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Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips has had one of the most unpredictable careers in all of pop music. When she started out, she went by her birth name Leslie Phillips and recorded Christian music for a Christian record company (Myrrh Records). This was in the '80s, back when Amy Grant was everywhere, and it sure looked as though Phillips was being groomed to become the next CCM crossover.

But a funny thing happened on the way to making The Turning (1987), which would be Phillips' last album as Leslie, and the swan song for Myrrh. The label ingeniously connected Phillips with T Bone Burnett, who had recently begun to gain a name for himself as a producer, especially after helping Los Lobos break through commercially with their 1984 album How Will the Wolf Survive?

The Turning was easily her best album to date, and it led to Phillips' romantic and longtime working relationship with Burnett (they were married 1989-2004).

Her next album, The Indescribable Wow, came out on Virgin Records in 1988 under the name Sam Phillips, and saw her changing from a Christian singer to more of a traditional singer/songwriter.

Phillips continues to be one of the most acclaimed pop songwriters in her chosen genre. In addition to her solo music - to which she takes a very DIY, hands-on approach - Phillips has also delved into the world of TV music scoring, most notably on the series Bunheads.

Although Phillips left the Christian music industry, spirituality has never completely left her music. She continues to write about life with a distinctly moral perspective.
Sam Phillips
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): I wanted to ask you, since you've been doing some music for TV shows, how is it different for a songwriter to write for a TV show, than it is writing songs for yourself?

Sam Phillips: It's shorter. It's little mini songs, which I like because I've always written short songs. It's not all that different.

I've only worked with one person in television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, who I love – and she writes wonderful dialogue at a very fast pace, so my challenge for writing for Amy and her shows is to simplify my melodies or to make space for the dialogue. That's one of the biggest challenges, which is really fun.

Songfacts: Is it easier or harder? I'm guessing it's easier to write these kinds of songs than it is for your own albums.

Phillips: It's faster because I'm not dealing with lyrics. My songs are slower because lyrics take more time for me. But it's not easier all the time because I think music for picture is one of the most wonderful things one can do. When it works, it's very powerful, but it's not that easy to get the music to speak with the pictures. It's constantly challenging and there are always different kinds of music that is needed, so I really like it. It keeps me on my toes and I feel like it's helped me as a songwriter.

Songfacts:I read that your new album, Push Any Button, is one where you wanted to put yourself in the '50s and '60s musical period. Were there particular artists that you hand in mind when you were trying to place yourself in that era?

Phillips: No. That was really part of what I was doing, too. I was just pulling sort of impressionistically; sort of my impression of that era. Nobody specific. And not even trying to cop all the sounds because I have a lot of friends who are very technically oriented in terms of using this amp, and this microphone; using this tape machine, this board. You know, people who are very gear specific. It wasn't even that. It wasn't necessarily about the sounds and about getting that retro. It was more creating a feeling of a melody. It was more in the writing and the performance than it was in the technical recording. It was really trying to immerse myself in a dream world.

Songfacts: There's one song, "You Know I Won't," that sounds to me like a Sun Records recording and sort of pseudo-rockabilly. Here you've taken on the name Sam Phillips, which I'm sure has gotten you confused with another Sam Phillips, and now it sounds like you could have actually recorded it for the Sam Phillips. Did that ever cross your mind?

Phillips: I've been to Sun Records and I've met Sam Phillips' son, but not the late great Sam Philips. But no, that never crossed my mind. One of the first records I heard when I was three years old was "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" by The Beatles, which was skiffle and their version of rockabilly. That has always inspired me, so it was really just my take on something in that era.

Songfacts: Did T Bone Burnett introduce you to any music that you had not been exposed to from that era?

Phillips: Oh, yes, a lot. A lot of country and blues because I grew up listening to more jazz. My parents' era of jazz and Broadway musicals. You know, show tunes and then pop music. When I met T Bone, he definitely became a great influence and a great inspiration by exposing me to a lot of the things that he grew up with.

He saw James Brown live back in the day and wonderful country and blues artists, in particular, Jimmy Reed, who I love so much. But a lot of the country artists as well. So yeah, it was a huge influence.

Songfacts: There are a few songs I wanted to get your thoughts about. One of the songs that's been going through my mind a lot is "Baby I Can't Please You," which I think was directed at Rush Limbaugh. Is that right?

