Source: Montreal Gazette

It’s a lovely summer’s morning in Los Angeles, and Dave Stewart is driving to a vacant, derelict hospital where he’s going to shoot a video with the Secret Sisters down in the boiler room. It’s just another project to tick off on an absurdly long to-do list.

In another life, Dave Stewart once teamed with the icy, gorgeous Annie Lennox to form the top synth-pop band to come out of the U.K. in the early 1980s, the Eurythmics. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” still captures perfectly the shoulder-padded ’80s zeitgeist, but it’s exactly 30 years since that song was absolutely everywhere you turned and, of course, Stewart has moved on.

He’s 59 now and way busier than he ever was in his rock-star 20s. On his plate these days: producing albums for Stevie Nicks and Joss Stone; monitoring the huge success that is Ghost, his musical that’s packing them in at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End; playing in SuperHeavy, the multicultural supergroup formed last May around himself, Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley (Bob’s kid) and Indian world music’s A.R. Rahman; and releasing his first solo album in a dozen years, the acclaimed Blackbird Diaries. And — just to throw another ball up there — there’s a semi-surreal film based on the Blackbird Diaries.

“And I have a whole other life going on, a family life,” says Stewart. “I have four children and a wife. I manage to get home about 7:30, 8, and have dinner and have weekends off, so I must be doing something right. I manage to do it OK.

“I have a staff; that’s probably the hidden solution. I have an office and a staff of about 16; it’s a full-on operation. I have four (film) editors alone who just do nothing but editing. I’m good at relinquishing control, but then choosing great people to relinquish it to.”

A world-class collaborator, Stewart is also a great facilitator. There was the time he was doing a video of Bob Dylan in London, who was playing the old Mississippi Sheiks standard, “Blood In My Eyes,” and he sensed Dylan wanted to work with a new band.

“And I suggested he should meet the Heartbreakers,” says Stewart. “So I had Tom Petty come around to my house, and I had George Harrison staying there. So Tom, George and Bob were all playing acoustic guitars outside in my garden, and from that, the Traveling Wilburys recorded their album, and there’s a documentary of them playing in my house and my garden.”

On his new Blackbird Diaries album — so-called because it was recorded at John McBride’s (Martina McBride’s husband) Blackbird studio in Nashville — there’s a song he wrote around the same time with Dylan called “Worth Waiting For.” He remembers they were in his kitchen, it was midnight, and there was a great deal of tequila involved.

Other guests on the Blackbird Diaries, recorded in five days last August, include Martina McBride, Stevie Nicks, the Secret Sisters and Colbie Caillat. From the Blackbird Diaries, today’s featured free download is Dave Stewart’s “A Beast Called Fame.”

“I was singing about Annie (Lennox) and (me). I put it in the context of two kids on the run,” says Stewart. “We exploded so big and before that, we’d lived together for four of five years as a couple. Then we broke up and became huge. In one of the lines I wrote, ‘We felt hounded, just like Bonnie and Clyde, who looked at each other just before they died.’ I remember Annie and I had a similar look on stage in a huge stadium with the crowd going bananas. It’s the most epic, exciting, but scary moment.

“Fame is a huge beast. It’s like being in the Olympic Games: You don’t think about it; you just want to be the best runner. But then, when you get there, you deal with all this other stuff that you weren’t expecting. It’s a lot to deal with, and some people can’t deal with it, they just freak out. There are so many mistakes you can make.”


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