Transcript: Transcript Bill Payne and Little Feat: Masters of Musical Fusion and Timeless Innovation

Howdy it’s terrific to have you here. I hope you’ve been enjoying the guests that I bring you each week. And please do let me know if you have a favorite one that you’d like to hear from. Simply send me a message through the website. A, Au.
Now, were you a Little Feat fan? If you have to ask, who’s that? Then let me tell you a little bit about them. Little Feet were a wildly eclectic band that formed in the brought together strains of blues, R and B, country and rock and roll. Each of the band members was exceptionally gifted technically and their polished professionalism sat well with the slick sounds that came out of Southern California at the time.
The thing was, though, Little Feat weren’t very slick and they were anything but conventional. They had a rather surreal sensibility that earned them a cult following amongst critics and musicians but didn’t end up translating into big commercial success. Maybe you recall this song says you. Be my baby I’ll be out and I’ll be right we go.
Dixie Chicken from Little Feet. And the artist who co founded the band with the late Lao George is Bill Payne. Bill’s career started out in the late 60s. He’s recorded with some of the biggest names on the planet from Jimmy Buffett and the Doobie Brothers to Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Carly Simon, just to name a few. He’s got many fans, including Sir Elton John who once referred to him as the greatest pianist on the planet.
Bill Payne, what an absolute pleasure to meet you. How are you? I’m very well, Sandy, thank you. I know that you formed Little Feet in 1969 but what were you doing before that? I was in Santa Maria, California.
I had grown up playing piano, taking lessons in Ventura, which is south of there about 100 miles. But at age 15 I’d been going back from Santa Maria to Ventura to take lessons with Ruth Newman. And Ruth passed away. She had a heart attack. And so I was pretty distraught.
And my parents, after an incident where I got pretty drunk with a friend of mine, a lot of trouble and was there driving me back to Santa Rio. My mother says, there’s a lady who called from the school. Her son wants you to audition to play in a band. I said, really? Okay.
So I did the audition, but I went over there to Tradition to play drums and they had a piano up against the wall in the room where and I just casually walked over there and started playing. I didn’t sit down and they go, Hang on a second. You play the piano? And I go I guess they said forget this band. We have another one down the street.
They’re called the Devonairs. We got a keyboard for you. Boom. I was off and running. I’ve been advanced ever since.
Not everybody. I got a TL if you want me he’ll heal take a trip it make a holler it make you shout come along with me we’re tripping out.
Come you traveled 100 miles for piano lessons? There any piano teachers in your local neighborhood? Not like Ruth. She when I was a kid, she said, I’ll teach Bill how to read music, but let’s not take the magic out of it for him. Which meant let him play by ear as well.
All right. Yeah. Not a lot of teachers did that. I also took pipe organ from Ruth at a Presbyterian church, which was across the street from her. And I’d sit in, I’d fill in from her when I was like, I don’t know, 1112 years of age.
That whole business took me away from religion because I was playing for every church in town. Hey, mom, why the Lutherans say we’re going to hell and the Methodists say we’re going to hell, too. What’s going on there? So I was out surfing is what I was doing. In between playing music.
In fact, I’m writing a book about all this and I’m centring in on what it was that Ruth taught me. So it was just one of those things that two plus two did not equal four for me at the time. Yeah. And she had given you the freedom to express yourself on the keyboards, which, as you said, a lot of piano teachers at the time didn’t do. I mean, I remember having classical lessons that were so rigidly locked into pieces of music and learning to read that there was no room for self expression whatsoever.
Exactly. And one of my concerts I did quite a few years ago now, but it was a solo concert, I asked the audience, how many of you out there play piano? Yeah. How many were hit on the knuckles with a ruler when you were learning to play? They and they go and I go, that’s not a great way to teach a child to do anything.
Do you think so? So I wasn’t I was pampered. And I had to deliver to the Ruth, too. I mean, I couldn’t just slough things off like any great teacher. She taught me how to get around the keyboard, how to read, but also, mainly how to focus in on what was important with Touch, with learning a voice, all of that, which I then put together pretty quickly.
Playing with these bands, taking my time.
Please don’t rush me.
I gotta start out some things I didn’t know. Except I know where the traps lie.
Don’t let take what’s there because the rest doesn’t matter.
I’m tired of town.
Please don’t push me now I want Baby to just do waste your time where you come out to me but then you try to relax.
