Pete Fornatale 46:14
just beautiful. You know, the arguments about whether Dylan can sing or not saying he's a stylist, but when someone with a voice
I think Dylan has a beautiful voice maybe listen to slow train come if he wanted to sing it sing, you know, he could. You know, he's, he's a funny if he ever came out and did a concert and just, I mean, actually sang the melody to something like, you know, come gather around you wherever you are. If he ever did to melody, they'd have to rebuild Madison Square Garden.
Pete Fornatale 46:54
I know what you're saying. And, you know, I mean, you can have that conversation about Leonard Cohen, you could have that conversation about Tom Waits. These guys are giants. And when they do their own material, you're privileged to be witnessing it. But when someone with an instrument like yours, when Judy Collins does, just like Tom thumb's blues, it's, it's transcended what you just did with one too many mornings is transcendent.
Well, I you know, I never considered myself having a voice. I consider myself I love to sing. And I don't mean that as a put down to myself, I think I'm a rhythm singer. So I try to sing like in I can't hold notes. So I get off on quick. You know what I mean? I you know, to me people with a voice, they hold notes, and sometimes even have tremolo that's why I liked Hank Williams. When I first heard Hank Williams, you know, see, I used to go to Italian weddings coming from the Bronx. And well, here I am growing up in the Bronx, and this little Italian section, I go to weddings, you know, my uncle Frank would get on stage and he'd sing his throat with a girl. That's the ugliest thing I ever saw in my life. So when I heard Hank Williams, you know, hone down on round. Tom, you know, he was like, had no tremolo at all. And he would bite the last word of every sentence and rip it off. And I'd go wow, that is cool. I just, you know, and the words would teach you how to live. This was something Yeah, this is something to listen to. Yes, they Well, that's what roped me in.
Pete Fornatale 48:40
I want to get this out of the way because it's something someone mentioned to me. Is there any way with this record? Bronx in blue, that you're distancing yourself from rock and roll?
Absolutely not. This is just, you know, you know, a lot of people see I've been reading, I did a few shows in New York. And I was reading some of the, the reviews or people interpreting what I was doing. And a lot of people get it. They just, they just, they tie in into everything I've done, you know, in ways. And if I sat in a room and sang songs that I that Phil Spector produced, I mean, songs that, you know, my songs that Phil Spector produced or sang songs that I did with a group, you know, from the Bronx vocal group, or I did. What, whoever was better if I sit in a room and sang all those songs with my guitar, it all sounds like Dion music. It's just like, you know, this album just is cut back. It doesn't have it's not produced. It's just done.
Pete Fornatale 49:49
That is the way it should be. You you, you have a palette of many colors. Did you ever sing opera? That's the only thing I told you.
I can't hold notes. So I would I would conduct
Pete Fornatale 50:02
that's the only form I made a list of things that you've done songs and or albums about. And here's the list, blues, country, folk, rock and roll, folk rock, gospel, jazz standards, you know your way around a standard, where or when, in the steal of the night, those were as legitimate
as they were when was a real stretch, a real stretch because, well, it's a song I would have never seen never. But the guy who own glory records at the time, Alan Sussel, it was his favorite song. And I really loved the man. And I said, we got to do an arrangement. And so I just stretched, you know, in fact, in fact, Joe Zito a jazz pianist, I set the Belmonts and I down and gave us notes, because there were a few notes, a few chords that we never heard of. So he just gave us some, you know, some harmonies on some of the changes. But that was a stretch
Pete Fornatale 51:12
in retrospect that you're glad you did it?
Well, I'm glad I did it for the reason I did it. You know, but as far as like having to do is it's hard to do that song because it's a stretch. And as I move on, it's more of a stretch
Pete Fornatale 51:28
your solo version of in the Still of the night. It's called Porter, right. Not the five set, you're probably the only one who did both the five satins in the Scylla. Reporters. Absolutely. But you're side by side with Sinatra. It works.
