NOTE: This was played in 12 segments. This is parts 1 - 8. About the first 2 hours.
Mark: It's Friday night and that means one thing and one thing only. It's Mark Mercer's Loving Caring Sharing. Welcome everybody to the show. Well we've got a show tonight that's been coming, well it's been in the works for 45 years. That's right. 45 years it's taken to get to this point. And boy I'm excited. I got to tell ya. I'm really jazzed. But before we get to our special guest, I'm going to take a minute here introduce the crew. We got our regulars here tonight. First my producer, Daniel Davidson. Daniel say hi.
Daniel: Hi Daniel
Mark: That's good Daniel, very clever. I've never heard anyone do that before. And of course I got my MOA. That's Master of Arms, Steve Delaunge. Steve, how are you doing tonight?
Steve: I'm doing great Mark. How are you?
Mark: I'm doing good buddy. I tell you we've been talking about this all week long and I am just so completely, just completely jazzed and ...
Steve: This is going to be a great show.
Mark: I got to tell you, we were talking on the phone earlier with Susan for like an hour and it just, I could just tell we're going to take off. But also joining us from Mississippi, we got Don. How are you doing Don?
Don: I'm doing great, thanks.
Mark: I'm glad you could join us tonight and bring up some trivia about Rhode Island. That will be handy. And who else do we have joining us? I guess that's everybody. Yeah we're all here, OK.
Susan: Hey wait, do I get to join you also?
Mark: (laughs) Well I'm getting to you.
Susan: Oh OK I'm sorry about that. I'm waiting.
Mark: (laughs) I'm glad you're ready. Look, I need to do a little .. . I I I'm sorry ...What was I thinkin'? What was I thinkin'? What was I thinkin'?
Tommy: I don't know Mark. Who's your guest tonight?
Mark: Well I also got sitting here in the LCS studios, The Professor of Doo-Wop. That's right. Tommy Jay, who will be on --- when is that Steve next week or after? I always forgot.
Steve: Yes that's next week, next Friday
Mark: Next Friday night we will be on with Tommy Jay's Doo-Wop Pop. Say hi Tom
Tommy: Good evening to all the girls and ships at sea. (ah ah ah <-- singing)
Mark: That's right. You guys don't want to miss it. Don't be late to class. This guy knows more about Doo-wop than you ever dreamed. It's one hoppin' happenin' show we're going to have next week.
Tommy: You got that right.
Mark: That's right baby. Now to our guest. This goes back to 1967, believe it or not. The Summer of Love. Yes that's right The Summer of Love, boys and girls, when my sister actually got her first stereo and went out and bought a bunch of albums and brought them back. And one of the albums she bought was an album by The Cowsills. That's right, the singing family. Enormous popularity. These guys were just over the top. And my, my entire family fell in love with The Cowsills really. As a matter of fact, when we would go on vacation, or even when we were just driving to the grocery store, we would hear something..I don't know "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" "We Can Fly" would come on the radio or "What Is Happy Baby?" "Grey Sunny Day" and we would all, we would all just singing along. We thought we were The Cowsills. We just loved the Cowsill family and of course my sister fortunately, which I couldn't of course because I was a guy, she would by Tiger Beat magazine and Teen magazine and catch up on all the stuff with Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy - bluck - and all those guys. But I was always I was always lookin' in there to see what was going on with Susan Cowsill. Now I got some emails from some people and I want to address that right away before we get to Susan. Say Mark, you said you weren't going to -- that you weren't interested in celebrities. You said you weren't going to have like big fancy names on your show because you don't care about that nonsense and you only care about regular folks. I said, "Yeah Now look, that's true. However, Susan and I have 45 years of history here. Alright, so that's different. Alright. I've had a crush on her for 45 years and she has absolutely no idea who I am, so forget that. I'll do what I want, thank you very much." Anyway, so, I was on Facebook oh about 5-6 weeks ago, I had my usual carousel of music on that I was listening to as I was cleaning up around the studio stuff and on comes The Cowsills and here comes some Cowsill music. I was listening to - I forget which song it was - but it might have been "Mr. Postman" and anyway, I'm listening to them and like "Ha I wonder, you know everybody is on Facebook these day, I wonder if Susan Cowsill would happen to be on Facebook." And I type in Susan Cowsill and low and behold there she is. And I thought, "Alright, cool!" and so I click the 'Add Friend' thing and then in about an hour later, I'm sitting in front of my computer and Booop Susan Cowsill has accepted you as a friend and I thought, "You know, I got nothing to lose. What the heck" So, I type in that little side message that you can do and I said,"Hi Susan, I'm Mark Mercer. I host Mark Mercer's Loving Caring Sharing" --- Alright enough of the stalker comments. I see that. Anyway, so I'm sending her a message and I said, "Susan, would you consider coming on my show" and she types right back to me, "Sure, it'd be a blast." So I'm like "Ha Ha who would have ever thought. Susan Cowsill is actually texting me back and it only took her 45 years, but yeah what the heck." And so we went back and forth with a bunch of emails to Russ, her husband, and finally - after car accidents and illness and Mardi Gras and mis-tuned guitars - we are finally there and we've reached tonight and Susan, welcome to Mark Mercer's Loving Caring, and Sharing. How are ya?
Susan: I'm fabulous, Mark Mercer. And thank you so much for loving, sharing and caring.
Mark: Well I ... It's my pleasure. I tell ya you know I'm speechless in so many ways. I know that's hard for anybody to imagine but
Steve: I haven't noticed. I haven't noticed that you were speechless.
Mark: Awwwww here we go
????: Me too
Mark: OK fine, you take the show. But seriously, no seriously, I - this goes back so many years for me Susan and now we have listeners who are in the UK and in Europe - all around the world and I'm sure that because of the cultural difference there, there are people out there who do not know about The Cowsills. Now they might know about The Partridge Family which was basically the TV show that was based on you guys.
Mark: And would you mind telling our listeners - those that are overseas and who don't really know who Susan Cow--- some guy ____ Who is Susan Cowsill? I don't know this Susan Cowsill. Would you mind telling everybody about your family and how you guys came into such a limelight back in the '60s and '70's.
Susan: It would be my pleasure. I guess the best way to start it off would be to say that my two eldest brothers, Bob and Bill Cowsill, were naturally inclined to music. And my Dad -- this is what I read in the bio anyway I was about 6 -- my Dad -- this is actually true -- my Dad was a Navy person and he brought a guitar back from Spain and handed it over to my brother Bill and it really - the rest of was kind of history.
Susan: These guys ... yeah I don't know what the deal is, or where it came from, but -- obviously my mother -- but we were all just rather inclined, naturally inclined. None of us had any lesson or anything like that. That would have meant we were actually being stewarded by somebody, but we just evolved. It started with Bob and Bill. And then Barry joined the band as the drummer. Any time somebody turned 7 or 9, they got put into the band.
Mark: Oh really
Susan: You know it just kind of .... AND THEN there was this ill-fated day when, I don't remember who, it's in the documentary, so listen for that later
Susan: But my brothers had had at least 3 record deals on JODA - real small labels - as a quartet. And nothing really came of that and then they put my mother in the band
Mark: Oh yeah
Susan: And the next thing we knew, we were living in New York City and we had a hit record.
Susan: Yeah and I eventually - I mean I was begging to be in this band from day one.
Mark: Now you guys, you didn't grow up in New York. Where were you guys from originally?
Susan: No, no Well we were Navy brats so we were from all over the place, but our most stabilized home was Newport, Rhode Island. I was born in Ohio and the guys were born in Virginia -- wherever Dad was stationed or whatever we were borned.