Phillips: T Bone produced that record and he had some input on that song as well. When we went to make a video, he wanted to make it sort of a right wing spy concept. So, there is that, but I always try to write on a lot of different levels.

It's not specifically about Rush Limbaugh, but it might be about what's wrong with Rush Limbaugh. But that might also be what's wrong with somebody else who's liberal. I try to make them a little bit more human than specific in that sense, so that "Baby I Can't Please You" is a broader concept. It could be in a love relationship. It could be in a political relationship. Hopefully there are many levels you can take any of my songs on. That is always my aim.

Songfacts: I was reading an article about a group called Cold War Kids, and they all met at Biola University [an evangelical school in California formerly known as the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles].

Phillips: Oh Really?

Songfacts: Yes. Obviously, they have spiritual backgrounds, yet their music is not particularly spiritual. I was reading how they had to deal with people assuming they had political perspectives - conservative Christian perspectives. The Pitchfork review read in a lot of political views that they didn't share. Since you have sort of a similar background, in the sense that you came out of the Christian subculture, did you have to deal with assumptions that people made about your politics that may not have been true, simply because they associated you with everybody else that was a part of that scene?

Phillips: Not so much the politics, but I think the very uncool factor of coming out of that scene, although there's a great tradition of a lot of people coming out of church. I think that it's interesting as a writer coming out of that very narrow-minded view. When I got a contract with the Christian recording company, you had to do many variations on one theme, so it was very limiting as a writer. As I grew up, and as my spirituality grew up, a lot of that was just no longer relevant, and I found people got very unhappy in that world when you didn't tell them what they wanted to hear.

I just felt I had gone in a different direction and it was best to just go by my nickname Sam and start over. Start from scratch. But also to underscore to my audience that I was very serious about the way I had grown out of and from that place. I didn't want to straddle two worlds. I wanted to make it very clear that I'd stopped one kind of music making, and started another. It does shape you.

I think there's an interesting discipline that comes from that world. Certainly, what I know of Biola University, it's quite strict. I'm not sure they had dancing or rock music. I'm not sure about all of that, but that's what I heard back in the day, so it would be an interesting discipline. I think so often when people start songwriting, they just have so much information to pull from, but it's interesting to start in a very narrow place and grow outward. I think it may be helpful to grow that way as a writer.

Songfacts: Do you think your spiritual beliefs still affect the way you write?

Phillips: Yes. Absolutely. There's a song on my new album, "No Time Like Now," it's a very simple lyric, but it's: "There's no time like now, there's no time like this time."

To me, that's one of the most basic spiritual principles; just staying in the moment and really living life to the fullest. In the moment and staying present. Being aware of what's going on around you. Don't get too far ahead of yourself and start worrying about things you have no control over. Don't get too far in the past and beat yourself up over things you might have done wrong. Those kinds of things, to me, don't even seem spiritual because they're so large.

Songfacts: I want to just kind of ask you about some of my favorite songs of yours. You're going to have to go back in time for this one, but I really like "Lying" from the Cruel Inventions album. And I'm just curious what inspired that song, if there were a series of events that really kind of inspired you to write that particular one?

Phillips: That's a long time ago [1991]. Well, it's just a different way of saying things that you want to say. "I'd be lying if I said this," you know. So just a different way to say something. It's a little provocative in that I said I don't want what I don't have and all the answers are enough. There were some philosophies going around and some self help that I didn't agree with, so I put that in a song.

It was a hodgepodge of that, but more of what the Tin Pan Alley writers call the classic laundry list song: you put a lot of different things in a list. That was an unusual way to say it: "I'd be lying if I said this, this, this, this, this, and this." So I guess that would be the craft part of it, the "behind the machine" part of it.

Songfacts: Well, I want to talk about a couple of songs that were inspired by strong women. The first one is "Sister Rosetta Goes before Us." Has Sister Rosetta Tharpe always been an inspiration to you, or was there something that you had read about her that caused you to write a song that talked about her?
It doesn't take a sociological study to see how Sister Rosetta Tharpe has inspired Sam Phillips. Just as Phillips went from playing churches, to performing in clubs, Sister Rosetta Tharpe also transitioned from the sanctuary to nightclubs and theaters. She was a great singer, but also a fantastic and influential musician.