Yeah, well, there's some great songs back there, you know, no doubt about it. You know, I just you could, you know, in fact, back then, when I when I was coming up, just to show you like the crazy things you would not crazy, but you would want to ingest or, you know, everything that was in prep, there wasn't much. You know, there was a lot of showbusiness around you with the crooners. You know, like if I watched the victim mon on on Ed Sullivan, it looked like he just took a voice lesson. I'd rather watch Jimmy Duranty singing fairy tales can come true. It could happen to you. If you're young at heart, you know, I'd rather watch him sing communicate a song. But for me, I was walking in Pelham Bay one day, just show you how wild it was for me now that I look back on what I was doing. I'm walking in Pelham Bay, and I hear this ethereal music coming out of the synagogue. And I walk in I'm like, what is that? You know? Because it's like
what? Hold on, you know, and I'm walking in. I'm looking around and the sky. Henry Rosenblatt comes out and he says you like that and brings me in the back and he starts playing me. His dad's music ersel Useless. I don't know how to say it and Yiddish but it Rosenblatt who was in the original Jazz singer with Al Jolson. And he was he was a canta a famous Jewish canta. Rosenblatt senior and he started playing me the records. I was in trouble with this stuff. So when I went back home, I wrote born a cry, you know, I wrote
you know, who, who recently did this the hives? I bet you they don't know. It's like, fusion Jewish and rock and roll. It's kind of a fusion that's Jewish rock and roll. They don't know it. But, you know, the hives just, they end this show with it. They did it on two videos. I was like, knocked I wrote it when I was 16 You know, but it has that cantering in it my crew
and my so I was like, you know, digesting all these different that's what we that's whatever I was exposed to, right.
Pete Fornatale 54:30
But that's, you know, mix that all up. And, and you come out that's that's what I think is is unique about everything that you've chosen to put your stamp on. Want to talk about a dark time. The Beatles happen. The string of hits ends for you, plus you having terrible personal problems. Mid 60s, right. Did you think it was the end? Did you think it was all over? How How did you reconcile all of that?
Well, I wasn't too conscious of that, that business change because I had found all these albums that John Hammond gave me. So I was kind of woodshedding. But I was using a lot of drugs drinking a lot in the mid 60s, you know, I was, I was one of those guys, you know, put me right in the mix. You know, they say, if you remember the 60s, you really weren't there. And you know, I don't remember the 60s, but the mid 60s, I would say what most bleakest, darkest emotional period of my life because, you know, I was, I was using these drugs, and it got worse and worse. And it's a funny thing about drugs, if you use them like I did, there's like three stages. The first stage is you have a lot of fun. The second stage is fun, and some problems. And then the third stage is like, problems, period, and it could kill you, and it did kill people. So I started seeing, you know, it's a funny thing, that rock'n'roll is we pride ourselves on being free, and, and knowing the truth, you know, truth and freedom, big thing to us, you know. And, you know, we'd like to express that and turn up the amps and let everybody know it right in your face. But I started seeing a lot of the guys I knew die very broken, not ever coming to the full knowledge of the truth, or never appropriating what they were singing about in their lives, they never really got their own message. So you know, it started to I started to wonder about that. I said, you know, how do you how do you actually be, you know, how does this become intrinsic? Yeah, it was saying these things, but how does it become part of you? And for me, I said a prayer one day, back in 68, and I haven't had a drug of a drink and 38 years, so my life really, totally changed around you know,
Pete Fornatale 57:00
do you still perform in your own backyard?
Who I don't remember that?
Pete Fornatale 57:06
It is. You don't even have to try. It is just simply one of the best. coming out the other end of the experience that you just described,
like an anti drug song that isn't an anti drug song.
Pete Fornatale 57:20
It's a pro life song. It's yeah, it's good. Let's listen to it. I'm mixed bag ready. Gotta put that in. Its killer still, to this day, in your own backyard. That's Deon. He, it kind of helped put him back on the road to recovery and the road to the amazing career that he's had for himself. When did you become aware of the Beatles? And what did you think of them?
You want to know? To be honest with you, I was never into the Beatles. I just wasn't, there was some great songs they did. But personally, I was like, I was hanging out in the village in the mid 60s with lightning Hopkins and the spoonful will come in around so I enjoy their music. And, you know, I was with Richie Havens, Tim Hardin, I was hanging out with and, and Mike Bloomfield, you know, they started the whole Butterfield. And so I was like, involved with all these guys in the village at the time I was had an apartment down then, when the village was the village, in the 60s. And the Beatles thing, like I was talking a little Richard and he was he wasn't a Beatle fan at all, because he thought that, you know, Ringo was you know, if you ever had like, like, Ringo was the farthest thing away from a black drummer, you could find it was almost like, you know, too rigid form or too confusing for like, you know, to really get something going so but, you know, the stones were a little different story. You know, I had a little go with them, you know, but they did it for me. And, you know
Pete Fornatale 58:53
How did you find out that you were on the cover of Sergeant Pepper and what did that mean to you?
