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KEROUAC’S BOOZY BEATITUDES ON ITALIAN TV, 1966

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KEROUAC’S BOOZY BEATITUDES ON ITALIAN TV, 1966
KEROUAC’S BOOZY BEATITUDES ON ITALIAN TV, 1966
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10.18.2010
10:54 pm

Pivanoimage

Writer, critic and translator Pivano ,interviews Jack Kerouac on BEATITUDES 1966. Kerouac is more than a wee bit shitfaced.

Fabulous live portrait of a freewheeling Kerouac.

Pivano was known for her insightful and freewheeling interviews of American beat writers, including Ginsberg, Corso, Bukowski and Burroughs. She had a knack for getting on the wavelength of writers being one herself. And she enjoyed drinking with them. Her published interviews with Bukowski are worth seeking out. Her longstanding friendship with Hemingway certainly prepared her for dealing with a bunch of drunk poets.

Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview

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Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview

Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview

The horror master looks back on his four-decade career

Stephen King’s office building sits on a particularly dreary dead-end road on the outskirts of Bangor, Maine, just down the street from a gun-and-ammo store, a snowplow dealership and, appropriately enough, an old cemetery. From the outside, the anonymous building looks like a new branch of Dunder Mifflin, a very deliberate choice meant to keep King and his tiny staff safe. “We can’t be on a main road because people would find us,” says one of his assistants. “And it’s not people you want to find you. He draws some weird people.”

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Once buzzed in, a visitor enters a sort of Stephen King nirvana – rooms decorated with fan-created artwork populated with characters from his novels, a Stephen King Simpsons action figure, a freakish bobble-head doll of the demented clown from his 1986 book IT, and piles and piles of books. He keeps an old Gothic house (complete with spiderwebs and bats on the front gate) just a few miles away that draws bus loads of tourists, but he’s virtually never there. Most of the year, he lives two and a half hours away in Lovell, Maine, and now with his three kids grown, he and his wife, Tabitha, head down to Sarasota, Florida, at the height of winter.

King himself only comes into the office about once a month, but today he stopped by and, as usual, he’s juggling a lot of projects at once. He just polished off a final draft of his upcoming serial-killer book Finders Keepers (a sequel to his recent work Mr. Mercedes), a pretty astonishing feat considering he will also release two books this year, write a screenplay for the new Joan Allen/Anthony LaPaglia film A Good Marriage and continue to fine-tune Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,a musical he wrote with John Mellencamp.

But right now, the 67-year-old is hunched over an easy chair in his office, chomping on a doughnut that’s leaving a growing pile of powdered sugar on his black turtleneck shirt. He’s excited about the upcoming publication of Revival, a modern-day Frankenstein story about a preacher who’s obsessed with the healing powers of electricity and his 50-year relationship with a drug-addled rock guitarist. It’s basically guaranteed to land at Number One on The New York Times bestseller list.

Since 1974, when Carrie hit shelves, King has sold an estimated 350 million books, and he’s now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. John Grisham and Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James may outsell him these days, but it’s hardly a problem. “He’s not competitive,” says his longtime agent Chuck Verrill. “The only guy he ever cared about was Tom Clancy. They were both at Penguin once, and it was made clear to King that he was seen as the second banana to Clancy. He didn’t like that, but he’s very content where he is right now.”

Stephen King

King hasn’t done many recent in-depth print interviews since a van accident nearly killed him 15 years ago, but he decided to sit down with Rolling Stone to discuss his life and career.

The vast majority of your books deal with either horror or the supernatural. What drew you toward those subjects?
It’s built in. That’s all. The first movie I ever saw was a horror movie. It was Bambi. When that little deer gets caught in a forest fire, I was terrified, but I was also exhilarated. I can’t explain it. My wife and kids drink coffee. But I don’t. I like tea. My wife and kids won’t touch a pizza with anchovies on it. But I like anchovies. The stuff I was drawn to was built in as part of my equipment.

Did you ever feel shame about that?
No. I thought it was great fun to scare people. I also knew it was socially acceptable because there were a lot of horror movies out there. And I cut my teeth on horror comics like The Crypt of Terror.

By writing horror novels, you entered one of the least respected genres of fiction.
Yeah. It’s one of the genres that live across the tracks in the literary community, but what could I do? That’s where I was drawn. I love D.H. Lawrence. And James Dickey’s poetry, Émile Zola, Steinbeck . . . Fitzgerald, not so much. Hemingway, not at all. Hemingway sucks, basically. If people like that, terrific. But if I set out to write that way, what would’ve come out would’ve been hollow and lifeless because it wasn’t me. And I have to say this: To a degree, I have elevated the horror genre.

Few would argue with that.
It’s more respected now. I’ve spoken out my whole life against the idea of simply dismissing whole areas of fiction by saying it’s “genre” and therefore can’t be seen as literature. I’m not trying to be conceited or anything. Raymond Chandler elevated the detective genre. People who have done wonderful work really blur the line.

HEMINGWAY SUCKS. IF I SET OUT TO WRITE THAT WAY, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BEEN HOLLOW AND LIFELESS BECAUSE IT WASN’T ME.

A lot of critics were pretty brutal to you when you were starting out.
Early in my career, The Village Voice did a caricature of me that hurts even today when I think about it. It was a picture of me eating money. I had this big, bloated face. It was this assumption that if fiction was selling a lot of copies, it was bad. If something is accessible to a lot of people, it’s got to be dumb because most people are dumb. And that’s elitist. I don’t buy it.

But that attitude continues to this day. Literary critic Harold Bloom viciously ripped into you when you won the National Book Award about 10 years ago.
Bloom never pissed me off because there are critics out there, and he’s one of them, who take their ignorance about popular culture as a badge of intellectual prowess. He might be able to say that Mark Twain is a great writer, but it’s impossible for him to say that there’s a direct line of descent from, say, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Jim Thompson because he doesn’t read guys like Thompson. He just thinks, “I never read him, but I know he’s terrible.”

Stephen King at the 54th Annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City, New York on November 19th, 2003.

Stephen King at the 54th Annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City, New York on November 19th, 2003. (Photo: Robin Platzer/Getty)

Michiko Kakutani, who writes reviews for The New York Times, is the same way. She’ll review a book like David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, which is one of the best novels of the year. It’s as good as Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, has the same kind of deep literary resonance. But because it has elements of fantasy and science fiction, Kakutani doesn’t want to understand it. In that sense, Bloom and Kakutani and a number of gray eminences in literary criticism are like children who say, “I can’t possibly eat this meal because the different kinds of food are touching on the plate!”

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Film critics can look at a popular movie like Jaws and heap praise upon it, then in another section of the paper, the critics will bash you for The Stand.
By its very nature, film is supposed to be an accessible medium to everybody. Let’s face it, you can take a fucking illiterate to Jaws and he can understand what’s going on. I don’t know who the Harold Bloom of the film world is, but if you found someone like that and said to him, “Compare Jaws with 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut,” he’d just laugh and say, “Well, Jaws is a piece of crappy, popular entertainment, but 400 Blows is cinema.” It’s the same elitism.

Switching gears, your new book Revival talks a lot about religion. Specifically, one of the two main characters is a reverend that turns on God when his family dies but also delivers a sermon about why religion is a complete fraud. How much of that sermon mirrors your own beliefs?
My view is that organized religion is a very dangerous tool that’s been misused by a lot of people. I grew up in a Methodist church, and we went to services every Sunday and to Bible school in the summer. We didn’t have a choice. We just did it. So all that stuff about childhood religion in Revival is basically autobiographical. But as a kid, I had doubts. When I went to Methodist youth fellowship, we were taught that the Catholics were all going to go to hell because they worship idols. So right there, I’m saying to myself, “Catholics are going to go to hell, but my aunt Molly married a Catholic and she converted and she’s got 11 kids and they’re all pretty nice and one of them’s my good friend – they’re all going to go to hell?” I’m thinking to myself, “This is bullshit.” And if that’s bullshit, how much of the rest of it is bullshit?

Did you relay any of your doubts to your mother?
Jesus, no! I loved her. I never would have done that. Once I got through high school, that was it for me. When you see somebody like Jimmy Swaggart and he’s supposed to be this great minister touched by God, and he’s paying whores because he wants to look up their dresses, it’s just all hypocrisy.

All that said, you’ve made it clear over the years that you still believe in God.
Yeah. I choose to believe in God because it makes things better. You have a meditation point, a source of strength. I don’t ask myself, “Well, does God exist or does God not exist?” I choose to believe that God exists, and therefore I can say, “God, I can’t do this by myself. Help me not to take a drink today. Help me not to take a drug today.” And that works fine for me.

Do you believe in the afterlife?
I don’t know. I’m totally agnostic on that one. Let’s put it this way, I would like to believe that there is some sort of an afterlife. I do believe that when we’re in the process of dying, that all these emergency circuits in the brain take over. I base what I’m saying not on any empirical evidence. I think it’s very possible that when you’re dying, these circuits open up, which would explain this whole white-light phenomena – when people clinically die and they see their relatives and stuff and say, “Hello, it’s great to see you.”

Do you hope to go to heaven?
I don’t want to go to the heaven that I learned about when I was a kid. To me, it seems boring. The idea that you’re going to lounge around on a cloud all day and listen to guys play harps? I don’t want to listen to harps. I want to listen to Jerry Lee Lewis!

Do you wish you had stronger beliefs? Would that give you comfort if you had more certainty?
No, I think uncertainty is good for things. Certainty breeds complacency and complacency means that you just sit somewhere in your nice little comfortable suburban house in Michigan, looking at CNN and saying, “Oh, those poor immigrant children that are all coming across the border. But we really can’t have them here – that isn’t what God wants. Let’s send them all back to the drug cartels.” There’s a complacency to it.

How about evil? Do you believe there is such a thing?
I believe in evil, but all my life I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not there’s an outside evil, whether or not there’s a force in the world that really wants to destroy us, from the inside out, individually and collectively. Or whether it all comes from inside and that it’s all part of genetics and environment. When you find somebody like, let’s say, Ted Bundy, who tortured and killed all those women and sometimes went back and had sex with the dead bodies, I don’t think when you look at his upbringing you can say, “Oh, that’s because Mommy put a clothespin on his dick when he was four.” That behavior was hard-wired. Evil is inside us. The older I get, the less I think there’s some sort of outside devilish influence; it comes from people. And unless we’re able to address that issue, sooner or later, we’ll fucking kill ourselves.

MISERY IS A BOOK ABOUT COCAINE. ANNIE WILKES IS COCAINE. SHE WAS MY NUMBER-ONE FAN.

What do you mean?
I read a thing on Huffington Post about a month ago that stayed with me. It was very troubling. It was a pop-science thing, which is all I can understand. It said we’ve been listening to the stars for 50 years, looking for any signs of life, and there’s been nothing but silence. When you see what’s going on in the world today, and you have all this conflict, and our technological expertise has far outraced our ability to manage our own emotions – you see it right now with ISIS – what’s the solution? The only solution we see with ISIS is to bomb the shit out of those motherfuckers so that they just can’t roll over the world. And that’s what’s scary about that silence – maybe all intelligent races hit this level of violence and technological advances that they can’t get past. And then they just puff out. You hit the wall and that’s it.

So you think humanity’s destiny is to someday wipe itself out?
I can’t see the future, but it’s grim. The depletion of resources – we’re living in this dine-and-dash economy. I love the Republicans, too. Whenever it comes to money – the national debt, for instance – they yell their heads off about “What about our grandchildren?” But when it comes to the environment, when it comes to resources, they’re like, “We’ll be OK for 40 years.”

I want to talk about writing now. Walk me through your typical day when you’re working on a book.
I wake up. I eat breakfast. I walk about three and a half miles. I come back, I go out to my little office, where I’ve got a manuscript, and the last page that I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it’s like getting on a taxiway. I’m able to go through and revise it and put myself – click – back into that world, whatever it is. I don’t spend the day writing. I’ll maybe write fresh copy for two hours, and then I’ll go back and revise some of it and print what I like and then turn it off.