When I joined little feet. I was at Lowell. Said, Look, Lowell George said, I want you to play on this record of Richie Hayward’s with this fraternity of man for viewers out there that may not know the fraternity of man. They were in a movie called was Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda was a huge movie. Now, I can’t remember the name of it, but Easy Rider.
Easy Rider. Of course. So Easy Rider. Ritchie’s band had a song in their boat. Don’t bogart that joint.
So I said, well, okay, I’ll play on this record as his second album of theirs. But I thought Ritchie was in our band. Yes. No. Yeah, he is.
You’re going to make the record with them, then they’re going to split up, and then we’ll start Little Feet. I went, oh, once again, welcome to Hollywood. You’ve just taken me way back don’t bogart that Joint was certainly an expression that we all used way back then, wasn’t it? Haven’t heard that in years.
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend pass it over to me.
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend. Pass it over to me.
Roll another one just like the other one you’ve been hanging on to it and I sure would like a dead.
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend. Pass it over to me.
You were one of the co founders of Little Feet. Tell us about that. With love. I’d initially gone up north, which is probably the question you wanted me to answer before, but I had gone up to the San Francisco Bay Area to see if there are any bands up there that I might join, and this is in 1969, so I would have been 20 years old. I found one group that had everything but talent.
They were drug dealers, basically, so they had all the gear a house used to, the big brother in the holding company janice Joplin’s band used to stay at. But I can’t play with these guys. So there was an album called Uncle Meat, which is by Frank Zappa. I was listening to it and go, those are the people I want to play with. I want to play with Frank Zappa.
So I got in touch with Warner’s. Frank had two labels there. One was called Bizarre and the other was straight. I called bizarre. Of course you did.
Yeah, exactly. And they go, Well, Frank is going to Europe, but there’s truncating the story slightly. There’s a guy named Lowell George, and we could see if the two of you can hit it off or talk at least, and see what’s there. This took several calls because, I mean, I wasn’t anybody at that time. Nobody knew who I was.
I didn’t know who I was. So it was really just with a phony calling card, making long distance calls to people for free, which is about the only way I can do it this is from Isla Vista, which is just north of Santa Barbara. And of course, telephone calls in those days were so expensive, too. They were. So I got in touch with Lowell finally and we met and nothing was decided other than the fact that we’d get together again.
So just before you go on, lowell was actually part of Frank Zapper’s band at that time, wasn’t he? He was. I don’t know that he actually was a member of The Mothers. That’s been a debate for a long time. But he had a song called Bill, purportedly that Frank said, look, I think you ought to start your own band.
I don’t think Frank liked the drug reference in it, but he knew Lowell was exceedingly talented. He suggested that he form his own group. Just about that time was when I entered the picture. We hit it off and I eventually did meet Frank, but I never auditioned to play with The Mothers. By the time I met Frank, which was about a month later, maybe a little longer, I’d made the commitment to be a part of this band with Law, and we didn’t even have a name for it yet.
So it wasn’t Little Feet. It was Wild Gleep or whoever. I’ve been warped by the rain driven by the snow I’m drunk and dirty, don’t you know and I’m still willing and I was out on the road late at night I seen my pretty Alice in every headlight alice? Dallas Alice and I’ve been from Tucson to come carry the hatcher feet of Donna Bar driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made driven the back road so I wouldn’t get way and if you give me weed white sandwich and you show me a sign I’ll be willing to be moving.
What was it about Frank Zappa that made you want to reach out to him in the first place? Why did you decide that that was the band you wanted to play with? The music was adventurous. It wasn’t rock and roll. It was kind of freestyle, wasn’t it?
Yeah, it was. And the very first material that we wrote with Little Feet was more along those lines, too. So we have a dance of the new by All Virgin Slaves was one of our first songs and we played it for Ahmed erdogan Law. And I did. Now, Ahmed was a producer for many people, not the least of which was Kaye Charles, which I didn’t know.
I would have been too embarrassed to show him the song, but he heard a few things that we’d come up with. He says, Boys, it’s too diverse. So we went back to the drawing board and started writing what was going to be on the very first Little Feet record. And you can tell by the titles themselves just how eclectic. Everything we did.
Brides of Jesus hamburger. Midnight Strawberry Flats. I’ve been The One I mean, it just goes on and on. Yeah. The titles were eclectic.
The music was eclectic. It was a combination of rock and roll, of country, a little bit of R and B and just we were finding our voice very exciting. Times 1970.
