Copyright ©2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

The song "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" first made famous by the Righteous Brothers, then by Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards, you know, in that bar scene in "Top Gun" has been played over the American airwaves more than eight million times. That's one broadcast for everyone who lives in New York City.

(Soundbite of song, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling")

Mr. BILL MEDLEY and Mr. BOBBY HATFIELD (Singer; The Righteous Brothers): (Singing) You've lost that lovin' feeling, whoa, that lovin' feeling.

SIMON: Decades after that pop hit, one of the first out of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, Righteous Brothers Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield kept on touring. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 2003.

A few months later, Bobby Hatfield died. Bill Medley has continued performing and recording his new CD, "Damn Near Righteous." It's his first album since Bobby Hatfield's death and his first solo recording in 10 years.

Bill Medley joins us now from member station KSMU in Springfield, Missouri.

Mr. Medley, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. MEDLEY: Thank you very much. A pleasure to be here.

SIMON: And how did you decide what goes on this album?

Mr. MEDLEY: My producer Steve Dorff and Shayne Fair brought a song to me called "Sit Down and Hurt." And I just loved it, and Steve said I think we ought to do an album. I said, you know, if you can get more songs like that that are that simple of a song and that soulful, I would love to do it. So it kind of all came from the one song, "Sit Down and Hurt."

(Soundbite of song, "Sit Down & Hurt")

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) You can drive up and down the street with your radio on. And you can party with your goodtime friends and never go home. You can run, but you can't escape or there isn't any other way. You got to sit down and hurt. Face it, black man. Prove you can make it through the night. Hiding now from a heartache in a bottle of wine doesn't work at all. You got to sit down and hurt.

SIMON: It's a very touching song.

Mr. MEDLEY: Oh. Thank you.

SIMON: Does it say something about the way you felt in recent years, I have to ask?

Mr. MEDLEY: Well, yeah. You know, oddly enough, going through my partner's death and I was immediately sent out on the road, kind of to do a Righteous Brother tribute to Bobby, and I didn't have enough time maybe to absorb the fact, you know, that he was gone and this (unintelligible) so. "Sit Down and Hurt" has a real meaning for me. You got to face it sooner or later, you can't just keep pushing it down, you know.

SIMON: How do you react to that phrase that keeps coming up when people describe your style, if you please, as blue-eyed soul?

Mr. MEDLEY: Well, you know, Bobby and I always had mixed emotions about that. We love the fact that we were named blue-eyed soul brothers by black disc jockeys back in the early '60s when they would play our music and they were all black stations.

Some of the black disc jockeys started saying here's my blue-eyed soul brothers, The Righteous Brothers. And then it became a term and that's kind of where the term kind of lost Bobby and I because some guys were just calling themselves blue-eyed soul singers, and that seemed a little odd to us because it really felt to us. If you were doing black music, it was really probably up to black artists or the black audience to say that you're a blue-eyed soul brother, I guess.

SIMON: But let me ask about another - a few other cuts we want to talk about, but you do a version of that Ray Charles standard.

Mr. MEDLEY: Mm-hmm.

SIMON: Let's listen to it, "Lonely Avenue."

(Soundbite of song, "Lonely Avenue")

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) Well, my pillow is made of lead.

THE WATERS (Vocal Group): (Singing) Aha.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) And my cover is made of stone.

THE WATERS: (Singing) Aha.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) And I toss and turn every night.

THE WATERS: (Singing) Aha.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) I'm not used to being alone. I live on a lonely avenue since you said that we were through.

THE WATERS: (Singing) Aha.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) And I feel so sad and lonely.

THE WATERS: (Singing) Aha.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) And it's all because of you, baby.

THE WATERS: (Singing) Aha.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) I could cry. Yeah, I could die. I live on a…

THE WATERS: (Singing) Lonely avenue.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) Lord, don't you know it's sure is lonely…

THE WATERS: (Singing) Lonely avenue.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) I play a guitar(ph) then.

SIMON: It's that theme again.

Mr. MEDLEY: Yeah. I don't sound like a real happy guy, do I?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MEDLEY: Actually, I am very happy right now. But, you know, it's interesting our life hasn't always been wonderful. We always go through the bad times. So when you go in to record or even when you're on stage and you go on to songs like that, you reach back…

(Soundbite of song, "Lonely Avenue")

Mr. MEDLEY: …and pull out an emotion when things aren't - works quite so good.