Do you do that every day?
Every day, even weekends. I used to write more and I used to write faster – it’s just aging. It slows you down a little bit.

Is writing an addiction for you?
Yeah. Sure. I love it. And it’s one of the few things where I do it less now and get as much out of it. Usually with dope and booze, you do it more and get less out of it as time goes by. It’s still really good, but it’s addictive, obsessive-compulsive behavior. So I’ll write every day for maybe six months and get a draft of something – and then I make myself stop completely for 10 days or 12 days in order to let everything settle. But during that time off, I drive my wife crazy. She says, “Get out of my way, get out of the house, go do something – paint a birdhouse, anything!”

So I watch TV, I play my guitar and put in time, and then when I go to bed at night, I have all these crazy dreams, usually not very pleasant ones because whatever machinery that you have that goes into writing stories, it doesn’t want to stop. So if it’s not going on the page, it has to go somewhere, and I have these mind dreams. They’re always dreams that focus on some kind of shame or insecurity.

Stephen King, 1967

Stephen King, 1967 (Photo: Courtesy King Family)

Like what?
The one that recurs is that I’m going to be in a play, and I get to the theater and it’s opening night and not only can I not find my costume, but I realize that I have never learned the lines.

How do you interpret that?
It’s just insecurity – fear of failure, fear of falling short.

You still fear failure after all these years of success?
Sure. I’m afraid of all kinds of things. I’m afraid of failing at whatever story I’m writing – that it won’t come up for me, or that I won’t be able to finish it.

Do you think your imagination is more active than most people’s?
I don’t know, man. It’s more trained. It hurts to imagine stuff. It can give you a headache. Probably doesn’t hurt physically, but it hurts mentally. But the more that you can do it, the more you’re able to get out of it. Everybody has that capacity, but I don’t think everyone develops it.

Fair enough, but not many people can do what you do.
I can remember as a college student writing stories and novels, some of which ended up getting published and some that didn’t. It was like my head was going to burst – there were so many things I wanted to write all at once. I had so many ideas, jammed up. It was like they just needed permission to come out. I had this huge aquifer underneath of stories that I wanted to tell and I stuck a pipe down in there and everything just gushed out. There’s still a lot of it, but there’s not as much now.

When did you first get the idea for Revival?
I’ve had it since I was a kid, really. I read this story called The Great God Pan in high school, and there were these two characters waiting to see if this woman could come back from the dead and tell them what was over there. It just creeped me out. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about this Mary Shelley-Frankenstein thing.

How long did it take you to write it?
I started it in Maine and finished it in Florida. An actual book takes at least a year. A first draft can be rough, and then you polish it, take out the bad stuff. Elmore Leonard – someone asked him, “How do you write a book someone wants to read?” And he said, “You leave out the boring shit.”

Do you put some of yourself into the character of Jamie?
Yeah, sure. Jamie is a guy who gets addicted to drugs after a motorcycle accident, and I’ve had a drug problem ever since, man, I don’t know. I guess I’ve had a drug problem since college.

You had a major drinking problem, too. When did that become an issue?
I started drinking by age 18. I realized I had a problem around the time that Maine became the first state in the nation to pass a returnable-bottle-and-can law. You could no longer just toss the shit away, you saved it, and you turned it in to a recycling center. And nobody in the house drank but me. My wife would have a glass of wine and that was all. So I went in the garage one night, and the trash can that was set aside for beer cans was full to the top.

It had been empty the week before. I was drinking, like, a case of beer a night. And I thought, “I’m an alcoholic.” That was probably about ’78, ’79. I thought, “I’ve gotta be really careful, because if somebody says, ‘You’re drinking too much, you have to quit,’ I won’t be able to.”

Were you buzzed when you wrote in the morning back then?
Not really. I didn’t drink in the days. Sometimes if I had, like, two things going – which I did a lot, sometimes I still do – I would work at night. And if I was working at night, I was looped. But I never wrote original stuff at night, I just rewrote. It turned out all right.

At what point did hard drugs enter the picture?
It was probably about ’78, around the same time that I realized that I was out of control with drinking. Well, I thought I was in control, but in reality I wasn’t.

That was cocaine?
Yeah, coke. I was a heavy user from 1978 until 1986, something like that.

Did you write on coke?
Oh, yeah, I had to. I mean, coke was different from booze. Booze, I could wait, and I didn’t drink or anything. But I used coke all the time.

You had three young kids at the time. It must have been very stressful to keep this huge secret while balancing all your responsibilities.
I don’t remember.

Really?
No. That whole time is pretty hazy to me. I just didn’t use it around people. And I wasn’t a social drinker. I used to say that I didn’t want to go to bars because they were full of assholes like me.

Stephen King, 1967

The King Family (Photo: Baerbel Schmidt/NYTimes/Redux)

I’m trying to comprehend how you lived this whole secret life of a drug addict for eight years, all the while churning out bestsellers and being a family man.
Well, I can’t comprehend it now, either, but you do what you have to do. And when you’re an addict, you have to use. So you just try to balance things out as best you can. But little by little, the family life started to show cracks.

I was usually pretty good about it. I was able to get up and make the kids breakfast and get them off to school. And I was strong; I had a lot of energy. I would’ve killed myself otherwise. But the books start to show it after a while. Misery is a book about cocaine. Annie Wilkes is cocaine. She was my number-one fan.

Did the quality of your writing start to go down?
Yeah, it did. I mean, The Tommyknockers is an awful book. That was the last one I wrote before I cleaned up my act. And I’ve thought about it a lot lately and said to myself, “There’s really a good book in here, underneath all the sort of spurious energy that cocaine provides, and I ought to go back.” The book is about 700 pages long, and I’m thinking, “There’s probably a good 350-page novel in there.”

Is The Tommyknockers the one book in your catalog you think you botched?
Well, I don’t like Dreamcatcher very much. Dreamcatcher was written after the accident. [In 1999, King was hit by a van while taking a walk and left severely injured.] I was using a lot of Oxycontin for pain. And I couldn’t work on a computer back then because it hurt too much to sit in that position. So I wrote the whole thing longhand. And I was pretty stoned when I wrote it, because of the Oxy, and that’s another book that shows the drugs at work.

If you had to pick your best book, what would it be?
Lisey’s Story. That one felt like an important book to me because it was about marriage, and I’d never written about that. I wanted to talk about two things: One is the secret world that people build inside a marriage, and the other was that even in that intimate world, there’s still things that we don’t know about each other.

Are you done writing Dark Tower books?
I’m never done with The Dark Tower. The thing about The Dark Tower is that those books were never edited, so I look at them as first drafts. And by the time I got to the fifth or sixth book, I’m thinking to myself, “This is really all one novel.” It drives me crazy. The thing is to try to find the time to rewrite them. There’s a missing element – a big battle at a place called Jericho Hill. And that whole thing should be written, and I’ve thought about it several times, and I don’t know how to get into it.

You’ve made a fortune over the years. A lot of people would be living it up, buying houses in Hawaii and the South of France and filling them with Picassos. That’s obviously not your thing, so what does your money do for you?
I like to have money to buy books and go to movies and buy music and stuff. To me, the greatest thing in the world is downloading TV shows on iTunes because there are no commercials, and yet if I were a working stiff, I could never afford to do this. But I don’t even think about money. I have two amazing things in my life: I’m pain-free and I’m debt-free. Money means I can support my family and still do what I love. Not very many people can say that in this world, and not many writers can say that. I’m not a clothes person. I’m not a boat person. We do have a house in Florida. But we live in Maine, for Christ’s sake. It’s not like a trendy community or anything. We have the houses and stuff. My wife likes all that. But I’m not very interested in stuff. I like cars, because I grew up in the country and a car was important. So we’ve got more cars than we need, but that’s our biggest extravagance.

When you look at these hedge-fund guys just living like kings . . .
Totally foreign to me. I saw The Wolf of Wall Street, and it looked to me like this guy was living this sort of exhausting lifestyle. Money for the sake of money doesn’t interest me. There’s a lot of it, and we give a lot of it away.

I’ve read that you make large charitable donations, but you almost never hear about where it goes.
We were raised firmly to believe that if you give away money and you make a big deal of it so that everybody sees it, that’s hubris. You do it for yourself, and you’re not supposed to make a big deal about it. We have publicly acknowledged certain contributions, but the idea behind that is to say to other people, “This is the example we’re trying to make, so we wish that you would do the same thing.”

So if you give away $1 million to Eastern Maine General Hospital here, you’re doing it because you’re hoping that somebody else will chip in. I’m not averse to using whatever celebrity that I have. I’m going to do a TV ad for the Democratic candidate Shenna Bellows this afternoon. She’s running against Susan Collins for Senate. And I don’t know how much goodwill I have in the state, but I think it’s a fair amount, so maybe the ad will make a difference.

Do you worry that being too political will turn off some of your readers?
It happens all the time. I wrote an e-book after the thing in Newtown, Connecticut, when that guy shot all those kids. I got a lot of letters, somebody saying, “Asshole! I’ll never read another one of your goddamn books.” So what? If you’re to a point where you can’t separate the entertainment from the politics, who needs you? Jesus Christ.

I never really cared for Tom Clancy’s books, but it wasn’t because he was a Republican guy. It was because I didn’t think he could write. There’s another guy that I sense is probably a fairly right-wing writer. His name is Stephen Hunter. And I love his books. I don’t think he likes mine.

Your father walked out when you were two. How much did his absence shape your life?
I don’t know. I don’t live an examined life, but I can remember when Tabby and I got married, back in ’71. I can remember laying in bed with her and turning over and saying, “We ought to get married.” And she said, “Let me think about it overnight.”

Stephen King in 1952, 3 years after his father walked out on his family.

in 1952, 3 years after his father walked out on his family. (Photo: Courtesy of King Family)

And in the morning, she said, “Yeah, we should get married.” We had nothing. I mean, I was working at a gas station. I was pumping gas. And then when I graduated from school, she was still in school. Then when I got a job working at a wet-wash laundry because I couldn’t get a teaching job, we had jack shit for money. She was working in a Dunkin’ Donuts when I finally got a teaching job. We didn’t have a phone in the house, and we had two babies. Don’t ask me why we did that. I can’t remember what the mindset was there.

Looking back, would you do it all over again?
We must have been fucking crazy, but I love those kids, and I’m glad we did it. She would go to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. She looked cute in the little pink uniform. God, she was so good-looking. She’s still good-looking to me, but oh, my God. And there was something sexy about all that pink nylon.

She would bring home the empty buckets of filling from the doughnuts, and we used them as diaper pails. So I would teach school, come home, she’d work at Dunkin’ Donuts. I would baby-sit the kids and give them the bottles and change them and everything until she came home at 11:00. And then we’d go to bed. And I’m thinking to myself, “I’m not going to leave this marriage no matter what happens.”

Your dad died in 1980. Were you ever tempted to meet him, if only to hear his side of the story?
No. I was curious when I was a kid. I used to think, “I’d like to find him and knock his fucking head off.” And then later on, I thought to myself, “I’d like to find him and hear his side of the story and thenknock his fucking head off.” Because there’s no excuse for it. It wasn’t just that he walked out and left us – he left her holding a whole bunch of bills, which she worked to pay off.

What stopped you?
I was too busy. I was trying to carve out a career as a writer. And when I was teaching school, I would teach and come home and try to steal a couple of hours to write. To tell you the truth, man, I never thought about it that much.

Did you see that new documentary “Room 237″ about obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining?
Yeah. Well, let me put it this way – I watched about half of it and got sort of impatient with it and turned it off.

Why?
These guys were reaching. I’ve never had much patience for academic bullshit. It’s like Dylan says, “You give people a lot of knives and forks, they’ve gotta cut something.” And that was what was going on in that movie.

