"Oh, baby can you save me/'Cause there ain't
much time for me to be wrong"
Daryl Hall describes his Verve Music Group solo album,
Laughing Down Crying, the fifth in
his illustrious career as part of the #1 best-selling
duo in record industry history, as a "retrospective
a box set of my mind from all eras of my music.
the album, co-produced by Daryl with long-time collaborators
Paul Pesco and Greg Bieck, including the last recordings
with his musical director T-Bone Wolk, offers a textbook
of the various influences incorporated into his own
music for over the years, and also some new flavors.
The title track even shows a little bit of country
twang, with Daryl copping to the fact much of the
album was written on guitar, rather than keyboard,
and in this case, a Fender Telecaster that lent it
The rest of Laughing Down Crying shows
off Daryl Hall's musical roots, from the R&B style
of "Eyes for You," the organ-drenched gospel
call-and-response of "Save Me," the '80s
pop-soul MTV flash of "Talking to Myself,"
the horn-driven southern funk of "Message to
Ya" and the Red Ledge-styled apocalyptic prog-rock
of "Get Out of the Way" to the swampy, blues
feel of 'Problem with You," the last song he
ever recorded with T-Bone, who died of a massive heart
attack just three hours later. It is one of three
songs on the album featuring Wolk, and includes just
him on guitar and Daryl singing.
played what I feel is the best guitar performance
he's ever done on record," says Daryl. "It
was magnificent, and three hours later, he was gone.
That was an unbelievable shock. It completely threw
the whole recording process into chaos. He was my
real friend and partner. And, for a while, I was lost
With its contradictory, bittersweet title, Laughing
Down Crying is what Daryl calls an album "about
transition," a meditation on going from isolation
into a committed relationship with the hope and heartache
involved. During the past year-while putting together
the album, his first solo project since 2003's Can't
Stop Dreaming-Daryl's personal life had been undergoing
its own set of changes, including getting married
and becoming a stepfather.
been amassing song ideas for the past eight-nine years,"
says Daryl, whose critically acclaimed first solo
album, 1980's Robert Fripp-produced Sacred Songs,
was so experimental and "non-commercial,"
a shell-shocked RCA Records refused to release it
for three years. He followed with the Dave Stewart-produced
1985 album, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine,
then 1993's Soul Alone.
now?" he asks rhetorically about his first solo
album in close to a decade. "Why not now? At
this point, I feel like my present and future, in
a creative sense, is me."
Laughing Down Crying shows the emotional
side that we've come to expect from Daryl's music.
wear my heart on my sleeve," he admits. "Nothing
held back. There's been a great deal of intensity
over the years, both good and bad. The title describes
that feeling of being in two places at once, emotionally
wired and depressed, confused and frustrated."
While Daryl Hall and John Oates have been as hot a
concert attraction as ever-recently headlining a sold-out
three-night stand at the fabled Hollywood Bowl-Hall
has admitted getting a creative boost from his award-winning
monthly webcast Live from Daryl's House, on which
he's collaborated with everyone from legends like
Smokey Robinson, Toots Hibbert, the Doors' Robby Krieger
and Ray Manzarek, Nick Lowe, Booker T and Todd Rundgren
to hot newcomers Fitz and the Tantrums, Diane Birch,
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Mayer Hawthorne, Grace
Potter and the Nocturnals and Canadian techno-rockers
Daryl freely admits working on the show inspired his
question Daryl's House has changed my life. I've always
loved collaboration, what happens when you get together
in a room to write or play, for the first time, without
any preparation. It's like a great blind date. We
all have to be on our toes because we don't know what
will happen next. I really tried to take that feeling
of seeing things for the first time fresh into making
this album. We tried to maintain our spontaneity.
The show taught me to step away for a bit, come back
and try to look at things through new eyes and objectivity."
Lyrically, the album walks the line between the emotional
and socio-political. "These days, it seems that
what happens in the personal world can be taken in
a much larger sense."
That joy, and ambivalence, is very much a part of
Laughing Down Crying.
The one-time "Family Man" has actually become
one, as he laughingly put it, going from "irony
last 10 years have been a real transition for me,
and this album is just one more step," he says.
"Hopefully, it will open a door to the next step.
It describes that journey and what the next room might