Check out the song: “Get A Haircut”

I recently had the good fortune to speak with rock and roll legend George Thorogood about his newest release 2120 S. Michigan Avenue. On this disc Thorogood pays tribute to legendary artists signed to Chess Records, artists such as Buddy Guy and Charlie Musslewhite. Since the Mid-seventies Thorogood has been releasing fun, energetic albums that have withstood the test of time and this new one is no different. Here’s what Thorogood had to day.

Hey George how are you today?
George: Bad!

Bad To The Bone huh? You doing okay?
George: Yeah I am slinking by.

Where you guys at today, in the Midwest?
George: Well I swore an oath with the government Bruce to not give the whereabouts of my location.

Okay fair enough.
George:I will make an exception for you though Bruce.

I have top secret clearance though so you can tell me.
George: I will tell you that we are in a State that borders the Canadian Border. That should whittle it down.

Now that 2120 South Michigan Avenue has been released. How do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
George: Like I gave birth to an accountant.

I know you have been a fan of Chess Records for a while, but how did you choose the artists to cover for this record.
George: Capitol Records chose most of them… most of them. They sent a list and a CD of songs they were interested in and they had a list of certain artists. Some of them I was not aware of. I did not know that High Heeled Sneakers was recorded by Chess. It was not as simple as you might think: there was a lot of listening. I mean I listened through that catalog about a hundred times to come up with 15 tunes. I have been playing for a long time Bruce, and I have a certain style I play. My hands are kind of conditioned to do certain things so I had to get a lot of help. The song process was not as cut and dry as you might think.

I know you added two new tracks on this record. Did you record others that did not make it or did you just record these two?
George: I wrote a song called “Jumping Jack Flash”, but nobody liked the title. It didn’t make the final cut. They were actually Hambridge songs that were unfinished and I just kind of got in there and chiseled away at them and put a couple things to them, they were kind of just created in the studio.

What was it like to record with Buddy Guy and Charlie Musslewhite?
George: I wouldn’t know I wasn’t there when they overdubbed their parts.

Oh really so you weren’t there in the studio with them at the same time?
George: No we were not.

You have played with many musicians over the years is there anybody left that you would still like to play with?
George: You would be surprised at how few musicians I have actually played with. I am waiting for a guy named Bob to call me up to play slide guitar on his album but he’s got a great guitar player, Charlie Sexton, so I don’t think he needs me.

Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
George: Well I have always been a monster fan of Bo Diddly and Chuck Berry, but who isn’t? The 3 Chess artists that really knocked me out were Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry and Howlin’ Wolf and I have already done a lot of Howlin’ Wolf songs so it was kind of tough to find one. I am more of a rock guy than I am a blues guy. People get the idea that I am a dyed in the wool blues cat, but I rock out when I do my show you know that.

Right, I actually saw you like 20 years ago at Hofstra University.
George: Well there you go; it is more of a rock show than a blues seminar so to speak. B. B. King, he plays the blues.

Going back to the song selection for a minute. When you were deciding did you consider the live performance and how the songs would translate live?
George: Always, that is basically the catalyst to get into the studio to see if there is material that we can use for the live performance. You gotta understand something Bruce, from day one when I started recording, every single song I have written is 100 percent for entertainment purposes. I am not one of these people that sit down and say, “I went through a bad divorce so I am going to write a song about it,” or “a love one passed away so I am going to write a song about that.” Pain I keep to myself; my music is for entertainment purposes and I always have that in mind.

You have been in the business for a long time. Did you ever imagine you would be releasing records so many years later?
George: Well you are being kind calling it music. Maybe I have reached a level where it actually sounds like music, I don’t know; you tell me.

But you have been at it for a while did you ever imagine you would still be doing it?
George: I am just happy I am still here because as you get older the odds are against you that you are still going to be on the planet, you know what I am saying? Look at all the things that have happened since I put out my first record. There was no MTV, no Classic Rock Radio, no internet, no House Of Blues and no Satellite Radio. The world exploded after 1980 with stuff and that is what has helped everybody continue on. I did not even think rock music had a future period, let alone my future. So think of it that way.

Check out the song: “Seventh Son”

Do you find the rigors of touring taking more of a toll on you as you get older?
George: It is funny you should bring that up because the conditions that we travel in now are great. There are better buses, good drivers and better hotels. If I was this age doing what I was doing 30 years ago I would never make it. The way everything is set up now is good. It is harder and harder to get up and get the engine going, but once I get it going it is okay.

In a hundred years from now what will the music history books say about George Thorogood and The Destroyers?
George: I hope they say anything at all. My grandfather used to say I don’t care how you talk about me, good or bad, just don’t leave me out of the conversation.

Any new material in the works?
George: I hope not.

So you are gonna ride this one out for a while then?
George: As long as I can take it. The studio work kills me.

Really, so you are more of the live performance than the studio?
George: Oh yeah, I can’t take it. It gets harder as you go on because every time you go in and make a record it is like a calling card, not so people can come and hear you live or are interested in your catalog.

Thanks for taking the time George.
George: Well Bruce, most of what I told you is true. Rock n’ Roll never dies it just passes out.