Daryl Hall has a new solo compilation album, due out Friday, April 1 and it’s called BeforeAfter. The skilled singer and hitmaker, who rose to fame in the 20th century with his pop duo Hall & Oates, talked about the new LP and much more with American Songwriter.
For the 75-year-old Hall, music is his life. It began when he was very young and has continued with his Grammy Award-winning Hall of Fame duo and now into later years with his solo work and popular web series Live from Daryl’s House. In fact, Hall’s new LP features work from his solo albums and from the popular series.
Fans can see the full tracklist for the double album below, along with upcoming tour dates during which Hall will be joined by famed singer Todd Rundgren. The upcoming two-disc set spans Hall’s five solo albums, from Sacred Songs (1980) to Laughing Down Crying (2011).
American Songwriter: What was the inspiration for or the genesis of your new forthcoming LP release BeforeAfter?
Daryl Hall: Well, I obviously had this whole body of work that I haven’t really performed other than at Live from Daryl’s House. I do a lot of these songs on the Live from Daryl’s House show, which is one of the reasons I started Live from Daryl’s House, so there would be an outlet for me to have to play all my music, not just the music I write for Hall & Oates. I consider what I do outside of that as just as important to me. I have a long history of working with various people and I want to bring it out there, you know? Have the world hear it and all those things.
AS: What jumped out or jumps out at you when you consider your work in a retrospective manner like this? What do you notice about the work or about yourself as an artist?
DH: Well, I think it’s just like the same thing I notice with any of my music, there’s a certain timeless quality to it that never ceases to surprise me because I wrote a lot of these songs when I was just a kid, you know? And it’s still valid to me and I think it’s valid to other people. And I notice how good the production is because I’ve worked with such great bands and producers with my stuff. I mean, every album is an adventure. The stuff I did with Dave Stewart is incredible, the stuff I did with Robert Fripp is incredible. You know, it just goes on and on. And re-listening to it, I marvel at the quality of the production and how fucking good it is really.
AS: I’ve noticed that too, actually. And I wonder when and how did production become important to you. The production of a song can be the biggest difference between amateur and professional, so how did that get into your own mind early on?
DH: The tradition I come from, which is Philadelphia, it’s known for its productions. I started as a teenager with Thom Bell and Gamble and Huff, watching them write songs, being in the studio with them, listening to their productions, interacting with their arrangers and beside the other musicians, so this is what I cut my teeth on. So, from the get-go, that’s what I was all about and am all about.
AS: As a soloist, how do you approach a song, versus in a group? Is it the same or does it just matter who else is in the room with you?
DH: It’s just a matter of who’s in the room. I don’t look at it any differently. It’s just all my ideas interacting with other people’s ideas. I do like to interact. I don’t work in a vacuum. I like to bounce ideas and have people bounce ideas off me. Back and forth kind of a thing. That’s my writing style as well as my production style.
AS: How about Live from Daryl’s House? That’s been a popular series and you’ve helped introduce artists to the world through the show. What were its origins and what do you love about doing it today?
DH: Well, it was—I felt like I’d spent so many years on the road that I decided to turn everything on its head and bring the world to me and to the most intimate place I could be in, which is my house. And later my club. So, it turns everything around. There’s no audience in the room other than friends that stop by, or whatever. It allows the artists and the band and me and everybody to interact in ways you wouldn’t do in a live performance element.
It’s so much more soulful and spontaneous and friendly and jokey and all those kinds of things. It’s the greatest experience I’ve ever had in my life to have put these together. It’s really just what I’m all about. I love making music in this way. And it’s all spontaneous. Again, this is something that me and my band are good at. We can make it happen at the moment; we don’t rehearse this stuff. It makes it that much more immediate.
AS: I’ve read that you’re into home restorations and especially historical ones. So, given that and your Live from Daryl’s House series, I wonder what it is about homes that you particularly enjoy?
DH: Well, I have a particular love of history. I’m a historian. And I grew up in a very historic area in Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. My family is one of those old Philadelphia families that goes back to early colonial times, that kind of thing. And I lived in old houses. And I’m very familiar with antique architecture and I have a love for that. Not only in America but in Europe and everywhere. So, I relate to it.
