Songwriter Interviews

Daryl Hall

by Roger Catlin

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At 67, Daryl Hall has been busy on the road with Hall & Oates, who were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, but also readying his Daryl's House nightclub in Pawling, New York, inspired by his popular music TV show Live from Daryl's House.

Finally, he's been renovating his own house in rural Sherman, Connecticut, in yet another TV show, Daryl's Renovation Over-Hall on DIY.

We talked to him a bit about those projects, the "windbaggery" of the Hall of Fame induction night and the possibility of foreseeing the future in lyrics — and we're not talking about "Private Eyes" (we asked!).
Songfacts (Roger Catlin): Sorry to see the old Daryl's House is out of your hands now.

Daryl Hall: That was up in Duchess County [NY]. And I sold that house in order to buy the new house. So I needed a venue.

Songfacts: After all the work you put in constructing the original Daryl's House, that must have been sad to let it go. Or was it?

Hall: I was very proud of that work. But I can't say I was sad. Because I like to look ahead. I'm always looking toward the next project.

Songfacts: You've remade the old Towne Crier in Pawling into Daryl's House, a club that will open on Halloween. And then you spent a year putting a two story addition on your new historic house in Sherman, Connecticut, with a TV crew on the scene. How did that work?

Hall: It was a lot of coordination. I had not started renovation yet when they called, and it just so happened that I was going to get started right about the time they wanted me to start.

Songfacts: Did you have to wait to do the work until the cameras were there and you could coordinate shooting?

Hall: I'll be kind and just say they were a bit disorganized. I was organized. And they were the disorganized people. So I won't get into that too much.

Songfacts: And during all this time you are still out on tour with Hall & Oates?

Hall: I am. We're constantly going out there. We're going out for shorter periods of time, but we don't ever stop really.

Songfacts: Are you touring more because of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction this year?

Hall: It's the same as always. We're a working band. We go out there all the time.

Songfacts: What was that whole experience like, the whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing for you?

Hall: I have a lot of feelings about it. Did I think it was going to come? I wasn't really sure, because I don't get along with those people. I don't know. I think it was pretty much exactly how I expected: An overlong evening of a lot of windbaggery.

Songfacts: But it's good for you and your music and your fans to be recognized that way, right?

Here's what John Oates told us about Daryl in 2011:

"He's got a few little hobbies and things that he's interested in, but in terms of where he's coming from as a person, music and creativity is really all that matters to him."
Hall: Absolutely. I'm making jokes about it. But you know, the 20th Century — and that's really what it celebrates — the 20th Century was an an amazing time for music really. It was an unprecedented period of history, and if I'm going to be recognized as part of that, that's a good thing. I'm OK with it. And it was for the fans.

Songfacts: Are there some of your songs that have more meaning for you now than they did before, or that you enjoy playing more or that strike you differently?

Hall: When you write a song it is in the present. And sometimes I wrote songs about the future, oddly enough. And what surprises me is when the future comes true, and you look at a song that you wrote, it could be even 40 years ago, and it's more relevant in the present than it even was then. So that's an interesting thing.

Some songs, my life has changed and they have a whole different meaning. They become anything from ironic to poignant. And then some songs are just exactly the way they always were. They're the way I feel, the way I've always felt.

Songfacts: When you think about the future coming true are you thinking about "Private Eyes"?

Hall: No, not that one. When I was a kid I used to write a lot about what I thought things were going to be like. I can't even give you a specific. This permeated my lyrics. If I were to think about it right now, I could pull out phrases and say, wow, how did I even know that? How did I even know that that's going to happen? Or that's the way life works? That kind of thing.

For being titled "I Can't Go for That," the song certainly had a lot of hip-hop artists going for it. The 1981 #1 single by Daryl Hall and John Oates has been sampled more than a handful of times by artists that include De La Soul ("Say No Go"), The Notorious B.I.G., 2 Live Crew, Tech N9ne, Girl Talk, and Heavy D.

The 1981 track is also the basis of Simply Red's 2003 single "Sunrise."

And Hall once said that while they were recording "We are the World," Michael Jackson told him he lifted the baseline of "I Can't Go for That" for his own megaseller, "Billie Jean."
Songfacts: A lot of your songs have endured, been sampled, been copied. How do you react to that? Is it an honor or do you feel ripped off?

Hall: No, no, no. Once it leaves me, it belongs to the world. As long as you pay me, do whatever you want, you know? I mean, playing around with songs is an interesting idea. I'm all for it. As long as you don't denigrate it or change the meaning to something that is inconsistent with the point of the song. I don't agree to that. I usually reject that, if that's thrown at me. But you know, anything else is sort of OK with me.

Songfacts: Are there some covers of your music that you particularly liked when you heard them?

Hall: I'll pick two: "Rich Girl" by The Bird and the Bee, who put out a whole album of their music in 2010 titled Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates.

And Paul Young, who made a No. 1 hit out of "Everytime You Go Away" in 1985.