Mark: Gotta ya
Susan: And, but we left Newport. I guess the whole thing kind of happen out of Newport and we moved to New York City
Mark: Right in the city? Were you right at Manhattan or Long Island or
Susan: Yeah 888 8th Avenue between 52 and 53rd. We were told to memorize that because if we had to get into a cab, and we were alone, ummm ...
Mark: You had to know how to get home.
Susan: She was assigned to equipped us. I was seven. I'm like, "Wait, where am I?"
Mark: In New York City. The largest city in the world. Yeah, just take me home.
Susan: We were from Newport. It's like a fairyland or whatever. It's all good. And that's -- yeah go ahead.
Mark: So you're first experience in New York City was the result of like getting signed.
Susan: Yeah, we loaded u the truck and moved to Manhattan. It was a bit of a culture shock but a beautiful voyage, just the same. And then we were there for about a year and a half and we moved to Brentwood, California.
Susan: Land of the Stars yeah.
Mark: Why ...
Susan: We really were The Beverly Hillbillies. We were the grimmest little children and got ourselves in some really interesting situations.
Mark: And what year was that?
Susan: Uh We moved to LA in '68, so we were only in New York for about a year.
Mark: OK so what did you cut one album while you were there or what?
Susan: Well the first album was The Cowsills with "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" and I was not actually singing on any of that. I was still 6 I think.
Mark: You hadn't reached Lego age yet, huh?
Susan: Yeah yeah. My brother Bill told me, "You know what" - he had a quality control.
Mark: That right
Susan: He said - yeah he did - and cute is cute and
Mark: Yeah, but if you can't sing, forget it
Susan: If you can't sing, forget it and I was too little to really be able to know how to sing.
Mark: So what did you do? Did you sing in the shower or go get by yourself and start singing stuff?
Susan: I just listened to music that I loved and he story goes that I was in the car driving with my brother who was probably 18 at the time, or 19, I don't know and I guess I was harmonizing along with a Monkees song and he looked at me and just went, "Oh OK OK"
Mark: Just like that
Susan: He did. It was, oh well I had been asking forever but they'd stick me in the corner and tell me to play tambourine, I think we all know that. But I guess I cut it and I wasn't even really trying. We were just hanging out. "You have a really pretty voice' and now .. So they let me be in the band.
Mark: So that's how it started, the first album
Susan: Well first album I wasn't on. That's what the Monkees story was about. So my first record was We Can Fly
Mark: Oh OK right
Susan: First album yeah and we had already moved to New York, but I think I joined the band, I was in the band after we had released "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things" I just wasn't on the record because it took about a year, probably a year and a half to make. All I know is when I watch The Ed Sullivan Show that we debuted on my brother Bill said that I had been in the band for three months. So, I got put in pretty quickly afterwards, but ... yeah, it was awesome.
Mark: So when you got to LA what did you guys do? I mean, your folks enrolled you in local schools and stuff. And you started working on weekend type of things?
Susan: Yeah. Ahh no. We got enrolled in school, we just never went to them.
Mark: Is that right?
Susan: Oh that's totally right
Mark: OK so how did you learn anything?
Susan: I to school - first grade for a full year - and 9th grade for a full year. And the in-between - you know my parents were young parents and I don't think that they had any kind of skills from their parents. They were depression era kids. And my Dad really basically just said to the guys, "If you want this, I'll do whatever I can to make it happen."
Mark: Now was he still in the Navy?
Susan: I'm sorry??
Mark: Was he still in the Navy at the time?
Susan: No, he retired in '64 but my brothers had been playin for a while. I mean we got famous in '67 but my brothers had a very active musical life from about '63 on. They're amazing. Oh my God they were so good. And so when my Dad retired and it looked like the kids were growing up and going to school and getting jobs and stuff, I think he just went, "Alright, let's give it a whirl," to his credit. However, for the younger set of the family, Barry, John and me, our youth went in kind of a different direction, you know. School wasn't important anymore. Church wasn't important anymore.
Mark: Everythings gone. Music only please
Susan: And quite honestly I don't know any other way except that I have children of my own and over my dead body allow them to live the life I did.
Mark: kind of a Bohemian kind of life of sorts.
Susan: Oh completely, completely
Mark: So what kind of music were your listening to? You must have had stuff that you were like "Oh ..."
Susan: I was in love with Davy Jones. I was going to marry him and bear his children.
Mark: Is that right? And you guys are still in touch to this day, right?
Susan: Yes, we are. It's pretty exciting. Davy Jones has my cell phone number. I like the Monkees, but I was brought up on wonderful music. The Everly Brothers and The Beatles and Mamas and Papas and then early on, folk music. The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary. There is Paul - you know the dude who has the guitar
Mark: Ah you got me
Susan: the guy - ah I can't believe this. My mother would be horrified. That the guitar was named after him.
Mark: Oh Les Paul, Les Paul
Susan: Thank you
Mark: and Mary Ford
Susan: They were big in our house as well. So music always and
Mark: So did you start learning to play any instruments then? Like when first started singing with the band
Susan: No my brother no no They would not even let me touch their stuff. They were awful and they hate this story now because they really love me
Mark: Well that's good to hear
Susan: I'm saying. They don't remember it the way I do, but they know it's true (laughs)
Mark: Yeah, that's brothers for you
Susan: Don't touch that guitar. Get away from those drums. And just get the heck out of this room. But I was pretty relentless. I'm not easily persuaded as it were. Actually
Mark: I was going to cue up a song in a little bit, and I was just wondering of your old music, with your family, was there any one that you liked best, that you'd like for us to play? Cuz I'll give it to Daniel and he'll get it in the carousel.
Susan: I'm a huge fan of "What Is Happy?"
Mark: Oh really? Which album is that?
Susan: Ahh I think it wasn't ..... I think it was like a 45 B-side. "What is Happy, Baby?"
Mark: Oh "What is Happy, Baby?" Oh yeah "What is Happy, Baby?" I got that here somewhere.
Susan: Also one of my favorite one -- I don't know what you guys have prepared, so it might be but I'm a big "Grey Sunny Day" fan.
Mark: oh "Grey Sunny Day" "Grey Sunny Day" is awesome.
Susan: Yeah but anything you want to play would make me happy.
Mark: OK OK We'll get that in a minute or two. I just got to get them to Daniel so he can get them up and running. So you weren't allowed to play any musical instruments. Did that piss you off at all?
Susan: Yes (laughs) That sounds awful and if they hear this, they are going to call me. I was not allowed, I was not encouraged. I started playing guitar when I was 30. I started writing songs ...
Mark: REALLY You didn't start till you were 30 Wow
Susan: Uh hum I was just a singer, which is fine. That was my journey. But I joined a band called The Continental Drifters in the late '80's and they were a really encouraging group of brilliant musicians. In fact my ...
Mark: Let me back up a little bit. I want to get to that but you just lopped off 10 years that I want to get to
Susan: (laughs) lopped off 10 years
Mark: Yeah and I want to get to "Oh by the way I graduated from high school somehow, a miracle, but it happened."
Susan: I want to follow your timeline. I like it.
Mark: It's just that I want people to have a chronological idea of how you came to where you are today even, you know what I mean. So uh like when you guys were in high school, when did you guys start touring as a family? When did you join them touring? How old were you?
Susan: I was in the 3rd grade
Mark: You were in the 3rd grade. "Yeah, we went on tour when I was in the 3rd grade - no big deal." Do you remember your first concert?
Susan: No, not specifically. There's photographs. I remember -- maybe it was in Texas. I don't know. Here's the funny thing. I was so young that I didn't understand what was happening. When we'd play these concert and all these people and sometimes there was 20,000 of them were calling out my brothers names, crying, knew our birthdays, knew what my favorite color was, I remember saying to my mother, "I thought we were related to them" I thought they were family members, I did. I remember saying, "Mommy I didn't know we had so many friends" I'm not kidding you. I really thought.
