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Jonathan Cain & His Journey To Be More Like Jesus

Posted November 2019


Jonathan Cain Ph Cr Sheila Withum.j CroppedPhoto by Sheila WithumThroughout the history of rock and roll, there have been many notable artists who have not only expressed their faith but have also gone as far as recorded “gospel” albums or, at least, albums heavy with religious/spiritual themes.

In the 60’s and early 70’s, Elvis recorded His Hand In Mine, How Great Thou Art (the title song gave him his only Grammy), and You’ll Never Walk Alone). In the 70’s, Bob Dylan, B.J. Thomas, Dion, America’s Dan Peek, Grand Funk’s Mark Farner. In Country music, even more artists have recorded gospel albums.

In more recent years, other artists have proclaimed their faith by way of recording albums of faith. Journey keyboardist/songwriter, has recorded his second gospel album (third, if you count his Christmas album).

After Journey’s Knoxville concert last year, Jonathan and I talked backstage about (among other things) the yet-to-be-released album. He ran a couple of possible titles by me and asked my opinion as to which title I liked best. I gave my answer and we went on to discuss other things.

Fast forward to May of this year. The album lands. Different title. No offense was taken but I was curious what led Cain to the title he selected. So, he called me from his Florida home, and we finished our small talk, I led with that question.

“We decided to go with More Like Jesus just because of the song had gotten so much attention. You know, it was everybody's favorite song. And I just felt like it was a good statement to make, you know, in this crazy intolerant time we live in, you know.”

With the recent appointment of his wife, Pastor Paula White-Cain, as chair of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board, I posited that he and his wife are experiencing a certain amount of intolerance themselves. He replied:

“We sure are. But, you know, I think that's going to find a way for all of this to turn around. And I'm confident that going forward, that He'll (God) make a way.”

Paula’s background and current theological leanings are largely Charismatic/Pentecostal in nature, originating within the Cleveland, Tennessee, based Church of God. Jonathan is Catholic. I asked him what kind of synergies they had as a result of the differing spectrums of their faiths.

“You know, it's funny because she's more based on Scripture. Mine is more doctrine. But certainly, the common denominator is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She is amused at my stories about the worshipping of Mother Mary. Growing up, she had no idea . . . (of) the Catholic doctrine. ‘You pray to Mary.’ May is Mary's month. We have all these prayers. She was fascinated with all of it. I'm a holy water guy; Rosary guy. I like incense, frankincense and myrrh. I go old school on her, you know? And she finds it fascinating. I shared with her the Latin that I used to sing - Gregorian chants and the high mass, the sort of ritual that mass was. It was very close to the Orthodox style, except it was in Latin.

“But it's nice to come from a background of the ancient beginnings of church and then to see where church has gone. The common denominator is, again, the teachings of Jesus Christ. And so, we both are completely respectful. And to me, it's fascinating that a fatherless child would find her true father, you know, at 19 years old. Her book is amazing, 'Something Greater'. I also have a song that I wrote about her story called ‘Something Greater’. If you get a chance, listen to it. It's on iTunes and Spotify.

Jonathan Cain Paula White Michael Tait Ian EskelinJonathan Cain, Paula White, Michael Tait, & Ian Eskelin“So, I just am really just a big fan of her evangelizing and her complete devotion to that kingdom work that she's done
faithfully for the last 35 years. It's remarkable that she wasn't allowed to preach in a pulpit. You know, women weren't allowed to preach in certain churches. And yet she was so successful and so bold. She just has a bold heart for the Lord. And that to me is just really, really attractive. You know, she finds my faith attractive. I find hers very attractive. So, we're sort of a sort of mutual fans of each other's.”

When I commented on some of the beautiful liturgies and prayers that have been written by prominent Catholics throughout history, Cain concurred.

“You know, it's true. There's a whole legacy there, you know? And I pray that the church has vision and going forward.”

Then, circling back to the matter of church leanings, Jonathan added:

“You know, I'm sort of, you know, really probably more leaning towards what Church of God. I mean, I'm sort of in that realm myself. I don't feel that ‘Catholic’ anymore. But I respect the pastors that taught me; the sisters that were patient enough to work with me. So, it's like, ‘This is where you come from and this is good. I took Jesus very serious at a young age. I said my only community, my Holy Communion. It was like an out of body experience for me at eight years old. This was no passing thing. It was a serious thing. My father was a very, very prayerful man and led me that Jesus, a personal relationship with Christ. I owe my father so much when it comes to that.

“And, of course, me being a dad of three, I try to lead mine to a - I ended up at a Lutheran church with them and I found a good place for us for a while. I mean, once you're divorced, it's hard to come back, you know, because you're sort of outcast from the Catholic Church. No one has to ever become an outcast. I don't agree with that doctrine, but, you know, that's what it is.

To put a nice bow on that subject, Cain concluded:

“So, the reality is that that's your reality. At least I'm comfortable worshiping anywhere.”

Bringing the conversation back around to his new album, I asked Cain what the story behind it was.

“Well, More Like Jesus was written at the tail end of What God Wants To Hear. It was so bold and different than the other music on What God Wants to Hear that I decided I would make it a cornerstone for the new album and all the music seemed to be bold and confident. It was just sort of just very upbeat, intense in a lot of ways. Songs like Unleashed just have this joy and this confidence about them; as kingdom-minded music. I think in a lot of ways it's very kingdom minded.

“So, What God Wants To Hear is just kind of a first attempt at asking the Lord to lead me into a worship place, you know? And then, there was the confidence that came from the obedience that led me to this boldness on this second album. I'm really happy. Kingdom Come Down On Me - there's songs on this record that, to me are - Only in the Arms of Jesus - there's something for everyone. Every worshiper that is going through something, there's a song for everybody on this album.
“Ephesians 3:23 - 3:21, is my one of my favorite Scriptures. I saw it as a song unto Him and it just came out perfect. And looking back at the school fire (that took place when he was a youngster in school), I understood that ashes for beauty is a song. So, this song comes forth - 'Take These Ashes'.

“There's a song that’s on the album that's for women. I was asked to sing at the E Women's conference, and I couldn't find anything - a worship song that just really lifted up the heart of a woman. And then I ran into Proverbs. 'She's worth my far more than rubies.’ I was like, ‘Well, there it is'. So, I think there's something for everybody on this album. I mean, it's 14 songs. It's got quite a spectrum and there's probably fifteen or twenty places in the Word that you'll see where I landed. And I try to take a very kingdom-minded approach with this album.”

Jonathan says that response to the album has been great.

“People love it. I mean, I've been on iTunes and they say there's not a bad song on the album. ‘We like it'. And More Like Jesus is definitely a departure. Even my kids like it. It's a joyful song. It's progressive. It asks some questions about your faith and I think that it does it in a positive way. You have to prepare in your hearts. I mean, that's one thing everybody talks about Jesus' birth. Are you ready to prepare for Jesus? And I think that's one thing that I found, is that there's preparation that goes into it for sure.

“I just had a lot of hearts and a lot of a lot of new followers from it. People are digging on the album. They are buying it; they're playing the songs. I wish I could get some more people to write reviews, but I don't know if iTunes doesn't publish them or what.”

As for new music coming down the pike:
“I wrote a song about my wife's book, Something Greater. We dropped that. And then the new Christmas single is coming at the end of the month, Wonder of Wonders. So, there's two more songs for me and next year, there will be another new single. So, I'm going to go on the single thing for a while.”

Which song on the new album would Cain point to as its calling card?

“You know, to me, I would have to say Unleashed. It's a great place to go because it is sort of a kingdom minded worship song JonathanCainUnleashedConfin a way. We can go to a place where we become unleashed; that we will be totally free; that through worship we would find true freedom. And I think that truly is the spirit of this album.

