20 Questions with Reggie Garrett

Posted 8/5/22

W

hat was the first record you owned? First one you bought?

“The first one that my parents got us and the first one I bought:

The first album that I ever bought for myself was …

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20 Questions with Reggie Garrett

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What was the first record you owned? First one you bought?

“The first one that my parents got us and the first one I bought:

The first album that I ever bought for myself was ‘Are You Experienced?’ by Jimi Hendrix.

The first album I ever owned that was mine was by Mantovani. [Mantovani and His Orchestra’s version of ‘Blue Danube.’]

When we were little kids my mother used to work. One day she came home with a pile of albums. We were really young. I remember for some reason I liked the way it looked [the album cover]. I just fell in love with that song.”

[He bought his copy of “Are you Experienced?” as a high schooler in Cincinnati, Ohio.]

What’s the one album you wish you still had?

“I still have a lot of albums. I kept them over the years. I lost a bunch at a certain point, when I moved out here. I just kept collecting them. 

I’m trying to think. I wish I still had ‘Live at the Apollo,’ James Brown.”

What was the first song you learned to play?

“It was probably ‘After the Gold Rush’ by Neil Young.

The way I learned to play guitar after I got one, I got the chord book and was practicing chords. I just didn’t connect. They’d have these songs I wasn’t much interested in; old-fashioned, cornball stuff.

One day I was sitting, messing with my guitar. I hit a chord. I just started going through chords, and picking it out. That’s how I really learned.”

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

“I don’t know. I was never all that great an athlete; that really wasn’t a thing.

I liked music, but when I was young, I always had a lot of respect for people who did things.

At a certain point, I wanted to be an astronaut. A race car driver; I loved racing.”

Who did you listen to when you were young?

“We listened to everything. My father liked the jazz. There were eight kids in my family.

There was jazz. We listened to all kinds of popular groups on the radio. Rock and roll. My mother liked gospel.

Radio was much more democratic. If you listened to the pop station, you heard everything. We listened to just about everything.”

Favorite radio station back then?

“WSAI.

When I got to high school ... FM was sort of getting big. WBEN ... WNOP played jazz.

Mostly no single one.”

Do you have a favorite guitar?

“Yes. I have a Larrivées jumbo body acoustic.”

Does it have a name?

“Yes. Anaitis Chi’ing.”

Where is that from?

“The Chi’ing; I had a girlfriend, that was one of her names and I would love the sound of it.

All this is cloudy. [Laughs.]

The Anaitis - one of my favorite writers is James Branch Cabell. A lot of his stuff was banned in the United States. One of my favorite stories was ‘Jurgen.’ Anaitis .... she was the mistress of the unmentionable pleasures.”

Where is your favorite place to write a song?

“Where I write generally; in my studio. At the computer. I have a journal I carry around sometimes. Usually I’ll sit down ... and bang something out. Every now and then I have songs that just come to me.

Usually at home in my studio alone, just working it out.”

What venue have you most enjoyed performing at?

“I have liked The Royal Room in Seattle.

Certain places where you step out on stage, you go through all the butterflies and stuff. There’s a few places where I step out on the stage and I feel like at home; it’s so very comfortable.”

If you could have a special guest join you on stage, who would you pick?

“Probably Jerry Douglas.

The tone he gets with his slide; I had never heard anything like that. The tone that he uses, and the musical ideas, have always blown me away.”

What is the one song you wished you wrote?

“There are a few of them. There’s no one; there are a few.

‘Cross the Mountain.’ That was written by a friend, Annie Ford.”

What is your favorite song to do as an encore?

“It kind of shifts as time goes on. There are ones that I love. Time passes and other ones come up. As an encore, when I play with the band, usually I like to finish with ‘All Along the Watchtower.’

‘It’s a Hard Life’ by Nanci Griffith.”

What’s been the most memorable show where you have been in the audience?

“One of my favorites was, I love Richard Thompson. The first time I saw him at Bumbershoot, that was a great show.

The first knock-down, blow-away show was James Brown at the Ohio State Fair. That was back in the late ’60s or early ’70s. That was an amazing show.”

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

“Honestly, I don’t know. I never really thought about it.”

What would you like to do if success was guaranteed?

“I’d like to have enough money to perform the places that I like to play with the people I like to play with. And live the kind of life that would be comfortable for me and my wife... Travel along, play a show here and there and not worry about money.

Essentially, what I’m doing now, but not worry about the money part.”

Describe your personality with three adjectives.

“I tend to be quiet. I tend to be thoughtful.

It’s always been difficult to be a true believer in just about anything. It’s hard for me to join things.

I can pretty much always see the other side of things.

I don’t like bullshit. And I tend to be pretty accepting of most people.”

You like movies; what’s your favorite one that you could watch again and again?

“There’s a lot of them. When ‘Jaws’ comes on TV we always get sucked into it.

One of my favorite movies of all time: ‘Mephisto.’ That is a great movie.

There are a lot of others.”

What’s your favorite bad movie?

“I don’t have a guilty pleasure.

It kind of goes back to that thing I’ve never been able to be a true believer. I generally see the other side of most things. One of the things I know and come to terms with is, not everybody’s me. Most people have reasons for what they like and what they want. I figure, if it makes you happy, go for it.”

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