POPULAR FOLK MUSIC TODAY, SPRING 1991
EW: Why did you leave the Kingston Trio? DG: To grow. EW: In what way?
DG: In all ways I've grown since.
EW: Why did you go right into another group situation? DG: Capitol wouldn't let me go without signing into another group.
EW: You had to go with another group rather than... performing as a solo, where you wouldn't have the conflicts with, you know, different --
DG: I've never performed as a solo... because that's not my thing.
EW: (laughter) Do you like having other people around to share the blame?
DG: The blame -- no, the harmony. I like harmony.
EW: How much blame do you put on Capitol Records for the Whiskeyhill Singers not becoming successful?
DG: None. If the music was there, they could have done something with it. We didn't really have a hit sound -- a hit single or a hit sound out of that whole thing.
EW: This is just an
idle question that I've always wondered about. You did the score for "How
The West Was Won" and that got an Oscar. Did you actually get the Oscar or
who got the --?
DG: Alfred Newman got the Oscar for the
soundtrack actually. It was the soundtrack of "How The West Was Won."
The Whiskeyhill Singers did 27 folksongs on the soundtrack, but there were also
sound effects like of a buffalo stampede and a train wreck and things like that,
so all in all, for effect, which included the singing as well as the sounds, my
feeling is that we were a great contributor to a successful effort.
EW: Why did you move
DG: Well, I'd been
there on tour and found a place on the beach there, north of Sydney, that looked
very -- I wanted to get off the road because the phone was ringing all the time
with all kinds of unnecessary things to my life. You find with most performers
that have a busy life, they somehow insulate themselves -- they move to the
country or get answering services or something like that, because there's a lot
of extraneous things which only interfere with your energy levels, so everybody
walls themselves off to a certain extent, and I found that I had to do that by
going to Australia.
EW: (laughter) You
couldn't just go to Montana?
DG: Well, since I grew up in Hawaii, I always liked to go to the beach, and here was a place on the beach. In Hawaii, you can't really get on the beach -- it costs so much money and it's just condos and hotels and stuff there.
EW: During the time you were in Australia, did you have any contact at all with Nick or Bob or John?
DG: Zero. EW: None at all?
DG: None. I never heard any of their albums. I still haven't. I did hear one of their singles on the air -- I think it was called Ally Ally Oxen Free.
EW: Now, you wrote "Colour Guitar" while you were in Australia, didn't you?
DG: Just as I was finishing the Whiskeyhill Singers here, I got into a situation where I was studying musical theory, and one of the basic diagrams in to put the twelve notes of music in a circular thing like the face of a clock, and then I read a book called The Art of Color by Johannes ltten, and he had a diagram of twelve colors all laid out in a circle like the face of a clock, and I wondered if there would be any advantage in superimposing those systems. So that was my investigation, and in Australia I was able to work it up and I did that for the five years I was there, and then finished the book as far as the design, and them came up here and put the book together and then taught it for about seven years after that.
EW: You taught here, you didn't teach at all in Australia?
DG: No, I was just busy working it up, because if you make that diagram, then they say, "Well, that's a great idea, but so what?" So you have to make charts and everything to show what chords look like -- what a C-chord would look like in color, what an A-chord ... Pete Seeger came down, through, on a tour and stayed over at our house, and we all had color instruments there. I was playing a mandolin, I gave Pete a Bouzouki -- a Greek instrument -- and then I had my four-year-old daughter Catherine playing a piano that we had colored up, so all the instruments were unfamiliar to us. We'd never played --I mean, her being four, me not being a mandolin player, and Pete not being a Bouzouki player. So we made a rule that we were just going to play the reds and the blues, you know, of the colors, and then we made music for twenty minutes between us, all three of us, and it sounded great, so I knew that -- you know, somebody that knew the system, somebody who was too young, and somebody who might have been skeptical but a pretty good player... I mean, he's one of the best in the world... so we made, like I said, good music. Then we changed the rules -- we played the yellows and the greens, leave the other colors out, and we made good music that way, so I knew it was okay.
EW: What performers do you like?
DG: Today? Like of the newer groups and stuff like that? I like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - I think it's really an interesting group. I like the Police. I think they're really funny. I think they're exceptionally good musicians, and funny. That's what I like of the new groups. My favorite folk groups were the Weavers and the Staple Singers. In rock 'n' roll, I liked the Beatles and the Kinks, I think, and an English group called the Audience. I like Bonnie Raitt. Of the sort of jazzy things, I like the Manhattan Transfer -- they're very good friends of mine.
EW: What do you want to be remembered for?
DG: Remembered for? For doing my best.
To Page 28 for Dave Guard's "Up & In" that concludes on Page 27
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