When I asked if there wasn’t going to be a Christmas album in the offing, Jonathan said:

“Well, I dropped Unsung Noel and it kind of just disappeared as quickly as I put it out. I feel that it I feel like it's time to try that thing out again. We're going to give it another look; give it another listen. It's deep. Its 14 songs deep. There's a lot of songs on there. I wrote 10 original Christmas songs. So, I don't know if there is a worship album with ten original Christmas songs. I doubt it. I dare you to find one, okay? Ha! Ha! That's producing a lot in one setting. I think that speaks for what I feel. But Wonder of Wonders belongs right along with the things I wrote on Unsung Noel. The melody is very catchy. And once again, we look at the miracles of the Nativity and we consider that Christ is the heart of Christmas and that is a wonder. It looks at the miracle of what the Nativity actually represents for all of us.”

Journey will embark on a stadium tour next year (see the itinerary here). I asked Cain what else was his radar in the next year or so.

“Well, Paula and I have a daily show we minister on together on Daystar - Paula Today with Paula White-Cain. I'm having fun with her getting in that lane and doing the preparation to ministering together. Certainly, I play a lot of music when she ministers, I'm usually present on the piano, keyboard in some way.

“We have a project coming called ‘Prayer Glories’. I recorded my Christmas album - a live version of Unsung Noel at New Destiny, and we're excited to finally put that out and release it. There's a possible Amazon Prime situation that might happen. I think I'm working on that angle. More video. There's a prayer piano worship I got I'm also going to be releasing next year where I'm just playing free form worship music on the piano. There's that, too.”

You can order More Like Jesus, Jonathan’s other solo work and his autobiography by clicking on the album icons below. You can also keep up with Jonathan at his website,

You can also read our first interview with Jonathan here and our second one here.

Jo Wood Talks About "Stoned"

Posted November 2019

JoWood2CroppedThere’s a line in the Elton John song, Philadelphia Freedom, that says, “I used to be a rolling stone, you know?” In a different context, that line could apply to Jo Wood. In the 32 years that she was partnered and married to Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood, she was as much a Rolling Stone as one could be without actually performing in the band.

In that time, Ms. Wood amassed a near-infinite number of photos (“snaps”, as she calls them) of her life with Ronnie and the Stones. After much badgering from friends and family, she was finally coaxed into gathering a fraction of those photos and compile into a book entitled, “Stoned: Photographs & Treasures from Life with the Rolling Stones” (see our review of it here).

The book is an amazing collection of truly insightful and intimate behind-the-scenes views into the Rolling Stones family. I will go as far as to say that it is the most insider photographic peek into their world to date.

I had the privilege of chatting with Jo by phone, reaching her at her home in the idyllic British countryside to which she had just recently moved to and was still in the process of unpacking.

After comparing notes on such things as country living in our respective countries, losing a parent (she lost her mother a couple of years ago), visiting our fathers and family, and other life-matters (such as her ten grandkids about whom she says, “I adore them all!”), we got down to chatting about “Stoned”. Jo shared that the initial buzz is all positive.

“Everybody is really likes it! I was I wasn't sure. I knew I liked the pictures. And I'm very proud of the pictures, but I didn't know what response I was going to get. But everywhere I've gone, they love the book. Not one negative comment at all. I'm very proud of that.”

Jo then shared how the book was started, came together, and how long it took.Stonedcover

“Well, of course, I've had those pictures in boxes and albums for years and years now, and I started putting them on Instagram. A very good friend of my son in law, Jon Bennett, is an ex rock journalist. He pops over to the house. And I was just going through just a few - I just piled on the table and going through them. He said, 'Oh, my God, Jo! These are great pictures.' I said, 'Yeah, I've got loads of those boxes of them, Jon.' And he said, 'Come on, let me see.'

“So, I brought a box down and we started going through it and he said, 'You have got to do something with these pictures.' I said, 'No, I'm just going to put them on Instagram. My kids can sort them out when I'm - I can't do that.' And he said, 'No, Jo, you've got to.' He nagged me so much. And then he dragged me off to a publisher and I thought I'd go just to see what they would say. And they loved it. And they said, 'Come on, let's do it.' I went, 'Oh, my God.'.

“So, I told Ronnie. I said, 'Ronnie, I'm going to do a picture book with all my old snaps. He said, 'Fine, just let me see it so I can edit it.' I took it to him before when I got the draft done. He just took out one letter from 1978 from the accountant, saying, 'Here's an advance, 250 dollars.' He said that was irrelevant to the book. I said, 'All right. You're right'. Then I sent it to Keith and Patti (Richards), as well. Patti took a couple of pictures out of her that she didn't like, and they said, 'You're good to go.'

“Ronnie looks great in all of the pictures. I knew he'd like it.

I told Jo that the collection showed for the first time that there is this tight knit camaraderie, family type of feeling within the Stones organization, despite the fact that there's this reputation of being the bad boys of rock and roll. She validated those observations.

Jo Wood“You know, we're always like a family. They have - I think when you spend a lot of time with people by going on tour day in and day out, month to month to month, you become very close to them and you share so many memories. Yeah, we are like a family. Even though I'm not with Ronnie anymore, whenever I see him, you know - he's my great friend all through the years. And the same with Patti and Keith. I adore Patti. I'm in contact with her all the time. We shared so many memories. We are all really good friends.

Regarding how long it took to sort through the photos for submission to the publisher, Ms. Wood said:

“Well, once I had sat down to make a really made a big effort, I had to take loads of albums and just sort them out, really; go through boxes; find my old diaries. I had everything on the table, a big table, and I just started putting them into sections first. And then, once I got my favorite ones - there was so many of them. Anyway, I put them all in folders, so it had some chronological order. And then I took it all to the publishers and they said, 'We will do the final edit because you're too close.' Because I was like, 'Oh, my god! You've got to use that one! Oh, don't get that one!' They said, 'You're too close, Jo. Step away. We'll do the final edit. Otherwise, you'll have thousands of pictures in your book.'

I asked Jo if she could tell me what her three favorite photos in the book are.

“Yeah, I think Ronnie and Keith asleep on each other. I love that one. I love Ronnie and Keith walking backstage. I've made it into a print. I love that one. Which other ones do I love? I love the one – it’s bit a bit tattered and battered - but it's Keith by the tuning room door. Yeah. Yeah. So those are the ones I like. I mean, there are so many of them that - I love the one of Keith with Angela (Richards), Keith and my daughter. I love that one of Ronnie asleep with a saxophone and a bottle of beer. Yeah. There's lots of them. I love, actually. I have seen those pictures for so many years. It must be nice to look at them for the first time.

Is there anything that Jo feels that the fans will be particularly amused with or surprised about or shocked to see within the pages of Stoned?

“Gosh! I don't know. Maybe us all having such love all the time. We really did have lots of love. Maybe they will enjoy that note that Keith said, 'Jo, I owe you two Derringer pistols.' Ha! Ha! That is so Keith.

Is there anything about the book that isn't readily obvious that she would like readers to know about in the book?

“No, not really, because the pictures tell the story. Now, when you just look at the pictures - I mean, I didn't really want to write as much as I did, but the publisher said I had to. So, I just wanted it to be all pictures. But I think when you look at them, they tell the story themselves. I really don't need to say much about them.”

As for plans for a “Stoned” sequel, Ms. Wood said:JO Wood2

“Easily, I could do a sequel. But let me see what the publisher says.”

Jo shared with me what is on her radar for the next year or so.