Mark: How cool is that. Going out there and all these people knew all this stuff about you and you were just a kid.
Susan: They're going "Oh Susan I love you" I was like, "How do these people know us?" So yeah, I was pretty clueless at the beginning, but I got hip real quick.
Mark: So where did you guys go? Do you remember your first tour? Like where you guys were at?
Susan: Yeah very much so. I remember the tour. We were on this bus that wasn't painting as nicely as the Partridges
Mark: The Partridges ppppppppppppt
Susan: I'm just saying. We were on a Greyhound bus. We left out of Newport and I mean we were just clueless as to what was happening to us. Me more than anybody, I'm sure, because I was the youngest. But we got on that bus and we drove for nine months. And it was awesome.
Mark: Nine months!! Did you guys stay in hotel kind of stuff?
Susan: yeah we rode and stayed in motels. We played mostly colleges back in those days, auditoriums, auditoriums at colleges and there's a picture of us all before we left out that day and there was a canvas suitcase that had the words on it "Cowsills Instant School." And we took a tutor on the first tour but I don't remember anything about her doing anything with us school work. I think she was hooking up with my brothers most of the time. Really sweet girl, but I remember worrying about not being in school and knowing I wasn't doing any school work. But you know it was a different experience. It was different kind of schooling. I learned how a map. I was astonished that there was so much land. I couldn't figure out who lived all over the acreage that I was seeing roll by me. It was fascinating in that way. You know, I don't know. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Mark: No kidding. So that was your first tour. How many tours did you guys do over the years, do you know?
Susan: Well from my experience, we went from '67 to '72, so yeah I retired, my first retirement was at 12.
Mark: You were retired by age 12. OK
Susan: I've retired a lot like Frank Sinatra. And coming back
Mark: I got my first guitar for my 12th birthday and I was like "OK Susan Cowsill, I'm going to play the guitar and I'm going to win your heart and then everything ought to be great." I had no idea what I was doing. I was terrible. Anyway, we're actually cued up to play one of the two songs I gave Daniel. I gave him "We Can Fly" and "Grey Sunny Day" Did you say you preferred "Grey Sunny Day"?
Susan: Even though "We Can Fly" was the first song I ever recorded with the guys.
Mark: What's that again? I'm sorry
Susan: "We Can Fly" was the first song I recorded with the guys.
Mark: Oh really Let's definitely do "We Can Fly"
Susan: "We Can Fly" let's do it
Mark: Daniel are you all set?
Steve: It's going to take him a little to get it all cued up.
Mark: Was that a yes?
Steve: He's getting there
Mark: Oh OK
Daniel: You could introduce the song and I'll find where I put it.
Mark: OK just wanted to make sure we're on the same page that's all OK That's off your first album. What's your first album again for "We Can Fly"?
Susan: My first album that I recorded with the guys was We Can Fly. That was the name of that whole album and that song was the first that I sang on. Me and my brother Paul. Paulie wasn't in the band till later.
Mark: Oh OK "We Can Fly" Wait I didn't send you "We Can Fly" yet, did I?
Daniel: Yes, yes
Mark: Give me one second here. I can find it. "We Can Fly" I'm sorry my mistake. No "We Can Fly" is here. It's in the common text area. You got to check the common text area, Daniel.
Susan: Oh my I can't imagine what you guys are doing.
Mark: Me neither (laughs)
Steve: Loving Caring Sharing studio is a very large studio. It spans from Philadelphia to England to Arkansas and so it's hard for us to just hand something to someone just across the table.
Susan: I just don't understand that.
Steve: What about Mayport, New Jersey. Mayport, New Jersey as well.
Mark: Yeah don't forget Mayport, yeah.
Susan: Wait is the Hands Across America Wait ... back in the '80's what was that Hands Across America or something
Mark: Oh yeah you're right Remember that? Everybody went out and held hands and where they couldn't hold hands, they ran a rope like across the desert or something. Daniel, I sent it to you. You have to scroll up. You have to scroll up honey. In the common text you have to scroll up and you'll see "We Can Fly". It's been sitting there waiting for you for 10 minutes.
Steve: Don't worry Daniel is working his magic even as we speak.
Susan: I can't believe I don't even get to hear it I suppose. Yeah I heard - quality control.
Mark: That is the downside but you know it is what it is. So
Susan: Actually I can bring it up here on my own computer because I do know how to do that.
Mark: I don't have it. Hold on a second while I find it again.
Susan: I found "Grey Sunny Day"
Mark: "We Can Fly" give me a second. There we go, alright, there you go. Just another minute, we'll have that up and ready. Sorry about that. We have all the other songs in rotation ready to go, it's just that I forgot to get them to Daniel before the show, so my apologies. So, you got out of high school, though ...
Susan: Uh no that means I went.
Steve: She retired at 12, so it was back to school then.
Mark: OK Sort of? You didn't home school, did ya?
Susan: No, no I home school in the sense that I learned a lot at home but no ... no
Steve: But it wasn't on any official state educational curriculum
Mark: So you weren't a normal kid really
Mark: Just checking. I wanted to make sure, you know.
Susan: Once we were done that first round, my..., the whole family kind of busted up because normally in family, when you have older children, they grow up, graduate, go to college, get married whatever, but that's not really how things rolled in our house because we were a band. And so when it was over in '72, it was a bit of a culture shock, in that everybody just dispersed. And I was left with my Mom and Dad and that wasn't going well, so yeah yeah I got the opportunity to leave home and move in with my brother Paul. He kind of was my Dad.
Mark: Is that right? What was that like?
Susan: Crazy as everything else was.
Mark: He let you get away with murder, is that what you are saying?
Susan: uh huh The deal was that we had a very dysfunctional family in that my Dad was a major alcoholic. He had no clue how to raise children. My mother was like the 8th kid and was abusive and rather violent, out of control kind of guy.
Mark: Oh really. You're good copy. You just - you guys might have been superstars. We were - I was raised by alcoholics so I know exactly what you're talking about. Everything is wonderful at one point and then everything was a screaming freaking at another. It was like how did this happen? How did this happen? This doesn't happen to us. We're just regular people. How could this possible be?
Susan: So what the ironic mess of The Cowsills was, was that we were America's sunshine family and there was a lot of stuff going on at home that was contrary to that image. We actually have a documentary coming out called Family Band: The Cowsills Story. You can actually google it and see exerts from it. We're on the festival circuit right now and it's being very well received. And it took eight years to make. You know, it tells you the whole story. It's pretty cool.
Mark: When is this going to be released?
Susan: The way it goes when you make documentaries is first you do a festival thing
Mark: Really? That's like a requirement?
Susan: It's kind of like how you shop around. You shop around for a distributor for a documentary. That's how it rolls. It's strange. It's a really beautiful, heart-breaking movie. But I've very proud of it and it kind of fills in all the blanks so we'll skip the blanks. So I needed to get out of my house, and as opposed to my mother taking me away, she suggested where I might want to go. Because she wasn't going to leave my Dad. So I went to live with my brother Paul and he was 20 something years old, so we were children raising children. But he's the best Dad anybody could have.
Mark: And none of this stuff got into the tabloid. I mean this wasn't stuff you were going to read in Tiger Beat. I mean really. Everything was squeaky clean back then. It was the '70s for Christ sakes.
Susan: Oh no, if Gloria Stavers had ever gotten wind of it she probably would have put it in. I don't know. But you know, it's all good. I moved in with my brother. I lived in Los Angeles. I was pretty much on my own, because he was a very young man as well. I mean I moved in with my first boyfriend when I was 14 and I think he was 103
Mark: OK good You like older guys.
