Graham Parker on why it's important to be radical at 65

Graham Parker musician

Celebrating your forty-year career, a new six-CD/one-DVD boxed set called These Dreams Will Never Sleep: The Best Of 19762015 is released this month. How much were you involved in its compilation?

I wasn’t massively involved. I find it hard concentrating on anything that’s more than a year old. I need other people to get me excited about those things, though it is an exciting project. I feel privileged that it’s coming out.

Did the process dredge up any unexpected feelings?

No. My first thought was: “What is all this old nonsense?” But the further in we got, it was quite formidable. I didn’t know how I’ve done so much. It feels to me like I’ve spent my life laying around and watching TV.

Bruce Springsteen once said that your band The Rumour combine “the best of Van Morrison, Eric Burdon and John Lennon”.

Bruce is a good man. He’s always supported my work and I’m always touched by his praise.

In a review of The Rumour’s most recent album, 2015’s Mystery Glue, a critic called you a “long-lost soul brother to Hunter S Thompson”.

Did they mean my songs are a lot of gobbledygook?

The implication was that you’re still a bit edgy, even at sixty-five.

I’m radical, yeah. In that sense they were right. You never know what you’ll get from me. There’s a lot of legwork involved. Writing a song is just ten per cent inspiration, the rest really is perspiration.

Tell us about the lengthy tour you’re doing as a duo with Brinsley Schwarz.

We’ve done that stuff before so we’re pretty on the case, but I’m freshening up the setlist. I still like my old songs; we’re just finding different ways of doing them. I like the fact that we’ve never played in a lot of these venues before.

Back in 1975, Schwarz was an original member of The Rumour. Are you now a bit like an old married couple?

Yes. We bicker a lot, but it’s all good.

Did you pick Stephen Wilson Jnr as the support act, and if so, why?

He was suggested by the promoter. I listened to his stuff and he’s great. So get there early to check him out.

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