“I do a podcast called, Alien Nation, where I interview different people from celebrities to the man on the street about UFO experiences and abductions and all that, I'm fascinated with that. I spoke to Dan Akroyd, Robbie William. Shaun Ryder . . . just to name a few. That's ongoing.

“Then next year - because I'm mad about organics - everything organic as far as organic - you know, you clean up the world when you buy good, natural product. I'm bringing out my skin range next year. I've already got candles, body oil, and fragrance. So now it's going to be the skin range. And you know, I work a lot with my son Tyrone, because he has this charity called Project Zero, which is all about saving the oceans. Next year we got a big concert at the O2. That's like a Live Aid for the ocean next May. So, watch out to that.”

When I asked if she could share who will be performing at that concert, she playfully said in a sing-song way: “I'm not allowed to say.”

While we will all have to wait to see who will hit that stage, we don’t have to wait to order “Stoned: Photographs & Treasures from Life with the Rolling Stones”. It will be a great addition to your library as well as a great gift for that Rolling Stones fan on your gift giving list.

You can follow Jo Wood here on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Peter Asher Talks About The Beatles A to Zed

Posted November 2019

Asher Peter with Buddy Holly guitar CroppedIt’s hard to believe that next year marks the fiftieth year since The Beatles broke up, each going their own creative ways. Since the break-up, there’s been a plethora of books, movies, compilation albums, and documentaries.

A gentleman who was there pretty much from the git-go is the legendary Peter Asher. For those of you who don’t know who Peter is, he is the “Peter” of the 60’s British duo, Peter and Gordon. Their first big hit as a song, A World Without Love, written by Paul McCartney, who happened to be engaged at the time to Peter’s sister, actress Jane Asher.

Peter later moved into artist management with people like James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt among his clients. He has also been a record label executive and prolific record producer for a wide range of artists such as Cher, 10,000 Maniacs, Andrew Gold, and J.D. Southern.

Oh, and if you’re a SiriusXM subscriber, you may have caught Peter’s show, From Me to You, on the Beatles Channel (channel 18). When he’s not on the radio, he’s performing shows across the fruited plain with Jeremy Clyde (of Chad & Jeremy).

Amid all of this, Peter has written an interesting and intriguing book entitled, “The Beatles from A to Zed”. The book is a natural off shoot from his satellite radio program. In it, he shares his reflections into a unique alphabetical journey through some of the Beatles’ songs that happen to start with each letter. He also spotlights recurring themes within the songs, talks about the instruments used, and many other interesting factoids behind and about the songs.

I caught up with Peter by phone as he was working on some advance recordings of his radio show. Because of that, I asked Asher if had anything special coming up on the show.

“Well, no. I don't have guests on - or, I haven't, yet. So, it's just me. You know, I mean, me thinking of things to talk about and music to play. So, no, there's nothing special. I mean, I've recorded a few shows ahead of time, obviously, because now I'm in the middle of all this book promotion stuff, so. You know, I needed to have a few shows ahead.”

Changing the subject over to the book, I asked what the pre-release buzz was, so far, on the book.

“Apparently, I mean, people seem to be liking it. There's been a few advanced reviews that have been very positive, so I don't know. The book world is new to me. I've got some friends who are authors, but I've never had a book out before. So, it's a different process. And it's fascinating. But apparently, I mean, they tell me everything is going very positively and that the reaction, so far, is good. So, we shall wait and see.”

I commented that the book is a fun-filled encyclopedia of Beatles stuff.

“Yeah, I love that it rambles quite freely. But it's not, in no sense, an encyclopedia or meant to be any sort of a definitive S Ed Sullivan with PGEd Sullivan with Gordon and Peterreference book. I think the description of it is alphabetical mystery tour, which was the thought. It is quite apt in the sense that I'd sort of follow a similar idea with my radio show, follow the story wherever it led me. And use the alphabet as a very rough format. It doesn't use the alphabet for just song titles, but people and places and musical instruments and musical styles and all kinds of stuff. It's a very freeform encyclopedia.”

When I stated that my feeling was that he approached the book as an informed fan, he enthusiastically replied:

“Oh, definitely! No question! I am a fan! But yes, I wrote the book as a fan and not as any kind of an expert. I mean, I got introduced the other day as a Beatle expert, I said, 'No, I'm not an expert at all. I am a fan who also had the good fortune to be around to witness some of the events and hear some of the music, meet some of the people involved in the whole extraordinary Beatles story. But essentially that just means that I'm kind of a well-connected fan but just a fan, nonetheless.

I asked Peter what he hopes fans take away after reading The Beatles from A to Zed.

“Oh, that's interesting. I hope it makes people go listen to the music again, I suppose, in terms of what it would achieve, I think. I mean, I think one of the advantages of - Well, let's put it this way: When I set the radio into the book, of course, First, I was, like, "That will be easy, because we'll just transcribe everything I said on the radio. It'll be brilliant!". And, of course, it was far from brilliant. It was awful because the way you write and talk when you're just talking to somebody on the radio and following your analysis, it is very different than writing a book. So, I had to rewrite the whole thing.

“And the other thing I realized, of course, is that when you're doing a radio show, you play the music. You have to say a couple of sentences and then play it (the song). Whereas writing a book about the music, you have to actually get more specific and then more descriptive about what it is about the music that's so good. So, I did a lot of writing along those lines. But nonetheless, of course, people do have the opportunity nowadays to have the book in one hand and Spotify in the other, and play and read about the points I'm trying to make about the music and then listen to it and see if you agree.

“So, as far as what I hope people get out of it, I hope they’re entertained by it, that they’re amused by the passage of time. But I also hope maybe that they listen to the music with a new appreciation; that it (the music) is actually brilliant The Beatles were and are.

And how long did the book take Mr. Asher to write?

“I'm not certain I want to get it. It was a huge project. It was much bigger than I expected because I would with the transcripts of the radio shows and then go, ‘Oh, my God, it needs massive amounts of work!’ So, each sample was a great deal of work. So, I will not pretend that there weren't moments where I said, 'I don't know about this book stuff!', you know? It was a challenge. I like to try to write reasonably clearly and well. And I didn't want to co-write with anybody. I wasn't going to have somebody else do it because I pride myself on a certain amount of things and I'd rather do it myself. That makes it hard. And then you learn the value of the rewrite and all that stuff. So, with the help of an excellent editor at Henry Holt - my publishing company - I was eventually able to get it done. But, did I feel, at some points, I’d feel quite daunted by how long the bloody alphabet was. 'Will we ever get to Zed?' But eventually we did. But it was it was hard work.

A1 Studio Peter J G GMIn the Studio with John Lennon, George Harrison, Peter, and George Martin - Photo Courtesy of Apple Records“But now I'm pleased. I'm happy I did it. But I did have some moments where I just kind of went, 'Maybe this was just meant to be a radio show. And maybe this book idea is not a good one.' But then then I’d read as far I'd gotten and go, 'You know, maybe it's okay. Maybe people will be entertained, interested, or even conceivably enlightened or at least, you know, learn something about music that hadn't thought of on their own.”

I had to ask Peter if there was, from his unique vantage point, THE Beatles song of songs.

“To tell you the truth, I'm avoiding that question. I get asked so many times, 'What's your favorite Beatle song? What's your Beatles top five, top ten?' And, you know, it changes day to day. I honestly choose, if I may, politely, to say, no, I'm not going to say this is the best Beatles song ever. I know people like that kind of thing. They love lists and Top Tens and all that. But I'm kind of politely avoiding that because it's impossible. And it would literally change day to day. Or, I’d choose one now and then listen to the radio and hear a different one and then go, 'Well, you know that should be it.' You know, I don't know. I think it's important to remain flexible and I'm truly not sure.”

What is the biggest misconception of the Beatles?