Been the one has been fragile almost gone away by the very thoughts that I feared yesterday it must be duster smoke it’s in my eyes how can I cry about something from someone I won’t see? My friends all say she had her chance. Let’s go shoot some food. You know fool is just a fool and I shot everything that a whiskey cures but the pain and the Lord I put my pride in my pocket that is how I must be dust for smoke it’s in.
Were you all on drugs riding those songs? I don’t know if we were on drugs riding them, but we were on drugs skateboarding and riding our bikes. It was that era there. I mean, between drugs and tree, sex and sex, drugs and rock and roll, I think, is what they how they called it. People ask me, they go, Sandy, really?
That crazy. Back then, I said yeah, times 100. It was nuts, but nuts in a good way overall. Yeah. We had a discussion with Terry Melcher Law and I did before signing with Warner’s.
Terry was on his way over to Europe. He says, hey, when I get back, let’s talk about putting a deal together with you guys. The day that he left, I believe, the lobbyanca farm, they was murdered. They were not that far from Moles Place. And then that terrible tragedy that happened with the movie was about with Sandy Kaye and everything.
Those horrible murders of Charles Manson and his crew. Guess what? They were looking for Terry Melter. Really? Yes, because he didn’t offer Charles Manson a record deal.
So he basically put a death warrant out on the guy. And all these other people died as a result of that. When I say it was crazy, it was crazy in a good way and it was certainly crazy in a horrific way as well. I never knew that Charles Manson had wanted a record deal. Never knew he’d seen himself as a musician.
Yeah. Wow. That certainly didn’t come out in the movie. No, it did not with any movie. It’s fictionalized.
Did you know Manson was a musician? Apparently he’d learned to play the guitar while in prison for attempting to cash a forged check. Soon after he arrived in California in 67, he managed to ingratiate himself into musical circles. He became friends with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, who in turn introduced him to Neil Young. The things you learn hang in there more to come.
This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye It’s a beautiful day. I’m so glad you’re still here as you’re about to discover Little Feet’s. Bill Payne is a super interesting guy. So you start Little Feet with Lowell in in 1969, you write this crazy first album that’s taken off.
Where did you get the name Little Feet from anyway? From the mothers. There’s the drummer from the Mothers, Jimmy Carl Black, who called himself the Indian of the band, which would not be what he described himself nowadays. But he was looking at Lowell’s feet, which are these hiratis, these sandals. And they were almost wide as they were long.
They look like hobbit feet. Lowell, you have these little effort feet there. And so Lowell took the little in the feet, turned the feet into feat. Probably all are the Beatles. And there we were.
How small were Lowell’s feet? Obviously very small. Yeah. Very small, I think. I don’t know.
Mine were probably smaller, but either lowell is an incredible human being. Before we move on, of course, you’ve lost him. What was he like? I mean, you are obviously enamored with him and with his talent. Can you describe him a bit?
Yeah. Law George, when I met him at 69, was maybe the best way to describe him is the house that he lived in. When I drove up to his house, which was near Silver Lake, which is heading towards East La, was in a rustic neighborhood. The house itself was rustic. It wasn’t right up against the street.
It was set back a little bit, cased with trees. The door was open. I walked up, there’s this beautiful blonde girl and she’s listening cross legged to Eric Sati. You.
Oh, you must be Bill. I said, yeah, yeah, Lowell’s expecting you. You’ll be back in four or 5 hours. What does he do when he’s not expecting you? I’m not kidding.
So I walk into the house. I’m like, okay. On the very back wall was a samurai sword. To the right of that, down below, on right hand corner, was a Citar. Apparently he was taking citar lessons with Rabbi Shankar.
Right. He had a great record collection with Ohm and maybe another John Coltrane record. Had some blues albums with Muddy Waters. Helen Wolf. His book collection was some poetry, alan Ginsburg.
You had plenty of time to hang around the house and discover everything he had there. Yeah. So by the time he showed up, I almost felt like I kind of knew him. And we discussed everything under the sun and we decided, yes, get together in a couple of weeks and we’ll start writing, which we we did and it took off from there. It took a year to land a but a bass player.
We must have auditioned 14 bass players the first year. Why was that so hot? The music was difficult. Our standards were a certain thing that we wanted. And we wound up finally getting Roy Estrada, who played bass with The Mothers.