You’ve been extremely critical of Kubrick’s film over the years. Is it possible he made a great movie that just so happens to be a horrible adaptation of your book?
No. I never saw it that way at all. And I never see any of the movies that way. The movies have never been a big deal to me. The movies are the movies. They just make them. If they’re good, that’s terrific. If they’re not, they’re not. But I see them as a lesser medium than fiction, than literature, and a more ephemeral medium.

Are you mystified by the cult that’s grown around Kubrick’s Shining?
I don’t get it. But there are a lot of things that I don’t get. But obviously people absolutely love it, and they don’t understand why I don’t. The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, “Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.” And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am.

What’s the best movie ever made from one of your books?
Probably Stand by Me. I thought it was true to the book, and because it had the emotional gradient of the story. It was moving. I think I scared the shit out of Rob Reiner. He showed it to me in the screening room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I was out there for something else, and he said, “Can I come over and show you this movie?” And you have to remember that the movie was made on a shoestring. It was supposed to be one of those things that opened in six theaters and then maybe disappeared. And instead it went viral. When the movie was over, I hugged him because I was moved to tears, because it was so autobiographical.

But Stand by Me, Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile are all really great ones. Misery is a great film. Delores Claiborne is a really, really good film. Cujo is terrific.

What do you make of this surge in sales for young-adult books? There’s a whole school of critics that say too many adults are reading them.
It’s just crazy. I read all of the Harry Potter books, and I really liked ‘em. I don’t approach any books in terms of genre saying that “This is young adult,” or “This is a romance,” or science fiction, or whatever. You read them because you read them. Someone asked me recently, “Have you ever considered writing a book for young people? You know, a YA novel?” And I said, “All of them.” Because I don’t see that genre thing.

Do you think you have fewer young readers than you had back in the first few decades of your career?
Yes, that’s probably true. I’m seen as somebody who writes for adults because I’m an older man myself. Some of them find me, and a lot of them don’t. But I came along at a fortunate time, in that I was a paperback success before I was a hardcover success. That’s because paperbacks were cheap, so a lot of readers that I had were younger people. Paperbacks were what they could afford. You do say to yourself, “Well, are the younger readers coming along in terms of the e-books, the Kindles and all that stuff?” And the answer is, some of them are, but a lot of them probably aren’t.

Does that bother you?
Well, I have a drive to succeed. I have a drive to want to please people, as many people as possible. But that ends at a certain point where you say, “I’m not going to sell out and write this one particular kind of thing.” I had a real argument with myself about Mr. Mercedes, which is basically a straight suspense novel.

I had to sit down and have a discussion with myself and say, “Do you want to do what your heart is telling you you should do, or do you want to do what people expect? Because if you only want to write what people expect, what the fuck did you do all this for? Why don’t you write what you want to write?”

Do you worry about the death of print?
I think books are going to be around, but it’s crazy what happened. They’re worried in the publishing industry about bookstores disappearing. Barnes & Noble creating the Nook was like Vietnam; they should have left that alone because Amazon got there first with the Kindle. The death of the music business was insane, but audio recordings have been around now for maybe 120 years. Books have been around for, what, nine centuries? So they’re more entrenched than music.

Speaking of Harry Potter, you’ve become friendly with J.K. Rowling, right?
Yeah. We did a charity event at Radio City Music Hall a few years back. She was working on the last of the Harry Potter books. Her publicist and her editor called her over, and they talked for about 10 minutes. And when she came back to me, she was steaming. Fucking furious. And she said, “They don’t understand what we do, do they? They don’t fucking understand what we do.” And I said, “No, they don’t. None of them do.” And that’s what my life is like right now.

What do you mean?
When someone says, “What are you working on?” I’ll say, “I’ve got this wonderful story about these two families on two sides of a lake that end up having this arms race with fireworks,” but I’m doing this event, and then I’ve got the political ad and all this other crap. So you have to be stern about it and say, “I’m not going to do this other stuff, because you’ve got to make room for me to write.” Nobody reallyunderstands what the job is. They want the books, but they don’t, in a way, take it seriously.

You mentioned watching a lot of TV. What’s the best show of the past 15 years?
Breaking Bad. I knew it was great from the first scene you see him wearing jockey shorts. I thought it was amazingly brave since they look so geeky.

Do you think if you had been born at a later time you would have wanted to work as a TV showrunner?
No. Too much time for too little payoff. I don’t mean in terms of money. Also, showrunning is a thing where you have to work with tons of different people. You have to schmooze people, you have to talk to network people. I don’t want to do any of that.

It’s interesting that mainstream movies are worse than ever, but TV just gets better and better.
Yeah. I mean, we aren’t talking about shows like NCIS and CSI that basically show one story over and over. I’m not even talking about Mad Men, which I don’t like. But Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, The Bridge, The Americans. Those things are so textured and so involving that they make movies look like short stories. I was watching a show 12 years ago called The Shield. And in the first episode, Michael Chiklis, who played the protagonist, turns around and kills a fellow cop. And I thought to myself, “TV just underwent this seismic change.” That show was the most important show on television. Breaking Bad is better, but The Shield changed everything.

Let’s talk about music. Revival is about a rock guitarist. Do you think that could have been your path if you had a little more natural musical talent?
Sure! I love music, and I can play a little. But anyone can see the difference between someone who’s talented and someone that’s not. The main character in Revival, Jamie, just has natural talent. What he can do on the guitar, I can do when I write. It just pours out. Nobody taught me. In Revival, I took what I know about how it feels to write and applied it to music.

What’s the best concert you ever saw?
Springsteen. I went to see him at the Ice Arena in Lewiston, Maine, in 1977. He played for about four hours. It was fantastic. There’s so much energy, so much generosity in the show, and so much real life in the music. He was totally athletic, and he’d jump into the crowd, lay on his back and spin around. He was a great showman.

Do you respect him as a storyteller?
I respect him as a songwriter and the insight in his songs. My favorite album of his is Nebraska. I knew from the beginning of “Atlantic City” that it was amazing. He had really grown as a songwriter. He’s done stuff in music that nobody else has done. That line in “The River,” “Now I just act like I don’t remember, and Mary acts like she don’t care.” Let’s put it this way, it’s a long way from “Palisades Park” by Freddy Cannon.

I feel like you and Bruce would both be doing what you’re doing, even if you weren’t paid for it.
Yeah, I think it’s fair. And it’d be fair to say that we were both self-taught with a lot of ambition, a lot of drive to succeed, because I have that in me too. I have this one thing that I can do, and that’s something Bruce expresses in a lot of his music.

Do you think President Obama is doing a good job?
Under the circumstances, he’s been terrific. Look at how much improvement there’s been with the job situation. But it’s human nature to care about unresolved issues. And so this business with ISIS, or people breaking into the White House, this becomes, for some reason, Obama’s fault somehow.

Do you think Obama is right to go after ISIS like this?
If they’re as bad as the press says. I mean, they’re cutting off heads in public and blowing up shit – something’s got to be done to those guys. That’s my feeling anyway, and I’m a pacifist. It’s depressing ’cause it’s like 1984 all over again: constant war – it’s never going to end.

Why do you think the country is so divided?
It doesn’t have anything to do with Obama. There’s a fundamental discussion going on in America right now about whether or not we’re going to continue to protect individual freedoms or whether we’re going to give some of them up. And the discussion has become extremely acrimonious.

In the wake of 9/11, we’re searched invasively at airports. There are CCTV cameras everywhere. There’s a whole bunch of people who say that America is for the individual and that we’re all the gunslingers of our own house. Basically, there’s a whole side of the country that’s fearful. They’re fearful that if same-sex marriage becomes legal, then God knows what will happen – all at once, all of our kids will be gay and America’s way of life will die out. They’re afraid that immigrants are going to swamp the economy. And on the other side, there are all of those people who say, “Maybe there’s a way to embrace these things, and maybe we need to give up our right that anybody can buy a gun.” They’re basic arguments.

Do you think much about what your legacy will be?
No, not very much. For one, it’s out of my control. Only two things happen to writers when they die: Either their work survives, or it becomes forgotten. Someone will turn up an old box and say, “Who’s this guy Irving Wallace?” There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Ask kids in high school, “Who is Somerset Maugham?” They’re not going to know. He wrote books that were bestsellers in their time. But he’s well-forgotten now, whereas Agatha Christie has never been more popular. She just goes from one generation to another. She’s not as good a writer as Maugham, and she certainly didn’t try to do anything other than entertain people. So I don’t know what will happen.

You’ve threatened to retire a few times, but you’ve obviously never gone through with it. Do you see yourself doing this into your eighties and maybe even beyond?
Yeah. What else am I going to do? I mean, shit, you’ve got to do something to fill up your day. And I can only play so much guitar and watch so many TV shows. It fulfills me. There are two things about it I like: It makes me happy, and it makes other people happy.

From The Archives Issue 1221: November 6, 2014

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/stephen-king-the-rolling-stone-interview-20141031#ixzz3IgJNeUQu
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Illustration by Roberto Parada
Stephen King

The horror master looks back on his four-decade career

Stephen King’s office building sits on a particularly dreary dead-end road on the outskirts of Bangor, Maine, just down the street from a gun-and-ammo store, a snowplow dealership and, appropriately enough, an old cemetery. From the outside, the anonymous building looks like a new branch of Dunder Mifflin, a very deliberate choice meant to keep King and his tiny staff safe. “We can’t be on a main road because people would find us,” says one of his assistants. “And it’s not people you want to find you. He draws some weird people.”

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Once buzzed in, a visitor enters a sort of Stephen King nirvana – rooms decorated with fan-created artwork populated with characters from his novels, a Stephen King Simpsons action figure, a freakish bobble-head doll of the demented clown from his 1986 book IT, and piles and piles of books. He keeps an old Gothic house (complete with spiderwebs and bats on the front gate) just a few miles away that draws bus loads of tourists, but he’s virtually never there. Most of the year, he lives two and a half hours away in Lovell, Maine, and now with his three kids grown, he and his wife, Tabitha, head down to Sarasota, Florida, at the height of winter.

King himself only comes into the office about once a month, but today he stopped by and, as usual, he’s juggling a lot of projects at once. He just polished off a final draft of his upcoming serial-killer book Finders Keepers (a sequel to his recent work Mr. Mercedes), a pretty astonishing feat considering he will also release two books this year, write a screenplay for the new Joan Allen/Anthony LaPaglia film A Good Marriage and continue to fine-tune Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,a musical he wrote with John Mellencamp.

But right now, the 67-year-old is hunched over an easy chair in his office, chomping on a doughnut that’s leaving a growing pile of powdered sugar on his black turtleneck shirt. He’s excited about the upcoming publication of Revival, a modern-day Frankenstein story about a preacher who’s obsessed with the healing powers of electricity and his 50-year relationship with a drug-addled rock guitarist. It’s basically guaranteed to land at Number One on The New York Times bestseller list.

Since 1974, when Carrie hit shelves, King has sold an estimated 350 million books, and he’s now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. John Grisham and Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James may outsell him these days, but it’s hardly a problem. “He’s not competitive,” says his longtime agent Chuck Verrill. “The only guy he ever cared about was Tom Clancy. They were both at Penguin once, and it was made clear to King that he was seen as the second banana to Clancy. He didn’t like that, but he’s very content where he is right now.”

Stephen King

King hasn’t done many recent in-depth print interviews since a van accident nearly killed him 15 years ago, but he decided to sit down with Rolling Stone to discuss his life and career.

The vast majority of your books deal with either horror or the supernatural. What drew you toward those subjects?
It’s built in. That’s all. The first movie I ever saw was a horror movie. It was Bambi. When that little deer gets caught in a forest fire, I was terrified, but I was also exhilarated. I can’t explain it. My wife and kids drink coffee. But I don’t. I like tea. My wife and kids won’t touch a pizza with anchovies on it. But I like anchovies. The stuff I was drawn to was built in as part of my equipment.

Did you ever feel shame about that?
No. I thought it was great fun to scare people. I also knew it was socially acceptable because there were a lot of horror movies out there. And I cut my teeth on horror comics like The Crypt of Terror.