“Wow. The biggest misconception. I don't know. I mean, I have to think about that at some length. I suppose. You know. I think because it ended in some arguments and anger, perhaps people give undue weight to that part of the story and forget how incredibly well they got on for so many years. They were an incredibly well blended band. It was the perfect storm both musically and personality wise and everything. They fit together so extraordinarily well when I did have an opportunity to watch them work together in the studio or on a project or whatever. I think the misconception is that there was, like all bands, that they did end with some arguing and some anger. But I think one forgets the extent to which they were genuinely cohesive, coherent and a creative whole for a long time. And that's how they created this body of work that is unequaled in the history of rock and roll.”

Peter has worked with lots of household names in some form or fashion over the years. Who would he like to work with that he hasn’t, yet?

“Actually, there's lots of people. I mean, there's so many great singers out there now in current pop music. The funny part is everyone thought the minute they put in technology that it enables you to do stuff on records that you couldn't necessarily do live or fix vocals in ways they couldn't previously be fixed. There was a feeling that it would lead to less great singers. But in fact, any of the current crop of singers like Ariana Grande.

“It's extraordinary how many good singers there are - and good songwriters! I'm a big Brandy Clark fan. I'd like to work with her one day. And Brandi Carlile, too, actually. People forget about her. But I think Brandi Clarke is spectacularly good. And, as I was saying, there's a lot of great singers. You know, Ed Sheeran obviously is not brand new anymore. But I mean, he's a singer/songwriter entirely up to the standards of the previous singer/songwriter era, in my view. I did actually get to do a track with Ed and became a huge fan as well as friends. So now there are lots of people. In fact, this guy, Lewis Capaldi, he's out now. He's spectacularly good. There's a lot of people, many of whom I would I would love to work with. I find new singers and new songwriters as exciting as I ever did.”

Does Asher stay in touch with his old clients?

“Oh, very much so. Both James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, for example, are dear friends who I stay in contact with. Absolutely! Those are the people I worked with most extensively as a manager.”

I asked Peter if he were made music czar and given complete control of the music industry and was tasked with fixing the G PG in GermanyGordon and Peter in Germanymusic business, first of all, does he think the business broken and, if so, what would he do to fix it. His answer surprised me both by its forthrightness and its laissez-faire tone.

“I don't think there's any such thing. I mean, you can't fix a business other than by the free market. I don't mean to be an economic seminar. I realize it's an entirely hypothetical question but a political one. If this 'Music Business Czar' tried to impose order on the music business, you'd be doomed. You know? Every time that the industry has reacted to new technology or new music. I tried to do that. 'We can fix this. Let's pass some rules; some laws.' It's always been a complete disaster.

“So, ultimately, the free market will fix the music business. No, the music business is not broken. The record business was kind of broken there for a bit. The music business is flourishing. Music is more important to people's lives than it's ever been. The live concert business is flourishing. Concerts themselves is just so much plain ol’ better than they used to be because of the new sound, sonic technology. And, then, touring technology has changed so much that live shows are terrific now and sound good and look good and fun to go to and safe to go to and all kinds of stuff that didn't necessarily used to be.

“So, the music business is fine. The record business went through a period when it did look like it kind of sunk because everyone was finding ways to get music without paying anything at all for it or, at the most, a little. And now, finally, as you as you've seen, streaming is turning into a viable industry and people are making a living out of it.

“So, if I was Music Czar, the first thing I do is fire myself and say, 'No, we don't need a music czar. We need to allow the fans and the technology and the free markets to just shake itself out and find a way that people can make a living in music. And it's not the huge living that it used to be. You know, it probably isn't.

Q Peter with Buddy Holly guitar“I mean, my friend, Bob Lefsetz, has pointed out that the new rock stars are the tech guys, not the actual rock stars. If you want to make billions, have private jets and yachts and things, you're much better off inventing some app or a new social media format or something than you are writing songs and playing electric guitar. So, you know, it's changed. Being a rock star is no longer the ultimate rock star profession. It's harder to make a living doing that than it is, you know, being a techie guy. The nerds are getting younger and younger.

“That's a roundabout answer, I know. But I think the music business is fine. And if you don't make the same number of millions that you used to make in the old days, then so be it. But that's not the end of the world, either, because that means that people get into music because they love it, not because they want to be rich.”

As for what’s on Asher’s itinerary after he’s done promoting The Beatles A to Zed, he shared:

“Well, I've got some gigs lined up. I do this memoir show with a bunch video and audio and stuff. I've got some of those booked including a cruise I occasionally host - these rock and roll cruises. I'm doing one early next year, a 60s cruise that is really fun. I've done those several times before in the Caribbean. I have a great time doing that; a whole bunch of gigs. I'll be working on a couple of movie projects with Ann Timmer, who I work with a lot on film stuff. Gosh! What else? I'm trying to think there's a whole bunch of stuff I'm doing. But, to say 'immediately', we're trying to get this book off the ground. And obviously they're hoping to keep selling books through Christmas and all that. It makes an ideal Christmas present!”

Wrapping up our chat, I closed our conversation by asking how Peter hopes to be remembered and what he hopes his legacy will be.

“I really don't give much thought to that, to be honest. I don't particularly mind, you know. I won't be around by the very definition of your question. It's strange, I suppose. Maybe one is supposed to worry about one's legacy. But other than leaving my family well and my wife and daughter and all of that, I don't really have any post-death ambitions, nor do I have any belief that there is any such thing as post-death. So, as far as I'm concerned, you're dead and it's all over and that's it. As a staunch atheist, I find myself minding not very much about after I'm dead. It's odd, in a way. Why do people worry about that? Why do people worry about the size of the statues built about them, the books written about them or the stories told about them? I don't think I really do. I think whatever happens is okay with me.”

John Berry Back From The Brink

Posted November 2019

JohnBerry001Baby boomers and long-time country music fans are likely quite familiar with country artist, John Berry. He took the 1990’s country charts by a storm with huge hits as Your Love Amazes Me, She’s Taken a Shine and Standing on the Edge of Goodbye. Twenty of his singles hit the country charts with six of them hitting the top five and the three aforementioned tunes hitting number one on a variety of charts.

According to his website,, “he has earned multiple Gold and Platinum records over the years. John was nominated for the ACM Top New Male Vocalist in 1994, won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his participation in Amazing Grace: A Country Salute to Gospel Vol. 1, was nominated for another Grammy in 1995 for his smash hit Your Love Amazes Me and was nominated for the CMA Horizon Award and Top Male Vocalist Award in 1995. In 1997 he was nominated for Vocal Event of the Year (for Long Haired Country Boy with Charlie Daniels and Hal Ketchum) and in 2013 John was nominated for the Mainstream Country Male Artist by the ICM Awards. And thanks to the miracles of modern technology, he even sang a duet with the late, great Patsy Cline.”

In more recent years, his annual Christmas tours are a recurring hit for the thousands during the holidays with fans coming back each year. Maybe it has something to do with his delivery of the Christmas classic, O’ Holy Night.

Despite all of that success, John and his family were hit with hardships including John knocking on death’s door not once but twice with the second time being just earlier this year.

I met John at a Nashville area theater where he was about to shoot a video for use in his concerts (more about that in a few moments). We talked about his recent victory over tonsil cancer, other key events in his life, among other things.

But anyway, how are you feeling, man? Have you had a rough year at first? Yeah. Yeah.

“The first five months of this year, if I had to do that again, I don't if I would. That was pretty tough. But things are getting better, improving, and starting to gain a little weight back. I hope I control that. I don't wanna be bigger than Elvis, or anything. Ha! Ha! I've been able to eat a little bit more.”