So he joined us for two albums, which was Little Feet and Salem Shoes. What was the writing process like for the two of you? Did you obviously got on well as writers as well as people. Yeah, I think initially we did. I think one of the better things we co wrote in the beginning was a song called Truck Stop Girl.
And truck stop girl was recorded by the birds. So that was pretty nice to have those guys cut the tune.
Up to Truck Stop. The same old cry was hanging out again tonight fill up my pain while I go check my loan it feels like it’s shifting all around he was the kind of man do all he could. Above all, he had integrity.
But he was so young and I looked in to see but in love with the Truck stop.
We’Ll all had Willing, which he had cut before. We formed Little Feet and it was very on the very first record as well. So if people listen to that, it’s to me, I’m kind of feeding you what I think it is, but it sounds like a caricature of what a truck driver would be and what country music is. The time that we re recorded it For Sale and Shoes, we had the Floyd Kramer ask piano on it. It was a lot more like a country song.
And I think that’s really what turned that song into the iconic song that it is, that version of it. And we took it from there, but we took the song a little more seriously than he did on his recording of it. I’m chatting with little feet’s Bill Payne. What about we get to 1973 and the album Dixie Chicken? Yes.
Has that been the biggest selling album to date? Well, at that period of time, perhaps the first two albums think sold maybe 23,000 records between the two of them. I think Little Feet sold 11,000 albums, possibly. We sold 13,000 of Salem Shoes, so not great successes on that level. They were very successful along the line of introducing a new band to Warners.
And it was a compliment just to be there for Warner’s as well, because we were attracting people to come to the label because they’ve got Little Feet. They must be pretty cool. So despite not huge record sales, you were building up this groundswell, weren’t you? You were building a cult following. Yeah, we were.
And the Comma Door Hotel. And underneath the free lamp. I’ll make a fill on there. But it took me to the river when she got the film. And in that moonlight saying the song will be my favorite.
I’ll be out. Gonna be around. We can walk down and make it well where we made all the hot spots my money flowed like wine and then I lounce where I was my man and I don’t remember my name I went down on the white nigga of the house happy in the town. I thought the pKayeer kind of nice. When you wake, you be my favorite thing.
I’ll be opening, and we don’t want to get down and face it.
So, Dixie Chicken. We had lost to Captain Beefhart. Roy Estrada. Roy decided to join Beef Heart’s Bed. We brought in Paul Brere.
Actually, out of those 14 bass players, he was one of them. But he hadn’t been the one that you’d chosen off the back. He said, Lowell, I don’t play the bass. And Law says, well, it’s two less strings than a guitar. So there’s the attitude right there.
What happened was, our road manager told Rick about a guy named Kenny Gradney who was coming out of a group called Delaney and Bonnie. He was available. Would we want to have him audition? So we did. He was fabulous.
And I went, oh, my gosh, this is great. So during one of our rehearsals, we were getting set to go over to Hawaii to play the Crater Festival. Says, I want to bring my partner in. Oh, who’s that? It’s guy named Sam Clayton.
And Clayton played congas percussion. So Sam comes in, and Sam’s been in the band ever since, and so has Kenny. Then you started gaining more and more popularity. The cult following turned into a mainstream following, didn’t it? Yeah, I think it had the edges of cults attached to it for a long time.
Unlike the Dubie Brothers, who I’ve been working with up until last October, I worked with the Doobies for seven years. Right. I played on all the very early records. When the sun Comes up I was deep in town down around Santa and the folks round about their home people down where it is where you talking about sound about well, the pizza and the pizza they all the talk of them. I got the time, lady.
They were a hit band and what you call a commercially successful band. Little Feet never had any hit records. We had records that radio would play, but it was sort of like maybe we had a guy that liked us in New York or Philadelphia, but they didn’t know anything about us in Tucson, Arizona, I don’t know. So it took a while. It took a while for us to get there.
Doobie brothers sold millions of records. We wind up selling a million. So did that disappoint you and why do you think that was? To answer your first question? No, it did not disappoint me.
I think that the music took a little getting acquainted with. Things did not pop out and grab people by the throat and say, come on, let’s go. Oh, atlanta was a song that I wrote a few albums later. By about that time, we were starting to again, not with hit records, but just with notoriety, accomplish a lot of great things. I’ve always felt like little feet.
The reason we’re still around 50 plus years later is maybe because we were not a hit record band. We’ve got a great catalog of music that we still play, we’re still writing. I don’t know what to say. People that try and play Little Feet’s music, they go, well, it’s like and I go, Harder than you thought. They go, yeah.
