Oates offers night of insight, music | AspenTimes.com
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Oates offers night of insight, music

Janet UrquhartAspen, CO Colorado
Woody Creek singer-songwriter John Oates performs The Stories Behind the Songs (and the songs) Wednesday at Steves Guitars in Carbondale. Hell repeat the show Friday at the Oriental Theater in Denver. (Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen Times)
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CARBONDALE Girls have frequently inspired Woody Creek singer/songwriter John Oates over the years, but it was actually an obnoxious guy that spawned the Hall & Oates hit Rich Girl, Oates revealed in his debut performance of The Stories Behind the Songs.Oates took the stage at Steves Guitars in Carbondale Tuesday night, joined by pianist Jed Lieber, to regale a tightly packed audience in the cozy venue with 90-plus minutes of songs spanning at least three decades and the tales behind them, along with random insights into the songwriting process.For the most part though, the songs outshone the stories. The music was that good.Anyone who came looking for a greatest hits retrospective from the peak of his pop stardom with partner and collaborator Daryl Hall went away disappointed, though, for Oates delved into his pre-fame days and ended with material he has written lately, sandwiching a couple of the duos best-known songs into the mix. He did offer up Shes Gone, the Hall & Oates hit inspired by a girl who stood Oates up on New Years Eve.He wrote the song in his New York apartment. It was one of those songs when the magic happens. It just came down, he recalled.Oates also sang Sara Smile, another Hall & Oates hit, about Halls former girlfriend and songwriting partner, Sara Allen.Its Daryls song, Oates said, but I love to sing it because its such a great song.Sara also inspired the duos Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song), which Oates also performed.Rich Girl Im not going to play the f—-n song, but Ill tell you the story was written by Hall. Inspired by a wealthy jerk, the lyric nonetheless morphed from rich guy to rich girl for obvious reason.Oates Muse took the feminine form again for a collaboration with Iva Davies of the Australian band Icehouse. Stymied by writers block, the two headed for the beach, where Davies windsurfed and Oates sat in the sand. The women on the beach were topless; he forced himself to focus on the eyes of a woman walking in his direction. The result was the Icehouse recording of Electric Blue.The group was on tour in Rome in the 80s when members wound up sending a prostitute up to one band members hotel room to help him celebrate his birthday. The lady of the evening was impressed with his endowments, which she expressed to the bandmates downstairs in the bar afterward. The result was Oates Italian Girls.Back in the 80s, there were a lot of fun things going on big shoulders and skinny ties not withstanding, explained Oates, still sporting a full head of the dark curly hair that instantly distinguished him from the blond Hall. The two men still perform together, but Oates has enjoyed successful collaborations with various songwriters.As proof, he sang Good Night, Los Angeles, written with Florida singer-singwriter Reed Waddle, who performed at Steves last winter with a guest appearance by Oates; and Planetarium written with Geoff Byrd.Other highlights included a cover of Sending Me Angels by the late Jerry Lynn Williams and Oates opening number, the excellent Curtis Mayfield-influenced Keep on Pushin Love, which Oates wrote after Mayfield released Keep on Pushin. Hmmm, keep on pushing what? Oates mulled. He settled on love.He closed with an encore featuring two solo efforts Change of Season and the recently written Circle of Three, a song about his family and, he said, going forward.Janet Urquharts e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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