Proficient at guitar from the tender age of six, Tharpe was an innovator known to rearrange familiar spirituals like "Down by the Riverside" and "Didn't It Rain," making them into up-tempo workouts. This is why she traveled so easily in the company of jazz and swing icons at the time like Benny Goodman and Cab Calloway.

Tharpe pushed the envelope a little too far, however, when she recorded some straight blues. It was one thing to rev up spirituals; it was quite another thing to track "worldly" blues songs.

Phillips: Well, yes and no. She was someone I found a few years ago. I didn't really know her music very well, but I thought she was an interesting combination of swing and gospel. At the time she was a woman who was doing swing and gospel on the radio in the '40s, and I thought that was such an odd thing, because there weren't many women doing that at that time. There weren't that many women playing guitar at that time. Wonderful guitar player. So that alone was inspiring, and the interesting hybrid of her styles.

But I thought the most interesting thing, the thing that I was really talking about in "Sister Rosetta Goes before us," was quoting her lyrics, "Up above my head, I hear music in the air, there's strange things happening every day." I was using her to talk about the things that we can't see that happen all around us - the inspiration, the good things that happen to us all the time, and where do those things come from? I think through music and art is how we get to ecstatic experiences. There are other ways, too, but I think for us the familiar ways are through music and art.

Songfacts: How did it feel to have Robert Plant record one of your songs? [Plant and Alison Krauss recorded "Rosetta" on their 2007 album Raising Sand, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year.]

Phillips: Well, it was also Alison Krauss who did a beautiful job. But I did have a conversation with Robert about Sister Rosetta. And what I didn't know is that she had actually asked him to go on tour with her way back when. I may have this wrong, but it sounded like before Led Zeppelin. So I thought that was interesting. He thought she was quite a character.

He's really inspiring in the sense that he knows so much about music, so much about blues and country and roots music. I was really impressed with him and how he loves music so much. It was really wonderful to talk to him about that.

Aimee Semple McPherson was born in Ontario, Canada, but this groundbreaking female evangelist was eventually drawn to the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles. It was here where she built the Angelus Temple in Echo Park (perhaps one of the first megachurches), which still stands today. Much like Walt Disney, McPherson aimed at attracting tourists to her Pentecostal message the same way Disney drew visitors with his various amusement attractions. Rather than putting on dull, predictable church services, McPherson put on shows that could compete with the visual and aural thrills of movies and vaudeville at the time. With her radio station, KFSG, McPherson – only the second woman to be granted a broadcast license - became one of the first women to preach a radio sermon in the early '20s. McPherson is also credited with founding the Foursquare Church.

Songfacts: Now, "Magic for Everybody," I read somewhere that was partially inspired by Aimee Semple McPherson. Is that right?

Phillips: No. Those are some other songs that I wrote. She's an interesting character. I wrote some of the songs on the Long Play project that were about her. And I thought that was a fitting place to do something like that, that before Walt Disney came to Southern California and we had Disneyland and all that, Aimee Semple McPherson was a big tourist attraction in the southland, and an interesting entrepreneur in that she felt when she came to Los Angeles in the early 1900s, that this was going to be the place where a lot of things were going to happen and that it would eventually be a media center. Aside from the religious part, she was really interesting, because she was a social activist. She fed a lot of people during the Depression. She created one of the first programs for single mothers, because they were so ostracized in society at that time. She found elderly women or older women in her church congregation to watch the child while the mother went to work - she found jobs for them.

She also played some of her sermons and some of the music that they did at the church on a radio station. She was really funny in that she had a 24 hour prayer hotline. She was using technology, she was using the arts, and she was also trying to help remedy some of the social problems of the day, as well as doing these performances, these illustrated sermons that had props from the Hollywood studios and choirs and little vignettes they would do - I think there were motorcycles and cars and animals. She was quite a showman.

A big scandal went down about her credibility, that she'd run off with some man and she said she was kidnapped. So very controversial. Just very Los Angeles, very Hollywood through and through in all the craziness surrounding her.

So I just had to write a couple of songs based on her, because it's too amazing a story.

Songfacts: Well, pardon my ignorance, but can you tell me which songs those were that were inspired by her.

