CHRIS ISAAK: On Record

The “Wicked Game” singer talks to us about his new TV show, his new album, and why they call him “Mr. Lucky.”

The “Wicked Game” singer talks to us about his new TV show, his new album, and why they call him “Mr. Lucky.”

What would you have liked to have been, if you hadn’t been a professional musician?
I’ve worked in a funeral home, did roofing jobs, drove delivery and spent time working the docks of Stockton, California, unloading ships. None of it was near as much fun and I didn’t get to wear a sequined suit.

What made you want to start writing songs?
I don’t know exactly, I just always wanted to write. I bought a tape recorder when I was a kid and my friends thought I was nuts! “Why don’t you get a football?” But I thought with a recorder I could write songs. I still have that recorder and a bunch of tapes of me singing when I was a kid…sadly…I sound about the same.

What made you persevere, before your career took off?
I didn’t have a choice. I was broke, didn’t have any other options, and I loved making music. I didn’t mind living in a closet and eating one meal a day if I got to be in a band.

How is Mr. Lucky different from your other albums? Or is it part of acontinuity?
I think it sounds like me. I mean it’s my singing and my songs, so it is not wildly different…but I think this record has a wide range, pretty ballads to upbeat happy tunes with horns in the middle. It makes good music for a car trip.

What’s the significance of the title?
I’m Mr. Lucky-I have been making music for 25 years with my friends. My folks are alive and still together after more than 60 years and my brothers and I all get along are in good health. If God came to ask me what I needed-I am already covered! Like Jimmy Stewart says, “it’s a wonderful life.”

You co-wrote “Breaking Apart” with Dianne Warren. What was that like?
Dianne is as crazy as I am and that’s going a ways. I like to try something new with anyone.

How’s the experience of working on The Chris Isaak Hour been?

Very fun, very fast. We worked like it was 1961…two takes and get it right! A lot of time playing with the guys in my garage, but not much in the studio.

What’s it been like playing on your guests’ songs? How much preparation or rehearsal goes into it?
Scary. I don’t want to overstep or screw up, but the people have been great in opening up the music to include me. I try to know what I am doing but it’s TV and we move fast and hope we get it good quick!

Have you learned anything new about songwriting, interviewing your guests for the show?
Glen Campbell told me “stay out of the way of a good song.” I think it’s true. If a song’s good, don’t overdo it.

What inspires you to write songs? What puts you in the mood to write?
I think just having a guitar in my hands is all I need. I play every day and the first thing I do when I get off tour is get out my guitar at home and write. I don’t have too many hobbies. I just love what I do.

What’s a song you’re really proud of?
I like “Forever Blue.” it was a letter to my ex but I turned it to a song because she wouldn’t read my letters. So I always figure she might hear it on the radio yet.

What songs by others do you find yourself covering the most?
I love Elvis, of course The Beatles, and I am nuts about early country music, from1940s to about ‘63. From Hank Snow to Hank Thompson to Hawaiian music…I love a good song.


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