I go, well, we didn’t do that to trip you up. It was just that, like the Grateful dad like a lot of bands, there’s a lot of detail in our music. It takes real musicians, musicianship to play. It right down there, Ohio. But you can watch and play in the night, people.
I love to watch it fly I said I watch a little play. I wish I was the one I said dream of I could go and sing it I played like you. You, um.
You must have made a conscious decision to remain faithful to the music. You never became swayed by trying to make the music more commercially inviting? Well, we did, but when you try, it doesn’t always work. Everything kind of has to click at once, starting with not only the song, but who is singing it. Lowell was a terrific singer, but Lowell was starting to think that the music itself this is from a quote of his, that it was because it took a while for people to really had to listen to it.
Right. To get into it. That may have put the brakes on for a lot of people. Also, if you had the kind of eclectic music that we had, it wasn’t easy for a record label to say, okay, here’s a glass case we’re going to sell to people. They couldn’t pigeonhole you.
Yeah. So that made it difficult as well. We didn’t seem to really care that much about it. We were out playing music, working to our own standards. And like you said, Elton John, sir Elton John, I think he’s a pretty good keyboard player.
You sure are. And Little Feet, of course, had the reputation of being one of the best live bands around. Yeah. And the album that signified that, to a great degree, was waiting for Columbus. A few weeks ago, I was in Nashville, and I was there to play the Americana Music Awards.
The evening before, I was out to dinner with our manager. As I was going to the restroom, I saw Robert Plant having dinner. And I thought, oh, I should go over and say hello to him. I waited. I came back downstairs and I walked, and I could tell Robert’s gone, oh, no, I have to talk to this guy.
Who is it? And I said, Robert Bill Payne from Little feet. And he about jumped out of his chair and go, oh, my God, it’s so great to see him. He was very happy to see me and as I was him. But we had never really met, but he had worked with Richie Hayward, our drummer.
Richie toured with Robert. Led Zeppelin was always very tight with Little Feet, as well, as were the Stones from time to time. So we had a lot of good people in our corner let’s put it that way.
I was telling what it means to be a man now I’ve reached that age, I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can no matter how I try find my way to say no jazz good times, bad times you are.
Difficult not to compare yourself to all of these bands that were hugely commercially successful. How did that feel for you? I was happy with it, and I always played with other bands. I recorded a lot of stuff over the years with a lot of people. I played on hundreds of albums.
So I wasn’t for lacking in work. There’s other things other than that kind of success. I mean, one of the reasons that Lowell passed away at age 34 was his wellness, for one. But there was a lot of drugs back then. They were getting in the way of not only just Law, but Janice Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, on and on.
It’s a very familiar story. Right. I had had that discussion with Law was, look, we take two steps forward, three back, one forward, maybe another two forward now or four back. You can’t build on success if you’re a moving target, even within your own system. I thought Lowell was exceedingly talented.
He could have, would have, should have. But this is where we were, so I mean, you I never took it as a frontier either way. I mean, terms of jealousy or anything else. I wound up after he passed away in 1979. Working with James Taylor with Jackson Brown, stevie Nicks, bonnie Kaye.
I got to work with a lot of people. Those magic men may die some people call them wives or Oriental, even kings well, anyway, those guys they visited with Jesus, they sure enjoyed their stay. Then warning the Dream King Harris scheme they went home by another way yes, they went home by another way home by another way maybe me and you can be wise guys too go home by another way we can make it another way. Safe home, as I used to say. Keep a weather, I do the chart on high and go home.
Lao George was 34 years old when he suffered a heart attack caused by an accidental heroin overdose. Stay tuned to find out what happened next. This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye It’s a beautiful day. Little Feet were the archetypal 70s band that had a charismatic frontman and wonderful songs.
But they also had drug problems that eventually led to their demise. When Lowell died, was it automatically the end of Little Fate? We were in the middle of recording down on the Farm. Lowell went on on his solo tour of which Fred Tackett was one of the people that toured with him. Daddy wrote a song for Dixie Chicken.
Look outside you can’t ever stay the same if you keep on singing the same old lines you’re going to look around, baby find. Your friends out of town watch out girls you say that don’t really fit the play somebody else you might talk to now knows what you say and what you mean they don’t have to say.
