This Side of Paradise
by Deborah Wagner
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 10, 2005.
Since 1980, a voice has consistently come blasting across the airways. The voice is strong, raspy and unmistakably Bryan Adams.
This Canadian born singer/songwriter has proven time and again that he can rock and roll with hits like “Summer of 69” and “Cuts Like a Knife” or melt your soul with ballads like “Heaven” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” His extensive career, which has now spanned three decades, has paid off with countless chart-topping hits, Grammy and Oscar nods, as well as multi-platinum albums worldwide.
Extending his creative passions to photography, Adams is now well known as an accomplished shutterbug with some of his beautiful works compiled into books with proceeds supporting Breast Cancer Research.
During the past year, Adams was still keeping it real and interesting for himself and his fans, writing and producing his latest CD Room Service while touring Europe with his band. The CD was born from a truly unique recording idea and delivers a pure Bryan Adams sound.
Then, just a few months later, to celebrate his 25th Anniversary in the music business, Adams is releasing a two-CD definitive collection of his work. Anthology is the most complete overview of Adams’ amazing career, including all his top hits and even two new recordings, “So Far So Good” (which was not on his earlier hits compilation of the same name) and an update of “When You’re Gone,” now done as a duet with actress-sexpot Pamela Anderson.
After 25 years of writing, performing, touring and just doing what he loves, there is no sign that Bryan Adams will be slowing down anytime soon. As he says, “I don’t know what the hell else I’d do.”
It’s been six years since you last released a new album. How did you know it was the right time to do something new?
It hasn’t been six years. I actually put out an soundtrack album with twelve songs in 2002 for a DreamWorks film called Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron in 2002, so really that was my last album. It took a year to make. I came out of that album very much in the story-telling mood and with lots of song ideas, so it wasn’t long before this album came together.
Recording an album in hotel rooms across Europe is an interesting and unique idea. How did you come up with the idea of making the most of your time while on tour?
I had started the album at my studio in Canada (The Warehouse Studio), but ran out of time as the tour was approaching. So we put together a suitcase of equipment with the idea that we would edit on the road, all the things we had started. It didn’t take long to realize this was the way to make the whole album as there was so much downtime on the road waiting for shows and the rest.
Did you also write some of the songs for Room Service on the road during this tour?
Sometimes, but writing usually happens when I lock myself away in some foreign place — usually Paris — and I focus on getting all the ideas I’ve been collecting into songs.
“East Side Story” is a great song and seems to me to be a very familiar experience to everyone. Why did you pick New York for the song and was it a personal experience that inspired the song or just general?
Probably because there is so much street activity there, even though there is an east side to every city, the NY east side, or lower east side, is particularly full of character. It just seemed to paint the picture. It’s like a movie.
“This Side of Paradise” sort of reminded me of “Summer of 69” in the fact that it looked back at you were younger and more innocent and then contrasted it with your life touring on the road. Why do you think it’s so interesting as a songwriter looking back on how you have changed since your youth?
I’m constantly reflecting and reminiscing in my songs. It’s my style, I suppose. There are some parallels between the two songs, but “Summer of ’69” is reflective in more of a sexual way. “This Side of Paradise” is just about finding out what is the truth. Oddly, even though the song is about the truth, there were many radio stations in America that refused to play the song because of the line “There ain’t no Santa Claus.” So much for the that concept…
You have some great ballads on this album. “Flying,” “Dreaming” and “Why Do You Have to Be So Hard to Love” are all beautiful songs. Earlier in your career you were more known for rocking stuff, but in the past decade or so it has been your ballads that really seem to have caught on. Have you been at all surprised by this shift in your musical direction or was it something that you have always tended towards?
There was never a shift in direction. If you listen to my albums, they all rock and there are the occasional slow numbers. My first hit was “Straight From the Heart” and my first number one was “Heaven.” I’ve always done them. The difference between the 80’s and the 90’s was radio just played my slower numbers instead of the rockers, so I had a cascade of slow songs that were hits instead. No worries, happy to have gotten played at all.
Looking back a bit, your first couple of albums did okay, but your career really exploded with Cuts Like A Knife and Reckless. How surprising was it that you found such popular success, and what was being Bryan Adams like during the early MTV days?
That’s funny. I have a friend who says he’d like to be me… except for the first twenty years. In other words, there was a lot of work before I got anywhere. We toured incessantly, doing three shows a day sometimes. Noon concerts, supporting another band, and then doing our own club show; that sort of schedule. The early MTV days were ok, but remember no one had MTV when they started up!
“Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” was the biggest selling single of the 1990s. Could you have even imagined that it would be so big? How does it make you feel knowing you recorded such a massive hit?
No one could have predicted its success. It makes me very proud to have co-written that song and I had no idea it would be big when I recorded it. It was just another song for the album. Hats off really needs to go to Mutt Lange on that song, he is the one that saw it first, before anyone.
During your career, you have collaborated and performed with some music greats including Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Sting and Rod Stewart. What were they like to work with? Any plans or desires to record with other artists and if so, who?
They were all great to do. I love singing with other people. It’s the best sound to hear two voices in harmony. It’s a beautiful thing. I have no immediate plans to do anything else, but you never know!
Your voice has not changed in all these years. Listening to Room Service, I can still hear the same distinct voice as on my Bryan Adams LP from 1980 (sorry, showing my age). How do you keep your voice in shape?
I don’t know. It’s really a blessing. I work with other bands all the time at other concerts and hear everyone warming up and I’ve never done that. I just go out and blast.
In recent years, some of your songs like “Heaven” and “Run To You” have been remade as dance singles. Do you like it when newer bands cover your stuff, and are there any remakes you particularly like or dislike?
Love them! It’s always great to hear how other people interpret music. That’s one of the great joys of being a writer.
Your career has already spanned over 25 years. What do you credit your longevity in the music business to when so many other artists have come and gone since the 80s?
I don’t think about it at all. I just get on with making music and having a laugh. I’ve got a great team of people with me and we just keep going. Plus, I really don’t know what the hell else I’d do.
Recording, touring and making music for all these years has to be exhausting. Do you think you will ever slow down?
You mean like having babies and all that? Well, I just have to choose the right woman…
I’m from Philadelphia and you were recently here for our July 4th celebration on the Parkway with Elton John and Patti LaBelle. Unbelievably, it has been twenty years since you took the stage here at Live Aid. I know you were also at Live 8 in Toronto. What was the first concert like and what about the new one? How does it feel to be one of the artists who were able to be a part of both events?
Great to have been at both. The concerts themselves were quite chaotic. Things changing by the second… I was introduced by Jack Nicholson in Philly in 1985; in fact he was the one that introduced me to the world! Thanks, Jack. I was just thinking that both stadiums that held the Live Aid concerts twenty years ago have been torn down, and it could have been the defining moment for both places
You are now also known as an accomplished photographer and your work is beautiful. With all you currently have on your plate, are there any plans to put more time into this other passion of yours?
Well, finishing American Women, the book with Calvin Klein, was a fantastic project to have done. I’ve been shooting for lots of other things lately, and I’ve started a magazine in Berlin called Zoo. You can see it online at www.zoomagazine.de.
Your two photography books are being sold to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness. Does your passion for this cause stem from this horrible disease touching close to your circle of family and friends or just from the sheer terror of the numbers of women affected and killed by this epidemic disease every year?
It started when one of my friends passed away from the disease. She was my age. I’ve done all of these books as a tribute to her.
What’s next for Bryan Adams? Are we going to have to wait six more years for a new album? Will you continue to tour throughout 2005 and 2006 and maybe start recording another CD on the road?
I have an anthology coming out in October and a new album next year. Plus, I’ve been touring ten days a month for the last six years, so I think I’ll carry on like that for a little while longer. Not dead yet!
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 10, 2005.
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