Gary James' Interview With
Paul Davis

What an amazing track record singer / songwriter Paul Davis has! You couldn't put on the radio these last few months without hearing his "Cool Night" or "65 Love Affair" songs. And before that, his "I Go Crazy" single stayed on Billboard Magazine's Top 100 longer than any other song in history. People like Lou Rawls, Juice Newton, B.J. Thomas and Brenda Lee have all recorded his songs. As a producer, Paul Davis enjoyed considerable success with Nigel Olsson's "Dancing Shoes". Nigel Olsson as you remember was Elton John's drummer. You don't find an extraordinary talent like Paul Davis everyday. We found Paul not only super-talented, but a real nice guy besides. Here then, is our interview with Mr. Paul Davis.

Q - A leading music magazine recently described your music as being "drivel". What's your reaction to that?

A - I can't say that I've ever been a big fan of the people who play god in the music industry. I don't mind being reviewed. I've seen some reviews on other artists that really made me mad, because they didn't have one thing positive to say about the music. Music is just a matter of taste and options. I try to be very sincere with my music and have fun doing it and hope that it comes off on record that way. If I reviewed music, I wouldn't review anything that I couldn't say something positive about.

Q - Many people do not like what they hear on the radio these days. Do you like what's being played on the radio?

A - To be honest, I haven't listened a whole lot 'cause I've been fishing mostly and trying to write, trying to come up with some songs to do another album. But what I have been hearing, I do like.

Q - Writing a hit song like "Cool Night" or "I Go Crazy" that easy for you to do?

A - Most of the time I have to work pretty hard at it. I don't write a lot of songs. Generally, I record everything I write. If I'm gonna cut ten songs, I don't have fifteen or sixteen songs to choose from. I'd be lucky if I have eight, because I take a long time to write. If I think of a ballad idea, I spend a lot of time on it. "65 Love Affair" came real fast.

Q - A line from that song, "65 Love Affair" says the music was "simple and clear."

A - There's something magical and inspirational about the discovery of what was the beginning of rock 'n' roll. The songs were simple. They weren't real complicated. All of them didn't deal in real heavy thoughts either. It was just fun back then, and much simpler, easier to understand.

Q - Listening to the song "I Go Crazy", one might picture a Bobby Darin or Engelbert Humperdinck type singer. Are people at all surprised when they see you in person?

A - I guess in general they are. I really don't know. I haven't had anybody freak out. I guess, overall, people are surprised, depending pretty much on whether I have my hair up or my hair down. Of course, a lot of people don't even know what I look like, 'cause I've done very little road work.

Q - Has anybody like Engelbert Humperdinck ever recorded one of your songs?

A - Not to my knowledge. I wish they would. Hopefully they will, down the road.

Q - You worked with Jim Croce. Can you tell me a little about that?

A - I worked with him for about a week, and it was about two weeks before his crash, and it was in Atlanta in the Listening Room. At that time I was doing an acoustic act. I got to know him that week, and he was a wonderful, wonderful person. He loved a lot of things I was doing. As a matter of fact, he wanted to cut one of the songs I had just written. The next day, I met his producers. It was really a shock to me. It was the first time I knew anybody really close in the entertainment business that had something tragic happen to them. That was such a great loss there, because he was right in his peak. That was really hard to deal with. As a matter of fact, I don't even fly at all today. Another close friend was Ronnie Van Zant. He was a great person. I've never known anybody warmer than Ronnie Van Zant.

Q - What if you hadn't met up with Ilene Berns of Bang Records, where would you be today?

A - I have no idea. Maybe back in Mississippi playing in a lounge or doing something else.

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