California Dreaming: Rick Price and Jack Jones

Ross Greenwood is joined live in studio by Rick Price and Jack Jones to discuss their upcoming tour around Australia and why they joined to join forces in the ever-changing music industry.

Introduction: California Dreaming: Rick Price and Jack Jones

Ross Greenwood: Great to have your company here on Work.Life.Money going right around Australia this weekend. I tell you. I’ve got a little bit of a treat for you today and that is two of Australia’s best-known singer-songwriters, Rick Price and Jack Jones. Now, the interesting thing about these two fellows is, separately, they have brilliant musical careers. Commercial success always, but not just here in Australia but also in the United States.

To bring the two of them together, not only for an album but also of a tour as well, going around regional areas, capital cities, a whole lot, is something of a treat. You get to the next stage of this because the album they’re putting together is basically already a top 10 ARIA album being released through Sony Music. It is a compilation of some of their very favorite music, some of yours, some of mine from the West Coast area in the 1960s and ’70s.

Think The Mamas & the Papas. Think about, say, for example, James Taylor. Think about a range of different songs that you can remember from those days. All of that plus plenty more. Let’s have the two of them in the studio with me right now. Can I say to Rick Price, Jack Jones, welcome? Thank you so much for your time.

Interview with: Rick Price and Jack Jones

Rick Price: Thanks, mate.

Jack Jones: Thank you so much.

Ross Greenwood:  I want to start with you, Rick, because this particular album, the two of you have put together, recorded in your studio in Nashville?

Rick Price:  Yes.

Ross Greenwood:  You kind of find your way back to the United States after all these years, living there, working there, all that type of thing?

Rick Price:  Yes.

Ross Greenwood:  It’s an experience to come and bring this music back to Australia given the success you’d had. People certainly would remember the history, of course, going back to you when you had the Heaven Knows album, top five on the ARIA Charts. The Heaven Knows album won awards in the time when it came out. It’s an interesting thing to do this, isn’t it?

Rick Price:  Yes. Look, it’s just been a great experience to revisit these incredible songs because they were all part of my history of music growing up. I learned to play and sing from listening to records, [chuckles] listening to James Taylor records, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash. That was the sound coming up when I was a teenage kid that just blew me away.

Ross Greenwood:  Does it stop you in your tracks to think that a lot of that music is 45 years old?

Rick Price:  It does, but a great song is a great song is a great song. You know what I mean? It will stand the test of time.

Ross Greenwood:  It shows also the passage of time because when a person sits there and thinks, “Well, this was the music of my youth,” or this was the music that you grew up playing as it were, and then you stop and you think, “Well, hang on. That is 45 years ago.”

Rick Price:  I know.

Ross Greenwood:  A career, a lifetime has almost gone through.

Rick Price:  I know. I think that, in a way, that made it extra special to go back and revisit that music after such a long time.

Ross Greenwood:  If we go, say, to Jack Jones, you go best known in Australia with Southern Sons. You’ve been touring with them for years and years and years doing your thing. You come back again. A little bit of musical history is the touch of nostalgia with this. In some ways, people grab onto that nostalgia, don’t they?

Jack Jones:  I find it nostalgic. This is weird saying this, but I find it nostalgic for myself like I have nostalgia now. Now, I actually know what nostalgia is. Like I feel that I’ve maybe reached a point in my life where the music of my previous life with the Sons. I have a new appreciation, a new love for those songs. I really enjoy performing them again. To play these songs with Rick is just– Like Rick, a lot of these artists are part of my musical DNA.

Even listening to these songs before we made the record was a really great experience. I felt listening to songs on both sides now that I hadn’t heard for maybe 20 years just really struck a chord with me again. It was like, “Wow.” For a certain part of your life, I think you look forward. You’re just always looking forward when you’re in your 20s. For me, it was maybe in my 30s and I just started. I actually turned around and looked behind and went, “Wow, we really did–” I mean not like, “Hey, we did a lot,” but like, “Well, we really did a lot,” that we worked a lot. We’re busy. We got busy.

Ross Greenwood:  It’s creative process, is it not? You’d like the creative process goes way out into your 60s, 70s, and 80s. For some people, I guess that they do. Most people, most great breakthroughs happen when a person’s in their teens or in their mid to early 20s. This is an interesting thing to try and keep yourself relevant, vibrant, all that to find an audience, to find somebody who wants to listen to this type of music as well, Rick.

Rick Price:  Yes. Look, I think just putting this record out. The fact that it struck a chord with the audience pretty well right away. I gauged a lot of things by just the people around me, my friends and things. When I said we’re making this record, it was, “Oh man, it’s going to be amazing.” There’s so much great history of emotion and feeling and experience tied up in this music and these songs. To revisit them and plus we had the chance to recreate our own versions if you like or our own new experiences of these songs, singing them as in duet style, that’s been a lot of fun too.

Ross Greenwood:  Can I ask you, Jack? There’s one aspect of this. A lot of people look at this and go, “Well, okay. Is this the pension fund?”

[laughter]

Ross Greenwood:  Everybody is trying to.

Jack Jones:  Let’s hope so.

Ross Greenwood:  You bloody answer that, mate. That’s all I could tell you.

Jack Jones:  Next question.

Ross Greenwood:  As you get a bit older, you still want a paycheck coming through the door. It’s interesting to note that both of you are vibrant enough, relevant enough that you can keep on earning. You can keep actually something coming that’s been going for a long time.

Jack Jones:  I just think we’re really lucky. We had our successes. The things that put us on the map here, we didn’t realize it at the time. We are the last generation of artists that where people really bought records even. When we go, people probably won’t even buy CDs anymore. By the time I’m dead, people probably won’t know what a record store looks like. I don’t know.

Maybe there’ll be some little boutique, a record store somewhere. Really, music has become this data and this delivery system that’s completely different to when– I think that’s giving a career, gave us a career when– It’s very hard to see a 20-year-old now who wants to have a career in music, how it looks for them.

Ross Greenwood:  Because you can’t get the royalties through, say, a Spotify or Pandora or something of that nature. You’ve really got to go back on the road, which is what you guys are doing anyway.

Rick Price:  Yes. We never stopped doing that. I think it’s been a great opportunity for us to pay homage to– Look, let’s face it. If we did it for the money, there’s probably other things that we could do like really. There’s probably other things that we could be doing if we really wanted the big paycheck.

Jack Jones:  Yes, like bank robberies.

Rick Price:  Yes. [laughs] Jewellery sales.

Ross Greenwood:  It’s an interesting thing that kind of play, isn’t it, Rick? There is almost so much music around the place these days. If you go to Spotify, you can find every genre. You can find every type of music you wish to. Somebody often is knocking out in the lounge room or somewhere downstairs, which is not a bad thing. The problem is trying to have that music stand out from the crowd and be commercially successful for that person to give the incentive for others to keep going.

Rick Price:  Look, the music world has totally evolved and changed. It’s completely flooded now with, as you say, people making music in their lounge room. I think it’s right. I think you have to follow the way things are. It’s not put that well all back in the day. That’s all rubbish. You’ve got to keep moving forward. The challenge for us as creative artists is to continue to be authentic, I suppose, to try to be authentic and that is to create and present music from a heartfelt place. That’s what we have to do.

Ross Greenwood:  Okay. If a young person sitting out there listening to this or parents got a kid who has got a bit of musical talent. Go on, Jack, what would they do? How do they break through these days? How do they stand out?

Jack Jones:  Nurture it because no one wants their kids to end up in jail.

[laughter]

Jack Jones:  They probably kept me out of jail. I don’t know. I think it’s like anything. There’s people who find their way. If you got a kid that loves music, then that’s great. Get him a guitar. Get him a piano. The world needs creative people and it needs people that create music or art or paintings or sculpture or whatever. Every generation needs voices for it. I’m always trolling around for new music and things and I’m finding it all the time. That’s my advice. Just go for it even though it’s a completely different– [crosstalk]

Rick Price:  I always said it to young people like, “Play live.” Get out and play in front of people. Don’t make all your music in the bedroom. Get out and play it to other human beings. [chuckles] There’s nothing like that, the energy of playing live music to an audience.

Ross Greenwood:  The thing I loved about this collaboration, the two of you have tried very similar paths along the way. Almost parallel universes in some ways but have never really got together, which I find odd because you’ve collaborated with similar artists, similar Australian artists, right the way through, then you finally come together. I think, I think that’s nice.

Jack Jones:  Even recently, Rick did a tour opening for Richard Marx. I played in Richard Marx has been last on business. I guess it’s funny. We’ve been talking about this for the better part of 20 years maybe. Every time we’ve seen each other, “We got to get together and make that record some time,” whatever it is. All the planets seem to align.

Rick Price:  It just happened organically, which was really nice.

Jack Jones:  Very organic.

Rick Price:  Sometimes you can plant the things that you can make it happen. I think when things just happen organically and naturally, the whole process when you came from New York to Nashville and we got together, it was like we’ve never been apart really. We just sat in my kitchen and we started rehearsing the songs and making up arrangements and it was just great.

Ross Greenwood:  What do I say? It is terrific music. You’re just going to hear a sample of it very, very shortly. This album is California Dreaming and it features the likes of The Mamas & The Papas, I said. Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, The Eagles, The Doors, a range of others. Also, the two are going around the country. It’s going to start in Brisbane on Thursday, May 3.

They can get all the details and tickets through Ticketek or go to TEG Live, which is fantastic. As I say, regional areas. As I say, this Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Canberra and eventually on May 27. It’ll end up in Newcastle as well. Can I just say to both of you? Thank you so much for your time. I know we’re going to go out today with just a little bit of the title track. Great song as well, California Dreaming. Thank you so much for your time.

Rick and Jack Jones:  Thanks, mate. You got it.

[singing] All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day. I’d be safe and warm if I was in LA. California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day. Stopped into a church. I passed along the way. Well, I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray). You know the preacher like the cold (preacher like the cold). He knows I’m gonna stay (knows that I’m gonna stay). California dreamin’ (California dreamin’) on such a winter’s day.

[guitar solo]

Rick and Jack Jones:  [singing] All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey. I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk) on a winter’s day. If I didn’t tell her, I could leave today. California dreamin’ (California dreamin’) on such a winter’s day (California dreamin’), on such a winter’s day, (California dreamin’) on such a winter’s day.

Ross Greenwood:  Very good.

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