September 17, 2014. For more, go to livefromdarylshouse.com.
More Songwriter Interviews

Comments: 18

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  • Fritz Souder from MarylandGreat writer and happy to see him and John still carrying on. They both wrote some classic tunes. I wrote a song inspired by the H & O style a few years back and tried to get to them but that type of thing depends on luck. Good health and happiness to both of those gentlemen.
  • Madge Thanker from NycI have loved Daryl Hall since 1977 when I met him stage and of course I very much like John but in a different way....
  • Joan Bare from Gunnison, CoGreat article....Daryl seems to be just like "fine wine" and easy on the eyes too!! I really enjoyed Daryl's House. I say that in past tense due to the fact that they have been taken off the air in my area of the world (Gunnison, Colorado). He was on the "Family Net" I believe and now they have replaced the shows on that channel with old '80's sitcoms......deeply saddened. Rock on, Daryl.......
  • Msarge Higgins from Marge33@optonline.netI'm New York City born & bred & I'm in my later years like Daryl, Was a Union President. Ed was a Prof
    at St. Johns. During the ups & downs of my life, Daryl & Johns music always brought me up. My 4 sons
    couldn't believe me. What I love about Daryl is what he said at R&R Hall receiving his honors. They weren't putting one over on him. He pointed out some of the artists they left out. No bs about him & so
    it goes - just the world we live in. He was always true to himself and I loved that about him. I went to
    New Jersey, Conn. Long Island to see him. Thank you Daryl & John. I had a wonderful life & you were a big part of it. I'm retired now & have traveled the world and my love has gone to his reward. I loved
    him with ALL MY HEART AND YOU AND JOHN WERE A HUGE PART OF MY ROMANCE. I still get in my car
    and put on my music. I can't go for that. We would wait for that during the concerts and were revved up and danced. I would do it today if you were coming to the Long Island area. What a thrill that would be
    for me. Thanks for everything. I love Live at Daryl's house and you brought your fans along with you for
    free. An inspiration that we were never left behind.
    What an inspiration that was. And we, your fans were brought along with you.. You see, I love
    that about you. GENIUS AND SO CREATIVE OF YOU. Keep on keeping on.

    I am a student of the Course of Miracles (which gave me a wondersul perspective on living in this world.)

    Your interview was so much appreciated by me. I really loved seeing the other side of Daryll's interest
    and made me appreciate him so much. Thanks for that also Daryl. We all have many sides to ourselves
    and it was another dimension of you.

    Roger, thank you for the interview. You must love music as much as I do. It is the food of the soul.
    Thank you.
  • Jim from North Billerica, MaNice Interview. I really enjoy LIve From Daryl's House. Really unique concept and he gets such a wide range of guests you never get the feeling it is mailed in, they have a genuinely great time.

    As an aside, "I can't go for that" has to be a quintessential "night time" song. It is so airy and ethereal, like a warm breeze on a midsummer's night.
  • Fran from Wallingford, CtI have heard more then once from Daryl how long the show was on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Well Daryl stop complaining it was a great show and if you did not want to stay for the whole show you should of left.

  • Cindykaup from KansasGreat interview Mr. Catlin! People like to know why their favorite performers write what they do. The listeners enjoy a great conversation that just happens to be an interview. Keep up the good work!
  • Bob Duggan from Narragansett RiI really enjoyed the show on DIY-the finished product was good even if disorganized as Daryl states. His other show, Daryl's House is outstanding. I also agree with Daryl that Paul Young's version of Everytime You Go Away was well done. I don't know if he still performs but it would be interesting to have him on the show.
  • Tony from Australiawhy do i get the impression that there will not be a second series of daryl's renovation show!
  • Francine Lostocco from Danbury, CtDaryl is the most interesting man in the world. His music is timeless, the renovations are a masterpiece. I was enthralled with all the history of restorations. It has always intrigued me. And he brought it all together.
  • Mary from Lakeside Mt.I really enjoyed live from Daryl's house, listening to old and new songs from the different artists. Daryl is a talented guy...can't wait to see more of his work.
  • Susie Parks from Santa ClaritaThat is so true with writing a song and then it really comes full circle years down the road to be true! It sort of freaks me out at times!
  • Bernadett Celene from Lutz, FloridaVery interesting interview with many insightful questions and answers. I love the music that comes from both Daryl and John and happy that he was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Connie Womack from California Been a Hall & Oates since they 1st started. I try to see them in concert whenever they're in California, and they're great. Always great , puts on a great concert, just love them.
  • David Correia from Manteca CaGood stuff!
  • Cheryl Pulliam from San Antonio TexasDaryl Hall is a remarkable artist. He is so humble.Tells it like he see it with his interviews. That I love about him! I listen to him daily! !
  • Svava Cushing from South Portland, MeVery interesting! I always love to hear about Daryl's view on things. Been a fan for over 30 years and still going strong!
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