Phillips: There's a song called "Old Tin Pan" that was on The Long Play. It was 50 songs, but "Old Tin Pan" was the main one.
The Long Play represented Sam Phillips' unique plan to continue putting her music out after becoming disgruntled with major record labels. Upon leaving Nonesuch, Phillips started an online subscription service and then proceeded to put out a series of digital EPs. Phillips also released Solid State: Songs From The Long Play, a 13-song sample of the extensive and diverse 42-song Long Play.

Songfacts: Not to dredge up the past too much, but being that she was a Christian figure and controversial, and you kind of had some experiences when you were making your transition from being Leslie to going by Sam, could you relate to her in some ways?

Phillips: No. It's an interesting part of Los Angeles history to me, and I have actually been to the church that she started in Los Angeles and I've been inside and all that, and even in her parish, which is interesting. It's funny, because I view spirituality as an ongoing living thing - as a process. The best metaphor for me would be none of us are using computers that are 20 years old, the technology keeps getting updated. I feel that spiritually, we're constantly growing.

Where I started in the church, there were a lot of performers before me - Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke - that's sort of the place that I started. But I grew out of that and took a different path out. So that's kind of the metaphor for me. I think that got stuck on Wikipedia, and so a lot of people bring that up. And it's funny, because it's so long ago, and it really is such a tiny part of my body of work. It was more than 20 years ago, so it's always odd to me that it even comes up, because it really has so little to do with what I do now and what I've been doing for the last 25 years.

Songfacts: Well, since I asked you about songs inspired by a couple of strong women, are there other songs that you can think of in your catalogue that were inspired by particular women?

Phillips: No. It was funny, because being a songwriter and singer in the 1990s, a lot other women who had hits and were asked about their influences and so many of them said Joni Mitchell. Women have not been my primary inspiration; I've always been inspired by male artists for some reason.

My grandmother was a very strong woman. She worked in the defense plants in the '40s, was a single mom, and such a loving, wonderful human being. But that would be more of a subtle influence than something I took on. I didn't actually write about her.

Songfacts: I've always wanted to ask you about the song you and T Bone did called "River of Love."

Phillips: That's a beautiful song. Yeah, I think that's one of his best. I love that song.

Songfacts: How did that all come together?

Phillips: Well, when I first met T Bone, he was doing a beautiful record called T Bone Burnett that was live to two track in the studio in Hollywood, and it was just a gorgeous record. I was actually at one of those sessions listening to them record, and they did "River of Love." I just thought that was an amazing song, and I wanted a lot of people to cover it, so I felt the least I could do was put it on my record that we were making at the time. That was when we first started to work together. He played guitar on that version that I did and I sang it.

Songfacts: To me it sounds almost like a hymn.

Phillips: Yeah. In a sense. It's really beautiful.

Songfacts: How much of that old material do you still do live?

Phillips: Old material, meaning?

Songfacts: Anything from that last Myrrh album and the early Virgin ones.

Phillips: I do some from my Virgin catalogue, yes. There's a lot of material to choose from now. The gospel music companies, they did bad deals, they took people's publishing, they were Christian on the outside, they were business all the way on the inside. I don't support their method of doing business and I don't really support their political views, so I really cut all that. I've turned down licenses, money to have some of those songs used because I don't want to contribute to what they're doing, because I don't really believe in it. They've also tried to attach themselves to my Sam records by even calling some of those old records Sam Phillips instead of Leslie Phillips, which is not legal, which is not right, not cool.

This is not with their listeners, this is with the record companies themselves. I don't feel that they've been very above board. I don't like the way they do business, so I try not to shed any light on them whatsoever.

Songfacts: It's rare that you do covers, but you've done a couple of really interesting ones. I think one of them was "Give Me Some Truth," which was a John Lennon song.

Phillips: Yes. I mean, the audacity of covering John Lennon. But I think the way we did it was deconstructed enough and I think it was one of the songs that not many women have covered. I'm happy that we did that, because I think the lyrics are so great.

Songfacts: In any era it would ring true.

Phillips: And the wonderful Chad Blake mixed that song and mixed it in a really interesting way, so the technology used on that was kind of interesting, as well.

Songfacts: And you covered Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'."

Sam PhillipsPhillips: Well, yeah. I was asked to do that for the Prêt-à-Porter movie. I have a soft spot in my heart for that record. I think that's just such a beautiful record and her rendition of it is great. I was honored to do it.