By writing horror novels, you entered one of the least respected genres of fiction.
Yeah. It’s one of the genres that live across the tracks in the literary community, but what could I do? That’s where I was drawn. I love D.H. Lawrence. And James Dickey’s poetry, Émile Zola, Steinbeck . . . Fitzgerald, not so much. Hemingway, not at all. Hemingway sucks, basically. If people like that, terrific. But if I set out to write that way, what would’ve come out would’ve been hollow and lifeless because it wasn’t me. And I have to say this: To a degree, I have elevated the horror genre.

Few would argue with that.
It’s more respected now. I’ve spoken out my whole life against the idea of simply dismissing whole areas of fiction by saying it’s “genre” and therefore can’t be seen as literature. I’m not trying to be conceited or anything. Raymond Chandler elevated the detective genre. People who have done wonderful work really blur the line.

HEMINGWAY SUCKS. IF I SET OUT TO WRITE THAT WAY, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BEEN HOLLOW AND LIFELESS BECAUSE IT WASN’T ME.

A lot of critics were pretty brutal to you when you were starting out.
Early in my career, The Village Voice did a caricature of me that hurts even today when I think about it. It was a picture of me eating money. I had this big, bloated face. It was this assumption that if fiction was selling a lot of copies, it was bad. If something is accessible to a lot of people, it’s got to be dumb because most people are dumb. And that’s elitist. I don’t buy it.

But that attitude continues to this day. Literary critic Harold Bloom viciously ripped into you when you won the National Book Award about 10 years ago.
Bloom never pissed me off because there are critics out there, and he’s one of them, who take their ignorance about popular culture as a badge of intellectual prowess. He might be able to say that Mark Twain is a great writer, but it’s impossible for him to say that there’s a direct line of descent from, say, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Jim Thompson because he doesn’t read guys like Thompson. He just thinks, “I never read him, but I know he’s terrible.”

Stephen King at the 54th Annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City, New York on November 19th, 2003.

Stephen King at the 54th Annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City, New York on November 19th, 2003. (Photo: Robin Platzer/Getty)

Michiko Kakutani, who writes reviews for The New York Times, is the same way. She’ll review a book like David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, which is one of the best novels of the year. It’s as good as Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, has the same kind of deep literary resonance. But because it has elements of fantasy and science fiction, Kakutani doesn’t want to understand it. In that sense, Bloom and Kakutani and a number of gray eminences in literary criticism are like children who say, “I can’t possibly eat this meal because the different kinds of food are touching on the plate!”

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Film critics can look at a popular movie like Jaws and heap praise upon it, then in another section of the paper, the critics will bash you for The Stand.
By its very nature, film is supposed to be an accessible medium to everybody. Let’s face it, you can take a fucking illiterate to Jaws and he can understand what’s going on. I don’t know who the Harold Bloom of the film world is, but if you found someone like that and said to him, “Compare Jaws with 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut,” he’d just laugh and say, “Well, Jaws is a piece of crappy, popular entertainment, but 400 Blows is cinema.” It’s the same elitism.

Switching gears, your new book Revival talks a lot about religion. Specifically, one of the two main characters is a reverend that turns on God when his family dies but also delivers a sermon about why religion is a complete fraud. How much of that sermon mirrors your own beliefs?
My view is that organized religion is a very dangerous tool that’s been misused by a lot of people. I grew up in a Methodist church, and we went to services every Sunday and to Bible school in the summer. We didn’t have a choice. We just did it. So all that stuff about childhood religion in Revival is basically autobiographical. But as a kid, I had doubts. When I went to Methodist youth fellowship, we were taught that the Catholics were all going to go to hell because they worship idols. So right there, I’m saying to myself, “Catholics are going to go to hell, but my aunt Molly married a Catholic and she converted and she’s got 11 kids and they’re all pretty nice and one of them’s my good friend – they’re all going to go to hell?” I’m thinking to myself, “This is bullshit.” And if that’s bullshit, how much of the rest of it is bullshit?

Did you relay any of your doubts to your mother?
Jesus, no! I loved her. I never would have done that. Once I got through high school, that was it for me. When you see somebody like Jimmy Swaggart and he’s supposed to be this great minister touched by God, and he’s paying whores because he wants to look up their dresses, it’s just all hypocrisy.

All that said, you’ve made it clear over the years that you still believe in God.
Yeah. I choose to believe in God because it makes things better. You have a meditation point, a source of strength. I don’t ask myself, “Well, does God exist or does God not exist?” I choose to believe that God exists, and therefore I can say, “God, I can’t do this by myself. Help me not to take a drink today. Help me not to take a drug today.” And that works fine for me.

Do you believe in the afterlife?
I don’t know. I’m totally agnostic on that one. Let’s put it this way, I would like to believe that there is some sort of an afterlife. I do believe that when we’re in the process of dying, that all these emergency circuits in the brain take over. I base what I’m saying not on any empirical evidence. I think it’s very possible that when you’re dying, these circuits open up, which would explain this whole white-light phenomena – when people clinically die and they see their relatives and stuff and say, “Hello, it’s great to see you.”

Do you hope to go to heaven?
I don’t want to go to the heaven that I learned about when I was a kid. To me, it seems boring. The idea that you’re going to lounge around on a cloud all day and listen to guys play harps? I don’t want to listen to harps. I want to listen to Jerry Lee Lewis!

Do you wish you had stronger beliefs? Would that give you comfort if you had more certainty?
No, I think uncertainty is good for things. Certainty breeds complacency and complacency means that you just sit somewhere in your nice little comfortable suburban house in Michigan, looking at CNN and saying, “Oh, those poor immigrant children that are all coming across the border. But we really can’t have them here – that isn’t what God wants. Let’s send them all back to the drug cartels.” There’s a complacency to it.

How about evil? Do you believe there is such a thing?
I believe in evil, but all my life I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not there’s an outside evil, whether or not there’s a force in the world that really wants to destroy us, from the inside out, individually and collectively. Or whether it all comes from inside and that it’s all part of genetics and environment. When you find somebody like, let’s say, Ted Bundy, who tortured and killed all those women and sometimes went back and had sex with the dead bodies, I don’t think when you look at his upbringing you can say, “Oh, that’s because Mommy put a clothespin on his dick when he was four.” That behavior was hard-wired. Evil is inside us. The older I get, the less I think there’s some sort of outside devilish influence; it comes from people. And unless we’re able to address that issue, sooner or later, we’ll fucking kill ourselves.

MISERY IS A BOOK ABOUT COCAINE. ANNIE WILKES IS COCAINE. SHE WAS MY NUMBER-ONE FAN.

What do you mean?
I read a thing on Huffington Post about a month ago that stayed with me. It was very troubling. It was a pop-science thing, which is all I can understand. It said we’ve been listening to the stars for 50 years, looking for any signs of life, and there’s been nothing but silence. When you see what’s going on in the world today, and you have all this conflict, and our technological expertise has far outraced our ability to manage our own emotions – you see it right now with ISIS – what’s the solution? The only solution we see with ISIS is to bomb the shit out of those motherfuckers so that they just can’t roll over the world. And that’s what’s scary about that silence – maybe all intelligent races hit this level of violence and technological advances that they can’t get past. And then they just puff out. You hit the wall and that’s it.

So you think humanity’s destiny is to someday wipe itself out?
I can’t see the future, but it’s grim. The depletion of resources – we’re living in this dine-and-dash economy. I love the Republicans, too. Whenever it comes to money – the national debt, for instance – they yell their heads off about “What about our grandchildren?” But when it comes to the environment, when it comes to resources, they’re like, “We’ll be OK for 40 years.”

I want to talk about writing now. Walk me through your typical day when you’re working on a book.
I wake up. I eat breakfast. I walk about three and a half miles. I come back, I go out to my little office, where I’ve got a manuscript, and the last page that I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it’s like getting on a taxiway. I’m able to go through and revise it and put myself – click – back into that world, whatever it is. I don’t spend the day writing. I’ll maybe write fresh copy for two hours, and then I’ll go back and revise some of it and print what I like and then turn it off.

Do you do that every day?
Every day, even weekends. I used to write more and I used to write faster – it’s just aging. It slows you down a little bit.

Is writing an addiction for you?
Yeah. Sure. I love it. And it’s one of the few things where I do it less now and get as much out of it. Usually with dope and booze, you do it more and get less out of it as time goes by. It’s still really good, but it’s addictive, obsessive-compulsive behavior. So I’ll write every day for maybe six months and get a draft of something – and then I make myself stop completely for 10 days or 12 days in order to let everything settle. But during that time off, I drive my wife crazy. She says, “Get out of my way, get out of the house, go do something – paint a birdhouse, anything!”

So I watch TV, I play my guitar and put in time, and then when I go to bed at night, I have all these crazy dreams, usually not very pleasant ones because whatever machinery that you have that goes into writing stories, it doesn’t want to stop. So if it’s not going on the page, it has to go somewhere, and I have these mind dreams. They’re always dreams that focus on some kind of shame or insecurity.

Stephen King, 1967

Stephen King, 1967 (Photo: Courtesy King Family)

Like what?
The one that recurs is that I’m going to be in a play, and I get to the theater and it’s opening night and not only can I not find my costume, but I realize that I have never learned the lines.

How do you interpret that?
It’s just insecurity – fear of failure, fear of falling short.

You still fear failure after all these years of success?
Sure. I’m afraid of all kinds of things. I’m afraid of failing at whatever story I’m writing – that it won’t come up for me, or that I won’t be able to finish it.

Do you think your imagination is more active than most people’s?
I don’t know, man. It’s more trained. It hurts to imagine stuff. It can give you a headache. Probably doesn’t hurt physically, but it hurts mentally. But the more that you can do it, the more you’re able to get out of it. Everybody has that capacity, but I don’t think everyone develops it.

Fair enough, but not many people can do what you do.
I can remember as a college student writing stories and novels, some of which ended up getting published and some that didn’t. It was like my head was going to burst – there were so many things I wanted to write all at once. I had so many ideas, jammed up. It was like they just needed permission to come out. I had this huge aquifer underneath of stories that I wanted to tell and I stuck a pipe down in there and everything just gushed out. There’s still a lot of it, but there’s not as much now.

When did you first get the idea for Revival?
I’ve had it since I was a kid, really. I read this story called The Great God Pan in high school, and there were these two characters waiting to see if this woman could come back from the dead and tell them what was over there. It just creeped me out. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about this Mary Shelley-Frankenstein thing.

How long did it take you to write it?
I started it in Maine and finished it in Florida. An actual book takes at least a year. A first draft can be rough, and then you polish it, take out the bad stuff. Elmore Leonard – someone asked him, “How do you write a book someone wants to read?” And he said, “You leave out the boring shit.”

Do you put some of yourself into the character of Jamie?
Yeah, sure. Jamie is a guy who gets addicted to drugs after a motorcycle accident, and I’ve had a drug problem ever since, man, I don’t know. I guess I’ve had a drug problem since college.

You had a major drinking problem, too. When did that become an issue?
I started drinking by age 18. I realized I had a problem around the time that Maine became the first state in the nation to pass a returnable-bottle-and-can law. You could no longer just toss the shit away, you saved it, and you turned it in to a recycling center. And nobody in the house drank but me. My wife would have a glass of wine and that was all. So I went in the garage one night, and the trash can that was set aside for beer cans was full to the top.

It had been empty the week before. I was drinking, like, a case of beer a night. And I thought, “I’m an alcoholic.” That was probably about ’78, ’79. I thought, “I’ve gotta be really careful, because if somebody says, ‘You’re drinking too much, you have to quit,’ I won’t be able to.”

Were you buzzed when you wrote in the morning back then?
Not really. I didn’t drink in the days. Sometimes if I had, like, two things going – which I did a lot, sometimes I still do – I would work at night. And if I was working at night, I was looped. But I never wrote original stuff at night, I just rewrote. It turned out all right.

At what point did hard drugs enter the picture?
It was probably about ’78, around the same time that I realized that I was out of control with drinking. Well, I thought I was in control, but in reality I wasn’t.