The famous quote is that “Architecture is frozen music.” That’s a [Johann Wolfgang von] Goethe quote. And it’s true. Architecture is frozen music. It speaks. It has a voice. I don’t collect fine art, I live in it. I live in paintings. I relate to my domestic environment that way. And I like to create moods and eras and be very accurate historically and work with craftsmen that understand that. It’s a great avocation and I really, really like doing it. And I’ve been doing it a long, long time. I always have a project going.
AS: When did music itself first enter your life as a young person?
DH: It came with birth, really. My parents were musicians. My mother was a singer, she was a vocal teacher. She was a choir director and all that kind of thing in church. So, I started singing in front of people when I was four or five years old. I started taking piano at 5. I have never been around music. I used to watch my mother in a band when I was 2, you know? And I said I want to be the band conductor! It’s been my life. There is no begiinign. The beginning is me!
AS: How about the future? What comes to mind when you think about what’s ahead?
DH: Well, I’ve been getting together with a lot of my old friends and some new friends, who I really respect and I feel that I have good creative interaction with. And I’m doing that. I’m working with a lot of people. I’m down in the Bahamas right now, where I used to live. And my friend Dave Stewart lives here and he has a studio now and we’ve been working, writing songs and making music together. So, something has come out of that.
I’ve also rekindled my relationship with Robert Fripp. I’ve been talking to him and he wants to get together and try to make some new music. I have some other people that are new musicians that I really respect that I’m in the process of working with, so there’s a lot of that kind of thing going. I went into hibernation for two years because when you’re in lockdown it’s hard to interact, it’s hard to be collaborative. Now, I’m flying again. I’m back in the world and back with people.
AS: What do you love most about music?
DH: I love the challenge of it. I love the idea of making something out of nothing. I love the elation that happens when you land on something that just makes the hair on your arms stand up. I love singing in front of people, a bird’s got to sing. There’s a zone you can get into, a spiritual zone, especially if you’re a soul singer like I am. So, yeah, I like all those things about music.
Before After Track List:
2. Babs and Babs
3. Foolish Pride
4. Can’t Stop Dreaming
5. Here Comes The Rain Again (Live From Daryl’s House) with Dave Stewart
6. Someone Like You
7. Talking to You (Is Like Talking to Myself)
8. Sacred Songs
9. Right as Rain
11. North Star (Live From Daryl’s House) with Monte Montgomery
12. In My Own Dream (Live From Daryl’s House)
14. What’s Gonna Happen to Us
1. Love Revelation
2. Fools Rush In
3. I’m in a Philly Mood
4. Send Me
7. Stop Loving Me, Stop Loving You
8. Eyes for You (Ain’t No Doubt About It)
9. The Farther Away I Am
10. Why Was It So Easy
11. Can We Still Be Friends (Live From Daryl’s House) with Todd Rundgren
12. Cab Driver
13. Our Day Will Come (Live From Daryl’s House)
14. Laughing Down Crying (Live From Daryl’s House)
15. Problem with You (Live From Daryl’s House)
16. Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First to Say Goodbye) (Live From Daryl’s House)
Daryl Hall East Coast Tour Dates
April 1 – Auditorium Theater – Chicago, IL ^
April 3 – Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN ^
April 5 – Atlanta Symphony Hall – Atlanta, GA ^
April 7 – MGM Northfield Park – Northfield, OH ^
April 9 – The Met Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA ^
April 11 – Orpheum Theater – Boston, MA ^
April 14 – Carnegie Hall – New York, NY ^
April 16 – The Theater at MGM National Harbor – National Harbor, MD ^
Daryl Hall West Coast Tour Dates
May 12 – Paramount Theater – Seattle, WA ^
May 14 – Golden Gate Theater – San Francisco, CA ^
May 16 – The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA ^
May 18 – Paramount Theater – Denver, CO ^
May 20 – Tulsa Theater – Tulsa, OK ^
May 22 – ACL Live at the Moody Theater – Austin, TX ^
Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media