapsulate the way you see it?

Eric Bazilian:

You know, I really have no idea what I meant when I wrote it. You know, my my pat takeaway from it when I made my one liner is the song isn't about God. It's about the poor schmuck on the bus trying to get home.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, Interesting. So you find like when you're, when you're writing songs that things just flow out, and then people can interpret them. Or you find that most of your stuff is stuff that you actually are writing that as I'm guessing a lot of songs are written in that kind of style. Like it sounds good. It's got a nice rhyme. You know, I don't understand most songs by Yes.

Eric Bazilian:

Right. Well, yeah, that's that's a whole different thing. But we don't have to get into that. No, for me, for me songwriting at his best is is an unconscious process. Like "One of Us," I will just have a musical idea, start singing, words will come out and often times they will surprise me, it's therapy. You know, I'll sometimes I'll write songs, it tells me things I had no idea I was thinking.

Aaron Gobler:

Hmm. So like, your your subconscious or something. Some other part of you is writing it.

Eric Bazilian:

Well, I, with "One of Us," I did feel as though it totally encapsulated my worldview.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. I know that when I listened to "All You Zombies" recently, I went to look on the web for like, what the meaning of it was, and people are all over the place in what it was. And then I think when we were texting, you said, you're not sure what you meant by it, as well. But I... it's almost like, an abstract art kind of way, like somebody looks at it and sees one thing or a Rorschach test, almost?

Eric Bazilian:

Yeah, I mean, I think that that one over the years has crystallized a bit. You know it because it's these, these Bible stories, you know, Moses, Moses, you know, leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and then getting pissed off at the golden calf and smashing the Ten Commandments, and saying, you know, "All you zombies. Don't be zombies." Yeah. And moving on to Noah, and, you know, everybody laughing at him. And then, you know, he gets the last laugh on the arc. So yeah, you know, it is it's about it's a call to arms. It's you know, about apathy. It has it has popped into focus over the years, I think.

Aaron Gobler:

So, so in the case of "All You Zombies," it sounds like you did have some kind of... there was some kind of general idea. In the writing of that song.

Eric Bazilian:

There was no, no, that one, again, that was just the words just came out and the story just came out, and we looked at each other and said, What the hell did we just do? We knew that it was deep, but we had no idea how deep it was, or why it was. And, you know, like, "One of Us," to me, I just thought one of us was a cool, quirky song that I played for my friends for the rest of my life. You know, when we wrote "All You Zombies," we just thought, you know, this is a goofy song. And we'll you know, when we do our four sets a night at bars, we'll start the first set with that and get it out of the way. And the song just took on a life of its own. You know, it became... it became our single from a live radio broadcast we did. And then it was the first single from the Nervous Night album, because our mastering engineer asked us what the first single was, and we asked him, What do you think it should be? And he said, "Obviously, 'All You Zombies', that's the most commercial." And we just went "Wow, okay, why not?"

Aaron Gobler:

And if you had to step back out-of-body and imagine yourself as a song critic or analyst, what would you say about that particular song made it so indelible?

Eric Bazilian:

The great guitar solo by Eric Bazilian.

Aaron Gobler:

(Laughter). Totally objective there.

Eric Bazilian:

No. In all seriousness, it's, you know, it's a very simple song. It basically has one melody, the verse and chorus are the same melody. It's a really cool, distinctive melody. It's got a reggae beat, which you don't hear a lot in pop music outside of real real reggae music. You know, sonically, it's got great rock sounds and cool drum sound. And it's got a cool provocative story. And you know, a weird vocal delivery we sing in octaves, we sing in harmony, we sing in unison. It's what happens when you get a band that doesn't have a real lead singer. We just do the best we can.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Watching a lot of the older videos, or you know, any of the videos, it sounds like you and Rob do have a... you're pretty harmonious. Like your registers are pretty similar. Is that right?

Eric Bazilian:

Yeah, we have a great, we have a vocal ... we have a blend, you know, like Lennon, McCartney. Except that neither one of us is Lennon or McCartney.

