Ian McLagan's Song For A Muse The British rocker's wife was a driving force through his time playing with The Faces, The Rolling Stones and others. Years after her death, he still finds her in his songs.
NPR logo

Ian McLagan's Song For A Muse

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/323551391/324008416" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Ian McLagan's Song For A Muse

Ian McLagan's Song For A Muse

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/323551391/324008416" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Rocker Ian McLagan has been singing and playing keyboards for almost half a century. He's played with Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the Faces. Last year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But he says it hasn't always been an easy road.

IAN MCLAGAN: Well, there was a time when I gave up music. But, actually, what I'd given up was drugs and the people I was playing with. They weren't making me happy.

SIEGEL: McLagan credits his wife, Kim, with helping him to find his way back to music. On his latest solo album, he's written a song called "Love Letter," which he says is a tribute to Kim.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE LETTER")

MCLAGAN: (Singing) I'd send you a love letter, but I can't find you anywhere. You may not be hiding from me, but I can't find you.

"Love Letter" is all about Kim. It's about my wife, who died seven years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE LETTER")

MCLAGAN: (Singing) Candles and your name in blue.

I have all the love letters I sent her, on the road - I had completely forgot about, just postcards from different places around the world. She kept them. She kept them all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE LETTER")

MCLAGAN: (Singing) I captured the light in your eyes.

I met Kim in 1965. When I joined Small Faces, we occasionally would bump into The Who. And Keith Moon and I became firm pals. And Keith came to one of the Small Faces gigs with his then girlfriend, which was Kim.

Later on, my first wife and I split up and I was spending a lot of time in the nightclubs. And I bump into Keith and Kim a lot more. Invariably, the girl I was with would fall asleep. Keith would fall asleep. And it would be left to Kim and me. And we would spend the night just chatting and drinking and that happened a couple of times. And the second time, there was a pub at the end of the road. We hadn't slept. I think we might have been doing drugs. But anyway, when we got back, I got out of the car to open the gates for her. I had driven and she was on her bicycle. And as I went up to her, I pushed her off the bicycle, so I had to grab her. I mean, you couldn't make this up. I grabbed her and kissed her. And we kissed and there was a moment of, oh my God. And that's when it started and we were together 33 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE LETTER")

MCLAGAN: (Singing) I'd send you a love letter, though you may never read it - that it goes out from my heart.

Yeah, she was my muse. I mean, she actually is my muse. I'd always heard that term. And it took me a long while to realize that she was the inspiration for so many songs and continues to be. Not all the saddest songs - I mean some of the funniest songs or the lightest songs - there's little bits of her. She's always there bringing that out of me. I think it's a good thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE LETTER")

MCLAGAN: (Singing) I'd send you a love letter. I'd send you a love letter. I'd send you a love letter.

SIEGEL: That's Ian McLagan sharing the story behind the song "Love Letter." It's from his new album called "United States."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE LETTER")

MCLAGAN: (Singing) I'd send you a love letter. I'd send you a love letter. I'd send you a love letter. But I can't find you anywhere.

SIEGEL: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.