Walter Egan: The Man, The Myth, The Legend plays Saturday, February 8th for NYC:Fab 50

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http://www.nycfab50.com/TownHall.htm

Some musicians would cringe if they were referred to as a “one hit wonder”. When I asked Walter Egan, the writer and singer of the classic “Magnet and Steel”, if it bothered him that some people label him in this way, he quipped  , “It’s better than being a ‘NONE hit wonder’.”  Egan may be known to fans of music as a collaborator of Stevie Nicks, Gram Parsons, and Lindsey Buckingham (whom Egan calls “a brother from another coast”), but he is much more than that. Egan is a sculptor, a painter (His “The Martyrs of Rock” exhibit opens next week in Georgetown), and a substitute teacher at a local Tennessee high school.  His latest album, Myth America, is being released in the next week as well, but his next great adventure is joining the star-studded line-up at the historic Town Hall in New York City for the “America Celebrates The Beatles” all-star concert on Saturday, February 8th at 7:30 p.m.  100% of ticket proceeds will be donated to The Food Bank of New Jersey, and also The Comprehensive Autism Medical Assessment and Treatment Center of New Jersey.  

For more information about the concert and tickets, please visit: http://www.nycfab50.com/TownHall.htm

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Me: Why is the music of the ’60s and ’70s so enduring?

Egan: I try not to be one of those adults who goes, “You know, music of my day…” because I really do think there’s a lot of good music that’s going on even today: Lorde, The Neighborhood, The Arctic Monkeys. I really like Bastille, it’s a really good band. I think it’s important because what it was, was kind of like the booster stage of rock and roll. Rock and roll took off in the ‘50s and just had a real honesty to it, this kind of raw expression of youth, if you want to put it that way. Being young. Then it was kind of grabbed and twisted by the powers that be and it was, “It can’t be too raw. Let’s get it more palatable,” and it sort of lost its real energy in that era where Elvis went into the Army.  For my generation, Kennedy was elected and there was this whole feeling that the world was picking younger things. It was our time to come and all that stuff. Then of course when he was shot and killed, it was, “What’s going on?”

The Beatles arrived right at that time with what they had, which was this really honest energy and love and feel for this music that had been neglected and pushed aside or tamed down so much in the mainstream of American pop. They were just the right people at the right time, and I don’t even think it was a hype situation because…if there was a hype to it, and of course there’s promotion to anything, not anywhere near the scale of hype that goes on these days where it’s just so formulized and “This is how you do this.” In those days it just happened. They were natural and they were real. They were writing their own songs and they were really appealing people. Obviously to the young girls they were very appealing, but to the young boys who wanted to be musicians it was also very appealing because it was, “Great. I can do that! They’re not doing anything that crazy up there that can’t be done.”  It encouraged a lot of people to go out there and have bands. The band I was in, in high school was a surf band that stemmed out of The Beach Boys and The Ventures. When The Beatles came along we started doing as many covers of the English acts as we could.  

I think the music endures also because it was kind of a reinvention of the music and it wasn’t all just teeny bopper stuff at that point. People that were making it were trying to take it to another level and The Beatles were of course in the forefront but weren’t necessarily the ones who came up with the socially-conscious lyrics of where they absorbed Bob Dylan a little bit, where they kind of would take trends that were going on but not quite in the mainstream and they would make the mainstream. And they were great for being that kind of avatar. I think that’s why the music is special. It was a lot more real, I suppose you could say. It was the first real group that had more than just a lead singer and a backing band. It was a group that was self contained. It was creating its own music, and it had three heads or four heads. It had all of those things going for it. They were just real good at it to make it successful. 

Me: You’ve led quite an interesting life. Aside from music and your artistic endeavours, what do you do with your time?

Egan: I’m a substitute teacher when I’m not doing music.

Me: Get out! That is awesome!

Egan: It’s a good job for a musician because you can go away and come back and still have work.

Me: How did you wind up getting into that particular area?

Egan: I guess it started when I got married which was a few years after my peak years. Then, when our son was born, it was like, “Why don’t you get a job?” (laughing) I searched around and I did various, very strange things. Nothing illegal. (laughing) I was a PA on a couple of video shoots and I did some extra work. I was in a few movies as an extra. I was on some game shows. It was an interesting few years, but then I stumbled upon substitute teaching, and I started that around 1990 when I was living in Burbank. I did it for a couple of years out there, and then when I moved to New York with the family I did it sporadically there. But when I moved to Tennessee, it just seemed like a good thing to fall into and so I’ve actually been subbing in this one high school longer than most of the teachers have been there. It’s an interesting thing. “Hey Mr. Egan!  All right!”

Me: Do your students have any idea of your alter ego?

Egan:  They have found out. That’s part of my appeal, I guess. (laughing) I have a new CD that just is coming out so they’re like, “Wow, you’re still doing it! Yeah!”  It keeps me in touch with the younger generation, too. A few years ago Eminem used one of my songs. It was the basis for a song called “We Made You”. That was a very strange, out-of-the-blue thing to happen, but that got me a lot of street cred. (laughing)

 

Me: I can imagine. Speaking of that, I wanted to ask you about the Eminem “collaboration”, what that was like to have credit on an Eminem song.

 

Egan: It was great. Formerly M&M’s were my favorite candy, but now my favorite rapper as well. I was aware of him but I never paid that much attention to rap, as you can imagine. I was aware of him, but didn’t follow him by any means. I looked into him obviously more when this happened. It’s a pretty funny video for “We Made You”. He seems like a pretty honest performer which I like. I don’t sit around listening to him, but I appreciate him. I’m not sure why it took five people to write that song, but I’m listed as one of the five writers.

 

Me: Just from the bit I’ve learned about you and heard about you, but it seems like you have an eclectic life, if that makes sense.

 

Egan: (laughing)

 

Me: You go from a sculptor to a rock star to Eminem co-writer to substitute teacher to painter to…there’s all kinds of things that you’ve done but it doesn’t seem like you’ve left any stone unturned. I was curious as to what drives you to try everything that you can get your hands on.

 

Egan: I think a lot of those things you described are coming from a creative point of view, and I’ve always wanted to be a creative person. My parents were both in advertising. I kind of grew up in the Mad Men world. They were both in Madison Avenue. They encouraged my creativity, so that had something to do with it. Once you start trying to express yourself, you might as well look into all these other ways of doing it. I’ve always fancied myself as a Renaissance Man…I just think that the creative life is the life to live. It’s a satisfying life and it’s not always monetarily that satisfying, but certainly don’t feel like you’re trapped in your job that you don’t want to be doing. At least that’s true for me. 

Come see Walter Egan and many other great and iconic musicians at the “America Salutes The Beatles” concert on Saturday, February 8th! Also, be sure to read up on all FOUR of the NYC:Fab 50 events happening in NYC startin Thursday, February 6th, and ending Sunday, February 9th: http://www.nycfab50.com/

Also, for more information on the art show and the new CD, Myth America, please visit Walter Egan’s website: http://www.walteregan.com/

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~ by Jennifer Dodge on February 4, 2014.

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