SIMON: You've got a group called The Waters that backed you up on that track in the funeral.

Mr. MEDLEY: Yeah. They're incredible vocal group. They're out of L.A. They've been old friends of mine for years and years, and they're just sensational.

SIMON: Another song I want to ask you about. You have a version of a Bob Dylan standard here. And, boy, yours is different, and I say that with respect. Why don't we listen to "Just Like A Woman"?

(Soundbite of song, "Just Like A Woman")

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) Nobody feels any pain tonight as I stand inside the rain. Everybody knows that baby's got new clothes. But lately I see her ribbons and her bows. They have fallen from her curls. And she takes just like a woman. She makes love just like a woman. Oh, she aches just like a woman. But she breaks just like a little girl. Yes, she does.

SIMON: Now, it is one of the most audacious things in music to try and record a Bob Dylan song on your own.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MEDLEY: You mean stupid?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MEDLEY: Is that where you are going?

SIMON: Well, if we haven't just met, I might have put it that way, yeah. I'm trying to get on your good side, though.

Mr. MEDLEY: Oh, yeah. You know what happened, I mean, and it is a silly thing to do. But I always loved the song. I love the lyrics and the melodies of that song. I just thought it was incredibly soulful, and you noticed that it's just me and the piano player. We were, after a session, and I told - the piano player said, you know, let's try "Just Like A Woman." And everybody said, what are you nuts? And we tried it, but when we started listening to it like two or three days later, everybody said, you know, that's pretty interesting kind of believable vocal, and it's just a great song. So they decided to put it on the album.

SIMON: I think it's a great version.

Mr. MEDLEY: Oh, thank you very much. It was a brave thing to do.

SIMON: What do you look for in a song?

Mr. MEDLEY: I just love to do songs that lyrically I relate to and that I can really get my point across vocally, because I have somewhat of a unique voice so it takes a certain song that almost has to be that simple to get my point across.

(Soundbite of song, "In My Room")

SIMON: Another song we want to ask you about, you collaborated with Phil Everly, of the other brothers who sing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MEDLEY: Those other guys.

SIMON: Those other guys, and Brian Wilson of The Boys, I guess we'll put it that way.

Mr. MEDLEY: (unintelligible).

SIMON: Let's listen to a little bit of "In My Room."

(Soundbite of song, "In My Room")

Mr. MEDLEY, Mr. PHIL EVERLY and Mr. BRIAN WILSON (Singers): (Singing) There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets to. In my room, in my room, in my room, in my room.

SIMON: May I share a reaction with you that I had while listening to this?

Mr. MEDLEY: Sure.

SIMON: First, we think of "In My Room" as being a real teenager song. You know, nobody else understands me. Here, all these something like 40 years later from, I guess, maybe when it was first recorded, you're recording it with Phil Everly and with Brian Wilson, and I'm standing here listening to it thinking, you know what the message of this song is, it never gets better.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: We're always misunderstood. We're always lonely.

Mr. MEDLEY: I think you're right. I think you're always in some room trying to figure life out as a young man or as a grown man or an older guy. I mean, I just turned 67, and I'm constantly in my room wondering what happened.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MEDLEY: What happened?

(Soundbite of song, "In My Room")

Mr. MEDLEY, Mr. EVERLY and Mr. WILSON: (Singing) Now, it's dark and I'm alone but I won't be afraid…

Mr. EVERLY: (Singing) No.

Mr. MEDLEY, Mr. EVERLY and Mr. WILSON: (Singing) In my room.

Mr. WILSON: (Singing) In my room.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) In my room.

SIMON: Mr. Medley, thanks so much.

Mr. MEDLEY: Thank you.

SIMON: Bill Medley, speaking with us from Springfield, Missouri, and his new CD is "Damn Near Righteous."

(Soundbite of song, "In My Room")

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) Yes. Yes.

Mr. WILSON: (Singing) My crying and my sighing, let it (unintelligible)…

Mr. MEDLEY, Mr. EVERLY and Mr. WILSON: (Singing) Now, it's dark and I'm alone but I won't be afraid.

Mr. EVERLY: (Singing) Oh, no.

Mr. MEDLEY, Mr. EVERLY and Mr. WILSON: (Singing) In my room.

Mr. WILSON: (Singing) In my room.

Mr. MEDLEY: (Singing) In my room.

Mr. MEDLEY, Mr. EVERLY and Mr. WILSON: (Singing) In my room.

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: