John Oates truly enjoys one of the most charmed careers in the entirety of music.
He's successfully weathered 40 years of changing trends, industry fallouts, and the inherent turbulence that comes with a life in the spotlight. He's still one-half of the damned-near universally loved songwriting duo Hall & Oates but recently teamed with other great minds for his solo album, Good Road to Follow.
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It's a veritable masterclass that includes appearances by everyone from up-and-coming pop artists like Hot Chelle Rae to country music vets like Vince Gill. It was recorded in Nashville, and the area's musical patois shines with heaps of Americana textures.
"When you're a songwriter, you're always inspired by your environment and also by the cowriters you work with and by the style of the musicians that make the record," the musician explains.
"I'm not pretending to be a country artist or do country music -- that's not really what I do, but I want to take these great players and their really amazing musicianship and combine it with my experience and together form something new. That's really what it's all about!"
Oates' career has been characterized by working with other talents, a technique that's proven to be effective, being a Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and all.
"It's very satisfying to write a song on your own and have it be a pure expression of what you yourself are trying to put across," he expresses. "But at the same time, I found that collaborating -- if you're open to it and you have good collaborators -- really becomes more than a sum of its parts."
Specifically, Oates called working with Daryl Hall a musically "telepathic relationship."
"When we're onstage, I don't even have to look at him, and I can tell exactly what he's going to do and feel it before it happens," he describes. "That's just something that comes with time -- you can't buy that -- it either happens or it doesn't."
And though the two are still excited to work together, they're also comfortable breaking out and doing their own things -- a situation Oates calls "the perfect scenario."
On Hall & Oates' uncanny crossover appeal to younger generations, Oates gave his own astonished take on the phenomenon.
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"I think the fact that we've stayed the course and that we've continued to tour, and we never kind of disappeared and tried to come back to do a reunion or anything like that," he says. "We have a lot of integrity when it comes to music, and I think people have begun to appreciate that. I think younger artists have realize how difficult it is to achieve one hit, much less the kind of commercial success we've had."
He also credits working with musicians like Jim James from My Morning Jacket; playing Bonnaroo; and Hall's television show, Live From Daryl's House, with bringing in a newer audience.
And while plenty of people have enjoyed Hall & Oates concerts over the years, we wondered what an evening with Oates (sans Hall) would be like.
"My show is really about personality, and it's about communicating in kind of a living room atmosphere. I like to tell stories."
So expect to hear the origin stories of songs, and hear him play tunes he learned when he was 4 years old and plenty of "roots music, delta blues, bluegrass, and music that goes back to the 1900s."
Oates'll be making your musical dreams come true.
John Oates. Tuesday and Wednesday, November 11 and 12. Jazziz Nightlife, 201 Plaza Real, Suite 1203, Boca Raton. The shows start at 7:30 p.m., and tickets cost $60 to $150 plus fees via vendini.com. Call 561-300-0730, or visit jazziz.com/jazziznightlife.
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