Paul’S on this tour. He plays this fantastic show, by all accounts. And that evening went back to the hotel and he passed away. A few hours later, I got the call. I was just devastated.
I mean, I had already quit the band. I wanted to produce the record with him. He wasn’t keen on that idea. And I said, well, then I don’t want to be a part of this band, Dolphin. I can’t do what I think I ought to be doing, too.
But what I said was, when you get back off your tour, we’re going to finish the album. I want to try something else, but let’s see where it goes. We never made it back and now I’m thrust into the seat of producing the album. It was a very calamitous time. Richie Hayward was in the hospital.
He had riding his motorcycle. This was his second motorcycle accident. Ride into a stone wall. It was just a nightmare time. We did release that record and we put together an album called Hoy Hoy, which is a double album.
I wrote a song called Green Go. Green go southern California band green go take a stop and look around come and lay on my head up and republic rainbow so go deep beneath the ground.
79 then, as a result of Lal’s death, saw the end of Little Fate for a while. What brought you back together again? We were invited by a rehearsal hall. It was in North Hollywood. Little feet.
Bonnie Kaye Jackson Brown. We all used to rehearse there. They said we’re commemorating room to Lowell. But also little feet, which includes Lowell. Would you guys inaugurate it for us?
So we said, sure. Well, we tried something very similar with a different set of circumstances to play. But I talked to Paul about Paul Brerean. I said, if we ever do this again, let’s just do it amongst ourselves. We’ll get to whomever we need to help set up gear, but let’s not invite people to hear us play.
Let’s simply get together and play. Which we did that adventure in that room at the alley. I said, Well, I think we really ought to consider putting Little Feet back together. We still sound like Little Feet, don’t we? And he goes, yeah, let’s figure out who we want to if we want to bring in anybody else to sing, I want to line up management.
The guy that I approached to manage us was Peter Asher. Peter, who is one of the calmest people on the planet I think I’ve ever met. Amazing. Please lock me away and don’t allow the day here inside where I hide with my loneliness?
I don’t care what they say? I won’t stay in a world without love?
When we record next year for a brand new little feet record. There’s a song of walls that nobody’s ever heard except my solo tour that I want to put on that record as well. Where did it go from there? We created a record called Let It Roll, and that album actually sold really, really well. Amount of people that were coming to hear us tour, we kind of built it, and before long we were playing the same places I was playing with Jackson Brown, James Taylor, et cetera.
So we were doing well, and then things started to slide a little bit. We were with album oriented Radio AR Radio was promoting our albums and that format started to slide and disappeared. Right about the time that Keith Richards was coming out with his solo record, he realized it as well. So if you didn’t have a hit record like the Dubie Brothers, as I described earlier, or, say, the Almond Brothers, your path to reaching people or the airwaves was narrowed considerably, that no one would ever hear you. But it didn’t have the same AR had a very heavy impact.
To this day, I haven’t really explored and see what happened to it. I don’t know why it fell out of favor with the programmers and whatnot, but it did. Bill, you said that little feet still sounded like little feet. How could you still sound like Little Feet with an entirely different cast? Well, for starters, we still have Sam Clayton, Kenny Grady on Bass.
You still have Me on keyboards, which covers a lot of mileage, by the way. Fred Tackett joined us in that latter part, but he played on Time Loves a Hero.
Time loves a hero but only time will tell you from heaven always got a local where we go this is days in the sun and it’s like Casino never stays ready and the tower and I admire it. We raise it.
The way the material is set up. If you put a slide guitar player in somebody’s hand and the notion of the slide kind of completes the picture too, in terms of the way we hear things. But the material, the songs in and above everything are the conduit to what makes something sound like Little Feet. Do you have a favorite Little Feet song? Is there one that’s closest to your heart?
Not really. There’s just too many of them. When we were with this new incarnation of the band, the first thing we recorded was Long Distance Love. We were in the middle of this pandemic, right? As was everybody on the planet.
I thought it was a fitting song only because of the title, but just the amount of musicianship and the subtlety that it took to play that tune as opposed to starting off with something like, oh, Atlanta or Batman the Bathtub, something was more in your face. Bonnie Kaye heard what we we did and she she wrote me and she said, I’m listening to this song, I’ve got tears in my eyes. And it just touched her heart. It did the same thing to me. I just thought, you know, when you’re putting something together that’s got a certain sound and feel and it touches your head and your heart.
