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Adventures in Songwriting with Paul Williams

    From the Austin Chronicle:

    "I did 48 Tonight Shows. I remember six."

    That's pretty exceptional, even by a drunk's standard. And Paul Williams was certainly that.

    Strange as it might seem now, Williams was also once borderline omnipresent in Hollywood. Not only did the diminutive entertainer appear in everything from Smokey and the Bandit to the Planet of the Apes franchise, but he was also the songwriter behind such monumental soft rock classics as "We've Only Just Begun" (the Carpenters) and "Evergreen" (Barbra Streisand). He wrote the lyrics to The Love Boat theme and appeared in multiple episodes as a passenger on the Pacific Princess. He has a star on Hollywood Boulevard and an Oscar nomination for penning The Muppet Movie anthem "The Rainbow Connection." He also loved drugs and alcohol.

    "In the Seventies, I was doing work I was really proud of, but somewhere I crossed the line from use to abuse to addiction," says Williams. "Twin addictions were running on parallel tracks with me: One was drugs and alcohol and the other was addiction to celebrity. I became better at showing off than showing up. The next thing you know, you've gone from being the center of attention to peeking out the venetian blinds at 3am looking for the tree police because you know they're out there and you haven't slept for two days and nights."

    Williams, sober for 22 years this March, is now the subject of the documentary Paul Williams: Still Alive. And while not the chart fixture of the past, the songwriter was paid an enormous compliment by his peers in 2009 when they elected him president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Despite the potential political aspects of that position, Williams is and always will be a songwriter first. He's got the scars to prove it.

    "The reason you respond to something is because of what we have in common – our fears, our triumphs, and this full range of human emotion," he opines. "All this shit we write about, we all go through. If you're spectacularly brilliant and different from the rest of the world it makes it a tougher communication than if you're Paulie and you go, 'Ouch, mommy. I need to be held today.' Someone else out there is going, 'I need to be held today, too.'"

    Paul Williams Still Alive | Paul Williams is an Oscar, Grammy...

    Dir | Paul Williams Still Alive | Stephen Kessler premiered his...

    Type Music, SXSW Interview
    Hashtag #sxsw #pwilliams
    Info Y
    Tags AustinChronicle, Reggae
    Website http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_MP990443



SXSW Interview: Ann and Nancy Wilson


A Conversation with Steve Stoute and Dan Charnas

    From the Austin Chronicle:

    "Don't say multicultural," Russell Simmons once told journalist Dan Charnas. "Say multiracial. It's one culture."

    Simmons is partially responsible for the latter point being more true today than it's ever been. As the founder of pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam Recordings, he played an integral role in black music crossing over into mainstream culture. Think the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC remixing Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," or LL Cool J's premiere on MTV.

    Dan Charnas reported on all of it for The Source, the first major-market magazine to exclusively cover hip-hop. Last year, he published the mind-bendingly detailed The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, a 672-page analysis of every rap deal that made America the colorful society it is today. He knows a thing or two about the power of the crossover.

    "When I talk about crossover, I'm not talking about mixing it up, which is what guys like Nelly and Snoop did," he says, referring to Nelly's 2006 collaboration with country hit-factory Tim McGraw and Snoop Dogg's 2008 blues choker "My Medicine." "I'm talking about a system of white supremacy whereby a black artist, in order to get any mainstream exposure, has to change their musical style or whiten up their music. Nelly was already a pop star when he made that song. Snoop was huge before he made 'My Medicine.'"

    Charnas references Michael Jackson putting Eddie Van Halen on "Beat It" and Lionel Richie's "Deep River Woman" collaboration with Alabama as prime examples of pointed crossover, moments when a black artist made the conscious decision to fall in with a white market. When Barack Obama was elected president, Charnas knew the end of music's racial divide was at hand.

    "Obama represents the beginning of what you might call the final conflict against white supremacy," he says. "There's no question in my mind that the 21st century, for black artists, is a much more equitable playing field than it ever was in the Seventies and Eighties."

    Faculty | NYU/Clive Davis Institute

    Founder - CEO | Translation Advertising

    Type Music, SXSW Interview
    Hashtag #sxsw #stoute
    Level Beginner
    Info Y
    Tags AustinChronicle, Hip-Hop-Rap
    Website http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_MP990465


SXSW Interview: Bomba Estereo

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