Amy Winehouse and Eminem Impress Legendary Musician Jorge Calderón. – Interview

It’s nice to be able to interview today’s music’s greats because it gives you a chance to hear about their influences and why they ventured into the music business. When you get to talk to one of those influences, the feeling takes on a different meaning. Jorge Calderón is one of those legendary influences. He worked with artists like Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Currently, Calderón is teaming up with Jackson Browne to release new material. I had the pleasure of speaking with him about his career, new material and who impresses him today.

Q – You’ve been in music for many years, working with artists like Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Jackson Browne. Which artist was most influential in your career and why?

A – Well, the artists that influenced me at first were people like Little Richard, Big Bill Broonzy, Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley, and Sam Cooke. Songwriters like Lieber & Stoller. Goffin & King, Bacharach & David and others that were writing the great Rock & Roll, Blues and Rhythm & Blues music of the time. Later on when I came upon Bob Dylan and his songwriting, he turned my head around and still amazes and inspires me to this day.

I had already been writing on my own and had written songs with Jackie Deshannon and soul singer Eric Mercury in L.A., so by the time I met up with Lindsey and Stevie, we were all pursuing the same songwriting goals.

I remember Lindsay had an 8 track Ampex tape recorder in his basement and showed me how to use it to record some of my songs at the time. Stevie was always playing her guitar, singing Dolly Parton songs and other folk songs including her own or others she’d written with Lindsey which ended up on the “Buckingham-Nicks” album.

What most influenced me about Warren was the joyful eagerness of his pursuit of songwriting. He would be ready to write a song at the drop of a hat. In the middle of a conversation, anything that would spark an idea, he was on it. And Jackson of course, he was (and is) so prolific a songwriter and such a great singer with an abundance of great songs that he was eager to sit down and sing for us at any time. He also always had a small studio ready to record any song ideas that were floating around.

So yes all these acquaintances were very inspirational to me at the time to keep doing what I was doing.

Q – How has music changed since coming onto the scene in 1969?

A - The biggest difference to me is that at the time all genres of music, if they became “hits,” were played on the same radio stations. Later everything became separated and put into categories such as Rock (hard or soft), Soul, R&B, Blues, Folk etc. You know what I mean. And I think music keeps evolving and there’s always good stuff and mediocre stuff that gets played, but I guess it’s all a matter of one’s tastes and opinion.

Q – Your new singles, “Blue City," and "On Mardi Gras Day," are about getting through hard times and the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. What else inspires you to write and is there a writing process you go through with each song?

A – Well, inspiration comes at different times and in different forms. It can be sparked by love, politics, a personal tale that you are compelled to write about or something that you have observed in someone else. The writing process varies with each song idea. Sometimes you can get a phrase that expresses a feeling you have which would sound great with music put to it .Or you can have a title which gives you the theme for a song and then you write all the lyrics first and the put them to music. For me that’s the easiest. Then sometimes you have a cool music groove and a melody, then you fill out the words to fit it, like painting by numbers. That can get to be more of a puzzle to solve but I find the process very fulfilling. Sometimes it can be a mixture of both. Each song takes you through its own path.

For example on “Blue City,” both the music and lyrics came together at once at a time when I was experiencing big money problems and had to write about it, and now that tune has a personal meaning but also serves as a metaphor of matters at a national level. “On Mardi Gras Day” is a song I felt compelled to write soon after the tragedy of New Orleans. I had so much fun there through the years and loved its music so much that I incorporated all those things into it, while promising my support to the city and its people. For this one I had the music and the melody before I wrote words to it.

Q – The way music has changed over the years, is there an artist(s) that impresses you with what he or she has accomplished? Who is that and why?

A – Wow, there are so many. Well, Amy Winehouse, she was a natural born soul singer who embodied the spirit of that roots R&B music and made it sound current at the same time. It has been an incredible loss for the music world, in my opinion.

I also like Eminem, I think he’s brilliant. His themes, word rhymes and chorus melodies are very smart. The Black Keys I find very cool for their mix of retro blues/rock and roll guitar grooves and great singing and songwriting. I also like Foo Fighters with their songs and their crazy style of rockin’ it.

Q – You spent much of your career playing with Warren Zevon. What is it like getting back in front of it all singing and performing your own music?

A – Well, I actually played with Warren on the road back in ’78 for his Excitable Boy Tour. Then through the years we wrote a lot of songs together and the playing or singing happened in the studio as needed. But yeah, singing and performing feels great to me. To sing my songs and to also do some of the Zevon/Calderón collaborations is all very rewarding to me.

Q - Jackson Browne served as Executive Producer of the new singles. Will he be a part of the rest of the album?

A – Yes, of course. I’m recording these songs for his label “Inside Recordings” so he’ll be there involved in any future releases.

Q – When can fans expect a full album from you?

A – Well, what we have planned is to release two song singles every three or four months for awhile unless things change and we do something different like a CD release.

Q – Are there any plans for a US tour with release of the album?

A – Yes, of course I’ll be touring, yes.

Q – Thank you for talking to me. Is there anything you wanted to add?

A – Well, I’d like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to talk about my music and my upcoming releases on “Inside Recordings.” It’s been my pleasure. Thanks.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at

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