I’m not saying it’s going to do that with everybody, but it’s going to hit a lot of people like that. I do not second guess myself on that type of thing. It hits a home run with me. That’s a pretty good start.
Hello, give me a missing person. What is it that you need? I said, oh, I need her soul they said, you got to stop your fleeting because no matter what you do even bread I haven’t all you ever get from Homicide, love I read the paper and I got the blue I was so sad to hear hell but wanted but not enough you know these. Times are getting rough Bill Payne Waiting For Columbus. It’s being rereleased or rerecorded, technically.
This is the 45th year of the release of Waiting for Columbus. We recorded it 1977, but we released it in 1978. A lot of people told us over the years that we ought to play Waiting for Columbus, and I thought, I don’t know, it just didn’t ring true. But when we got this new band together, scott Gerard’s an amazing singer, I thought, you know what? Yeah.
What it does is it pitted us against one of the most iconic records we have in terms of the live thing and what people love about Lil Feet. If you’re going to do that, you better be pretty damn good, because if people hear it and it doesn’t measure up, it’s not a matter of replicating anything. I’m not going to replicate what I did on that record, but I’m going to play it where it’s not unrecognizable either. We’ve got it to where Dixie chicken sounds like Dixie chicken and mercenary territory. Sounds like mercenary territory.
But there’s areas where we can take off and we start to throw in other influences into solos, whether it’s more of a world beat in a couple of places, horns playing some certain things in Spanish Moon that they played on the record, but they’re not the same section. There’s three guys instead of five as musicians. That’s what little feet always did. We took it from the standpoint, Sandy, of the way Miles Davis or John Coltrane would approach a song. You have different versions of it and a lot of people and I’m not saying it’s wrong, by the way, it’s just a style.
The Eagles are going to go out and they’re going to play Hotel California the way it sounds on the record. They might be doing it different now, but six, five years ago, whenever it was, they were promoting their first concert, Town, that sounded like Hotel California, just like the record. So, yes. So that’s a style. That’s not one I prefer to do, and it certainly doesn’t fit.
Little feet on a dark desert highway cool wind in my hair once fell up a lead death rising up through the air up ahead in the distance I saw shimmering light my head grew heavy and my sight grew dim I had to stop all the night as she stood in the doorway I heard the mission bell I was thinking to myself this could be heaven this could be hell then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way there were buses down there. Cordy door. Thought I had them say welcome to the Hotel California place ready room at the Hotel California any time of year any time of year you can find it here.
We’re going to go back to playing Request, which what we did before we started doing, Waiting for Glompass. This way we can dig into all those records you’re talking about. And secondly, we’re going to be rehearsing songs for a new album. We’re also doing something with Sam Clayton that’s pretty interesting. It’s more of a blues approach, maybe, for an EP, let’s say.
It’s not easy to write a lot of great songs and when you can, if you’re capable of it, and we know it’s subjective as to what a great song is. Bill, how does your writing compare today to what it was back in the day? I think it’s every bit as adventurous as it was. There’s a guy named Charlie Starr, and Charlie works with a group over here in the Atlanta area or Georgia area called BlackBerry Smoke. They’re a terrific band.
I’ve written probably seven or eight songs with Paul Maldoon, who’s a Pulitzer Prize winning poet from Ireland. He now teaches at Princeton. Has your writing changed with age, with wisdom? Yeah. I’ve written 20 songs with Robert Hunter from the Grateful Dead, which was a very good experience.
Four of those songs people have heard, the other 16 people have not. So they’ll hear a couple more with Little Feet. They’ll probably hear quite a few more if I release a solo record. So, yeah, my my writing has gotten better, and one result of it is a friend of mine named Tom Garnsy who has a band called The Hooligans. He got me a gift some years ago, a zoom recorder.
So my writing has taken leaps and. Downs because of all the new technology. So you have to say that life today is better for you than it’s ever been. Yes. Did you hear how he answered that?
Without hesitation. Bill’s definitely enjoying his life today. He has a new wife some 26 years his junior. He lives on a ranch in Montana and busies himself with commercial photography as well as writing new material for the current lineup of Little Feet. As James Taylor would say, how sweet it is.
Thanks so much for joining me here today. I look forward to being back in your company again. Same time next week when we get to meet a terrific sister duo known as Larkin Poe. Take care of yourself meantime, won’t you? Bye now.
Just full day. You’ve been listening to A breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye Beautiful day that you’re gone away it’s a beautiful day close.