It would be fun to bring a little more of a spin to it, like I did on a TV show called Crossing Jordan. They had a soundtrack and I did a Beatles song for that: "I Wanna Be Your Man." I thought that would put a more interesting twist on that, being a woman.

And it's funny, because at the time their publisher said, "Well, you can't change the pronoun when you're doing a Beatles song," and I said, "No, no, no, I don't want to change the pronoun. I want to sing 'I Wanna Be Your Man' and make a darker version of it." So I wish I could have done something similar for "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," because I think the definitive version has already been done. Maybe I'll get to do another version somewhere down the road.

Songfacts: Well, you really do have a lot of audacity in your covers. You're going for the big fish.

Phillips: Well, "I Wanna Be Your Man," I felt I had something to bring to it, being a woman. That was more of an obvious way. But I myself am annoyed by most Beatle covers - it's difficult for me to listen to people covering the Beatles. So I think that'll be my last one. I'll leave it at that.

But speaking of covers, a great cover that I had heard early on was T Bone Burnett's version of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." I think that is one of the best all time. I heard that before I met him and I knew something great was going on there, because I thought the cover was just wonderful. It was funny and just great.

Songfacts: That would have fit really well into maybe not so much your early work with T Bone, but the sort of persona that you put on when you performed live. I'm trying to think how to describe it...

Phillips: It was motionless.

Songfacts: Yes. I could hear you doing that song.

Phillips: Oh, that would be interesting. Not as well as he did it. But, you know.

Songfacts: Are there songs that you haven't covered that you one day intend to?

Phillips: There have been some songs that I've tried and didn't feel like I got to a great place. One cover that I did on The Long Play was "Steppin' Stone," which is The Monkees song, and I had great fun with that. I thought that was a really fun one to cover.

Usually the songs that I love, I love the versions of and I'm not sure how I can bring anything to that. I recently did a cover of "Big Spender" for a charity album that's being released for the charity Sweet Release. There was a theme to the album; I think "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" was the theme or something like that. So "Big Spender" was a natural, because that's another song that I love, and I wanted to do a non-Broadway version of it. So I did one with my band and I'm happy with that one, too. It was a live take in the studio.

So we'll have to think about that. I'm sure there are a lot of other covers that will come to mind at some point.

Songfacts: I wanted to ask you because you've been on the cutting edge when it comes to adapting to new technology with the new music business as we see it. The model is continually changing as far as offering your fans downloads of your music and insights into the process of making music. I wanted to get your take on the state of the business. Are you optimistic that the future is bright? That artists will be able to make a good living off of their music? Or are you pessimistic that it's going to be a while before artists can make the kind of money they really deserve?

Phillips: Well, it depends on what kind of an artist you are - the good news and the bad news. What I see happening is - which I think is really rich and really great - is that several art forms are kind of combining for people who are successful. You may be an actor or an actress on a TV show, and then you make records. Or you might be a visual artist and you make records. You might be a computer programmer and you make records. There are the visual arts. Theatrical. Dance. All these things are combining, so it's difficult to just be a musician in this day and age.

I think that you have to have other things going on, or you have to juggle a few other art forms or put them together to make more of an impact, especially to be able to survive financially. That may be bad news to some people that just want to be musicians, but I think it's actually good news because it makes it more interesting. Popular culture has always been about hybrids. It's been about the rock & roll, blues and country music and the collision of those things. And then later on, through The Beatles and through experimentation, classical music got sucked into folk music. A lot of other things got pulled into that. So I think it's always good when there are different combinations of things that make something new.

Somebody said to me, "I wonder if Bob Dylan or some of these people would have come to the surface, would have become stars if they had to market themselves and be on Twitter." And that may be true. Maybe they wouldn't have. Maybe at that point life was very different, but I don't think that it necessarily makes for bad music or pulls you in the wrong direction. I think you have to control it. You have to figure out how much of that stuff you're willing to do, or even better, how you can use Twitter to make art. You can use the technology to become a better artist. It is the Wild West. It is very interesting. And I don't feel like I have any of the answers. I just feel that I've been a little bit freer to express myself. Like this album cover... I just did it. It was my collage. I made it, and that was really fun because usually a record company would be horrified and never let you do a thing like that. Maybe they would nowadays, but when I was on a label the art department came in and they would handle it because that was a very important part of marketing and they wanted control over that. It is a really interesting time and that's a really good question.

