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Daryl Hall on His "Oddball" Life in Hall & Oates, Web Series

June 5, 2009 4:18 PM ET

Next month, Hall & Oates will hit the road for a short tour before Daryl Hall returns to work on his latest solo album. Hall, whose jam-session Web series "Live From Daryl's House" celebrated its year-and-a-half anniversary in May, marked the occasion with a special episode featuring the Doors' Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek. He recently spoke with RS about the status of Hall & Oates, his opinion on pop and his biggest regrets.

Why did you want to do "Daryl's House"?
I've been traveling my whole career, which is most of my life. I thought why don't I bring the world to me for a change? I'm a person who thrives on collaboration, so I said, 'OK, let's have guests on with all these different styles of music and let's be as eclectic as we want to be, both generationally and stylistically.' We're on our 18th episode. Every show just blows me away.

Who is your dream guest?
Maybe Bob Dylan because it would be so fucking weird.

Looking at who's out now, who are you a huge fan of and would like to have on "Daryl's House"?
As far as new people, I hear new people all the time.

Any of the Idol people?
You know what? I'm not big with the "singing sensations." If you notice the people that I tend to pick, they're players as well as singers. They're not really pop-oriented. They're more rock, edgy, unique.

When you see the Britney Spears types these days, what do you think?
That's got nothing to do with my life. The music has gone in two different directions. You have that direction, and then things like Daryl's House is another direction.

Can I ask you about Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy, your first guest?
After this Daryl Hall for President thing that these guys did [the name of one of the Heroes' summer tours] I obviously was made aware of them. We started talking, hanging out backstage. He really loves music. A lot of rappers don't have traditional music abilities, he does.

Looking back over your career, is there a favorite moment, era? Is there a time when you just felt like you had it all?
I never felt like I had it all. In 1985 I had reached a certain point, all those things had happened, like Live Aid, We Are the World, Farm Aid, and I did that thing with the Temptations Live at the Apollo. I had the ability to sort of assess myself in the moment. But most of the time you're still involved in it. You're living. It's the same way with music. I've never felt comfortable in the time that I was working. Maybe now I finally have, but in the '70s I was sort of an oddball. In the '80s I was definitely an oddball.

What's the current state of Hall & Oates?
I think it's only unclear because I don't do one thing. John and I work together and we tour together pretty often. We play shows. We play our songs. We have different versions of them. Right now we're doing what I call an up close and personal tour, we do a sort of acoustic version of our songs. Outside of that we do separate things. I'm very devoted to my solo stuff. I'm doing a solo album that I'm going to start in about a month and obviously I'm doing "Live at Daryl's House." I do the occasional Hall & Oates tour or gigs.

Are there any regrets from your career? Anything you wish you would have done?
There's a lot of people that I wish I hadn't of associated myself with. Both John and I came up out of Philadelphia and Philadelphia music is the hotbed of all anybody ever talked about as nefarious in the business. It was the street version of music. It was nasty. It was crookery. It was dog-eat-dog. We moved into the New York scene, which was pretty much the same thing. So we come from a very tough business. The fact that we've survived and thrived is a testament to our strength of will and also our ability to bounce back. We've been messed with. If I had it to do over, I probably would have chosen my relationships more carefully.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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