All These Hellos is an outstanding new album of 10 songs, co-written by Louise Goffin. Goldmine spoke with her about new and old music, her songwriting podcast series the Great Song Adventure with Paul Zollo, her family and Aretha Franklin.
By Warren Kurtz
LOUISE GOFFIN ended 2017 with the single “New Year’s Day,” which Goldmine posted online. Louise’s video featured her with Billy Valentine and an opening line, “Everybody makes a dream this time of year.” Her dream was releasing the new solid album All These Hellos in 2018. This summer, as her son went off to college, she released the single “Is It Too Late To Hold On Tight,” which received a positive reaction from him. Neither of these songs are on the new album, but they have given Goffin fans a taste of her music to enjoy while waiting for All These Hellos. Additionally, Louise has released a few songs from the album online, ahead of its release, including “Let Me In Again” / “A Fine Surprise” as a two song single.
GOLDMINE: Congratulations on All These Hellos. With the two song online single, you created the equivalent of an electronic flip side with “A Fine Surprise.” That one has a moody eeriness, like what we enjoy from Stevie Nicks. Speaking of her, where she is now performing with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell in Fleetwood Mac, you have Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on mellotron. The combination of his mellotron and Greg Leisz’s pedal steel create a great back drop. I also love the “A side.” I was immediately drawn to Dillon O’Brian’s piano playing.
LOUISE GOFFIN: The release feels like a double A sided single, but all the artwork went to “Let Me In Again.” Billy Harvey and I co-wrote the flip side, “A Fine Surprise,” which is what we call ourselves as a duo.
Flip side: A Fine Surprise
A side: Let Me In Again
Debut: December 1, 2017
Majority of One
GM: You also co-wrote, with Billy, the album’s title song, “All These Hellos.” Your voices blend nicely on the chorus and Mark Goldenberg’s guitar is slow and tasteful. You open with the line, “Meet me at the summer house.” Was there a summer house?
LG: The summer house is fictional from a book. It was actually written in a back yard shed. Billy and I have an incredible synergy. He is a great songwriter, originally from Illinois.
GM: Let’s travel abroad for the album’s opener, which has the power of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” the song you wrote with John Parish, “Paris, France,” featuring Chris Difford.
LG: I met Chris in the mid-‘80s in England when I was signed to Stiff records at the time. He was in the band Squeeze. We wrote some songs together and a few of the songs got people’s attention. Paul Zollo and I do a podcast called “The Great Song Adventure” and we recently had Chris as a guest.
GM: The next song on the album, which you wrote with David Baerwald, “The Last Time I Saw My Sister,” has the revealing vulnerability of Sheryl Crow offset by one of the best rock string arrangements I have heard since Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
LG: Patrick Warren did that great arrangement and I feel the verses are Hendrix-like. I was also influenced by Jeff Buckley’s record. There are lines inspired by my sister Sherry, when she was 21, many years ago. I felt protective of her. This song was kicking around for a while and then I was given a chance to do this album with great musicians and generous financial backing. I spent so many years trying to fit in to what is called the music business, like molasses to move through the patriarchal structure. I sing about bad advice in the song. My mother (Carole King) has an expression when someone gives you advice, “Consider the source.” A decade ago she brought me out on her “Living Room Tour” with Gary Burr and she encouraged me to do my own stuff. “The Last Time I Saw My Sister” is a reflective female empowerment song.
L to R: Sherry, Louise, Carole, photo by Jim McCrary, courtesy of Louise Goffin, thegreatsongadventure.com
GM: Your mom sure knows about female empowerment with her 1971 Tapestry album finale, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King and Jerry Wexler) which Aretha Franklin brought to the Top 10 four years prior. Aretha certainly did a powerful version at your mom’s recognition at the Kennedy Center Honors.
LG: I was there and zipped the Queen of Soul into her gold dress. The day she passed away I wrote and published an article online about my experience with her called “Louise Goffin Recalls a Close Encounter with Aretha Franklin.”
Louise and Aretha at Kennedy Center Honors, photo by Sophie Kondor, courtesy of Louise Goffin
GM: We talked about double A side singles with “Let Me In Again” / “A Fine Surprise” from your new album. That is certainly what it felt like in 1971 when the opening song on the Tapestry album, “I Feel the Earth Move” received so much airplay as the flip side of “It’s Too Late.” I certainly loved hearing both sides of the single on the radio.
LG: In our podcast series I interview Lou Adler on Tapestry as a producer and label executive, on how it all came together. It cost only $26,000, which was amazingly low, but if it cost twice that much it would have been okay with him. He didn’t worry about a budget. He just wanted to get it right.
Tapestry album cover photo by Jim McCrary with family cat Telemachus
Flip side: I Feel the Earth Move
A side: It’s Too Late
Debut: May 8, 1971 A side / June 12, 1971 flip side
Peak Position: 1
GM: Having a producer and record executive like Lou Adler must have made the difference for your mom to be herself, after all the years in the business.
LG: Yes, that is critical. The first album I really felt proud of didn’t come until 2002 with Sometimes a Circle on Dreamworks. Lenny Waronker heard the demo and then said, “Don’t change anything.”
GM: You have a variety of people on your podcasts including The Motels with Martha Davis and Marty Jourard. Marty told me, “Louise is nice. Paul and Louise interviewed Martha and me about songwriting. I talked a bit about the song ‘Take the L’ from our All Four One album, which also included the King-Goffin composition ‘He Hit Me (And it Felt Like a Kiss).’ I remember when Louise’s Kid Blue album came out.” I also remember when your debut album came out in 1979. You wrote most of the songs and sang the title song, “Kid Blue,” so powerfully.
LG: I don’t know where that power came from.
GM: Your version of “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” was dramatic and its flip side, “Trapeze,” has a great background with Waddy Wachtel on guitar and J.D. Souther on background vocals. You sang encouragingly, “You know you’ll make it somehow, on a trapeze.”
LG: I think I was in a metamorphosis, even then. I wrote about not falling under the pressure of people and to “defy the fear.” Don Grolnick, who passed away many years ago, was wonderful on piano. You hear him immediately on the song.
Flip side: Trapeze
A side: Remember (Walking in the Sand)
Debut: August 18, 1979
Peak Position: 43
GM: Even more dramatic than “Remember (Walking in the Sand) is “Chinatown,” with Rufus Wainwright, on your new album. This song, that you wrote with Billy Harvey, sounds like it could be in a Broadway show. “Good Times Call” balances ‘60s and ‘80s liveliness, reminding me a bit of Miami Sound Machine’s “Bad Boy.” “Life Lesson” is also fun and bouncy and “Bridge of Sighs” is a gentle closing number.
LG: I produced all ten songs with the legendary Dave Way and he did the recording and mixing too. The album is available for pre-sale now through PledgeMusic, in different formats of digital, CD and vinyl. The official album release is planned for mid-November.
Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine, known for “Fabulous Flip Sides” along with giveaways, interviews, CD, DVD and book reviews. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, as part of “Moments to Remember” at wvcr.com or iHeart Radio – search WVCR.