Songfacts: Have you discovered more of the inner businessperson in you, that maybe you didn't know you had, from this whole experience?

Phillips: I would say the inner visual-ist. That's been really inspiring. I do love the visuals and I do love visual art. To me, it's been another component to what I'm doing now that I really enjoy. Business, uh, not so much. To me, there's always been so much heartbreak around the commerce and art relationship. Oftentimes, the commerce has the upper hand and calls the shots, and I think you have to fight very hard in any area of show business and the arts for art to be the main concern, not just the commerce. That goes back a long, long time. It's a worthy fight, but we've been fighting that since the beginning of time.

Songfacts: Have you been doing any acting? I know you did a few roles a while back.
George Plimpton was a respected writer who engaged in many sporting activities where more sedate writers feared to tread. He participated in the Detroit Lions preseason training in 1963, and wrote about it in his most popular book, Paper Lion. He also sparred with boxing greats Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore for a Sports Illustrated story. His book The Bogey Man details his try at playing professional golf. He took "immersing himself in the subject matter" to a whole new level.

Phillips: No. I had a great experience, but I've told people before that I felt like I was George Plimpton - like becoming a football player just to be able to write about it. I felt like I was in that world to write about it or just to see what it was all about and it was very interesting. It requires, first of all, some acting talent, which know I have very little of, and also a lot of outward physical upkeep, which is not as interesting to me as the visual arts or music or even scoring for the picture.

Songfacts: You said that it was something you could write about, so did it lead to any specific songs?

Phillips: Well, when I was doing Die Hard 3, the director had asked for an end title song, and at that time I was writing for a new album and there was a demo that had been sent from the guys in R.E.M. to T Bone to collaborate on this song and I said to T Bone and their manager at the time, "How 'bout if I finish this?" And they all said, 'Great.' So the song "Slapstick Heart" became the song I wrote with those guys in R.E.M., and the director did not want to use it. They wanted something more military for the end, it turned out, so they did an instrumental version of "Johnny Comes Marching Home," which was kind of odd, but I was very excited to be able to collaborate with those guys and write "Slapstick Heart."

I love T Bone's production on that because he used the hip-hop approach. He did that so beautifully, and I'd love to see him return to that. Maybe someday he'll use hip-hop country, which would be very interesting, or some other hybrid because I think that T Bone is typed as a roots guy. He loves roots music, but he's got an incredible pop ear and really loves all kinds of music. He's incredibly versatile and I'd love to see more of that someday. But all the calls are coming in for that type of music so he's very busy. Maybe it'll be a while before he gets to that kind of stuff.

Songfacts: Also, I think Nashville is coming back next season, so he's going to be busy doing that.

Phillips: That's a lot of music on demand. It has to be done every week.

Songfacts: Do you still have a business relationship with T Bone? Do you ever work together, or have plans to work together?

Phillips: It would be wonderful at some point to do that. I think that we have always had a very strong artistic connection, and that will always remain. And a friendship, so I'm happy to have that. That to me means the most. We did a lot of work together and I think we're both very busy in our corners of the globe, but it would always be a welcome thing to collaborate with him because, more than anything else with T Bone, it was a lot of fun. We had a great time.

Songfacts: You mentioned your collaboration with R.E.M. What have been some of your favorite collaborations over the years? Secondly, do you work better writing by yourself or do you work well with others?

Phillips: I don't write with other people unless it's somebody like T Bone or somebody that I know really well because it's just a comfort issue. And also when it comes to lyrics, I'm very particular, so I haven't done a lot of that. Most of my collaboration has come with musicians. I've worked with Eric Gorfain, who's a wonderful arranger and violinist. He has a band called The Section Quartet, and I've worked with them and I've worked with him intensely. I find that that kind of collaboration is more inspiring to me. I have the songs, but to give them life, to make recordings of them, the musicians are key.

Also the wonderful drummer Jay Bellerose, and Jennifer Condose, who plays bass; all these people worked on this current album. It's such a luxury to work with people you trust; that you have an ongoing relationship with. I worked for many years bringing in studio musicians, which were great. Working with them record after record you work up a rapport, but to have an ongoing recording relationship with someone like Jay or Eric or Jennifer is really a privilege because it becomes much more of a collaborative effort in a recording rather than the normal producer thing.