That was cocaine?
Yeah, coke. I was a heavy user from 1978 until 1986, something like that.

Did you write on coke?
Oh, yeah, I had to. I mean, coke was different from booze. Booze, I could wait, and I didn’t drink or anything. But I used coke all the time.

You had three young kids at the time. It must have been very stressful to keep this huge secret while balancing all your responsibilities.
I don’t remember.

Really?
No. That whole time is pretty hazy to me. I just didn’t use it around people. And I wasn’t a social drinker. I used to say that I didn’t want to go to bars because they were full of assholes like me.

Stephen King, 1967

The King Family (Photo: Baerbel Schmidt/NYTimes/Redux)

I’m trying to comprehend how you lived this whole secret life of a drug addict for eight years, all the while churning out bestsellers and being a family man.
Well, I can’t comprehend it now, either, but you do what you have to do. And when you’re an addict, you have to use. So you just try to balance things out as best you can. But little by little, the family life started to show cracks.

I was usually pretty good about it. I was able to get up and make the kids breakfast and get them off to school. And I was strong; I had a lot of energy. I would’ve killed myself otherwise. But the books start to show it after a while. Misery is a book about cocaine. Annie Wilkes is cocaine. She was my number-one fan.

Did the quality of your writing start to go down?
Yeah, it did. I mean, The Tommyknockers is an awful book. That was the last one I wrote before I cleaned up my act. And I’ve thought about it a lot lately and said to myself, “There’s really a good book in here, underneath all the sort of spurious energy that cocaine provides, and I ought to go back.” The book is about 700 pages long, and I’m thinking, “There’s probably a good 350-page novel in there.”

Is The Tommyknockers the one book in your catalog you think you botched?
Well, I don’t like Dreamcatcher very much. Dreamcatcher was written after the accident. [In 1999, King was hit by a van while taking a walk and left severely injured.] I was using a lot of Oxycontin for pain. And I couldn’t work on a computer back then because it hurt too much to sit in that position. So I wrote the whole thing longhand. And I was pretty stoned when I wrote it, because of the Oxy, and that’s another book that shows the drugs at work.

If you had to pick your best book, what would it be?
Lisey’s Story. That one felt like an important book to me because it was about marriage, and I’d never written about that. I wanted to talk about two things: One is the secret world that people build inside a marriage, and the other was that even in that intimate world, there’s still things that we don’t know about each other.

Are you done writing Dark Tower books?
I’m never done with The Dark Tower. The thing about The Dark Tower is that those books were never edited, so I look at them as first drafts. And by the time I got to the fifth or sixth book, I’m thinking to myself, “This is really all one novel.” It drives me crazy. The thing is to try to find the time to rewrite them. There’s a missing element – a big battle at a place called Jericho Hill. And that whole thing should be written, and I’ve thought about it several times, and I don’t know how to get into it.

You’ve made a fortune over the years. A lot of people would be living it up, buying houses in Hawaii and the South of France and filling them with Picassos. That’s obviously not your thing, so what does your money do for you?
I like to have money to buy books and go to movies and buy music and stuff. To me, the greatest thing in the world is downloading TV shows on iTunes because there are no commercials, and yet if I were a working stiff, I could never afford to do this. But I don’t even think about money. I have two amazing things in my life: I’m pain-free and I’m debt-free. Money means I can support my family and still do what I love. Not very many people can say that in this world, and not many writers can say that. I’m not a clothes person. I’m not a boat person. We do have a house in Florida. But we live in Maine, for Christ’s sake. It’s not like a trendy community or anything. We have the houses and stuff. My wife likes all that. But I’m not very interested in stuff. I like cars, because I grew up in the country and a car was important. So we’ve got more cars than we need, but that’s our biggest extravagance.

When you look at these hedge-fund guys just living like kings . . .
Totally foreign to me. I saw The Wolf of Wall Street, and it looked to me like this guy was living this sort of exhausting lifestyle. Money for the sake of money doesn’t interest me. There’s a lot of it, and we give a lot of it away.

I’ve read that you make large charitable donations, but you almost never hear about where it goes.
We were raised firmly to believe that if you give away money and you make a big deal of it so that everybody sees it, that’s hubris. You do it for yourself, and you’re not supposed to make a big deal about it. We have publicly acknowledged certain contributions, but the idea behind that is to say to other people, “This is the example we’re trying to make, so we wish that you would do the same thing.”

So if you give away $1 million to Eastern Maine General Hospital here, you’re doing it because you’re hoping that somebody else will chip in. I’m not averse to using whatever celebrity that I have. I’m going to do a TV ad for the Democratic candidate Shenna Bellows this afternoon. She’s running against Susan Collins for Senate. And I don’t know how much goodwill I have in the state, but I think it’s a fair amount, so maybe the ad will make a difference.

Do you worry that being too political will turn off some of your readers?
It happens all the time. I wrote an e-book after the thing in Newtown, Connecticut, when that guy shot all those kids. I got a lot of letters, somebody saying, “Asshole! I’ll never read another one of your goddamn books.” So what? If you’re to a point where you can’t separate the entertainment from the politics, who needs you? Jesus Christ.

I never really cared for Tom Clancy’s books, but it wasn’t because he was a Republican guy. It was because I didn’t think he could write. There’s another guy that I sense is probably a fairly right-wing writer. His name is Stephen Hunter. And I love his books. I don’t think he likes mine.

Your father walked out when you were two. How much did his absence shape your life?
I don’t know. I don’t live an examined life, but I can remember when Tabby and I got married, back in ’71. I can remember laying in bed with her and turning over and saying, “We ought to get married.” And she said, “Let me think about it overnight.”

Stephen King in 1952, 3 years after his father walked out on his family.

in 1952, 3 years after his father walked out on his family. (Photo: Courtesy of King Family)

And in the morning, she said, “Yeah, we should get married.” We had nothing. I mean, I was working at a gas station. I was pumping gas. And then when I graduated from school, she was still in school. Then when I got a job working at a wet-wash laundry because I couldn’t get a teaching job, we had jack shit for money. She was working in a Dunkin’ Donuts when I finally got a teaching job. We didn’t have a phone in the house, and we had two babies. Don’t ask me why we did that. I can’t remember what the mindset was there.

Looking back, would you do it all over again?
We must have been fucking crazy, but I love those kids, and I’m glad we did it. She would go to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. She looked cute in the little pink uniform. God, she was so good-looking. She’s still good-looking to me, but oh, my God. And there was something sexy about all that pink nylon.

She would bring home the empty buckets of filling from the doughnuts, and we used them as diaper pails. So I would teach school, come home, she’d work at Dunkin’ Donuts. I would baby-sit the kids and give them the bottles and change them and everything until she came home at 11:00. And then we’d go to bed. And I’m thinking to myself, “I’m not going to leave this marriage no matter what happens.”

Your dad died in 1980. Were you ever tempted to meet him, if only to hear his side of the story?
No. I was curious when I was a kid. I used to think, “I’d like to find him and knock his fucking head off.” And then later on, I thought to myself, “I’d like to find him and hear his side of the story and thenknock his fucking head off.” Because there’s no excuse for it. It wasn’t just that he walked out and left us – he left her holding a whole bunch of bills, which she worked to pay off.

What stopped you?
I was too busy. I was trying to carve out a career as a writer. And when I was teaching school, I would teach and come home and try to steal a couple of hours to write. To tell you the truth, man, I never thought about it that much.

Did you see that new documentary “Room 237″ about obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining?
Yeah. Well, let me put it this way – I watched about half of it and got sort of impatient with it and turned it off.

Why?
These guys were reaching. I’ve never had much patience for academic bullshit. It’s like Dylan says, “You give people a lot of knives and forks, they’ve gotta cut something.” And that was what was going on in that movie.

You’ve been extremely critical of Kubrick’s film over the years. Is it possible he made a great movie that just so happens to be a horrible adaptation of your book?
No. I never saw it that way at all. And I never see any of the movies that way. The movies have never been a big deal to me. The movies are the movies. They just make them. If they’re good, that’s terrific. If they’re not, they’re not. But I see them as a lesser medium than fiction, than literature, and a more ephemeral medium.

Are you mystified by the cult that’s grown around Kubrick’s Shining?
I don’t get it. But there are a lot of things that I don’t get. But obviously people absolutely love it, and they don’t understand why I don’t. The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, “Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.” And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am.

What’s the best movie ever made from one of your books?
Probably Stand by Me. I thought it was true to the book, and because it had the emotional gradient of the story. It was moving. I think I scared the shit out of Rob Reiner. He showed it to me in the screening room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I was out there for something else, and he said, “Can I come over and show you this movie?” And you have to remember that the movie was made on a shoestring. It was supposed to be one of those things that opened in six theaters and then maybe disappeared. And instead it went viral. When the movie was over, I hugged him because I was moved to tears, because it was so autobiographical.

But Stand by Me, Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile are all really great ones. Misery is a great film. Delores Claiborne is a really, really good film. Cujo is terrific.

What do you make of this surge in sales for young-adult books? There’s a whole school of critics that say too many adults are reading them.
It’s just crazy. I read all of the Harry Potter books, and I really liked ‘em. I don’t approach any books in terms of genre saying that “This is young adult,” or “This is a romance,” or science fiction, or whatever. You read them because you read them. Someone asked me recently, “Have you ever considered writing a book for young people? You know, a YA novel?” And I said, “All of them.” Because I don’t see that genre thing.

Do you think you have fewer young readers than you had back in the first few decades of your career?
Yes, that’s probably true. I’m seen as somebody who writes for adults because I’m an older man myself. Some of them find me, and a lot of them don’t. But I came along at a fortunate time, in that I was a paperback success before I was a hardcover success. That’s because paperbacks were cheap, so a lot of readers that I had were younger people. Paperbacks were what they could afford. You do say to yourself, “Well, are the younger readers coming along in terms of the e-books, the Kindles and all that stuff?” And the answer is, some of them are, but a lot of them probably aren’t.

Does that bother you?
Well, I have a drive to succeed. I have a drive to want to please people, as many people as possible. But that ends at a certain point where you say, “I’m not going to sell out and write this one particular kind of thing.” I had a real argument with myself about Mr. Mercedes, which is basically a straight suspense novel.

I had to sit down and have a discussion with myself and say, “Do you want to do what your heart is telling you you should do, or do you want to do what people expect? Because if you only want to write what people expect, what the fuck did you do all this for? Why don’t you write what you want to write?”

Do you worry about the death of print?
I think books are going to be around, but it’s crazy what happened. They’re worried in the publishing industry about bookstores disappearing. Barnes & Noble creating the Nook was like Vietnam; they should have left that alone because Amazon got there first with the Kindle. The death of the music business was insane, but audio recordings have been around now for maybe 120 years. Books have been around for, what, nine centuries? So they’re more entrenched than music.

Speaking of Harry Potter, you’ve become friendly with J.K. Rowling, right?
Yeah. We did a charity event at Radio City Music Hall a few years back. She was working on the last of the Harry Potter books. Her publicist and her editor called her over, and they talked for about 10 minutes. And when she came back to me, she was steaming. Fucking furious. And she said, “They don’t understand what we do, do they? They don’t fucking understand what we do.” And I said, “No, they don’t. None of them do.” And that’s what my life is like right now.

What do you mean?
When someone says, “What are you working on?” I’ll say, “I’ve got this wonderful story about these two families on two sides of a lake that end up having this arms race with fireworks,” but I’m doing this event, and then I’ve got the political ad and all this other crap. So you have to be stern about it and say, “I’m not going to do this other stuff, because you’ve got to make room for me to write.” Nobody reallyunderstands what the job is. They want the books, but they don’t, in a way, take it seriously.

You mentioned watching a lot of TV. What’s the best show of the past 15 years?
Breaking Bad. I knew it was great from the first scene you see him wearing jockey shorts. I thought it was amazingly brave since they look so geeky.