Susan: OK he was 33, but just the same. It's just been like that. I just pretty much raised myself. But always, always .... when I left ... the last year I had was 9th grade and I told my Mom ... she made me come back home one year when my Dad wasn't living in the house to try and get some assemble of normalness and I just kind of said, "Look, I'll make you a deal. I will go into the 9th grade. I will bring in A's and B's - I hadn't been in school in all those years. I will be in the school play. I will go to dances. I will show you that you're OK, I'm OK, but then you got to let me go." You can't stick me in some normal life and expect me to function.
Mark: yeah, right. After going through all that stuff that went on.
Susan: So I did 9th grade. Scotch Doll (or Dog???) was my play that I was in. I got a B in Algebra I think
Mark: Nice I hated Algebra. Algebra was a nightmare. I couldn't stand it.
Susan: Algebra was the only thing I got! I'm 8th grade. But that's 5th grade when you're in Detroit
Mark: Daniel has "We Can Fly" ready. This is off the first album that you sang on, correct?
Mark: OK Daniel, let her rip. Ladies and gentleman. Susan Cowsill singing her debut song on The Cowsills second album We Can Fly
Song: We Can Fly
Mark: Hey there you go. Now you have an idea. So, Susan, welcome back
Susan: Hey thanks Mark
Mark: So you squeaked out of high school, is that right?
Mark: Totally (chuckles) So how'd you get your diploma? Did you go to graduation?
Susan: No, no, no, no I didn't graduate.
Mark: Oh you didn't.
Susan: No 9th grade was my last year. I dropped out.
Mark: You dropped out. Oh I misunderstood. You dropped out, so then what? Got a job working, you know ... waiting tables? What'd you do?
Susan: No That was a little later. I moved to Los Angeles, was living with my brother. I found myself a boyfriend and then was living with him for four years. Actually he ended up passing away with cancer, but what I did do was this. When I was 16 years old, I got a record deal at Warner Brothers.
Mark: Really What happen?
Susan: I didn't know what else to do
Mark: I mean how did this happen that you got a record deal?
Susan: The boyfriend that I was living with at the time was a manager and Lenny Warnoker signed me to Warners for a singles deal (that's what they used to call it back then). So, I didn't make an album, I made 45's. Oh God I wish I could have gotten you a couple of those. That would have been precious. And they are out there. They are on eBay. I did the only thing that I really knew how to do. And when I did drop out of school, my Mother was really like "Well what are you going to do with your life?" and I'm like, "Well I'm going to do the only thing that I was raised to do. I'm going to go make some music."
Mark: So you got this record deal. And then what happen with that? Did you get to go out and play again or what was going on?
Susan: No, I didn't play out and I got some air play. Like 16, 17, 18 It was like a two year run. Actually, I .. are you familiar with the song "Mohammad's Radio" Linda Ronstadt by Warren Zevon?
Mark: Oh yeah
Susan: Well one of my dearest, oldest friends is Jackson Browne and I was looking for some substantial music, you know, something real to record and he brought me that song from Warren. Warren was a dear friend of my brother Billy's too. So I made like six songs. Two really bad disco songs. I covered "It Might As Well Rain Till September"
Mark: Oh NO YOU DIDN'T DISCO! I'm sorry, we have to end the interview now. It's been nice having you with us, but I'm afraid that's the end of THIS interview. Seriously, I was just kidding.
Susan: They weren't really disco, they were just -- oh God, go find them.
Mark: Now seriously who were you trying to be? Donna Summers? KC and the Sunshine Band?
Susan: No No Nothing like that Karla Bonoff Karla Bonoff is my all time favorite hero. I don't know if you are familiar with her.
Mark: No No I try to be as UN-familiar with as much disco as I can be.
Susan: She wrote "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me" She's my hero.
Mark: Oh OK I mean I was forced to listen to the radio. I heard disco. You didn't have a choice.
Susan: She was my hero. I mean I kind of tried to teach myself to sing by her, but what I discovered in a lot of her music was that this woman who wrote these amazing songs - and again, please go find her, Karla Bonhoff and she still plays to this day. She was hot and she didn't fit the profile. She wrote songs for Dolly Parton, Linda and ... you know so I had this two year run and then I became this other guy's girlfriend. His name was Dwight Twilley. Have you ever heard of him?
Susan: OK well he was my boyfriend for 12 years - just saying.
Mark: I'm just getting jealous. That's alright, go ahead. That's alright. Put on your stiletto high heels and just squash my heart. Now go on. Who else .. who else can
Susan: Until - like 30.
Mark: Did you start having any kids by then?
Susan: No, which was a really good thing. I sang on all of Dwight's records and if you back log it, you'll find me there. But I sang on a lot of other people's records. The Cowsills were getting back together continuously throughout this whole thing. About every three years - yeah we re-united -- let's see '72 is when we broke up and then we got back together in like '77. We actually made a record with a producer, Chuck Polkin, who was popular for his work with Springsteen. But it didn't work out because I quit the band.
Mark: What do you mean? What happen? You just like "Ah guys I've had enough guys."
Susan: I met this Dwight guy and he didn't like me being in a band, even though that's how he met me.
Mark: Ah .... that had to be .... is that one of those things where you're glad you listened to the guy or you wish you wouldn't listen to him?
Susan: God no, but you know what? I was young, in love and at the time when The Cowsills were back together in '78, Columbia Records wanted to give me a deal without my brothers, as a solo artist and I could not, would not have ever done that and it probably saved my life because I was living the pretty fast and hard life journey. I mean my best friends were The Eagles, you know. This was the crowd I was running with. And we were on the fast track. Life in the fast lane.
Mark: Really Drug partying and the whole thing
Susan: The whole deal for many, many, MANY years. So, in retrospect, it was a good thing that I didn't go for that because I dare say I don't think I'd be here if I'd been a young ingenue in LA in 1978. I just think it would have been the end of me. So, everything happens for a reason, right?
Mark: Yeah, right. It's the experiences that gets us where we are today.
Susan: I don't regret one moment of my life.
Mark: OK, so .. OK does that work. Good Meanwhile, we're trying to get another song lined up here. I wanted to play another oldie. One of the songs that we used to sing in the car driving around. It was like one of our all time favorites and so whenever Daniel is ready, I'll go ahead and intro it.
Susan: Which one is it?
Mark: I was going to play "Indian Lake"
Susan: Oh my God. That is your favorite?
Mark: That was -- that was one of my favorites, yeah, because we all sang it. We all knew the words. That was the thing. If we all knew the words, then we could all sing it. That was the key.
Susan: Do you know how politically incorrect that song is now?
Mark: No, now let's get something straight here. I'm part Blackfeet Indian, so it's perfectly politically correct in my book.
Susan: If you say so. There you go.
Steve: We got Cherokee here so we're in good stands.
Mark: That's right. We have sanctioned "Indian Lake" so. What would the politically correct name for the song be now?
Susan: "Indian Lake" is OK, it's just the
Mark: "Native American Water Body"
Susan: "make the way the Indians do" I just don't think would roll right now.
Mark: There's just too much politically correct nonsense going on anymore. It drives me out of my mind. For goodness sakes.
Susan: I agree Here's a funny story about "Indian Lake" is that my brothers really- my brother Bill just detested the song. Tony Romeo wrote it and he wrote a couple other songs for us. He just didn't. Bill was growing up and going into another musical direction. And then he found out that Brian Wilson loved "Indian Lake" and all a sudden it was cool.
Mark: Oh now it's cool.