Aaron Gobler:

Right. Yeah, it's so much fun going back and watching those videos because we got we got cable TV only a few months after MTV started and so it just kind of brings me back watching the videos and all the hair and everything.

Eric Bazilian:

Oh, the hair.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, the hair just yeah, how much time was spent just doing everybody's hair on all these bands was just pretty crazy.

Eric Bazilian:

Yeah, yep, I know. Well, you know, you can't always get everything right. But you know it worked for the time.

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, for the time. Sure. Yeah. I mean, it wasn't like, you know, Human League hair or something. But it was, it definitely was fun.

Eric Bazilian:

It was hair. It definitely hair. And no smiles, which really, you know, someone asked me in an interview a couple of years ago, if you could go back and give your 30 yearr younger self, one piece of advice, what would it be? And I thought about it for a second. I said, smile. You're a rock star. You're having the time of your life, smile.

Aaron Gobler:

Was it, do you think it was part of this persona that you felt like you had to do, like really being serious? Or do you--

Eric Bazilian:

Oh yeah yeah yeah. Nobody would take you seriously if you were smiling. Yeah, you gotta look--

Aaron Gobler:

You gotta be taken seriously. Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. Is there anything else you'd like to mention about that song?

Eric Bazilian:

Well, Roger Waters is a big fan. Roger Waters came, funny when we were, because we recorded that song several times. Originally, it was much shorter. It was Rick Chertoff, who really pushed us to, to expand the arrangement and turn it into the six minute epic that it became. And every day when we would work on a song, we would ask ourselves, what would Roger do? We really did that to please Roger Waters. You know, this was just a few years after "The Wall" had come out, right. I really wanted to impress Roger. And then, you know, a couple of years later, we're playing in London, at the Town & Country Club, and Roger Waters shows up and introduces himself himself. Hi, I'm your fan.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow.

Eric Bazilian:

Two years later, he calls us when in Japan and invites us to Berlin to play at The Wall concert. Which, which we did. And actually, we, we saw him last time he played in Philadelphia we went to the show, and he was very, very, very gracious. So yeah, that's, that's all I got to say about that.

Aaron Gobler:

And as a musician, you like in any trade, you can see the craft and the skill and dedication and expertise in your peers who are doing that trade. So to have somebody else like, you know, like, Roger Waters tell you that he's a fan and must have just blown your mind.

Eric Bazilian:

That was pretty mind blowing. Well, yeah that and, you know, meeting Paul McCartney, when we did Top of the Pops in London and having him come and say, "You're Eric from The Hooters."

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, wow. That's pretty incredible.

Eric Bazilian:

And then three months later, three months later, having George Harrison come up from behind and say, "Hey, all to The Hooters. Hi, I'm George. Love your music. Everything else these days is crap."

Aaron Gobler:

Wow. So Eric, is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections, like things you may have thought of while we were listening to the songs or maybe even answers to questions I didn't ask you?

Eric Bazilian:

I think we've done a pretty good job. We've been pretty comprehensive here. You know, for me, I think that the common thread those three songs have, aside from you know, being well structured melodically and lyrically is the fact that I think they're timeless, I think they're, those are, those are songs that I strive for. I strive to make songs that that will be remembered long after I'm gone.

Aaron Gobler:

Yep, I hear you. It's rewarding that something a person creates, you know, outlives them as a person and is a marker about them. And not everybody has that opportunity to or experience of creating something beyond, you know, raising our children, which are little creations in a way. But yeah, that's really remarkable to have some art that is that is out there for eternity. So I really, really appreciate that. I want to thank you again, Eric. I had a lot of fun. And I really do appreciate you taking time to be on the show. I hope you enjoyed yourself too.

Eric Bazilian:

Very much. Thank you so much for having me.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. You're welcome and to my listeners, if you want to be part of the show, start by going to our website, Aaron's Radio dot show and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing list so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's radio show on your favorite podcast service. But the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music. So until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

Female voice:

You're listening to Aaron's Radio Show.

Share Your Thoughts on this Episode

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.