Do you think if you had been born at a later time you would have wanted to work as a TV showrunner?
No. Too much time for too little payoff. I don’t mean in terms of money. Also, showrunning is a thing where you have to work with tons of different people. You have to schmooze people, you have to talk to network people. I don’t want to do any of that.

It’s interesting that mainstream movies are worse than ever, but TV just gets better and better.
Yeah. I mean, we aren’t talking about shows like NCIS and CSI that basically show one story over and over. I’m not even talking about Mad Men, which I don’t like. But Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, The Bridge, The Americans. Those things are so textured and so involving that they make movies look like short stories. I was watching a show 12 years ago called The Shield. And in the first episode, Michael Chiklis, who played the protagonist, turns around and kills a fellow cop. And I thought to myself, “TV just underwent this seismic change.” That show was the most important show on television. Breaking Bad is better, but The Shield changed everything.

Let’s talk about music. Revival is about a rock guitarist. Do you think that could have been your path if you had a little more natural musical talent?
Sure! I love music, and I can play a little. But anyone can see the difference between someone who’s talented and someone that’s not. The main character in Revival, Jamie, just has natural talent. What he can do on the guitar, I can do when I write. It just pours out. Nobody taught me. In Revival, I took what I know about how it feels to write and applied it to music.

What’s the best concert you ever saw?
Springsteen. I went to see him at the Ice Arena in Lewiston, Maine, in 1977. He played for about four hours. It was fantastic. There’s so much energy, so much generosity in the show, and so much real life in the music. He was totally athletic, and he’d jump into the crowd, lay on his back and spin around. He was a great showman.

Do you respect him as a storyteller?
I respect him as a songwriter and the insight in his songs. My favorite album of his is Nebraska. I knew from the beginning of “Atlantic City” that it was amazing. He had really grown as a songwriter. He’s done stuff in music that nobody else has done. That line in “The River,” “Now I just act like I don’t remember, and Mary acts like she don’t care.” Let’s put it this way, it’s a long way from “Palisades Park” by Freddy Cannon.

I feel like you and Bruce would both be doing what you’re doing, even if you weren’t paid for it.
Yeah, I think it’s fair. And it’d be fair to say that we were both self-taught with a lot of ambition, a lot of drive to succeed, because I have that in me too. I have this one thing that I can do, and that’s something Bruce expresses in a lot of his music.

Do you think President Obama is doing a good job?
Under the circumstances, he’s been terrific. Look at how much improvement there’s been with the job situation. But it’s human nature to care about unresolved issues. And so this business with ISIS, or people breaking into the White House, this becomes, for some reason, Obama’s fault somehow.

Do you think Obama is right to go after ISIS like this?
If they’re as bad as the press says. I mean, they’re cutting off heads in public and blowing up shit – something’s got to be done to those guys. That’s my feeling anyway, and I’m a pacifist. It’s depressing ’cause it’s like 1984 all over again: constant war – it’s never going to end.

Why do you think the country is so divided?
It doesn’t have anything to do with Obama. There’s a fundamental discussion going on in America right now about whether or not we’re going to continue to protect individual freedoms or whether we’re going to give some of them up. And the discussion has become extremely acrimonious.

In the wake of 9/11, we’re searched invasively at airports. There are CCTV cameras everywhere. There’s a whole bunch of people who say that America is for the individual and that we’re all the gunslingers of our own house. Basically, there’s a whole side of the country that’s fearful. They’re fearful that if same-sex marriage becomes legal, then God knows what will happen – all at once, all of our kids will be gay and America’s way of life will die out. They’re afraid that immigrants are going to swamp the economy. And on the other side, there are all of those people who say, “Maybe there’s a way to embrace these things, and maybe we need to give up our right that anybody can buy a gun.” They’re basic arguments.

Do you think much about what your legacy will be?
No, not very much. For one, it’s out of my control. Only two things happen to writers when they die: Either their work survives, or it becomes forgotten. Someone will turn up an old box and say, “Who’s this guy Irving Wallace?” There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Ask kids in high school, “Who is Somerset Maugham?” They’re not going to know. He wrote books that were bestsellers in their time. But he’s well-forgotten now, whereas Agatha Christie has never been more popular. She just goes from one generation to another. She’s not as good a writer as Maugham, and she certainly didn’t try to do anything other than entertain people. So I don’t know what will happen.

You’ve threatened to retire a few times, but you’ve obviously never gone through with it. Do you see yourself doing this into your eighties and maybe even beyond?
Yeah. What else am I going to do? I mean, shit, you’ve got to do something to fill up your day. And I can only play so much guitar and watch so many TV shows. It fulfills me. There are two things about it I like: It makes me happy, and it makes other people happy.

From The Archives Issue 1221: November 6, 2014

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/stephen-king-the-rolling-stone-interview-20141031#ixzz3IgJNeUQu
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COOL PEOPLE – LEONARDO DICAPRIO: “I AM A LOT CALMER NOW”

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  • Jeff Vespa/Contour by Getty

LEONARDO DICAPRIO: “I AM A LOT CALMER NOW”

November 9, 2011

Mr. DiCaprio, wouldn’t it be nice to do a shitty romantic comedy every once in a while?

I am completely open for doing a romantic comedy but I will never do something just for the sake of doing a specific genre or because it’s the time or place to do a different type of movie. I think that would be a huge mistake. Ultimately I read a script and I say, “Woah, I am emotionally engaged in this.” I never think about the subject matter, what it will be to popular culture, what it means historically – ultimately all that stuff passes and this movie will come out and it’s either good or it’s not. So that’s the only way I know how to pick films, otherwise I am not connected to it.

How important is it for you to challenge yourself even further with every film that you do?

That really depends on the role. It’s always this grand search in the industry to find good material. Whenever there is good material they all jump on it and it’s like a food fight to get it made. That’s why so many things take years and years to develop because it all shows up on screen. If there are holes in the story structure, if it’s not a compelling, moving narrative, that shows on screen and the movie fails.

You seem to be winning the food fight, considering the material that you get.

It’s been director driven. I have to say that whatever decisions I make, I really do think that movie making is a director’s medium. They are the people that ultimately shape the film and a director can take great material and turn it into garbage if they are not capable of making a good movie. So that is why I have chosen to work with directors that I feel can transport themselves in the audiences mind.

You have worked with Spielberg, Nolan, Eastwood, Mendes, Boyle, Cameron, not to mention you are a regular with Scorsese. Is there anyone left on your list?

There are a lot of directors I’d still love to work with. Paul Thomas Anderson is someone I’d love to work with. I think Alejandro González Iñárritu is very talented. Ang Lee is very talented. I mean, there are a lot of people. There are many great directors out there.

How much of your life involves making movies and thinking about movies?

A lot of it, that is for sure. (Laughs) I can’t say that it isn’t the most dominant thing going on right now. Look, the truth is that I always wanted to be an actor; it was always my dream and now is the time where I am really able to choose my own parts.

You have been able to do that for a while…

Yes, but I know a lot of actors who I grew up with in the industry – growing up in Los Angeles – that don’t get to do that. I just keep imagining myself thirty years from now thinking, “Why didn’t you take advantage of all the opportunities you had? Look at all the people you could have worked with, the roles you could have done. Go for it.” And that’s what I am thinking.

So do you put other things aside?

No, I don’t. Either they fit in in a natural way or they don’t. I never want to force anything but I do know that ultimately this is what I love doing and those other things will find a way to happen.

So you always knew that acting is what you wanted to do?

I really don’t remember. But I do remember loving to imitate my mother’s friends. I’d do little performances imitating them, making fun of them, making her laugh, making my grandparents laugh.

Sounds like you were a handful.

I kind of am an energetic person. It seems calmer now, but you should have seen me when I was younger. Whew! I would have been very difficult to be around, especially before I became a teenager. I don’t know how my mother dealt with me. I was just running, constantly doing things. I am a lot calmer now, but I still have a lot of energy.

Do you ever think you’ll lose that energy and try something else completely?

I could one day. But I happen to love acting, I happen to love doing movies. We are all shaped from these memories we have as young people and those were my earliest memories: wanting to be an actor, pushing my parents to take me out on auditions. I didn’t even know you could get paid for it but I wanted to do it. When I found out you could get paid for it then I said, “Okay, this is what I really want to do.” I am getting to fulfill that so I am not going to do anything, for now anyway, to change that.

Is it strange when you reflect on how completely you’ve achieved your childhood dream?

I sometimes have to look back and say, “Wow, this is amazing what has happened to me. I have been able to fulfill a lot of these dreams that I had when I was very young.” I would have never guessed that I would have gotten to have one tiny role in a Martin Scorsese film and to have done four now, it’s pretty amazing. I have to say it’s a pretty amazing feeling. But at the same time it becomes addictive! So yes, my dreams have been surpassed.

COOL PEOPLE -Grateful for Bob Weir -An interview by the New Yorker and bio

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COOL PEOPLE -Grateful for Bob Weir -An interview by the New Yorker and bio

Bob Weir Biography

Environmental Activist, Guitarist (1947–)

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Quick Facts
Name Bob Weir Occupation Environmental Activist, Guitarist Birth Date October 16, 1947 (age 66) Education Menlo Atherton High School, Fountain Valley High School Place of Birth San Francisco, California AKA Bob WeirFull Name Robert Hall Weir Zodiac Sign Libra
Synopsis
Early Life
Musical Career
Personal Life
Cite This Page

Bob Weir was a rhythm guitarist for the legendary rock band the Grateful Dead from 1964 to 1995 and later reunited to tour with former members as The Other Ones.

Synopsis

Guitarist Bob Weir was born on October 16, 1947 in San Francisco, California. In 1964, he started a band that was eventually called the Grateful Dead, with Jerry Garcia and Ron McKernan. In 1972, Weir put out his first solo album. He also performed with other bands throughout his time with the Dead. After Garcia died in 1995, Weir toured with RatDog, and later reunited with former Dead members to tour.

Early Life

Bob Weir was born October 16, 1947, in San Francisco, California. He was raised by wealthy adoptive parents in the suburban town of Atherton, California.

Weir started playing guitar at the age of 13. As a teen, Weir first attended Menlo Atherton High School, but his struggles with undiagnosed dyslexia and his poor academic performance led his exasperated parents to send him away to boarding school. There, at Fountain Valley High School, Weir met John Perry Barlow, who would later write lyrics for the Grateful Dead. After Weir was kicked out of Fountain Valley, he spent most of his time hanging out in Palo Alto, California, checking out the Bay Area folk-rock scene. He spent his days at a record store where Jerry Garcia gave guitar lessons, and his nights at a club called the Tangent. At the Tangent, Weir had the good fortune to see several rock legends in the making, including Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and the familiar face from the music shop, Jerry Garcia.

Musical Career

In 1964, when Weir was just 17, Garcia convinced him and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan to start a folk-rock and blues band called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, with Weir as their rhythm guitarist. After first renaming the band the Warlocks, the band eventually settled on the name the Grateful Dead and expanded to include drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bass guitarist Phil Lesh and several different keyboardists over the life of the group.

Although the Dead played nearly 100 shows yearly throughout the 1970s, Weir also participated in other musical projects during this time. In 1972 he put out his first solo album, called Ace. He also performed and recorded with other bands, including Kingfish, in the 1970s. In the early 1980s Weir toured with Bobby and the Midnites and contributed to recording two albums with the band. During this time he met recording session musician Brent Mydland, whom he would invite to join the Grateful Dead as a keyboardist in 1979.

Weir refocused primarily on playing with the Grateful Dead in the late 1980s and continued to tour with them extensively until Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. After Garcia died, Weir started touring nonstop with RatDog, the band he had recently started with bassist Rob Wasserman. In 1998 Weir reunited with remaining members of the Grateful Dead under the band name The Other Ones. The Other Ones recorded a new album in 1999 and toured in 2000, the same year RatDog’s first album was released.

Weir would tour with former Grateful Dead band members again in 2009. The 2009 tour made Weir and Lesh nostalgic for the band’s old chemistry, leading them to combine members of the Dead and RatDog to form a new successful band called Furthur.