When I asked if he had completed all of the necessary treatments, he responded:

“Yeah, all that ended. That was seven weeks. Started mid-February. I did seven weeks of five days a week for radiation. So, thirty-five radiation treatments and once a week for chemotherapy. So, seven chemotherapy treatments. 'Sucks' is not quite strong enough. People talk about how sick it makes you and make in the first two weeks. I was, like, 'What are you talking about?' Third week, 'This is easy.' I mean, it's a little bit uncomfortable and all that. Week four was a whole new ball game. It started really kicking in strong in the fourth week, fifth week, man. And then from the fifth week, fifth, sixth and seventh week was unbelievable.”

Obviously, I had to ask what got him through that hell. John’s answer was instant and unequivocal.

“God got me through it.

“There's that wonderful verse in Philippians 4:13, 'I do all things through Christ who strengthens me' and not just physical Courtesy of Trinity Broadcasting Network Photog Kris Rae 3Courtesy of Trinity Broadcasting Network - Photo Kris Raestuff, emotional and spiritual stuff. That's the verse that Robin and I clung to. But knowing that as tough as it was - I mean, I've been through I've had faced a lot of battles in my short life and God's been faithful to me. The other side has always been worth what I've had to fight through.

It's funny. The night I got the diagnosis, we actually went down on January 4th for an appointment. All this came about because a year ago, right at a year ago now, we were recording Thomas Road, getting it wrapped up. But while we were recording in October and first part in November had this tickle in my throat. I explained it, like I had the skin of a Spanish peanut stuck in my throat. Wow. Exactly what it felt like. Just annoying. I couldn't drink enough to get it washed down. It was driving me nuts.

Finally, I went to a doctor. He said, 'Oh, you have tonsil infection.' A round of antibiotics. Finished up the album, started the Christmas tour. Midway through the tour, I never lost the note. It was just driving me crazy. I got another round of antibiotics. Finished up the tour, got home, still the same thing. Hadn't gotten any worse. Hadn't gotten any better.

Finally, I got a flashlight and looked in the mirror; shined it in my throat and looked in the mirror and my tonsils are, like, huge! I was, like, 'What in the world is that?' I said, 'Robin, come look at this. It's like a big ol’ tumor.' She looked at it and she tried not to scare me with her response. She said, ‘We’re going to call and get you in to see a specialist!’

“So, they got me in to see Dr. Spire at St. Thomas West. I walked in and Dr. Spire - his said, 'It sure is good to see you again.' And I said, 'When did I see you the last time?' He said, 'You wouldn't remember.' He said, 'I was an intern with Dr. Ossoff in 1997 when you had vocal cord surgery. I was in on that surgery.'

“So, here God's put a man in line who knows that I'm a singer and that this is my livelihood. We need to address it. We talked for a few minutes about what was going on and all that. He said, 'Well, let's take a look.' And he took a flashlight. Looked down my throat. Turn the flashlight off. He said, 'I'm a no B.S. guy. It looks like cancer to me.'

“You could push me over a feather. I mean, I mean that's nothing in the realm that had ever entered my mind. Never. Not once. My bass player, Mike Steele, had the same cancer last summer - the summer before me. So, he is just coming back to work in the Fall and did the Christmas tour with us.

“And now I got the same thing. You know, it's just unimaginable. No history of cancer in my family except my sister had breast cancer. But as far as any other, I can't think of any relatives who've died from lung cancer or whatever. It's just not that kind of history. And so, when he said cancer, I was like, 'Are you sure?' And he said, 'Well, we'll do a biopsy. I've been doing it a long time. I can pretty well tell you that's what it is.' So, they took the tonsils out. They took both of them out. And of course, one of them - that tickle in my throat was a tumor leaning against the back of my throat, just touching it.

“That's what it was.”

“The other tonsil had a tumor developing in it. So that was coming. With both tonsils having tumors, malignant tumors, they were real aggressive with the treatment. They wanted to be sure they burn up everything that they could burn up. It's funny, the last week of treatments, radiation treatments, we were in there and my neck was real leathery from the radiation. But there was a white stripe right here. Robin asks the doctor, 'Is he OK? That white stripe?' He said, 'It is funny that it looks like that. But what we did is we bent the radio waves to go around his vocal cords.' They told me that they'd plot a course and take those waves around vocal cords. So that skin ended up not getting zapped. Isn't that crazy? They would just radiate and get everything they can get. That's pretty cool.”

Photo Credit Just Kaicles Photo by Just Kaicles John gave advice for those who are going through tough battles, especially medical ones.

“Well, it's a real spiritual thing. All circumstances Are used for good or bad. They'll either draw us closer to God and more in touch with God and more in tune with God and what He wants for our lives and those opportunities to get to know Him better; not for Him to get to know us better because He knows us better than we know ourselves; but for us to grow in Him or go the other direction. One or the other. We're not going to stay the same.

“And so, whatever circumstance you're in, it's going to be used for good or bad. Whether your car broke down on the way to work today and how you handle it, it's going to be used for good or bad. You go to the doctor and you get a cancer diagnosis. It's going to be used for good or bad. How do you choose? What direction do you want to go with the challenges in your life? I don't believe that God goes, 'Ooo, John. Cancer.' I just think that it was in my genes. It's just ‘there it is’, you know. But what do we do with it? What do we do with what comes our way?

John continued by sharing a story about a huge financial hit that he and his family experienced.

“We've we lost everything we had in 2009, 2010, financially. The stock market crash in 2008. It's funny, we started construction on our house and the end of that week, the stock market tanked. It wasn't a small house, and, for us, it was a lot of money. It wasn't crazy, stupid money but it was a $500000 house or something like that and a lot of property around it. We just, like everybody, said, 'It's gonna get better.' And we kept plugging away. Then, a few months later, the first thing we realized was that, what happens, is the first thing that gets dumped is singers coming to town. So, all of a sudden, the work has dried up. We ended up having - we finished the house up and we ended up letting it go and land and the bus and everything.

“But God used the circumstances to draw closer to Him. It could have been good or bad. We could have been all pissy about it. I look at it as the best thing ever happened to me.

“So, here we are. Well, see. That was 2000, everything finalized in 2011. So, eight years away and our family's as solid as it's ever been or better - better than it's ever been. And, you know, God has been good to us. And so, we just that that's the biggest thing. Whatever challenge, whatever the challenges are. And, you know, when I was a kid.”

Berry then shared some insights into his younger, formative years.

“I just I just had some issues growing up. And then I was, I guess, right at 20 years old, got run over by car riding a motorcycle; broke my legs and my hip. That was in November, November 8th of 81, January of 81, my mother passed away. I was a really young 20-year-old, really young, and still lived at home with my folks. I didn't go to college. I just I just didn't go. And my dad had helped me build a recording studio in the basement of my folks’ house. And I just had a setup down there. It's just where I lived. My own entrance and exit. I'd come and go as I wanted to. No reason to go anywhere. Great folks.

“My mom died in January of that year and my dad moved out. He just couldn't come home. They've been married 34 years and he just couldn't they couldn't be there. A lot of times I'd see him pull up to the house and just keep going. He couldn't pull into the driveway.

“My brother came home for a little while, but then he went back to college and I ended up living in my folks house for a Photo Credit Just Kaicles 5bPhoto by Just Kaiclesnumber of years after my Dad moved out eventually, for good. And I ended up living in that house until he moved to Athens in eighty-five. So, yes, another full 4 1/2 years.

“I lived in Athens, Georgia, and that's where I lived most of my life there. And that's where I met my wife, Robin, and all our children were born there. It's a neat town and a great place to raise a family. When we talk about home, that's what we're talking about. Athens's is home. We had a farm outside of Athens for many, many years and I wish we still had it. Talk about can't even drive by a place. That's me, I can't even drive by there. It breaks my heart. I wish I still had it.”

Our chat then segued about the filming that was taking place in that night in the theater we were in.

“ We're recording a video that will play after the final song or the final song of the last song of the set before the encore - should we and hopefully get called back for an encore - this video will play instead of me coming out and talking, This is going to be because I'm not going to talk about my cancer during the show, during the night. But we're going to put this video together and talk about that and what God has done in my life and use that.

“The guys who are doing it are from Long Hollow Baptist Church where my wife and I are members. And I don't know if you know anything about Long Hollow Baptist Church - It's a massive church. Robby Gallaty is the pastor. Robby's from Chattanooga been in Chattanooga for a number of years. He's from New Orleans. He was in Chattanooga for a number of years. And then he was called to come up here. He's a great pastor and has a great team.

“I was talking to the guy who's going to be producing this clip. And he said, ‘Our goal is to get about twenty-five minutes worth of great conversation.’ And he said he'll edit into three and a half minutes of sheer power video. They show these videos at church. They're fabulous. They're so good at it. They use good angles. Good ‘feels good’. Good vibes They ask the questions in such a way that, you know, that the answer has the question in them. So, you never hear them asking the question. You know what I'm talking about. They have great guys doing the editing. They know how to edit and put it together right.

“They were talking about shooting it at our house. I said, 'You know, everybody sits in a theater coming to a concert to see us. Let's sit in a theater and shoot this.' So, they rented this place for the day. We just thought it'd be a great opportunity to have a real concise me-not-stumbling-over-what-I'm going-to-say story at the end of the night and then we'll close the show.

“There's a song on our cd, Thomas Road. It's a song called, 'Why Didn't I?' Barry Weeks was one of the writers on it. And, you know, it's a powerful song. 'Words I should have spoken, things I should've said, why didn't I?' And there's lots of scenarios in there. It's just a powerful piece of music. And so, this video will lead into us be onstage doing this song. So, we're excited about that.”

With everything John told me, it begged the question: Is he going to write a book about it all?

“My manager Brian's been badgering me, almost with a hammer and nail in my head, to get me to write a book. I don't know. I wrote a chapter. I wrote the chapter, ‘Thomas Road’, which is the road I grew up on down in Decatur, Georgia, that's reallPhoto Credit Just Kaicles 2Photo by Just Kaiclesy where we're from - from eight-years-old, seven-years-old to thirteen-years-old and a very formative time in my life. Wonderful time. And there are some good things that happened. There are some tough things that happened there. I wrote a chapter just to see what it was and just have a few people look at it and see what their thoughts are. I've had a few people look at it, but unfortunately, they all love me, and they think it's fabulous. So, it would be nice to get someone to look at it who don't know me, don't like me, don't know to like me; to have somebody look at it and read that chapter, see if it holds their attention; see if they want to hear anymore."

“John St. Augustine. He was on Oprah's radio network for a long time and he's written a lot of books. He was really, really close friends with John Denver and John Denver is one of my favorite people in the world and favorite musicians. There was an anniversary coming up of the passing of John and I went to Chicago and did the radio show with him and ever since then, we've just been pretty good friends. So, he just came out with a new book this past two weeks or so and he's (John’s manager) been talking to Brian some about coming down and just sit with down me for a few days and just talking and reporting and coming up with an outline; do some things and let him run with it and see what he comes up with.”

John then talked a little bit about his CD, Thomas Road.

“The cd was a lot of fun and it was great to work with Chuck Howard, again. Chuck produced all the records I had radio success with. And it was a lot of fun to work with, Chuck. And he brought Barry Weeks into work with us. And Berry was awesome. It all came about because Chuck had a song that he produced. It was written by a girl here in Gallatin, Jenny Slate Lee. What's Jenny's father's name? It's John Slate. Anyway, Chuck - he produced this movie. It's a true story about the genocide in Rwanda in the late - mid late 90s.

“Of course, I didn't know there was a genocide in Rwanda. I was busy having babies and hits. We were all running up down the road, going crazy and, plus, I had a little brain surgery mixed in there - which I don't recommend unless you really need it.

“Basically, one group of people didn't like the other group of people and they slaughtered them. Over a million people lost their lives in a very short period of time. I mean, a horrific, horrific story; true story. This story is about three families - a family in Franklin, Tennessee, and two families in Rwanda - and the tapestry that God weaves for these three families literally that saved each other's lives in different ways.

It starts by these two young girls writing each other. Then the family in Franklin decide they're gonna go to Rwanda to visit because the little girl here in Franklin started became a teenager getting a little out of control. It's like, 'Maybe we just need to get away from the influences here. Let her see a different side of life.' They go to Rwanda, Africa on a trip and they get to meet this other family. They’re there when it's post-genocide.

“It's just a remarkable, true story. One of one of the families from Rwanda lives here now in Nashville - the Nolensville area. Photo Credit Just Kaicles 3Photo by Just KaiclesThey have a mission there and they help refugees get acclimated to U.S. culture, find jobs, find housing, all that. They give every Thursday - I think it is - or the first Thursday of the month or something - the number of diapers they give away is astounding. Thousands of thousands of them. And they have music class, guitar class and stuff and just different things that keep them doing more positive things than getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. So, they're real active.

“When I got the rough cut of this movie that Chuck Howard sent me, I watched the rough cut. I was like - the scenes with the genocide's taking place - it's so realistic. It's horrifying. I called him and I said, ‘I'm in', and I hadn't even heard the song, yet.

'Beautifully Broken' is the title track. But in the meantime, I sent the rough cut of the film to my son's father-in-law in Texas, who's become a dear friend. He's a fine Christian man and said, 'Take a look at this. See what you think, faith wise and how it stands up.' He called me back and he said, 'Man, it's awesome.' "He said, 'It's a great story. Good faith story, good message, everything.' He said, 'But you know what's really cool?' I said, 'What's that?" He said, 'You know the scene where they're at the airport in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa?' I said, yeah. He said 'That's where we're flying into on our mission ship mission trip in July. You want to go?'

“So, a year ago July, we went and there we're getting off the plane in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa, where this all took place. The first thing we did, we went to the Rwanda Genocide Museum and Memorial. And we took the tour. And it was heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. It was a great setup for what we were about to go do that week because we had an understanding of what the culture had been through in the past 20 years. Just 20 years ago - twenty-five years ago! And one of the things that really hurt me the worst is there was a story, pictures and all this of where all these people went into the church and hid and the clergy from the church told where they were and they were all slaughtered in the church. I don't know why but they'll get theirs.

“Then, when it's all over with, you walk outside and there's this kind of a garden area and there's three slabs of concrete at each one about the size of a tennis court and you're like, 'I wonder what the heck that is?' And there's a memorial you read and there's a quarter of a million people buried there; what to do with all the bodies? A quarter of a million people. That's like taking Athens, Georgia, with the University of Georgia and the entire surrounding area, seven, eight counties, and killing everybody. Even more than that. I don't think there's that many people there. Just because I couldn't get along. It's amazing what hate will do. It was quite a trip. It was quite remarkable and quite remarkable to be a part of that scene; what the other side of the world does.

Photo Credit Just KaiclesPhoto by Just KaiclesAs for Berry’s TV show, he said, “We did two seasons, so we'd love to do it again. We're going to propose it around a couple of places and see if we can get somebody interested and help us put it together again. I know there's some new network things popping up. So, if there's some interest . . . because it sure was a lot of fun. And as much fun as I had doing it - and I know the audience thoroughly enjoyed it, the artists - every show, every taping, the two weeks we taped for season one, we did a week. In season two, we did a week - they were just like, 'Man, this is so cool. You got to keep doing this somehow.' I'd love to figure out a way of doing it. You know, we could do it if the publishing wasn't so expensive. It's insane. Crazy.

“Who would've thought that, for a little cable TV show - I mean, how many people watch cable TV? It's not like a network show on cable. It's just a little cable show, you know. And it's like, 'You're kidding, right?' They were gonna make me pay royalties on songs I'd written; get clearance on them. 'You're crazy. I wrote that dag gone song!”

Because of those comments, I asked John if he thought the music business was broken and, if he were made “Music Czar”, what would he do to fix it.

“I don't think the music is broken. I think the music is evolving. And that's what music does. It follows trends. It follows fads and what tells what good music is, is time. What are you still listening to thirty years later? You can tell real quick because of all the music came out in 1978 - I'm not listening to a lot of disco. It was fun when it was out. It was a fad, and everybody went dancin' and all that kind of stuff.

“It's going to evolve and it's going to - and that's the thing about it, especially about rock and roll music. It's all experimentation. It's all experimenting. And you can't go getting all high and mighty, 'It ain't what we're used to. That ain't rock and roll.' It is. It is what they want it to be.

“That's the whole thing about it. You don't put any rules on it. If you go putting rules on it, then you're being what you are fighting against back in the 60s. Don't be putting rules on it. Let the kids do what they want to do. Time will tell. If it's not what you want to listen to, find something else to listen to. I don't like it. I don't. There's not a lot of modern-day music that I listen to, but I'm 60 years old and you know? I listen to what I like. And I find new things that I like from time to time. But let the youngsters go, do what they want to do. And if and if radio wants to play it, let him play it. And if the audience doesn't like it and the radio keeps playing it, let them die by what they put, let them live or die by it. But, you know, the way the format is or the form the technology is, you can find what you want to listen to.

“The only fix I would find for the music is the business part of it and being sure that guys and girls that write the songs get paid for. There are songwriters I know that are not turning in any more songs. They're just not going to turn them in. They're closing out the publishing deals and fulfilling their obligations and they're not going to write for publishers anymore. They're going to write their songs, are going to hold on to them until the tide turns, until they can earn - I mean, why write a song like 'The Dance', and turn that sucker into a publishing company who's going to get it recorded by somebody and it's going to get 4.5 billion plays on Spotify and you're going to make enough money to go buy a burger, you know? Just hold on to that baby man because it's going to turn. Somebody is going to figure out how to monetize it for the songwriters.

“If I was going to change anything about music business, that's what I do: figure out how to monetize it for songwriters and also, I'd figure out how artists don't have to pay for everything. You know? They just do it; they pay for everything!

“I mean, it's like me. I paid for my albums through my royalties. I had to pay back the advances from my work. So, if you loan me money to record my album, and I pay you back for that album through my royalties, I pay the advances back, shouldn't I own that album? Oh, no, never. You don't ever own it.

“That’s one thing is that Buck Owens - he was always - he was a very nice to me - and he said, 'Whatever you can do, if you can ever get a hold of your masters, get them.’ He said, 'If you ever record and you can pay for the masters and you own them yourself, own your masters.' He says, 'It's like real estate.' It's true. It's a weird business model, but it's a business model that's been refined like a real estate contract. Over the years and years and years, refined by the people who are in the business all the time. Because people buying real estate - who don't buy a lot of real estate - they buy a house three in a lifetime. You know what I'm saying? They don't have much experience in it. But the people that are developing those real estate contracts, they're in it 24 hours a day and they have been for years and they’ve got those contracts dialed in. Same thing with entertainment. They’ve got lawyers out there just tweaking those things.

“I had an offer come across my desk in recent history - couple of years ago where they wanted to sign me. They literally made an offer for whatever the percentages were. They were good percentages, but they owned everything. They owned my touring. They owned my publishing, my recordings, my songwriting. They owned my signature. They owned my likeness. They owned everything. Literally everything. And I was like, 'I'm good’, and it was chunk change. It was it was big ol' dollar figure and I couldn't do it.”

To conclude that subject, I asked Berry if he had any idea what would facilitate the kind of changes he sees needed.

“Dinosaurs die, man. On one on one hand, the Internet has been an evil force and making all the music available for nothing. But, then, on the other hand, it's leveled the playing field where this kid can record a song in his house and get it out there. And if people dig it, it can go crazy and he can become a rock star in 24 months. You live in royalty because of nothing else other than the availability of the Internet. But, on the other hand, the evil part of that is, is people are just giving music away. It used to be you put a record out and you go and tour to support that record and you'd take dates in Los Angeles because it wasn't the best money in the world. But you've got to play Los Angeles, visit the radio station, promote the heck out of it, and you pick up other dates along the way. You're out there.

“Now you tour so you can give away albums. You give away music to get people to come to your show. It's completely bass ackwards. And, you know, you give the music away for free and, hopefully, you'll sell tickets as a result.

“I was down at McBride's studio, Blackbird, yesterday, and Richie Furay's recording an album there. He's awesome and I'd never met him before. But we've chatted online a few times. And because of a friend of mine who saw him post something about me and 'Your Love Amazes Me', and how much that song meant to him, he ended up getting us in touch with each other. So, we had great online conversations and it was great to meet each other yesterday. But, man, everybody was there. I mean, there are so many artists from years gone past and rock and roll legends, you know, from his era. It was just awesome. They were getting ready to track a song and the solemnness of it. Oh, my gosh! It was so cool! Dan Dougmore was playing pedal steel and they had an upright bass, which sounded like a million bucks and they were in there playing. There's no click tracks. It's just playing music. Just a bunch of guys, sitting around a circle, playing music. It was awesome. It was just awesome.

Wrapping up our chat, I asked John Berry what was on his radar for the next year or two as well as how he wished to be remembered and what he hoped his legacy will be.

“Yeah, well, as far as upcoming projects, I have no idea. After the Christmas tour, we've got a cruise. We're going to go on with the Opry, the Opry cruise, the end of January, first of February and next year. I don't know. Maybe we'll record something and see what happens. I don't have any real projects in mind. Of course, you know, if Brian was here, he'd be going, 'Write a book! Write a book! Write a book!' So, we'll see about that. I know my wife is putting together a cookbook called Mixed Berries. She's doing it with her, our daughter and our two daughters-in-law. They're putting that together, working on that. That’ll come out this time next year. And, then, hopefully, we'll get a biography together, something like that.

“As far as the legacy, you know, I guess more than anything, I hope people know where my faith is. That's the most important " allowtransparency="no" width="120" height="240">thing that they know. I would just walk through this earth, you know, doing my time here. I was here. I had a reason for being here and my purpose is Christ.

“Yeah, it's an interesting question. I don't have a need for a monument when I'm gone. You know, there'll be people that will continue to enjoy my music for some period of time after, I guess. I guess that's the main thing: just people know that my faith was in Christ and that I was a kind person. I hope people will know that. I think that, whatever trials I faced in my life, that I'd had a God that was faithful to me. He was faithful; has always been and that’s important stuff to me. Trying to get out there and be remembered for ‘he sold so many records and sang for so many people and three presidents and all that kind of stuff’, it doesn't really matter.

I invite you to keep up with John Berry at his website,, and to catch his shows and order his work!

Deana Martin Says, "Baby It's Cold Outside!"

Posted November 2019

DeanaMartinCroppedBaby boomers certainly remember the great days when quality TV programming was available. Some of my earliest childhood memories was watching the Dean Martin Show and the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts on TV with my parents. They were absolutely hysterical and entertaining.

For as far back as I can remember, one of the songs I heard countless times every Christmas season was Dean Martin’s 1959 classic, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. I never gave it much thought past the fact that it was a great Christmas classic.

Times have changed and ‘tis the season of Christmas decorations, lists, sales, and songs. Last year, the Dean Martin classic (written by Frank Loesser in 1944) became the focus of controversy because of what is known as the “Me, Too Movement”.

According to Wikipedia, Frank wrote the song to be sung with his wife as a signal to holiday dinner guests that it was time to go home. It was first recorded by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams for the movie, Neptune’s Daughter. Afterwards, it was recorded Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, and Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McCrae before Dean Martin recorded his now-famous version.

In more recent years, Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw, Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and Ronnie Dunn, and Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have recorded covers of the song.

Then, suddenly, the song was felt to be radioactive by many due to a perception by some that the lyrics portrayed a seduction. The controversy gained moment with the Me-Too Movement and the news that a Canadian radio station banned it from airplay for a period of time.

Last year, Dean Martin’s daughter, Deana, voiced her perplexity at the sudden “concern” about the lyrics of the song. DEAN DEANA Christmas came and went, and all thought the storm over the song had permanently blown over.

Then it was recently announced that John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have re-recorded the Christmas classic in with politically correct/Me Too sensitive lyrics. Ms. Martin has, again, spoken up regarding her dismay about the past and new controversies over her dad’s hit.

Deana called me from her Beverly Hills home to discuss the hullaballoo as well as projects she’s working on.

Making small talk, we discussed our dad’s. We quickly learned that our dad’s share the same birthday. So, yeah, both of our dads are great, and Deana even wished my dad a happy belated birthday. The smile now permanently on my dad’s face is genuine and permanent.

But I digress.

We shifted the focus of our chat from our dads to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and Deana’s thoughts about it.

“Well, the whole thing is so funny because I thought we were over all of this last when it was banned from, I think, a Cleveland radio station. I saw that on my iPhone or something. So, I tweeted, 'I think this is insane. You know, what do you think? This is crazy.' And all of a sudden, it went viral. I mean, it was just, you know? Nuts. People were calling me to do TV shows and radio shows all over. I just I could not understand. It was just so bizarre to me that they're going to pull that song.

“And after I tweeted it and started doing all those radio shows, the song was put back onto all the radio shows and it went to number one. I had two hundred thousand texts and tweets and emails - positive ones. Nothing negative, which is really good. You know, it's like, ‘You go, girl!’

Deana Martin 2“That was last year. And then, all of a sudden, I find out that John Legend has re-written the words, he changed the lyrics. I adore him. I think he's a fantastic entertainer and musician. And, Kelly Clarkson, she's spectacular. What a voice and what a personality she has! But I thought, you know, it's gone way too far with the P.C. police,

“I'm all for the Me-Too Movement. But I think that we've all gone insane. And when I think why on earth would he want to change the lyrics to a classic from 1944 – a Frank Loesser song? It won the Academy Award. That's what I'm telling you. But I think what he did with changing the lyrics, he made it sexual when he said, ‘It's your body, it's your choice’. I'm thinking, ‘Wait a minute.’

“To me it was just preposterous that he would even do that. And I understand that it was written 60 years ago and there's different sensibilities now. But it still irks me that he's changed the lyrics for just a fantastic, evergreen, classic holiday song. But I do understand what he wants and what he's trying to do. And he's a he's a good guy. But, you know, when I think, ‘Why is he changing the lyrics to that fabulous song?’ It was perfect the way it is. He's a good writer. He could write his own song. He could do some Christmas song. So, that's how I feel.

“People have asked me about what would my dad think. My dad was so cool and laid back. He wouldn't have thought Deana Martinanything about this. He was, ‘Okay, whatever you want to do is fine.’ He was over all of that. He wouldn't have said anything about it.

“I was asked a question today that I hadn't even talked to my grandsons yet to see what they what they thought, you know? They're 21 and 16. And so, it would be interesting because, last year we all talked about that. But now this is a whole new spin on an old, old story. I would like to hear what they have to say.

“I have not heard anything negative on my side, which is great, because it's a timeless classic. My dad did it and so many people have sung this song. I'm going to be singing it tomorrow night. I'm doing a big event at the Italian Museum in New Orleans tomorrow and I'll be singing, ‘Baby, It's Cold Outside. Then, I'll be singing it in Las Vegas. I have my holiday show December 8th, my Christmas show. So, I’ll continue to do it. Now, whenever I sing the song, I get a standing ovation and people are just cheering everywhere because they want to hear the original one just the way it was written by Frank Loesser.”

Talking about her shows teed up the perfect segue question: What’s on her radar for the next year or so?

“Well, we have so much on the radar. In fact, I believe we're going to be doing a Broadway play called, ‘Sunny Side of the Street’. It's about Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. They wrote all those fantastic songs like 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby’ Hundreds of songs. I'll be Dorothy Fields and that'll be on Broadway. It's next year. I also I travel all over doing Deana Martin's Celebrity Roasts. The last roast we did was with Joe Mantegna. A lot of his crew and cast from Criminal Minds came on. I had Joe Piscopo and Tommy Dreesen. We roasted him and it was spectacular. It's something that we are doing in different venues. It can be for corporate dates. It doesn't have to be a movie star. It could be a football player or whatever. It could be the CEO of some company and you know that there are some people who want to roast him. I'll bring my comedians. It's a fantastic event. It's spectacular for me to be able to do that and keep that alive. Carrying on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast is something that's fabulous - with the Deana Martin Celebrity Roast.

“I have about five songs that we are putting on the new album. One that L. Russell Brown just wrote for me called, “Mr. Moon”. L. Russell Brown wrote, ‘Tie Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’, and ‘Knock Three Times on the Ceiling’. I mean, he's a fantastic writer, right? He came to some of my shows and I’ve recorded some of his songs. He's just written this new one, ‘Mr. Moon’, which is fantastic.

“We're just so busy traveling, traveling around, doing shows. And as I say, I'm doing this tomorrow night and, then, I'll be in Las Vegas on December 8th for two shows. There's so many I can't even think it's on my web site if you want to go on. I don't post the corporate dates. But on my other shows. We're going on tour in Australia, February - I think the first week in February. I'll be doing eight to 10 shows there. I did it last year. I tell you, the audience in Australia is hysterical. They're fantastic. And, in fact, later today, I'm going to be doing The Australian Today Show. And so, I'll be talking to them, which is fantastic. So, it's just a lot of a lot of work. And I enjoy what I do. It's the packing and unpacking that's kind of tough.”

Will the Deana Martin’s Celebrity Roasts be available on DVD for fans to buy?

“We will be (offering them). We will be doing that. It was difficult for the Joe Mantegna roast because you have so many actors and people who work on the show. We have to get a lot of releases and everything. So, this was this was the second one that we had done. It was just spectacular. People who could not be there sent in videos that were hysterical and people. I'm trying to think of his name, but he sent one in. He did a great video, but he said the name wrong. He thought it was for Joe Montana and started talking about football. It was really good. He planned it all that way. I got a letter from Andy Garcia that I read, and it was hysterical.

“So, it's something that we will be doing a lot more of and people are dying to dying to do it. It's just fun to be able to bring that back. And, you know, when I think of Foster Brooks. Good heavens! Where he played 'Are you a pilot?' when he was in the bar. I mean, just all of the people who were on his show and they're friends. I had Rich Little who came on and he roasted Joe. And, as I said, Tommy Driessen and all the people who are just spectacular!”

You can keep up with Deana year ‘round at her website, Do catch one of her shows if you get a chance. And, if you do, tell her that Boomerocity sent you.