Susan: Now it's cool. If Brian Wilson said it's OK, then it's OK
Mark: The hook for me in that song was always the bass intro. Now, who was that?
Susan: My brother Barry
Mark: I love that. That's one of the reasons I picked up a bass guitar. I love that hook. It's just great.
Susan: Barry's a great bass player. He was amazing at that.
Mark: Now what was on? Was it Captain Sad?
Steve: Yes it was Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools
Susan: Oh yeah yeah yeah. I see it now in my mind's eye.
Mark: Well now, ladies and gentlemen, in Mark Mercer's Loving Caring and Sharing, off Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools from 1968, is that right?
Mark: "Indian Lake"
Song: Indian Lake
Mark: OK "Indian Lake off The Cowsills album Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools (Everyone war whoops) Did everyone do the woo woo woo on the album in the studio?
Susan: I know I did. It sounded like Turrets
Steve: I tried, but it wouldn't come out.
Mark: I thought that was the most amazing album cover, whose idea was that to come up you guys all wearing masks like that sitting around a table? That was so cool.
Susan: I think my brothers were trippin' Well I do think that record - which is a wonderful album, I think. I had my first solo song on it, "Ask The Children". But I do think that might have been when the kids started experimenting as well, you know. Sargent Pepper I think they were like, "Yeah, let's get some psychedelic reality going on here." Yeah that's what I think
Mark: Wow, that's amazing. We miss the bottom of the hour and there's just a couple housekeeping ... (Note: I'm leaving some text out here as it is not Cowsill related)
Susan: (speaking of Wild Bill for America) I heard he made quilts. He's a quilt maker as well. I'm just saying. (more "housekeeping" info) (Speaking of Julianna Barwig) So Steve, so she triggers it with a machine, right? I got a friend here in New Orleans, her name is Theresa Anderson, and she does the same thing and not just her vocal, she does - she's got it all going on. (Speaking of Reed's Ginger Brew) In fact - my question is ... is this the same Reed's from the - remember the little Candies from back in the day?
Mark: He does make a ginger candy. (more "housekeeping" then intos Timothy Abbott)
Timothy: I'm doing wonderful. How are you all doing tonight? Hello Susan. I've been listening to you and I haven't been saying much. I'm fascinated by all the names you are bringing up because I've been involved in the music business for awhile. But I've always read liner notes and everything and all these names, of course, I remembered. Jackson Browne's early stuff was a big influence on me, so it's just really neat to see that you actually know these as human being and not just somebody you look at on a disc.
Susan: I actually know them as human being. Jackson Browne is one of the dearest souls on the planet.
Mark: (more talk about how Mark met Timothy Abbott) When I said, "Hey Tim, guess what fish I landed" and he said "Who?" I said, "Susan Cowsill" and he was like "Dude, I am so there." And I was like, "Come on"
Susan: You guys are crazy.
Timothy: All my friends are like .... I was at rehearsal the other night and I was talking about Mark's show coming up. We're all "Oh yeah I used to have a crush on her when I was a kid." It's so cool.
Steve or Daniel???: Hang on Hang on I got a crush on you and I'm 45 nearly.
Mark: OK Susan we're going to help everybody tonight with this whole crush issue, aren't we?
Susan: I think we do ... I think we crush support group out there waiting
Mark: Now we were talking earlier today about something that happen .... you were talking to one of the guys in The Bottle Rockets. You want to tell everybody about that little conversation with that guy and what your response was
Susan: OK Henny if you're listening, cuz he really does want the credit Brian Henneman - one of the greatest guitar players of all time, in a band called The Bottle Rockets go look 'em up if ya'll don't know who I'm talking about - anyway we were hanging out because he had come down here to play some music with me. And some guy came into the restaurant or something - I don't know how it really ended up happening - but often is the case in my life a young man of approximately 45 to 56 if I'm lucky, cuz it gets a little creepy if they are much older, I'm just say because I was so young, say to me "I had a crush on you when I was insert age here". And it's so amazingly prevalent in my life that I said to Henneman - who didn't really say he had a crush on me but this one guy had come in and said so I said, "If I had $5 for every guy that I have met who has told me that he had a crush on me when he was young, I'd be rich." And Henneman said "That's be cool ..."
Mark: Stinkin rich
Susan: He goes "Well I don't know about that. If you were ..."
Mark: Oh I guarantee you yeah they are out there Susan. They are in every city, every major city.
Susan: So I said, "What an idea" and he said, "That's a brilliant idea. You should start a campaign." And we were just having dinner and talking about it and I thought, "You know that would be a kind of cool way to raise some money."
Mark: Absolutely I think that would be cool. You should pick a charity that you want to get behind - whatever is your passion - and you heard it first here at Mark Mercer's Loving Caring Sharing everybody on North Star Radio - and they eventually we'll set up some links at Pay Pal and the you know what we could do? It would be good to have some sort of love letter contest. It's like everybody who donates 5 bucks has to say exactly what it was about you that they fell in love with and then you read through the letters - this might take a while - and you - it might take a long while You might need some other people to help you. But anyway and they either you pick your favorite letter and then we'll send that guy a bag of chewing tobacco or something. You know, a present.
Susan: You know it is such a strange concept and when he first mentions it I was like "Well how ridiculous of that is me"
Mark: Rideculous. I live on ridiculous
Susan: It's a fact and like what something good could come out of something that is as ridiculous as 50 year old men on the planet having a crush on ME. And if you remember what I looked like. I looked like .. Oh whatever
Mark: Were you going to say tomboy?
Susan: I was rolling around to it, yeah.
Mark: Now I want to dispel that. No seriously, you grew up in a family of guys with
Susan: yeah it was great for clothes
Mark: You grew up with your Mom. I think you did a great job of exuding femininity.
Susan: Thank you, thank you very much Mark. And you know what? I do too. I mean I knew I was the tomboy but I also knew that - like I said - Davy Jones and I were going to get married one day. But anyway, I think it's kind of a cool idea and I would love to - I've been thinking about it for a while and always wanting to pay it forward somewhere and I don't know. It's just such a quirky thing to pay it forward with so maybe you can help me out with it
Mark: I'm completely behind this idea. Steve what do you think.
Steve: I think ... Well she's had experience helping other organizations, so this would be right down her alley.
Susan: It is down my alley and I don't know maybe there is some way we could just split it up over a bunch of things. I've got a stake in Autism. I clearly have a stake in abused families. If fact another thing I'm working on, Russ and I, my husband, who is the salt of the earth and my partner in crime, is ... would like to get into going into schools as we are touring and speaking with high school and grammar school children about abuse that might be going on their home and hopefully and in a kind of music therapy kind of way to share that there's many ways out and that they are not alone. And there's other ways to express yourself besides drugs and alcohol and crime.
Mark: yeah A life of debauchery
Susan: And turn out like me. There is hope at the end of the tunnel. There's a lot of things like that that I hope I get to accomplish before my time is done.
Mark: Ok Well that's what we're going to do. We're going to work that out. It might take a little while, but we're going to make this happen. I'm serious
Susan: Cool. I think it's awesome. I think you're the first one, other than Henny cuz he was my champion on it. It was almost his idea. I think it was.
Mark: As soon as you started telling me about that today I was thinking that was something I want to get behind.
Susan: That is awesome dude.
Mark: No I mean it's a novelty on some level but it's a beautiful thing because ...
Susan: It is a beautiful thing
Mark: It's a quirky idea but the end thing is actually something that is very beneficial. And I love that.
Susan: And every guy that said it to me, meant it and that is beautiful within itself. You know what I mean? That's innocent beauty.
