The play "Life of Pi" opened this winter at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You may know the…
Legendary musician Daryl Hall brings 'timeless quality' back to the stage
Geoff Bennett: Ahead of tonight's Grammy Awards, I sat down with a giant of the music industry who at 75 years old, is still trying to make his fans dreams come true.
Legendary singer songwriter Daryl Hall is back on stage preparing for a new tour.
Best known for being one half of the iconic rock and soul duo Hall and Oates. His new album Before After is the first ever collection of his solo work, material found on five albums from 1980 Sacred Songs to 2011's Laughing Down Crying.
It also includes highlights from his long running online series live from Daryl's house, where he's collaborated with a range of artists including Sammy Hagar. Sharon Jones, Smokey Robinson, CeeLo Green.
We spoke with Daryl Hall in upstate New York, in between rehearsals.
So you're about to get back on the road.
Daryl Hall: I am.
Geoff Bennett: What have you miss the most about live performance?
Daryl Hall: The actual performance. Everything else is terrible. You know, it's just travel. It's very military, you know, hurry up and wait, that kind of thing. But when you're on stage for whatever time you're on there, that's when it gets good.
Geoff Bennett: Yes.
Daryl Hall: You never know what's going to happen.
Geoff Bennett: How did you maintain your creative process during the pandemic?
Daryl Hall: I hibernated. I didn't fight it. I actually didn't even play my instruments. I didn't write any songs. I stayed in one place, which is totally weird because I've been traveling since I was a teenager all over the world.
Geoff Bennett: So where did the idea come from to do before after?
Daryl Hall: Part of it was that time of reflection, really. I think a lot of people you know, you reevaluate things, you know, my whole life changed. Everybody's life changed.
If not now, when you know, it's time to put some to show the world. I've been doing with Darrell Sasse (ph), showing my sort of alternative side and my alternative career basically. And I played a lot of those songs over the years on the Darrell Sasse (ph) show, but I never really released any compilation or paid that much attention to the recorded versions of all these albums I've made over the years.
And I thought now's the time to do it and the show, that's what I do. I do stuff with John Oates. I do stuff with other people.
Geoff Bennett: Yes.
Daryl Hall: And let's put it all out there.
Geoff Bennett: Hall got his start in the Philadelphia music scene, as part of a group called the Temptones while studying at Temple University.
Daryl Hall: Was a vocal group, street corner group, you know, that was popular back then. I made my first record with Kenny Gamble and Romeo's, you know, and a four-track studio, Virtue Studios in North Broad Street.
I was really involved with that whole world. You know, it was the beginning of that what people know is the sound of Philadelphia. And I was part of that.
Geoff Bennett: And then after college is when we met John Oates?
Daryl Hall: I met John. He was sort of playing guitar in the Temptones for a while, you know, back and forth, but we decided to do something for real after we got out of school.
Geoff Bennett: Daryl Hall and John Oates released their first album together in 1972, eventually becoming the most successful duo in American pop history.
They've earned all kinds of accolades Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum inductees. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. All for their enduring hits such as Sarah Smile. Private Eyes. Rich Girl. You Make My Dreams.
They topped Billboard's Hot 100 half a dozen times. These days, their music is sampled by rappers and they continue to find new young fans online, like YouTube stars Tim and Fred Williams famous for their reaction videos.
Tim Williams, Youtuber: I love that little jazz for.
Fred Williams, Youtuber: Yes.
Tim Williams: The groove that blue blues and make you want to --
Fred Williams: For real.
Geoff Bennett: But Hall says despite the success, or because of it, at times, he found it hard to branch out creatively. Since his solo work is more adventurous and less commercial than what he recorded with John Oates.
Daryl Hall: It's hard. It's really a hard thing to do. I didn't always succeed with it. You know, a lot of -- there's a lot of frustration involved. Because the business of music has a different agenda than the creation of music.
In my particular situation, I was sort of a victim of success, where I had to compete with myself. And the record company was looking at the cash cow. They were looking at what was going to make them the most money. That was Daryl Hall and John Oates. And my other stuff that I was doing, even though I was having success with it, is it -- when you balance it out, where are they going to do?
Geoff Bennett: Yes.
Daryl Hall: They're going to push the other side.
Geoff Bennett: In fact, RCA was it refused to put out one of your solo albums.
Daryl Hall: Yes.
Geoff Bennett: So you leaked it to these journalists.
Daryl Hall: Yes. They just said it was so crazy. I mean, I made this great album with Robert Fripp. And it was really, really a groundbreaking album. And, you know, it wasn't Rich Girl Jr.
Geoff Bennett: How do you write songs that are timeless and enduring? What's your process?
Daryl Hall: It comes in all different -- in many different ways. Sometimes it'll be drum groove, you know, sometimes it'll be a chord progression. Sometimes it'll be just a phrase that runs in my head. Any combination of that is can make a song, you know, I don't really have a formula.
Geoff Bennett: Did you know that so many of your hits would be hits when you wrote them?
Daryl Hall: No, not. I had -- I never think of. I don't think of songs as like, this is I'm going to write a hit. You know, this is good. So occasionally, I'll think, well, this could be it. But you never know. You just never know. Sometimes a song that I think is going to be hit is a hit.
Geoff Bennett: So what do you attribute your longevity in this business?
Daryl Hall: It's hard for me to say, you know. I mean, I think I write songs that seem to, well, they obviously they cross generations, which is fantastic. I love that. I mean, it's so fulfilling. I don't know there's some timeless quality is some universal thing that I know how to touch on. It has to do with my personal experiences that I guess everybody else shares the best way I could put it.
Geoff Bennett: Timeless song sustaining Daryl Hall's towering 50-year career.