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The Comeback Kid

Page 5 of 5

Have you been offered other movie roles?
You name it – from the silliest to ones so serious. Like, "Hey, John, why don't you come and be a singer in this movie?" You know the cliché. This guy's in a band, and he's a rebel.

What about the serious ones?
Real dark roles. I get knifed in the neck with a fork in one of them. Finally, I told people, you want me to be in a movie? I'll write my own.

The reality is I'd probably make a better actor than anything else because I am so emotional. But right now I'm a singer. I'm just starting to catch on to doing that.

If you weren't in the music business, what do you think you would be doing now in Indiana?
I'd be a construction worker. Other than this, that's all I know. I also know how to saw wood and nail it together because Grandpa taught me. He always let me work for him in the summer. He'd pay me ten dollars a day. I did that until damn near when I got married. Even though I was a lazy, lousy worker, he'd still let me work for him.

With all the money you've made in rock & roll, you could live anywhere in the world. Why do you choose to stay In Indiana?
The reality is I'm not interested in any place else. All my friends are there.

What do you do when you're home?
I see a few people that I know, family, friends. I never go out. George Green and I sit in my kitchen, drink tea, smoke cigarettes and talk about the world.

Whenever I go to another city, I'm there to work. I'm not there to shop or see the sights or go to bars. I'm there to play a concert. My world is in Indiana and this, here, is what I do for a living. I wish I could do it better sometimes than I do. That's the same as anybody that cares about their job. Imagine, if all of a sudden I said, "Thank you very much. 'Pink Houses' is the best song I can write. I'm just gonna write a whole bunch of songs like 'Pink Houses."' What if I said that about "Hurts So Good"? You writers would have lost your minds reviewing those songs. You would have run out of shit to say about me.

Even people that don't like me realize that I could be safe. I could do just what I know how to do and rake in the money. They have to say, "God, he did it without us, he did it without record-company support, and he did it on a minimum amount of talent. You gotta hand it to the guy."

This story is from the January 30th, 1986 issue of Rolling Stone. 

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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