Still Angry After All These Years | Music | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Still Angry After All These Years 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:32 pm

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The author of three books, The Great Trouser Mystery, Carp Fishing on Valium, and The Other Life of Brian, Parker finds prose writing infinitely more challenging than songwriting. “A song is just one or two pages of words,” he says. “With fiction, it doesn’t have to rhyme, thank God, but I always end up going back over it, rewriting and reworking things. But when I hit a vein and get on a roll, that’s exciting.”

Some heady excitement arrived last year when the Bard himself, Bob Dylan, praised Parker’s songwriting on his “Theme Time Radio Hour” XM satellite show. “It was a lot of fun hearing Dylan drawl my name and play ‘Back to School Days,’ but, as is typical of my career, something was a bit off about it,” Parker says with a laugh. “He played a demo version, not the studio one from Howlin’ Wind, and mentioned the names of The Rumour’s guitarists—but they didn’t play on the demo!” Parker’s atypical career is also the subject of a documentary, now in production, by Michael Gramaglia, who directed 2003’s stellar Ramones film End of the Century.

Looking back over that same lengthy, unusual career, is there anything Parker wishes he’d done differently? “Well, sometimes I wish I’d done more to have a Top 10 hit or two,” he sighs. “At this point, those could be bargaining chips, so the promoters in Nebraska or Sioux City, Iowa, who also happen to be fans of my music can get people out to shows and not worry about losing their shirts. But I was too bloody-minded back then—I didn’t care as much about having hits as I did about making great rock’ n’ roll.

“I never thought I’d still be [playing music] at my age, let alone making records as good as Don’t Tell Columbus. But I’m a better person for having not let my talent go to waste. It was too seductive to become like the people around me when I was growing up, to stay in some lousy job and end up sitting in a pub, drinking instead of writing songs.”

A world without the songs of Graham Parker? Now that would be something to be angry about.

Chronogram and WDST will present an evening with Graham Parker at Muddy Cup in Kingston on November 10. www.grahamparker.net.

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