July 5, 2006

Willy DeVille Concierto Básico [interview 1994]

source: Concierto Básico Canal + / March 1994.

Back in 1994, Willy DeVille was great in Spain. Live was having a big success and Demasiado Corazón would become one of the songs of the year. Then Willy recorded an acoustic show for the ultra-commercial radio broadcasting 40 Principales (nobody is perfect...). Although the whole show was never released or broadcasted, Hey! Joe and Stand By Me appeared in some promotional singles.

This is a transcription of the interview that Willy did after the show.


I grew up with a lot of acoustic things like Bob Dylan, and I loved it. I never really liked the hippie music, like UAOUAOUOAO...! too much loud music.

I think that if you can't play an acoustic guitar you can not play a guitar. An electric guitar is not like an acoustic guitar. You have to really be able to play an acoustic guitar to play an electric guitar. If you play an electric guitar only, you can't go and play an acoustic guitar, but if you play an acoustic guitar, then you can play an electric guitar.



In the CBGB's we were a Rhythm and Blues band, we used to do a lot of Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters stuff, a lot of covers. Because I was a bit afraid about playing my own stuff, because if you play a blues song and they don't like it, you think they must be stupid, because who doesn't like Muddy Waters? But if you write a song, and you play it, and they don't like it, then that really hurts.

I still use blues influence in my music naturally because I always loved the blues. I don't think the color has anything to do with it. As a matter of fact most of the first jazz and blues musicians in New Orleans were Italian. And white! Dr. John is a white guy... You don't have to be black to sing the blues, it's a feeling. You don't even have to be sad, you can be happy and sing the blues.

Ever since I heard John Lee Hooker when I was 12 years old (1962). When I heard that voice I said: "man I gotta sound like that". So I was 12 years old, with my face full of freckles... I went around saying yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah... trying to sound like John Lee Hooker. I'm very happy that he has finally got the commercial success, because he has influenced so many people...



I wrote it today. It's called Pigs Feet, White Women and Cherry Wine. It's a kind of New Orleans thing. People eat pig's feet there, you know. I don't particularly like them but... I got the idea from a friend of mine who is a wino. I hang around with a lot of them, though my wife gets very angry. They're people who aren't exactly somebody you wanna have over for dinner, you know: street people, drunks... I always give them some money, if they don't have some place to stay I let them stay in my house...

So this guy said: "Man I wish I had me some pigs feet... and a white woman... Could you go to the street and get me a bottle of cherry wine?"

I thought: "That's very good, that could work". So I worked out, knowing them, to imagine how could be a battle between he and his wife.



It's a song about a couple who is very in love. They have no money, but someday they wanna get married in a big church, and have a gold earring and new boots. And you wanna look so pretty for that girl... I think men always try to be so "macho"... I think that's very stupid. There's nothing wrong with being a pretty man. In fact, I can't wait until tomorrow, I'm getting better-looking everyday XD



I broke that promise. It was actually kind of what we call the dark horse of an album that we did with Dr John and Jack Nietzche and some other very good musicians. It was called return to magenta. It's one of my favorite songs in that album. I keep it in the bag to do it. It has a good feeling because it says: "I broke that promise that was so important to ME". You can say I broke that promise that was so important to YOU, but it's even worse to break a promise that's only important to whoever made the promise.



That was from the first album, called Cabretta. I know Mick Jagger likes it XDDD. It's about a woman I know who was drug addict. She was mixed up and she was shook up. That's what it's about.



The song originally comes from the Texas-Mexican border area. They call it Texico. I tried, instead of doing something that sounded like Jimi Hendrix, that would have been a cliché, I tried to take the song back to the way that must originally have sounded, which would be with mariachis. It's classic, but it's classic with a little twist. A little different.

I put a bit of pachuco Canal Street slang talking I added a couple of verses from my own.



I have loved that song since I was probably seven years old. Ben E. King is a very good friend of mine. I wrote a lot of songs in le chat bleu and different albums with Doc Pomus, who did a lot of the Drifters songs that was the sound of the Spanish Harlem in New York. They were pop songs, but they had a little Latin feel, like (singing): "sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey"... or "under the boardwalk"... All those had a lot of "latino" feel with a lot of percussion: There Goes My Baby, Save The Last Dance For Me... things like that.

I always kept that in the repertoire because people know the song only by hearing that "tum tum tum tum".... That always surprises me, because they know all the words all the time. We stopped doing it and now we're doing it again, but I never get tired of singing it.



That was written by Doc Pomus, who is up there now. He died about one year ago. He was one of my best friends and my mentor. He taught me a lot of things about writing songs, I could always call him at three in the morning: "Doc, I have a great idea for a song, blah, blah, blah..." He was a fantastic guy and an amazing man. I just pulled that out because I hadn't done it in years. I was looking at the bass player and he was watching my fingers to see where I was going, and I was thinking "please, don't mess it up", and he didn't. David Criss, a very good bass player.



Who's gonna shoe your pretty little foot. Is like: "who's gonna put the slipper on your foot? Who's gonna be your man?". And the woman says: "Papa's gonna hold my hand, sisters gonna kiss my red ruby lips, I don't need no man. The longest train that I've ever did ride, it was a hundred coaches long, and the only man who ever kept me satisfied, he was on that train and now he's gone".

It's very sad.


Smooth Running Caddy
Rock Around The World, 1977
THE TALE OF THE MINK by Willy DeVille as told to Dusti Rhodes.

King Creole
Ruta 66, January 1991
He comes back with a tasty album of dark rythm'n blues that can help him to recover his lost credibility. He's still the coolest guy in the quarter, an old cat who keeps some cartridges to shoot. Last of the romantic rockers. Bourbon Street Story. (...)

Loup Garou, Bal Goula
Rocknet, 1995
This man has soul and more soul. Willy was born in New York on August 25, 1953, as William Borsay. At 14, he taught himself to play guitar. At 18, he moved to London looking for a band. At 19, he played the San Francisco scene. At 20, he returned to New York and landed at CBGB's. I started interviewing Willy in 1977, and I'm very happy to be back on his bandwagon. (...)

La Laiterie
Route 66, 1996
From the french radio program Route 66 (RDL Radio). Translation by Bee.

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