Personal Life

While Weir has devoted most of his time and energy to music, he has also been active in a number of social causes. He’s been a board member of Seva, a foundation that combats blindness in South America and Asia, and has also been an activist for Greenpeace. Together, Weir and members of the Dead formed the Rex Foundation, which provides community support for creative endeavors.

In his off-stage life, Weir also has two daughters—Monet and Chloe—with Natascha Müenter, whom he married in 1999.
Robert Hall Weir. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 05:07, May 08, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/bob-weir-20878671.

“Robert Hall Weir.” 2014. The Biography.com website. May 08 2014 http://www.biography.com/people/bob-weir-20878671.

 
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     BLACK THROATED WIND BY BOB WEIR

April 28, 2014

Grateful for Bo

 

 

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I went to the Tribeca Film Festival to see “The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir,” because I have always liked Bob Weir, the second guitarist of the Grateful Dead. Usually you would call such a musician a rhythm guitarist, but Weir isn’t anything like a garden-variety rhythm guitarist. To the initial exasperation of his bandmates, who wanted someone to keep time more diligently, he developed one of the most unusual styles in rock and roll, built on lyric asides and cunning contrapuntal remarks that suggest a line of melody travelling through the map of the chord changes.

The Grateful Dead embodied a singular approach to the mathematics of simple song forms. It occurs to me that it represented something like a model of the unconscious as it rises into awareness. The patterns of the drummers, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, suggested pressing impulses and intuitions, the way some poets describe hearing the rhythms of the words before the words arrive. Phil Lesh’s bass playing, the rudiments of which were taken from classical music, especially Bach and Beethoven, amounted to a layer of permeable ground. He was sometimes engaged with the drums and sometimes with the stringed instruments in the range above his own. Jerry Garcia’s guitar was the conversational voice, articulating the thoughts that ascended to the level of social discourse. In between was Weir, following the example of the left hand of the pianist McCoy Tyner, he told me years ago, inverting chords and finding passing phrases among them, mostly supporting but sometimes subverting, too.

Not that the endeavor always succeeded. There were fallow periods, periods of fatigue, and periods when Garcia’s health and drug problems seemed to dog and shadow the music. There were nights of singing and playing out of tune, of being out of sorts, and there were nights when at least one member was not entirely sober. In what they were attempting, failure is, anyway, easier to achieve than success.

Weir is a modest man, unassuming, a gentleman. He says in the movie that he takes no pride in what he has accomplished, because he regards pride as a suspect emotion. He began playing in the jug band that became the Grateful Dead when he was sixteen years old. He would arrive at his parents’ house sometimes at daybreak, after playing all night with the band, and have breakfast and go to school. Eventually, school fell aside. His mother told him that she and her husband and their daughter, Wendy, were a family and that they could no longer live with his comings and goings, and so he left and moved into a house with the band. He ran away with the circus, he says.

His nickname for a time was Mr. Bob Weir Trouble. He threw a water balloon at a cop from the roof and was arrested. When he learned that the draft board had to save every piece of correspondence from a citizen, he began sending his draft board stones and sticks and anything he could fit into a mailbox. At an airline counter, he produced a cap pistol and started playing cowboys and Indians, which got the Grateful Dead banned from the airline. His roommate at the band’s house was Neal Cassady, who is Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Weir’s most widely performed song, “The Other One,” which the Grateful Dead played often, in variations, for nearly thirty years, describes his flight from home, with Cassady driving Furthur, the Merry Pranksters’ bus. Weir says that he never listens to old Grateful Dead music, and in the movie he says that the pleasure he took in the band’s first gold record was in being able to give it to his parents and show them that he had accomplished something. Weir was briefly in the audience for the movie, with his wife and his younger daughter—his older daughter was home in California, rehearsing for a school play. I happened to be sitting about four seats from him. I was curious to see how long he could stand to watch himself onscreen. Roughly ten minutes in, he rose and disappeared down a hallway, and didn’t come back. At the end of the movie, he performed for about forty-five minutes.

The last thing I want to say is that I saw the Grateful Dead for the first time, at the Fillmore East, in the fall of 1969, when they were still essentially a regional California attraction. I had gone with friends to the Saturday-night late show to see my favorite band at the time, Country Joe and the Fish, who were the headliners. Bill Graham announced that the order of the concert would be reversed, and that Country Joe would play first. This was to accommodate the Grateful Dead, who were known to play for hours.

The Fillmore was a small theatre. I was sitting in the third row. Not long after the Grateful Dead took the stage, at around one or two in the morning, I fell asleep, for how long I have no idea. I tried not to, but I was seventeen years old, and not used to staying up late. I kept feeling my chin fall forward, and then I would open my eyes to a different tableau, which gave the concert the atmosphere of a dream. Country Joe had performed as a band. The Grateful Dead took the stage like a troupe of minstrels. There were seven of them: two drummers, two guitarists (Weir and Garcia), a bass player, a man who played the piano and the organ, and Pigpen, a small, slight figure in denim, with a thin beard and a crumpled hat, who sometimes played the organ, sometimes the conga drums, and other times just wandered around the stage, standing in front of the other musicians and pointing a camera at them. Sometimes, one of the drummers got up from his kit, walked over, and struck a gong or shook bells, like a shepherd. A man who looked like a gang biker came from the wings now and then, and knelt and held a cigarette lighter to a tube on the floor, and an arrow of flames shot toward the ceiling, like those flames on top of gas wells. The fronts of all the amplifiers were covered with elaborately tie-dyed fabric and were lavish and arresting to look at, like something from a bazaar in a country it was difficult to reach and a little scary to visit. An intricate wooden sign, embedded with lights, descended from the ceiling. It read “Grateful Dead” in the same curving, mysterious, psychedelic font as the cover of their album “Aoxomoxoa,” a nonsensical palindrome.

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I was a senior in high school. The spooky flames, the disorder that seemed only half under control, the carnival atmosphere, and the powerful, serpentine music were my first awarenesses that the world was deeper, more capacious, and more thrilling than I knew. I thought that the music I was hearing would need hieroglyphs, not notes, to represent it. Weir played his guitar as if he were exploring it, with curiously studious gestures. Rhythm guitarists in those days strummed. Weir, however, appeared to be apprehending and enacting possibilities within the fabric of the music. The band itself seemed like the exemplification of a mystery, and the musicians like sorcerers. They were young men then, all in their twenties, and they had a great deal of energy. My friends and I had gone into the theatre a little before midnight, and by the time the concert was over and the doors had opened, the sun had risen. People who had slept all night were walking on Second Avenue in their day clothes. The sudden transit from darkness to daylight made it seem as if I had emerged from a forest or a tunnel. I remember a man carrying a copy of the Sunday Times and a container of coffee. He seemed, obscurely, to have the faintest head start in time on me. We found my friend’s car and drove home to the suburbs and our parents’ houses. I now knew something that they didn’t know: life is more than we imagine it to be.

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Perhaps 1969 was late to be arriving at such an awareness, but it wasn’t so late for a boy at a school in the suburbs of New York. A few of my friends seemed to know about it, but not everyone. It was still a secret to hold, a freemasonry. And what is adolescence but the reducing of the world to a manageable idea that you can share safely with others.

Read “Deadhead,” Nick Paumgarten’s piece about the vast recorded legacy of the Grateful Dead, and Alec Wilkinson’s Talk of the Town stories about Weir, “Blind Date” and “The Musical Life.”

COOL PEOPLE -JIM JARMUSCH

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COOL PEOPLE -JIM JARMUSCH

JIM JARMUSCH AN INTERVIEW 2013

Film director
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images (150)James R. “Jim” Jarmusch is an American independent film director, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor and composer. Jarmusch has consistently been a major proponent of independent cinema since the 1980s. Wikipedia

Born: January 22, 1953 (age 61), Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Height: 6′ 2″ (1.88 m)

Partner: Sara Driver (1980–)
Awards: Cannes Grand Prix, Short Film Palme d’Or, Caméra d’Or, More

Albums: Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity
Jim Jarmusch: ‘Women are my leaders’

Filmography
•Permanent Vacation (1980)
•Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
•Down By Law (1986)
•Mystery Train (1989)
•Night on Earth (1991)
•Dead Man (1995)
•Year of the Horse (1997)
•Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
•Int. Trailer. Night (2002)
•Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
•Broken Flowers (2005)
•The Limits of Control (2009)
•Unmade/rumored films
•”The Garage Tapes” (1992)

His new film, Only Lovers Left Alive, is a great romance between two vampires unanswerable to time. But Jarmusch doesn’t want to live for ever – unless it’s with Tilda Swinton or Patti Smith

David Ehrlich

The Guardian, Thursday 20 February 2014 12.15 EST

Tilda Swinton and Mia Wasikowska, in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive
Tilda Swinton and Mia Wasikowska, in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Photograph: Soda Pictures/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

‘I’ve seen my dog dreaming,” says Jim Jarmusch over lunch in New York on a snowy December day. His voice is sedate, but excitement pops in his eyes. Other animals have imaginations, too, he thinks. “Once I left a mop outside the window of my apartment, and I saw a sparrow examining it for several days. It kept coming back, and then it started biting through to take away some strands to build a nest. It was thinking, you know?” Jarmusch does a sparrow voice, which sounds identical to his usual voice: “Man, I think this might work …”

Only Lovers Left Alive
Production year: 2013
Country: USA
Runtime: 122 mins
Directors: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston
More on this film

Speaking to Jim Jarmusch, it turns out, isn’t so different from watching one of his films. His work, like his conversation, doesn’t cohere into stories so much as constellations, networks of seemingly isolated ideas which achieve a greater meaning arranged together just so. As a man, he’s immediately identifiable: the Lee Marvin face, that shock of white hair that looks like Andy Warhol touched up with a Tesla coil.

As a director, too, there are recurring elements: a minimalist aesthetic, laconic but lovable characters (often played by musicians), a cool compositional remove that invites humour without sacrificing sincerity. These are films that believe everything is connected; theirs is a cinema of culture in conversation with itself. A young Japanese couple obsessed with Elvis. William Blake reborn into the American west. Instruments that resonate with every note that’s been played on them, the world bound together by cab rides and cups of coffee. “Each one of us is a set of shifting molecules, spinning in ecstasy,” says one character in The Limits of Control. “In the future, worn-out things will be made new again by reconfiguring their molecules.”

Only Lovers Left Alive is a film about the urgency of that recycling process, a snickering genre tale that shacks up with a pair of exhausted paramours desperate to become new yet frustrated that they can’t grow old. Jarmusch has been trying to make the movie for seven years, and whenever a bump in the road had him ready to abandon the project, Tilda Swinton would insist: “That’s good news, it means that now is not the time. It will happen when it needs to happen.” Now that the vampire film has become petrified by its own popularity, Only Lovers Left Alive may be arriving just in time. Every generation is convinced that they’re living at the end of the world, and not a single one of them has yet to be proved right.

I’d happily argue Only Lovers Left Alive is Jarmusch’s best film, but it might be more helpful to say it’s his most fluent. The leads are Eve (Swinton) in Tangier, an ancient city forever on the cusp of rebirth, and Adam (Tom Hiddleston), in Detroit, contemporary America’s most famous icon of decay. Both are exotic in their own way. She Skypes him on an iPhone. He answers on a rotary relic that he’s rigged up through a tube television. They’re vampires, and they’re in love.

Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive.
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Photograph: Soda Pictures/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

They live apart because they can, because it doesn’t deprive them of time together. “If you live that long, separation for a year might feel like a weekend,” says Jarmusch, his voice a spacey drawl. “It’s not an obligation, it’s an emotional connection.” It’s one so strong that Adam, a natural romantic who sees poetry in science, intimates that his relationship with Eve is an example of Einstein’s theory of entanglement: “When you separate an entwined particle, and you move both parts away from the other, even on opposite ends of the universe if you alter or affect one, the other will be identically altered or affected.”