Mark: No I don't know what it's like, but I'll take your word for it. I've never had people come up to me and say, "Oh Mark, I've always, I've always on you." Never happen
Susan: You know what it's like to have had a crush on me, right? So that's a sweet, innocent, beautiful thing
Mark: Now you've done a couple of albums recently. The most recent one being Lighthouse and before that Just Believe It. I want to get into that stuff too because we've been listening to it, Steve and I and Daniel have been taking turns listening to your music and talking about it. Can you tell us - cuz I got a song from Lighthouse cued up. I ask Daniel to cue up "Avenue of the Indians". Can you tell everybody about Lighthouse and how that came about?
Susan: Sure. You want me to tell about the album first and then tell you about "Avenue of The Indians"?
Mark: Yeah Tell us about it all
Susan: OK Lighthouse is a direct result of Hurricane Katrina because I live in New Orleans, Louisiana and have for the last 20 years. My daughter was born and raised here and this is my home away from home, cuz Newport is my home. And Katrina ... Lighthouse is my end results musically of the 5 years that we spent ... Just Believe It we put out just before Katrina and actually the Lighthouse - sorry Just Believe It was just coming out in September and Katrina hit in August. So Just Believe It which was my swan song - which was my life's work - I'd been writing all those songs since I was 30.
Mark: Oh really So it was a real work in progress
Susan: Absolutely. And then Katrina came and changed my life in every way. We lost - my husband and I and our children and all our city and family - lost everything that they knew and I lost a whole brother in the process. And it took a lot of time for me to get back up on my feet to make another record.
Mark: Devastating. I mean that had to be absolutely devastating.
Susan: Yeah You know - like we say everything happens for a reason and I wouldn't take back anything because it makes us who we are. However, so Lighthouse is just a cummulation, a musical expression of all the situations, emotions, feelings and life lived from Katrina on. Very dear to my heart as is Just Believe It because Just Believe It was like a child who never, you know, got adopted out, you know, never got to see its light of day. Except ... In a career level. On a personal level, my music starting with Just Believe It and Lighthouse, people have come to me and told me that it has assisted them in times of trouble and happiness and sorrow and to me that is way more important than a monetary goal, but cash ...
Steve: Isn't it ironic that one of our listeners at this moment is called Katrina.
Susan: (laughs) Really?
Steve: Seriously Absolutely seriously
Susan: That's freakin' awesome. There you have it. So "Avenue of the Indians" is an important song because ... well they're all important, but that song I wrote about ... just before we left Rhode Island, we lived in two spots. We lived in Middletown Rhode Island and in Newport. But it was a two year span, the last two years that we were at home and "Avenue of the Indians" is about my family - my brothers and I just before everything changed and we were still just children, running the streets, you know, streets-running the forests woods and just being the kids we were.
Mark: A life of innocence so to speak
Susan: A life of innocence with overtones of the underlying situation that was going on. And it's an ode to my brothers. And what was really cool was having Jackson agree to and loan up his studio in LA to let me mix up my whole record there for free.
Mark: That's right. Our listeners probably don't know that Jackson Jackson? Which Jackson? Action Jackson? Who would that be, Susan?
Susan: Jackson Browne
Mark: The one and only, huh?
Susan: The one and only
Mark: So, what happen? Did he contact you, you contact him, you bump into him on the street?
Susan: He and I have known each other since I was 14. And his --- my first boyfriend's sister was his wife, Phyllis, who ended her life early in 1976. I don't know if you're familiar with that or not.
Mark: No I'm not. I had no idea.
Susan: There you go. So Jackson and I have been friends for many, many years. And he's a generous, loving, sweet - I call him the Ben Cartwright of rock and roll. You know how Ben Cartwright was always trying to fix everything and take care of everybody.
Mark: I mean obviously in all his albums you can just tell his musicianship, his arrangements were obviously very well thought out. The guy was no sleap.
Susan: He's an amazing man and ah ...
Mark: I'll tell ya - it comes through on this album Lighthouse It definitely comes through. I'd like to get to that right now, the "Avenue of the Indians" Who all plays on this song, by the way?
Susan: OK It's me, Russ, Sam and Jack Craft, ... who else ... maybe Jason Lohmeyer and me
Mark: That helps You should be in this one
Susan: Oh and Tad Armstrong and Aaron Stroup and Jackson Browne
Mark: Sam Craft on violin
Susan: Am I right? Do I have it right?
Mark: And Janson Lohmeyer on keyboards
Susan: Jansen Lohmeyer and is it Tad Armstrong and Aaron Stroup?
Mark: Yep, that's right. You know what you're talking about. You go girl and ..
Steve: I assume she knows what she's talking about. She was there.
Mark: Well you have all these songs and you mix and match musicians on stuff sometimes. And Susan Cowsill even sings on this and plays guitar.
Susan: Oh my God
Mark: Look at that. Who would have thunk? That's amazing. Alright ladies and gentlemen on Mark Mercer's Loving Caring and Sharing off of Susan Cowsills - what was it 2010 when this came out?
Mark: 2010 Lighthouse "Avenue of the Indians"
Song: Avenue of the Indians
Mark: "Avenue of the Indians" off Susan Cowsill's Lighthouse. Susan thanks so much for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.
Susan: I'm loving it.
Mark: I'm so glad. People hear about Mark Mercer's Loving Caring Sharing and they go "What? Are you kidding?" Zzzzzzzz
Susan: My favorite title of any show every. I want you to talk about Steve. (talk about Steve including that he organizes medical trips to Guiana) Can I ask you a question, Steve? How does it get funded?
Steve: It gets funded by God. I I I have to tell you the truth. All the people that come down are volunteers and they pay their own way to come. The only real expenses we have with our organization - which is known as Operation Guiana - is coving my living expenses and our facility there and I have to raise that every year through individuals and churches and foundations and other organizations and it's a never ending process.
Susan: So can people donate to your
Steve: They certainly can. They can go to our website. We've had a web presence for about 15 years. They can go to our website.
Susan: And it will give them that information.
Mark: Which is guiana-missions.org You can read about our work there. There's a paypal link there. You can make a tax-deductible gift right there on the spot. And boy with the economy being what it's been, our funding has really been down. (more talk of this)
Susan: I just want to say, in the spirit of what I was talking about earlier, about music being a healing - I know for me, that's why write the stuff that I write is my own soul. If you ever wanted to and if we could ever swing having a musical entity accompany you on your missions, I would be grateful to be included and to contribute
Steve: I am certain that we can work out something. I have always told people, "I don't care what your talent or ability is, we need you to come down and work with us." (more talk of the Guiana Operations)
Susan: Hey wait. I just had a brilliant idea. We could do the Paypal $5 Crush On Susan.
Steve: That would probably end our funding needs forever.
Mark: No kidding
Susan: That's a wonderful idea
Mark: You'd be set till 2059. We'll be 100 years old
Steve: That would probably be true.
Susan: We'll talk later about that. Look at that. Look how that just happened.
Mark: At Loving Caring and Sharing
Steve: Well there are no real accidents. I think that God has his hand in a lot of things and I think that it's important that whoever we are and where ever we are that we use our talents and abilities to help people.
Susan: There you go
Steve: That's what we do with our work in Guiana and Susan that's certainly what you do with your music, as it has spoken to me today as I have listened to it. And really touched my heart and really that's God's work as well.
Susan: I appreciate that.
Mark: And speaking of Susan's music, I came across a little ditty, just a little something here.
Song: Happiness Is
Mark: That's right, "Happiness" There's Susan .... That's "Happiness" off The Cowsills - what was that called. The Cowsill TV Special?
Susan: Called A Family Thing
Mark: yeah, that's right. It had Buddy Ebsen on it, you know.
Steve: Uncle Jed
Susan: Who we thought was the coolest thing ever
Mark: Uncle Jed In this video you guys are bathing this big dog in the bathtub and I was curious. Can you tell us about that dog? I happen to have two of the same kind of dogs.
Susan: OK That dog in question was a gift to my brother and his then wife Nanci from Hugh Hefner. He ...
Steve: What kind of dog was this?
Susan: That's a fascinating question for you to ask
Susan: _____ of Hugh Hefner. He was a St. Bernard and my sister-in-law Nanci, and Cowsills always keep all their wives, so she's still my sister-in-law. She was a Playboy Bunny. And we were on Playboy After Dark which was a TV show back in the 60's that Hugh hosted. And he had given Bob and Nanci that dog for a wedding gift. And that's the slobbery truth.
Mark: Now you also did a promo for NOLA. Now if you guys will bear with me for just a second, I want to play this NOLA promotion you did. How long ago was this? Do you remember?
Susan: I think it was a year and a half
Mark: OK so this is pretty recent. Alright.
Susan: Could be two. I have no memory left.
Mark: Me neither. Check this out. There. But I have a file. Here we go.
Mark: Alright, there you have it. The NOLA promo. So what was that? What was the NOLA about?
Susan: OK The NOLA Project is just one of our many many organizations here that are trying to re-build our city. St. Bernard is one of the hardest hit spots. It's the 9th Ward. I don't know if you guys are familiar with Katrina.
Mark: Yeah Oh my gosh. How could you not? Unless you live in a cave.
Susan: So it was just a campaign to raise some funds
Steve: How did you pronounce that again?
Mark: Yeah, what was that?
Susan: Ahhhhhhhhh you guys are bad!
Steve: What was the pronunciation on that?
Susan: St. Bernard Is there another way to pronounce it ya'll? Daniel?
Steve: I heard someone else say it was pronounced
Daniel: I pronounce it St Bernard (Burrnurd)
Mark: No no I think Susan got it right. I think that the (he keeps playing Susan say it from the promo ) I'm pretty sure about that.
Daniel: You're heathens, the lot of you.
Steve: If you went somewhere in south Louisiana and ask for St. Bernerd (Burrnurd) What would they do or say?
Mark: Here's your hamburger
Susan: No, put a piece of fish on a grill and blacken it. Here's your St. Bernerd (Burnnard) (Everyone groans) But it's funny because there are so many street names here in the city that when I first moved here were very - at least to me and Steve and Mark pronounced strangely. But perhaps Daniel would think differently. For instance, there is a street here that when I read it's Burgundy, but they call it Begunday
Mark: Oh come on and it's truly ... and it's the same spelling, right? It's not like they spell it differently. Unbelievable
Susan: And there's a street here called Co-hi-o which reads to me like Calopy. There you go. You say tomato, I say tomoto. Whatever.
Mark: OK now there's a street here that I've been having an argument with my friend Peter and a couple of other guys for years about. And the way you spell the street is this. It's spelled Unrue. No, I'm sorry, it's Unruh. Yeah, Unruh. Now how would you pronounce that?
Susan: U-n-r-u-h Un-ray
Mark: Shut up you know it. I say its Un-raah ruh raaah It's un-rue
Susan: No, there's something wrong with that
Steve: But we still have our Hog-gees
Mark: Yeah we have Hog-gee not a Ho-gee
Susan: Oh God you guys are going to make me hungry again.
Mark: Back to your album Lighthouse
Susan: Another one to torpedo
Mark: Lighthouse came out two years ago, right?
Mark: And I was noticing the picture of you on the back and you were probably I'm going to say, 5? Where was that taken?
Susan: Yeah It was actually the picture on the front but that's OK
Mark: I'm sorry, I'm holding it backwards pppppppttt Where was that picture taken? Or was it Photoshoped out of something and put on there?
Susan: It was taken on the Avenue of the Indians and it was the first day I learned to swim without floaties.
Mark: Oh really Is that right?
Susan: That's why I look all bad ass and stuff in it
Susan: Yeah, I got attitude and it was the first day I learned to swim without floaties.
Mark: Ok We got another song queued up here and I forget which one Daniel....
Steve: "River of Love"
Mark: That's right "River of Love" We were talking about "River of Love" earlier and I didn't get a chance to really go into that with you. Could you tell us about "River of Love"?
Susan: Sure "River of Love" was written by my brother Barry Cowsill who was an amazing sing/songwriter whose life decided to cut itself short. And "River of Love" was always a song I really liked. And after he passed away. He drowned in the Mississippi in the aftermath of Katrina as they say. We still don't really know what happen to him, how he ended up there, but he did and that's what we do know. We have to work with that. And after finding out that he was gone, it was a song that I guess helped me cope with my loss. It's a wonderful song.
Mark: I agree. I've listened to it a whole bunch of times
Susan: And the cool part too. Here's the two cool parts. Do you all know who Waddy Watchel is?
Mark: Uh huh
Susan: He's a guitar player. He's played with Linda Ronstadt, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Nix la la la but before that was my brother Bill's best friend. And he actually produced the two last records that The Cowsills or at least one of them On My Side and wrote one of my favorite songs, for me when I was a kid. Anyway, he played guitar on "River Of Love" in commeration and my brothers sang on it with me and my sister-in-law Vicki Peterson who is my best friend. It was an important, very important song. Vicki Peterson, by the way, is the lead guitar for The Bangles.
Mark: Oh right OK
Susan: And my best friend for 30 years. Yeah we have a project coming out. Maybe we can get to that later.
Mark: Oh definitely Well - right now - off of Susan Cowsill's 2010 Lighthouse album "River Of Love"
Song: River Of Love
Mark: Alright that's Lighthouse by Susan Cowsill and "River Of Love" Oh wow. This album really kills me Susan. How long did it take for you to put this together?
Susan: Woooof It took as long as to put myself together. Started writing pieces of it right after - all through Katrina, the first four years of Katrina. Russ and I were just, we were traveling about. We were evacuated from our home for four months.
Mark: Where'd you go? Where'd you stay?
Mark: Are you serious?
Susan: Yeah We sent our children - look the first two weeks nobody knew what was going to happen and so my daughter went - Vicki Peterson as I was telling you earlier was my best friend, sister-in-law and we're actually getting ready to make a record but the first week and a half when I didn't know what to do, she said to, "Send Miranda to me." It's her aunt you know. So I sent my daughter to live with Vicki and John and my step-son was living with his mother and Russ and I drove around in our Kia Sedona for four months. And as we were toodling around, as it were, we were writing bits and pieces of things, but it took four years to sit down, put it together, and make something of it.
Mark: Wow. Steve was asking me earlier what song we should play and I remember - Steve what was the one that you were insistent that we play this one. What was that?
Steve: Oh that was "That's The Way That It Goes" I love that song.
Susan: I love that too Steve
Mark: Daniel can you queued up "That's The Way That It Goes"
Daniel: Funny enough I've already queued it up because I love that song
Steve: What's the story behind that song Susan?
Susan: That song was actually started being written before Katrina, believe it or not, it-- the song is about how you speculate and plan out everything in life, and as we all know, the universe and God and everybody else has a different plan. It's about not setting your sites on what you think has to happen, because more times than not, it's not what happens. And to be able to understand that you have to prepare yourself for how life is going to unfold to you and be good with that.
Mark: Well Steve would you introduce the song for our listeners
Steve: Oh wow Ladies and Gentlemen off the Lighthouse album Susan Cowsills' "That's The Way That It Goes"
Song: That's The Way That It Goes"
Steve: "That's The Way That It Goes" Susan Cowsill from her album Lighthouse. That is a spectacular song. I love it.
Susan: Thank you very much
Mark: Who did all the graphics on your CD, by the way?
Susan: Oh our friend Steve Hanks He's just a buddy who's another musician. We all kind of favor for favor. Well I got a wheelbarrow, well I got some dirt. None of us make money anymore, doing what we do in this particular field, so you have to rely on the kindness of strangers
Mark: No kidding. I love the way this album is laid out. It's beautiful, so tasteful. Obviously thoughtfully put together.
Susan: Thank you and you know what? Skeet came up with the cover that is the mock lighthouse kind of lookin' thing. He didn't want to just have a lighthouse. So he took a photograph that I sent him of a candleholder from where we recorded this record. He did a wonderful job and I sent him a bunch of photos of myself and he picked that 5-year-old Susan to put on the front in her bad ass attitude, wearing all her brothers clothes. Inside Daisy Clover for me I think I look like there if you know what that means.
Mark: No, what does that mean?
Susan: Inside Daisy Clover was a Natalie Wood movie. And my husband Russ. He does all the stuff of putting all the words and all the information and everything that I could never keep track of
Mark: There's a ton of data in here. It's really nice.
Susan: That's all Russ
Mark: It's all small print so it's hard for me to read because I'm half blind. You know what? I want to do Daniel the courtesy of knowing what song we're going to play next because there's a few of them here I want to get to. Can you tell us what song you'd like for us to get into next and then I got some questions for you about your equipment, the stuff that you use when you play.
Susan: Are you talking to me or Daniel?
Mark: To you Susan
Susan: What would I like to play next?
Mark: Yeah, what song would you like for us to play next? Any particular song? "Sweet Bitter End" or
Susan: I'm pretty fond of "Real Life"
Steve: I think we have _____
Mark: OK You can queued that up Daniel
Daniel: I will try my best
Mark: So now I'm looking in the liner notes and I see you playing live and there's a great shot of you here just wailing away. What are you playing here? It looks like a Taylor
Susan: It is a Taylor
Mark: Ahhhh Is it the Taylor Auditorium/
Susan: I have been gifted Taylors in the last 10 years, free gifted to me
Mark: Really By who? Taylor?
Susan: No, no by happen stance. A friend of mine, a guy named Brent Grulke who puts out a SxSW Convention in Austin every year. My ex-husband bought me one. It was a Nancy Griffith feature model. Yeah, she's a friend of ours. We got a deal on it and it got stolen and then our other friend gave me one in its replacement and then my brother Bob somehow knows some guy from Taylor and gifted me one for Christmas last year so I'm a Taylor girl
Mark: What kind of equipment do you play through?
Susan: I have no clue.
Mark: You just plug in and go
Steve: Just goes where ever they say and starts playing
Susan: I just play straight up. I am a singer and I am a songwriter and I only PRETEND to know what I'm doing on a guitar or any other instrument.
Mark: Naw, that's not right. That's not true. I've seen you by .... I've seen you playing. That's not true.
Susan: I'm a good rhythm guitar player, but there will be no leads. And ... I don't
Steve: The question that I have to ask is what genre would you put your music into?
Susan: Well, from what I hear, I'm in the singer/songwriter Americana sort of country rock/pop
Steve: OK That's kind of what I was thinkin' but I was trying to think 'where would you place this? My wife and I were talking today after listening to some of your music and she said ....
Susan: That's only part of the problem, Steve.
Steve: Well that's not a problem.
Mark: The tendency is to liken an artist to someone. "Oh you really sound like Deep Purple" or something and like I don't see that. I forgot what song we were listening to earlier, but I was like "Gees I don't know, but Susan is reminding me of Shania Twain on this song." for some reason, I don't know.
Susan: Oh my God, thank you
Mark: I was like "Wow that's amazing."
Susan: I get locked into Lucinda William, who's a friend of mine. And then it just gets lost and you know what? Here's the deal guys. I just don't care.
Mark: Good for you
Susan: I make the music I make and it serves my purpose, to save my soul and if it serves somebody else's to save theirs or help them through, that's really all I care about.
Steve: Spoken like a true singer/songwriter.
Susan: That's all there really is to it.
Mark: Well tell us about "Real Life"
Susan: Feel like life is awesome. OK So, we had these people funding our record called the Threadheads which is a wonderful organization.
Mark: Yeah, what is that? I've been hearing about the Threadheads. What...? What is it? How did they come up with Threadheads? How do you get that name?
Susan: The Threadheads are awesome. Because, they started out as just a group of people who came down to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and they had a thread that they would all go to. Like a computer thread.
Mark: Oh OK I thought maybe it was some Grateful Dead reference.
Susan: No no no. Nothing Satanic. So, and then they ... when Katrina happened they're a bunch of Jazz Fest New Orleans loving people. And when Katrina happen there was no more music coming out of our city. We were all paralyzed.
Mark: yeah everything was gone.
Susan: Everything was gone so they came to one of our more well known artists, his name is Paul Sanchez, and it was just a group of people who always came to see him at Jazz Fest and stuff. And there were like, "When can we get another record from you?" and Paul just kind of said, "I don't even have a place to live right now, so I can't answer that." And they were like "Well what would it take to make a record?" and Paul was like "Oh OK" and that's pretty much how it got born. And they're a wonderful, wonderful organization. They're a non-profit and they either donate and or contribute and if you can pay them back that's cool and if you can't, that's suppose to be OK as well. It' doesn't always work out that way. I have not sold ... I have not been able to pay back my debt. Just because the music industry is a different place to be right now. But.... that being said, it's still a wonderful - just a wonderful group of people to be in - it's kind of replacing a record company, you know. And you don't have a $55,000 debt, you know. Yeah .... what was your original question?
Mark: Well I wanted to know about "Real Life"
Susan: Ok That's getting a better _____ I'm getting older and I _______ So here's the deal. So these folks give us this money and what I realize is ... Russ is the guy who said, "Look you have all these songs, we have started a bunch of songs, if we don't take somebody up on an offer and set a date and time, we might not get back on track. We may never get back to doing what we do." Because we were so indecisive, I mean decision making became impossible after Katrina. Absolutely paralyzed. Paralyzed is the best word that I have for it. Anyway, so Russ said, "Let's take these folks up on their offer, but you're ... we have to have a deadline, to have a timeline. So, you're going to have to go in and do this." Which I'm not used to doing. My songs come from God. I don't sit down and write songs, they come to me and then I try to accress. So "Real Life" is the result of a real schedule I had to put myself on, in my sun room from 9-12 every day in order to get this album written, Lighthouse and under studio. So "Real Life" is one of my favorites because of this. I was very resentful. One afternoon I was trying to finish the bridge to "The Way That It Goes" and I couldn't. And I'm sitting in this freeking room going, "If I wanted to be in a room from 9-5, I'd have a day job." I've been avoiding a day job all my life. And I was just upset because I wasn't used to it. I didn't go to school. I didn't have any in my childhood and here I am being put on a regimented schedule. So, "Real Life" is my Bob Dylan rebel song to being put on a schedule. And all that kept coming to my mind was trying to finish the bridge to "The Way That It Goes" while I -- what are all the other things I'd rather be doing here, you know.
Mark: Now off Susan Cowsill's 2010 CD Lighthouse "Real Life"
Song: Real Life
Mark: There you have it. Off Susan Cowsill's CD from 2010 Lighthouse And that's "Real Life" Susan, thanks again so much for joining us. I'm just so thrilled that you came ... that you allowed us into bullying you into coming on Loving Caring and Sharing
Susan: Well I like the words Loving, Caring and Sharing so it was kind of easy for me. And I'm grateful and I'm having a blast. I always do, doing interviews.
To Be Continued ....