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Music Journeys: Paul Carrack

Paul Carrack

Paul Carrack joins Music Journeys to reflect on his career and his latest release One on One. From Ace to Squeeze to Mike + The Mechanics, Carrack has been a part of some magical music. The 70-year-old talks about his humble beginnings, how Ace enjoyed soccer as much as music, the lasting power of songs like How Long and The Living Years, his lack of repair skills, and why he's okay with the fact that most people recognize the songs he's been a part of more than his name. 

Good and Ready plays...

Even though he's had some timeless musical moments, Paul Carrack still strives to make that signature record. As the opening track from his latest release suggests, the 70-year-old musician remains good and ready for that challenge. 

"I've got a few things to point to," Carrack said. "Naturally when they talk about me it's the big songs I've been involved with like How Long, Living Years, Tempted, Love Will Keep Us Alive. I don't spend a lot of time sitting on my laurels because I still think I can do more. I can do better." 

Over My Shoulder plays...

"I was born in Sheffield in the north of England," Carrack continued. "Back then it was an industrial city famous for making steel. My dad was a self-employed painter and decorator. My mom ran a small corner store that sold wallpaper and paint. We lived in the room at the back of the store, just two bedrooms, an attic, and an outside toilet. So that's where I grew up." 

Rock & Roll Runaway plays...

"I think I've always liked music," Carrack reflected. "My father's family were quite musical, and I think that's where the genes come from. I didn't have a lot of contact with them, but when I was very young I met them a few times. My grandmother played piano. My aunt was a musician, not a professional but played piano. I think my dad dabbled in drums. It's a bit sketchy because my dad passed away when I was 11. But my memories are that he would always encourage my interest in music. I quite liked singing as a kid. They said I had a nice voice." 

Tempted plays...

"I was interested in pop music and all the electric guitar bands that came through," Carrack recalled. "The Ventures, but the real spark was the Liverpool scene and The Beatles. In my teens it was about Soul music and Motown, and that's still my favorite genre. Music and sport. I loved soccer and cricket." 

How Long plays...

"It wasn't until I formed the band Ace around 1973 that I started singing," Carrack reflected. I started out as a drummer, moved to keyboards and started to write songs and sing." 

As it turns out, the band members in Ace enjoyed soccer just as much as music. 

Foley reflects on the first Ace album with Carrack during a Zoom session.

"We were all soccer nuts in Ace," Carrack recalled. "We recorded that first album in a studio in the country called Rockfield. We went there for two weeks to record and spent most of the day playing soccer, and then we'd get a bit loaded at night and make some music."

How Long continues...

"I'm not sure why," Carrack responded to a question about the longevity of the song How Long. "I'm glad we did it. I don't think it's a great song. It's got a strong hook. I think it has an atmosphere. We just set up in the studio and you would try to capture a good take. The red light would come on and you'd try to make a great take. Nowadays so much music is made in a more clinical fashion, but back then we tried to catch a moment."

The Living Years plays...

"It's a strange one," Carrack said of The Living Years. "I didn't write that. In Mike + The Mechanics, we had two lead vocalists in myself and Paul Young. Mike Rutherford would have us audition to sing which song. Generally Paul would get the rock songs, and I would get the poignant ones. But I felt I had to sing that song. I had experienced loss, and it felt like a tribute or a cathartic thing. I sing that song every show. It goes through my mind because I wasn't there. So I've got that picture in my head. On balance, most people appreciate the sentiment of the song."

Nobody Knows plays...

"I wasn't good at anything else, and I come from humble beginnings," Carrack said of his longevity with different bands and as a solo artist. "My folks were very hard working and honest and passed that on to me. I felt it was what I was supposed to be doing. My wife fixes the plumbing and everything else. My mother had a saying that if you asked me to do a job, I would make 50 more. That instilled a lot of confidence in me."

While he might not feel confident fixing things, Carrack does feel good about his latest solo endeavor One on One, which came out earlier this year. He wrote and recorded everything himself during the lockdown. 

Credit Paul Carrack

"I just started coming into my little studio here at home, and used the time to write some songs," Carrack said. "In a funny way, some things are inspired by the lockdown and the separation and missing people. But it's not an introspective album or head-in-hands kind of project. I think it's a bit more optimistic than that, hoping to get out and back out on the road."

I Miss You So plays...

"I only do meaningful songs," Carrack said of the music he crafts. "I don't really do edgy or political stuff. There's a ballad that caught a lot of people's attention called You're Not Alone." 

You're Not Alone plays...

"I wrote that for a couple people struggling with anxiety as a message of support," Carrack said of You're Not Alone. "There's also some lighthearted things on there like Lighten Up Your Mood, which reflects a we're going to be okay sentiment."

Lighten Up Your Mood plays...

"It's my one regret over the last 20 years in being independent," Carrack said of not touring in the United States more as a solo artist. "The problem I had is establishing Paul Carrack as a brand because people didn't really know the name. They just knew the songs. It's been a bit of a slug, but it's been honest. On balance, I think it suits me. I'm very fortunate and happy. I have a great family, a great band, so no complaints."

Precious Time plays...

"In my case, I turned 70 this year," Carrack said. "I still feel pretty good and have more to do. But in reality, time flies by so you have to try and appreciate the time."

For more about Paul Carrack, visit his website.

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.
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