In Detroit, Adam grows despondent about the stale state of human culture. In Tangier, Eve packs her favourite books into a small metal suitcase and arranges a series of night flights to the Motor City in order to see her immortal beloved, reserving her tickets under the name Fibonacci. “All entities in the universe are spherical, round or spiral,” says Jarmusch. Circles are so crucial to the film that his script was originally threaded with quotes from Rumi, a dervish dancer, about waterwheels and turning. “It seemed a bit pretentious,” he says.

It’s hard not to see the theatrically suicidal Adam as Jarmusch in disguise, the director’s neuroses in almost human form. For one thing, both of them love Swinton. “It’s everything about her,” says Jarmusch, eyes lost over my shoulder. “It’s her physicality, the way that she moves … like a vestigial predator, like a wolf.”

There’s certainly a feral element to Eve’s appearance; her character comes off as a Nobel laureate raised by wild animals. For Jarmusch, though, it’s her clear eyes that are most compelling. “She has an ability to prioritise what’s really important in life. Once I was listening to her, I think we were at lunch with Patti Smith, and I thought: ‘Oh boy, if all culture breaks down, I’m following them. They’re my leaders, the women are the way to go.’ One of the great moments in my life,” he continues, “was when we were shooting The Limits of Control, and we finished a take and I said: ‘Oh Tilda, that was so beautiful, will you marry me?” And she replied: ‘Oh darling, we already are.’ I could have died.”

Adam’s problem, of course, is that he can’t. Or he doesn’t really want to. Like his creator, he’s not suicidal, simply tormented by nausea at the sense that culture has run its course. Convinced that humans – whom he refers to as zombies – are rotting the world, he’s the Platonic ideal of a hipster; how can you think anything is cool when you’ve lived for enough centuries to know that coolness is false? There’s jaded, and then there’s dismissing your old pals as “Shelley, Byron, and those French arseholes I used to hang around with … I don’t have any heroes,” he scoffs. “I’m sick of it – these zombies, what they’ve done to the world, their fear of their own imaginations.”

Adam lives like a hermit, creating ambient drone music in his decrepit house on the edge of town (Jarmusch himself wrote the songs, performed by his band SQÜRL). Having insisted the music never leaves his house, Adam is livid to learn that Eve’s younger sister, Eva (Mia Wasikowska), played one of his tracks in an LA club. He can recite the theory of entanglement verbatim, but struggles to embrace it. He thinks he can go it alone, but through Eve he’s inextricably tied up in all things.

Only Lovers Left Alive director Jim Jarmusch.
Jim Jarmusch. Photograph: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

What Adam learns, and what Jarmusch understands, is that there’s no upside to stepping out of the circle. Survival is an instinct, and for some it’s the only option. Artists need to steal, and vampires need to feed. What Adam perceives as entropy, Eve recognises as hunger. Does Jarmusch desire immortality? “I wouldn’t mind living to be maybe 300 years old … but eternally? Oh man, there’s something about the cycle of life that’s very important, and to have that removed would be a burden.”

So Adam, it seems, isn’t Jarmusch’s proxy so much as his pale shadow. Unlike Adam, Jarmusch never stops looking for new heroes. It might seem a throwaway gag when Eve drives by the childhood home of a local Detroit legend and exclaims, without a hint of sarcasm, “I love Jack White!” In fact, the praise of a 3,000-year-old vampire is the ultimate artistic validation. “I believe her,” says Jarmusch. “I despise hierarchical evaluation of culture. I go nuts when you say ‘crime fiction is not an academically valid literature, or pop music vs classical music or whatever.'”

Link to video: The Guardian Film Show: Nymphomaniac, Stranger by the Lake, Winter’s Tale and Only Lovers Left Alive

Auteur theory is, unsurprisingly, anathema. “I put ‘A film by’ as a protection of my rights, but I don’t really believe it. It’s important for me to have a final cut, and I do for every film. So I’m in the editing room every day, I’m the navigator of the ship, but I’m not the captain, I can’t do it without everyone’s equally valuable input. For me it’s phases where I’m very solitary, writing, and then I’m preparing, getting the money, and then I’m with the crew and on a ship and it’s amazing and exhausting and exhilarating, and then I’m alone with the editor again … I’ve said it before, it’s like seduction, wild sex, and then pregnancy in the editing room. That’s how it feels for me.”

I tell Jarmusch that I always likened the process to preparing a meal. I see pre-production as listing the ingredients, production as shopping for them, and the pivotal step of post-production as the actual cooking. Jarmusch thinks this over for a moment, his eyes falling back to his empty plate. He stands, abruptly, and extends a big hand beneath a bigger smile: “Cooking is good too, but I prefer sex.”

COOL PEOPLE -GARY OLDMAN

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COOL PEOPLE -GARY OLDMAN

My husband and I used to, stay at the “Chelsea ” hotel in N.Y.C which is known for it’s quirky residents of beat poets writers, and musicians. Once we filmed  a reenactment from Sid and Nancy of the demise of Sid when he and Nancy spent their last day in the Chelsea. We loved the movie and watched it many times. We admired the spunk of themcharacters Sid and Nancy, which wasn’t saying much about us!

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GARY OLDMAN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE ROSE
A CLIP FROM SID AND NANCY

Quick Facts

  • NAME: Gary Oldman
  • OCCUPATION: Actor, Director
  • BIRTH DATE: March 21, 1958 (Age: 56)
  • PLACE OF BIRTH: London, United Kingdom
  • Full Name: Leonard Gary Oldman
  • ZODIAC SIGN: Aries

Best Known For

Gary Oldman is an English actor and film director whose edgy, intense style has brought him acclaim in such hits as Sid and Nancy, JFK, and The Dark Knight.

Actor Gary Oldman was born in London, England, on March 21, 1958. From the moment his star fist shined as Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986), Oldman has brought a raw, powerful edge to his roles, which have run the gamut from Dracula to Beethoven to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Early Years

Actor. Born Leonard Gary Oldman in London, England, on March 25, 1958. The son of a welder and homemaker, Oldman grew up in a hardscrabble working class neighborhood of south London. His childhood and later adult years were framed by the absence of his father, who left the family when Oldman was just seven years old.

Hardly a committed student, Oldman eventually dropped out of school at the age of 16, when he found work as a store clerk. But after discovering his ability to perform on stage, Oldman returned to the classroom and enrolled in the Young People’s Theater in Greenwich, England.

Oldman’s work in theater class paved the way for a scholarship and even better opportunities at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London. Oldman graduated in 1979 with a degree in theater arts.

For much of the early 1980s, Oldman kept pace with a frenzied theater schedule. For the young actor, though, the hard work paid off. Among the recognitions he received from this period was the coveted Fringe Award for Best Newcomer for the 1985-86 season for his role in The Pope’s Wedding.

Commercial Success

Gary Oldman’s big introduction to mainstream audiences came as Sid Vicious in the film Sid and Nancy (1986). Critics praised Oldman for his portrayal of the mercurial punk rocker. His followup role as the gay playwright Joe Orton in Prick up Your Ears (1987) won him equal praise.

Oldman’s versatility, in fact, helps explain his stardom. The actor’s ability to make himself a believable Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK (1991) then turn around and command the screen as Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Bram Stroker’s Dracula (1992) is evidence of this.

For much of the 1990s Oldman’s talents were on full display. His films included The Scarlet Letter (1995), The Fifth Element (1997), and Air Force One (1997). In 1998 he stepped off the stage to take on the role of director in Nil by Mouth, a heartbreaking look at the life of one working class family in South London.

For Oldman, who wrote the script for the movie, the film touched some familiar ground, mirroring in some respects the troubled, up-and-down life he’d known as a child.

As the 2000s took shape, Oldman’s career continued to roll forward. The actor took on roles in a variety of films, from the Harry Potter series, to the Batman franchise, to lending his voice to the animated science fiction movie Planet 51 (2009).

Personal Life

For Oldman, a recovering alcoholic who claims he once drank two bottles of vodka a day, professional triumphs have sometimes mbeen met with personal setbacks. He’s been married four times, including to actress Uma Thurman and model Donya Fiorentiono.

The Beatle waxes on social change, the infamous Black Dwarf letter and Rolling Stone and never before seem photos of the beatles

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The Beatle waxes on social change, the infamous Black Dwarf letter and Rolling Stone

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John Lennon

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John Lennon

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

In 1968, Maurice Hindle, a college student at Keele University in England, wrote a letter to a Beatles fanzine requesting an interview with John Lennon. Remarkably, Hindle’s letter was answered by Lennon himself, who invited the student and others to his home in Surrey, England to discuss politics, social change and a possible 1969 Beatles tour, among many other topics.

Fab Finds: Check Out Never-Before-Seen Photos of the Beatles

The hours-long audio tapes of this interview were acquired by Hard Rock in 1987 and with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ U.S. debut approaching, the company is releasing the tapes to the public for the first time. The full interview, alongside transcripts, analysis and a memorabilia gallery, are available on Hard Rock’s website, but to give you a sample, we’ve got two exclusive audio clips from the interviews below.

In the first, Lennon discusses how he can affect social change and references the infamous Black Dwarf letter. That letter, written by music critic John Hoyland in 1968 in the radical newspaper Black Dwarf, lambasts Lennon and the recently released track “Revolution” as being hostile to the growing disillusionment of youth toward authoritarian figures.

Rolling Stone’s John Lennon Album Guide

“I’ve changed a lot of people’s heads,” Lennon says in the clip below. “I believe in change. That’s what Yoko and my scene is, to change it like that…And you’re not preaching to the converted … Well, what are they doing? What can they do? [Referencing the Black Dwarf letter] All I’m saying is I think you should do it by changing people’s heads and they’re saying, ‘Well we should smash the system.’ Now, the system smashing scene’s been going on forever, y’know? What’s it done?”

John Lennon on Social Change

Quotes/excerpts provided courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe International (USA), Inc.

The second clip finds Lennon discussing the growing weariness of The Beatles toward each other and asking the interviewer if he’d heard of Rolling Stone, which published its first issue only one year before. “I’ve said it all, y’know, somewhere or other,” says Lennon. “It’s just a bit of a hassle to say it…Just read the Rolling Stone article. There’s quite a lot about it in there. Cause I went through it a bit, just about the album and different things. Have you heard of it? It’s a good paper.”

See Ringo Starr’s Lost Beatles Photo Album

Lennon notes that contrary to other publications, Rolling Stone accepted an ad for Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1968 album Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins featuring the couple standing naked. “International Times wouldn’t take the front cover photo unless we gave them an indemnity against it, y’know,” says Lennon. “They’re so established… Amazing. But [Rolling Stone] just took it, and this paper…was cooled by it, cause they’ve had the biggest circulation they ever had.”

John Lennon on Rolling Stone

Quotes/excerpts provided courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe International (USA), Inc.

In a 2009 interview with the Guardian, Hindle recalled traveling to Lennon’s house for the interview. “We students crammed into the back of the Mini and John drove us up the bumpy private road that led to his house, Kenwood,” said Hindle. “In a sitting room at the back of the house we sat down on thick-pile Indian carpets around a low table, cross-legged. Yoko said little, as we all knew this was primarily John’s day – and he said a lot. Apart from a short break, when Yoko fed us macrobiotic bread and jam she had made, Lennon talked continuously for six hours.”

On Sunday, CBS will air The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles, an event that took place last month and featured a rare performance from Paul McCartney and Starr (who also played together during the Grammy Awards). The program will also show tributes from Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Dave Grohl, Pharrell, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Gary Clark, Jr., Joe Walsh and a reunited Eurythmics.

The Beatles’ momentous trip to America was the subjectyy of a recent Rolling Stone cover story, which details everything from the band’s early trepidation about the trip, the U.S. press’s early criticism of the group (“They look like shaggy Peter Pans,” Time initially wrote) and their generation-defining three-night stint on Sullivan

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/listen-to-never-before-heard-john-lennon-interviews-from-1968-20140207#ixzz2sf5RJpUW Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook