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Chip Taylor reflects on “Wild” career in music

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Chip Taylor is usually known for being the songwriter of “Wild Thing and “ Angel of Montgomery,” but there is way more to him than that.

Carrie Rodriguez and Chip Taylor come to the Geomatic Attic, Sept. 18. Photo by Todd Wolfson
 He has had a prolific career since then, including three duet albums with Austin based musician Carrie Rodriguez. He will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of their first album together Red Dog Tracks, on a quick Albertan tour, which comes to the Geomatic Attic, Sept. 18 after a couple of shows in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.


“I try not to look at the past , I’m always looking at the next project,” said Taylor from his New York apartment, where is is alternately working on  material for a new solo album and a labour of love— some songs for his grandkids.
 They already did a three week tour together of Texas, New York and Massachusetts and then took a break to work on other projects.


 The duo made an instant connection after Rodriguez came  to see his show at  the famous South by Southwest music festival in Austin in 2001.


“ Then I went to see her playing in a record store. She had just graduated from the Berkeley school of music,”he said,  adding that lead to a conversation, and some co-writing followed by taking her to Holland on tour, which spawned a musical relationship that resulted in recording three albums together.


“I asked her if she sang, and she said she didn’t , so I put a microphone in front of her and told her she could sing a couple of choruses if she wanted to. And the crowd cheered after the first two lines,” he said.


“I don’t really know why it works. Just seeing her was an inspiration and I just wanted to write for her. These love songs started coming out and  they just fit us. It was just like magic,” he said.


“I’m not a schooled musician at all. And she came from Berkley, I don’t even know the notes. I barley knew the strings on my guitar when I started. But I know how to arrange things,” he continued.
“I learned a lot from her through osmosis,” he said.
“But she doesn’t need me. She does fine on her own. She’s got a great career on her own and there’s other things I want to do,” he said.
“ It’s a blessing to be able to sing with her. It’s just been terrific,” he continued.

He noted this is the first really extensive tour they have done together since 2006, though they have performed shows together.

 


“I’ve recorded a lot of songs since then  so I had to go back to those records and learn those songs again,” he said.


While most people know him for “Wild Thing” and “Angel of Montgomery,” that wasn’t  his big break.


“I’m from  Yonkers, New York, but I always loved country music. I had a little Motorola radio and used to listen to  country music all the time. What you had to then was write a song and play it for a producer, who if they liked it, would give you like 30 bucks to record a demo. And one of these demos ended up in the hands of Chet Atkins, who, in addition to being a great  guitar player, was also the head of  A and R for RCA. He wrote a letter back saying ‘Dear Jerry, I don’t know who this Chip Taylor is , but he doesn’t sound like he‘s from Yonkers,  I want to hear everything you have from him,’” Taylor related.


“And I started to write songs for Eddy Arnold,  I had a big hit with Bobby Bare and hits with Willie and Waylon. So my big break was Chet Atkins. “ Wild Thing”  and “Angel From Montgomery” came after that,” he said adding this tour is all about his work with Rodriguez.
“ She does sing a beautiful version of Angel From Montgomery, though,” he said, adding the three duet CDs have their own following of fans , especially in Texas, New York and  Massachusetts.

 Taylor noted when he writes a song, he never thought about other people.


“ I never wrote songs with other people in mind. I wrote them because I wanted to. A lot of songs just come to me, so I just turn off my brain and not think too much about it, even  if it is just a bunch of nonsense  syllables. Then words and melodies will come  and I quickly record it. Right now it’s on my iPhone. Even silent space can put me in a good mood. They’ll just give me the chills. I’ll just get that feeling about them,” he continued.


“ I don’t know how you monetize songs these these days. There isn’t a lot of money in streaming. You get out there and play your songs for people  and you get out there touring and get a following. There was always a lot of back and forth selling songs then. It’s hard today, but not impossible. It’s not as bad as it’s made out to be. It was hard back in the day too. After all, how did this  little Chip get successful? I wrote songs and formed a band and played them in front of people. My songs just ended up in the right hands with Chet Atkins,” he pondered.


 Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez play the Geomatic Attic at 8 p.m., Sept, 18. Tickets are $42.50 plus $2.13 GST

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 September 2016 10:57 )  
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