Dave Stewart still remembers the day he found out that Eurythmics took #1 in the US with their 1983 single “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. He and Annie Lennox were in a hotel room in San Francisco, preparing to play a show, and received a phone call from a representative of their record company to share the good news.
“[The label] He said, “Oh, we have something to tell you – you’re number one,” Stewart says yarnzoomed in from Queen Mary II somewhere in the Atlantic on his way to England.
“We ended the call, and we didn’t know what to do. We looked out the window. Everything looked the same. So we both started jumping on the bed like kids, and we went, “We’re #1!” And then we went, “Oh, I wonder what that means.” Soon we found out – that night we were playing [a show]It was just queues and queues on the street and outside and everywhere. And we were like, “Holy shit.”
As it turns out, he and Lennox had a similar delighted reaction when news broke of Eurythmics being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. They texted each other and then jumped on the phone to soak up the news together.
“my wife [and] “My kids go, ‘Dad, you’re scary to give me birthday presents,'” Stewart says. “It’s ingrained in British culture, I think, to be, ‘Oh, thank you so much,’ and to be totally shy about it, you know. ? But between us, we weren’t shy at all. We were going, “Ha ha! Woo hoo!”
It wasn’t the only major honor Stewart and Lennox received this year: They were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in recognition of the music they wrote together and separately across decades of careers. A few weeks ago, Stewart released a solo album with exemplary ambition, Ebony McQueenbased on childhood memories that are stirred up when he met a woman by that name.
Stewart has an uncanny ability to see the connections between genres of music; Accordingly, he has collaborated with an astonishing number of artists throughout his career; To name a few, Aretha Franklin, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, and Mick Jagger. Ebony McQueen It certainly reflects his understanding of the ways in which blues has been woven through the many eras and different styles of music throughout history – “why all joined together in India to Africa to the coal mines, the North to endure the bitter cold, Irish music, and Scottish music.”
but, Ebony McQueen “My father’s influence is playing Rodgers and Hammerstein every morning by hearing the blues from the Beatles to Kinks to Pink Floyd,” Stewart says. Practically speaking, this is the equivalent of a lush theatrical album that attracts fans of Jellyfish and XTC; Her songs touch on pop, orchestral rock, and British Invasion rock in the 1960s.
Stewart says he’s not yet sure what a rock and roll Hall of Fame presentation will look like for him and Lennox. “I don’t know what we’re going to do after or how long we’re allowed to play, or how we’re going to do it,” he says. “We can play any way. We’ve done circuits with me only on acoustic guitar and Annie’s vocals, or played with orchestras or just played with a small band, a seven-piece band, a five-piece band. There are so many ways we can perform.” Meanwhile, Stewart is also working with collaborators to turn Ebony McQueen into a movie script.
Spin: How did the story and the new record project come together? What is the core of your inspiration?
Dave Stewart: [Stewart describes being on a tiny island and encountering a woman while out and about.] She would tell me her name, but said, “I prefer my maiden name.” I said, “What is this?” She said, “Ebony McQueen.”
I was riding my bike towards my place, and the whole chorus sang in my head. And I thought, “Ah, that’s a very infectious melody and song.” The lyrics are also sung: [sings] “Ebony McQueen, I think I once met her inside a time machine.” I was just crap. But then I started making a full character of Ebony McQueen as the queen of juggling blues.
[And then] Back to when I first discovered music. [At first] I wanted to play football for Sunderland. It wasn’t until my knee broke in several places – I was stuck at home, my mom left my dad [at] Literally at the same time he moved to London. They separated. My father was depressed and went to work. My brother was away in college. So I was at home with a leg that couldn’t walk properly. I was so frustrated.
I decided to record a disc as vinyl, which I had never done. My cousin sent it from Memphis. It was said: Robert Johnson, The king of delta blues singers. I was like, ‘Oh my God, what the hell is this?’ It looked like something from outer space. It was so surreal in North East England that we heard “Hell Hound on My Trail” and [a] The sound of strange wailing from a hotel room in the south. I went into a trance.
Then it all started to flow. It was a story that I had long prevented about my teenage slice of my life, and about my mom and dad.
This is always incredible when you find something that is deeply held and open. It’s the timing too – maybe 20 or 25 years ago, you didn’t have a language to write about.
After I came out of the ecstasy of this log – I hid that log under my bed. [Laughs.] Because I thought it was like something weird, special. Then I turned on the radio. This was in 1966. Suddenly, I was bombarded with Pigs, Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Little Faces. Everything amazed me, literally in the kitchen, I listen to this on my own. I realized they were all singing some weird blues in a different way.
My brother had a guitar that I started doing something on one string, two strings, or small blues bits, like [sings a riff] That’s all I can really play. And then I started picking out the tunes, after which I wouldn’t take them down.
She was like Excalibur. It was like, nine hours a day, I’m trying to compose all the songs I heard coming on the radio. But I didn’t know how to set it! So I was learning them all with weird tuning.
[I also visited] man two doors down [from me] Mr. Lynn Gibson, from Sunderland. All his friends were tortured to death. He made a guitar out of pieces of wire and wood that he found to please the men who survived. I didn’t realize he tuned his guitar to something different too, like a banjo. But he was very helpful in showing you how to play tunes and things like that.
What is the most challenging and rewarding thing about adapting the music, stories, and themes out there to the film’s script?
Well, fortunately, I went to see a young man in the North East of England who was the head of the Northern Theatre. [I said] Here’s my story. Would you like to write the script with me? Because he will understand the North and also know all the actors and actresses of the Northeast. Liked the story and agreed. So we met everywhere, all over the world – on a small island, in America, in London, in the Northeast. And we came up with a project, and then this lady named Selma Dmitrijevic joined in.
Between Norm and she is in the third draft. [It] It sticks to a story of coming of age as a teen discovers, based on myself and my stories, not escape, but a way to alleviate a situation through music. And finally, through music, [the teenager] He begins to meet his tribe.
Over time, I have come to realize and understand how these different musical strands associated with the blues have come together, across eras, genres, and places. As a creator, there is something very exciting when you have these connections.
Oh, yeah, I mean, I’m sure you, as a writer, when you write something for yourself, and you realize, “This [has a] Feeling somewhat similar to something George Orwell or Ray Bradbury’ or Dickens or someone else. You never imagined it would be associated with it [them], but you’re writing about a dystopian future, or whatever you’re writing. Sometimes it’s mind boggling. For me sometimes I read something from 1,000 years ago which is a Greek philosopher talking about teens and she says, “Hell, well, now, he’s describing teens exactly now.”