Al Green on life, plans and his Blaisdell show
By Dave Dondoneau
Young or old, if you've ever been in love, chances are your voice has raised a few octaves when "Let's Stay Together" comes over the airwaves.
Al Green chuckles at the thought of what his songs have meant to so many lovers for so long.
"The British media are the terrible ones about it," Green said. "They say 'Al, do you know how many babies been born since you started making your music?' I just say, 'hush, I don't want to go there, I got enough kids of my own to deal with.' "
Meet "The Reverend" Al Green, the soulful Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer who takes the stage Saturday night at Blaisdell Arena.
When Green plays, hips sway. He expects and encourages it.
"When I sing 'Love and Happiness' all the young girls go 'Ooooooooooo,' and all the grandmas poke their grandpas and say, 'oh dear, Jed, Jed! That's our song!' " Green said. "I played a concert where a little couple was in the corner and they said, 'we paid our money and we want to dance!' So they danced. Then the people in the back started to dance when we played 'Let's Stay Together,' and then young kids started dancing in the front and on the sides of the stage I think that's fun. That's what music should be about."
Green, 63, still hits the high notes few 23-year-olds can. He's funny in conversation and mesmerizing as a performer. We caught up with him while he was adjusting to the Australian time zone and playing four concerts in five days. Here are excerpts:
Green, on traveling and playing concerts with his three daughters from his first marriage (Alva, 30, Ruby, 27, and Cora, 26), who are part of his 21-person entourage and are his backup singers:
“Man, wait until you hear them sing. They are as tight as a piece of cheese and they are baaaaad. I wouldn’t have them up here with me if they weren’t. They’ll impress you. They impress me.”
On the death of Willie Mitchell, his mentor and longtime producer who died Jan. 5 of cardiac arrest:
“Willie was like my dad, like my brother, my mentor, my producer and the one person who took time to shape me and mold me into the Al Green who can hit the high notes in his sleep. I’m gonna miss him.”
On his own health:
“My health? Strong as a bull, as a young bull, like it’s my first day out in the pasture (laughing).”
On what fans should expect on Saturday:
“We’re gonna jam. I got 19 people with me up on stage, and we do a medley of the Four Tops, The Temptations, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding … as they say, he’s gonna make it do what he do. Gonna be a good time.”
On having “Let’s Stay Together” featured in “Pulp Fiction,” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” in Denzel Washington’s latest movie “The Book of Eli”:
“That always brings in new fans. Then you get out and see all these kids at concerts, like in Sydney, Australia. All the young kids are up at the stage wanting to boogie, and the old people want to sit down and hold hands. I asked one little girl how she heard my music and she said, ‘my mom plays it on way to school and on the way back.’ I said ‘poor thing’ (laughing), so it’s kind of like a new generation of people picking up my music.”
On what he’s looking forward to while in Hawai‘i:
“I want to get to a lü‘au for sure. I want to come there and see what Honolulu is about. I want to meet the people, try the pineapples, macadamia nuts, everything, and I want to dance around a fire at a lü‘au to some ‘Love and Happiness.’ ”
On his future:
“Before Willie died, he told me the foundation has been laid and the steak has been made. I just got to put the gravy to it. I want to release a pop album maybe later this year or early 2011. I want to do an R&B album, and I don’t know if I should tell you, but I want to fulfill my dream of putting out a jazz album.”