To me, a producer's job is assembling a team. and for me, with my own records, it's more going to the people that I love and work with all the time and just try to figure out which performance is best.

September 25, 2013. Get more at samphillips.com.

Comments: 1

Nice interview. I have the Indescribable Wow, it is very underrated!
-Jim from North Billerica, MA

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Adam Young of Owl City
Al Anderson of NRBQ
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Al Kooper
Alan Merrill of The Arrows
Alex Call (867-5309)
Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme
Amanda Palmer
Amy Grant
Andy McClusky of OMD
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
Angelo Moore of Fishbone
Ann Hampton Callaway
Anna Canoni about Woody Guthrie
Annie Haslam of Renaissance
Anthony Raneri of Bayside
Antigone Rising
Art Alexakis of Everclear
Asher Roth
Badi Assad
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Becca Stevens
Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl
Benny Mardones
Biff Byford of Saxon
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Bill Withers
Billy Gould of Faith No More
Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Montana ("More Than A Memory" - Garth Brooks)
Billy Steinberg
Bo Bice
Bob Daisley
Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
Bobby Whitlock
Boz Scaggs
Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
Brandi Carlile
Brandon Heath
Brenda Russell
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Bronze Radio Return
Bruce Robison
Bryan Adams
Butch Vig
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins
Carol Kaye
Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)
Chad Urmston of Dispatch
Chan Kinchla of Blues Traveler
Charles Fox
Charlie Benante of Anthrax
Charlie Daniels
Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's
Chris August
Chris Fehn of Slipknot
Chris Isaak
Chris Knight
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
Chris Squire of Yes
Chris Tomlin
Chris Willis
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Christopher Cross
Chuck Billy of Testament
Cody Hanson of Hinder
Colbie Caillat
Corey Hart
Craig Goldy of Dio
Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets
Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay
Dan Reed
Daniel Moore ("Shambala," "My Maria")
Danko Jones
Danny Kortchmar
Dar Williams
Darren King of MUTEMATH
Darryl Worley
Dave Clark
Dave Innis of Restless Heart
Dave Mason
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat
Dean Pitchford
Denny Randell
Desmond Child
Devin Townsend
Devo
Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber
Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)
Dino Cazares of Fear Factory
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
Don Felder
Donald Fagen
Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)
Dr. John
Dropkick Murphys
dUg Pinnick of King's X
Duncan Phillips of Newsboys
Dwight Twilley
Eddie Carswell of NewSong
Eddie Reeves
Edwin McCain
El Sloan of Crossfade
Elvin Bishop
Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls
Emmylou Harris
Eric Burdon
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
Francesca Battistelli
Francis Rossi of Status Quo
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum
Gary Lewis
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
Gary Numan
Gentle Giant
Georgia Middleman of Blue Sky Riders
Gilby Clarke
Glen Burtnik
Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Gordon Bahary
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Graham Parker
Graham Russell of Air Supply
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg Puciato of Killer Be Killed and Dillinger Escape Plan
Gretchen Peters (Independence Day)
Guy Clark
Gym Class Heroes
Hal Ketchum
Harold Brown of War
Harry Shearer
Hayes Carll
Henry McCullough
Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Blackhawk
Holly Knight
Holly Williams
Howard Bellamy
Howard Jones
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian Astbury of The Cult
Ian Thornley of Big Wreck
Ingrid Croce
J.D. Souther
Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees
Jake Owen
James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jamie O'Neal
Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go`s
Janis Ian
Jann Klose
Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup
Jason Michael Carroll
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
Jason Reeves
Jason Roy of Building 429
Jay Graydon
Jeff Walker of Carcass
Jello Biafra
Jeph Howard of The Used
Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds
Jimbeau Hinson
Jimmy Jam
Jimmy Webb
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
Jo Dee Messina
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Joe Ely
Joe Grushecky
Joe Jackson
Joe King Carrasco
Joe Rickard of Red
Joel Crouse
Joey + Rory
Joey Burns of Calexico
John Doe of X
John Gallagher of Raven
John Lee Hooker
John Oates
John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls
John Waite
John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde
Johnny Winter
Jon Anderson of Yes
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Jon Tiven
Josh Kelley
Josh Shilling
Josh Thompson
Judas Priest
Julian Lennon
Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf)
Keith Morris of Black Flag and OFF!
Keith Reid of Procol Harum
Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy
Ken Block of Sister Hazel
Kenneth Nixon of Framing Hanley
Kenny Vance
Kerry Livgren of Kansas
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kip Winger
Kirk Franklin
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristine W
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Larry Burnett of Firefall
Larry Wiegand of Crow
Laura Bell Bundy
Lecrae
Lee Ranaldo
Les Claypool
Leslie West of Mountain
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Loeb
Lita Ford
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Loudon Wainwright III
Louie Perez of Los Lobos
Lukas Nelson
Mac Powell of Third Day
Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution)
Marcy Playground
Maria Muldaur
Maria Neckam
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
Marshall Crenshaw
Martin Gordon
Martin Page
Martin Smith of Delirous?
Martyn Ware of Heaven 17
Marvin Etzioni of Lone Justice
Mary Gauthier
Mat Kearney
Matisyahu
Matt Pike of High On Fire
Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids
Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon
Matt Sorum
Matt Thiessen of Relient K
Matthew West
Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)
Meshell Ndegeocello
Mia Doi Todd
Michael Bolton
Michael Franti
Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael Schenker
Michael Sweet of Stryper
Michael W. Smith
Mick Jones of Foreigner
Mike Campbell
Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies
Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid
Millie Jackson
Mitch Myers about Shel Silverstein
Mitts of Madball
Mountain Heart
Neil Fallon of Clutch
Neil Giraldo
Nick Van Eede from Cutting Crew
Nick Waterhouse
Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
Nina Persson of The Cardigans
Nona Hendryx
Oliver Leiber
Our Lady Peace
Ozomatli
Pam Tillis
Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers")
Paul Dean of Loverboy
Paul Evans
Paul Williams
Pegi Young
Penny Ford of Snap!
Pete Anderson
Peter Lord
Petula Clark
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Philip Cody
Queensrÿche founder Geoff Tate
Radney Foster
Raghav
Ralph Casale - Session Pro
Randy Goodrum (Oh Sherrie)
Randy Houser
Randy Montana
Randy Newman
Randy Sharp (From Glen Campbell to Edgar Winter)
Randy Stonehill
Rebecca St. James
Reverend Horton Heat
Rhonda Vincent
Richard Hell
Richard Marx
Richard Patrick of Filter
Richie McDonald of Lonestar
Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)
Rick Finch
Rick Springfield
Rick Wartell of Trouble
Rik Emmett of Triumph
Robert Ellis
Roger Clyne
Rosanne Cash
Rupert Hine
Ryan Star
Sam Phillips
Sandy Chapin
Sarah Brightman
Scorpions Rudolf Schenker
Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders
Scott Jason of Thriving Ivory
Scott Stapp
Scotty Emerick (Beer For My Horses)
Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities
Serena Ryder
Seth Swirsky
Shane Volk of One Bad Son
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shawn Smith of Brad
Shelby Lynne
Skip Ewing ("Love, Me," "The Gospel According To Luke")
Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D.
Speech of Arrested Development
Spooner Oldham
Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
Stan Ridgway
Steel Magnolia
Stephen Christian of Anberlin
Steve "Zetro" Souza of Exodus and Hatriot
Steve Azar
Steve Hindalong of The Choir
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai
Sugarland
Sum 41
Sunny Sweeney
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Tanita Tikaram
Taylor Dayne
Terry Cashman
Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")
Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos and Lost Dogs
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Dandy Warhols
The Fratellis
The Limousines
They Might Be Giants
Thomas Dolby
Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs
Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles
Tina Shafer
Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach
Toby Lightman
Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down and 7dayBinge
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Tommy James
Tommy Lee James ("She's My Kind Of Rain")
Toni Wine
Tonio K
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
Tony Joe White
Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Trent Wagler of The Steel Wheels
Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-Accept)
Van Dyke Parks
Vanessa Carlton
Ville Valo of HIM
Vince Clarke
Vince Gill
Vinny May of Kodaline
Vonda Shepard
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Wayne Swinny of Saliva
Wednesday 13
Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns
Will Jennings
Yael Naim
Yoko Ono
Zac Hanson
Zakk Wylde
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