Michael Bolton

Aug 13, 1988

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  1. 1 Interview 41:01
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Michael Bolton rose to international fame on the strength of a string of solo albums spanning the late 80's and early 90's. However, even before 1987's The Hunger—his commercial breakthrough—Bolton had been involved in the music industry for over a decade. It is perhaps this wealth of experience that is most striking during this interview with Bill Neal in New York City. The two talk about every aspect of Bolton's career up until that point including his songwriting, performance, and producing efforts.

As such, this is a must-listen for three types of people. Bolton fans will love this interview as an encapsulation of his career up until that point, beginning with his earliest musical influences and some stories from his childhood. There are also a number of points that would be of interest to anyone trying to break into the music industry. By this point in his career, Michael knew how to play the game from every angle and he is candid about his experience. The third group of people that should listen to this interview are those that like to play musical connect-the-dots. The list of names mentioned in this interview as inspirations or collaborators is expansive and impressive.

00:00 - Intro
00:32 - Getting his start in the music industry
01:20 - Writing with Patrick Henderson / writing for other performers
02:27 - Earliest musical influences: Motown, R&B
03:03 - The writing of Marvin Gaye and Holland-Dozier-Holland
03:50 - Formula for a hit song
04:44 - Perfecting the craft of writing is not a compromise
05:23 - Writing what you like vs. being successful
06:39 - "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" / beating James Taylor to the punch
08:31 - How "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" was supposed to be cut
09:13 - Resistance to the single / important endorsements
10:12 - Musical training (and lack thereof)
10:53 - The wild adolescent years
11:47 - Post-adolescent songwriting inspiration
12:33 - Singing in Blackjack / preferring working solo
13:18 - "Idea files"
13:59 - Choosing which songs to give away
15:34 - The song chooses the performer
16:21 - Laura Branigan beating Air Supply to the punch
17:59 - Michael's opinion of Branigan's recording
19:31 - "That's What Love is All About" / Eric "Love Has No Pride" Kaz
21:11 - Lyrical content vs. rhyming
22:24 - A "copyright" song
23:12 - The problem with producers
25:26 - Working with Cher
27:21 - Cher's favorite and least favorite songs on the album
28:13 - Approach towards albums vs. singles / relationship with the record company
29:31 - Strategies for choosing which songs to use for whom
31:35 - Special guests on the album / started with Keith Diamond, led to Journey
34:09 - "Walk Away" (the new single) / Diane Warren / Susan Hamilton
37:30 - Preparing and maintaining the voice
38:48 - The strongest substance he'll ingest
39:59 - Rodney Dangerfield impersonation
40:31 - Outro