You mean what did it mean for them? That's why I think so, so much. You gotta humble guys. John Lennon. John Lennon. It's a you know, when you're from the Bronx, you gotta go for these things.
John Lennon loved Ruby baby, you know, he just and he took he actually took the photo off the cuff I met. I met John and George on 57th Street when they came in to do the madness. Carnegie Hall, one of the shows they did here for Sid Bernstein. And, and he liked, you know, where do you get that Ruby baby? He was like, he liked that song, you know? So I guess the, you know, somewhere they threw it on there. I never asked them.
Pete Fornatale 59:53
It's, you're in a very select, very select group. And yet just another one of those Those honors that have come your way just by doing what you do and being who you are. And end of story. We're at the point now where you've come out the other side of your personal problems, and reclaiming your rightful place in the music business. So the question here is, who is Dick holler? And why was he important in your life?
Well, he he brought me this little song, you know, when it was like... his email friend, Abraham candidum, and when he's gone, a lot of people but the good night, you know, it's like, and I thought, yeah, thanks. But it's I, you know, it sounded like a little, kind of an opportunist thing. And my wife said Dion, she said that, you know, that's a, that's a that's a gospel tune. It's talking about a state of love that does exist, and you have to work to make it real. You know, you know, and then I had somebody else, go ahead, you know, you could kill the dream of, but you can't kill the dream. And that's what that song I said, Whoa, ye. So I put, I got my guitar. And I put that arrangement to it. I'm gonna do the whole thing, because I don't have the whole thing but it's like....
So I did it like in because I was I was 1968. And I was hanging out with Tim Hardin. And Tim Horton was, he didn't sing louder than this says, You look to me, like Misty roses. So I was, you know, we were sitting, we would sit around the houses, you know, with the fireplace on down in the village, and we, and we get these acoustical guitars. And we, and I put the arrangement together like that. And I did it, you know, and never thought it would be, you know, it's sold millions of records. And I got was before email, and I must have got 5000 postcards from college students all over the country thanking me for making a very, very confusing time because Bob Kennedy was assassinated. I mean, Martin Luther King was assassinated. And Bobby Kennedy was at his funeral. And he said, Who's the next senseless victim that's going to get struck down by some assassins, you know, and a couple of months later, he was gone. It was out of frustration. We put the song together and the cards that I that I received, said, you know, thanks for making sense of something so horrible and horrendous. Thanks for bringing something good out of it, you know, that we're making it you know, giving us a solution.
Pete Fornatale 1:02:54
It has retained all of its power these days, you are dedicating it to the troops. When you perform it,
I dedicated to all those men and women of virtue, whether they are the people at 911, who were running up those steps, the firemen, the police officers, the health workers, you know, when push comes to shove those people that have that virtue, whether they're in the armed forces, fighting for our freedom, the you know, look at police officers, they they're out there guarding our kids, while we're here having fun with the hillbilly music or whatever we're doing
Pete Fornatale 1:03:31
my youngest son is one of them. And why it's royalty. You know,
we're around royalty around these guys. You've also fold
Pete Fornatale 1:03:39
it in will the circle be unbroken into your arrangement of it and
you it's on the original record? It's on the original record, it's just that I don't have the organ planet so I sang it the other night, but play the original record, you'll hear it in the middle of the organ playing with a circle being bound by and as a sitar in there and
Pete Fornatale 1:04:04
see I thought I knew more about you than you did, but you can still teach.
When it comes you probably do when it comes to the musical end of it
Pete Fornatale 1:04:14
I yield I yield the floor to the gentleman from the Bronx. I listen, you did that you did that version of it at our 10th anniversary mixed bag party and I'd like to play it for our listeners today on mixed bag radio. That's Dion and a live version of Abraham Martin and John from what was the mixed bag 10th anniversary party. We're a little further along now than we were then then I'll have more with Dion after these messages
I wish you would play the there's an arrangement and acoustical arrangement of it on new masters. That's really you'd really liked I think you'd I really want to play the next big thing but
Pete Fornatale 1:04:59
no, no I just want you to get the song in the show. So if you want to do a setup I'm telling you for new masters
there's an arranger, there's an acoustical arrangement of it on new masters. That's really different that people probably haven't heard. It's on an album called new masters and
Pete Fornatale 1:05:21
Gret, We'll put it in post production, I'm going to say, let's listen on mixbag radio. That's Dion and an acoustic version of Abraham, Martin and John from the new masters collection. I'll have more with Dion right after this.