Cowsill Transcripts

Mad Podcast
May 8, 2006

Susan: I’m very good Shadow. How are you?

Shadow: I’m good. Nice speaking with you.

Susan: Nice speaking with you too.

Shadow: Originally from Newport, Rhode Island and joining us live coast to coast from New Orleans, singer songwriter and former member of the legendary family pop group, The Cowsills, Susan Cowsill joins us. Welcome Susan, a pleasure speaking with you.

Susan: It’s a pleasure speaking with you, Shadow, how are you doing today?

Shadow: I’m well and how are you?

Susan: I’m very good, thanks.

Shadow: And firstly, my condolences on some rather trying family circumstances of late, Susan.

Susan: Thank you very much Shadow, I appreciate it and – ummm – trying? Yes. Very bad.

Shadow: I can only imagine.

Susan: Yeah.

Shadow: Susan, take us back. You along with brother Bill, Bob, Paul, Barry and John and mother Barbara were actually the real life inspiration for the hit ABC TV show The Partridge Family. What’s it like to look back on playing such a role in 60’s and 70’s pop culture, Susan?

Susan: Well, I would say that it’s a honor and a privilege to have made such a mark. You know a lot of people come and go. I think everybody makes their mark, some way, - you know – if it’s not public, it’s certainly personally. But it’s kind of cool being a part of history, you know, not everybody can say that. And it continues you know I mean as you live your life and you start as young as we all did, it doesn’t stop.

Shadow: Now you were given guitars by your father, Navy man William “Bud” Cowsill, and began singing early 60s AM radio hits, primarily Beatles songs. Was it those golden harmonies that grabbed you Susan?

Susan: You know what Shadow, I was pretty young at the time. My brothers – they grabbed my brothers. They grabbed them and never let go. I think their vision was of that band was – The Cowsills as it was – I think they were lookin’ at themselves as the next Rolling Stones or Beatles. Didn’t quite work out that way, did it?

Shadow: Now your latest project Susan Cowsill Just Believe It was recorded at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana. Each song a story in it’s own right, though collectively telling a tale of life, love, joy and sadness, hope, satisfaction and resolution. Give us a track listing Susan.

Susan: Oh my gosh. Well I don’t have one in front of me, but I’ll do my best. We start off with “Wawona” “Wawona Morning” and that is a song that was written up in Yosemite National Forrest by my husband and myself. And I believe we go into “Palm Of My Hand” and then I think we go “Christmastime.”

Shadow: And from the title track, “Just Believe It,” “Palm Of My Hand,” “I Know You Know,” “Who Knows Where The Time Goes,” and the variations of “Wawona” – Morning, Afternoon, Twilight, Night. How long did the project take to complete Susan?

Susan: Well, you know, it depends. If you talking from inception of the writing, it took about a year or more, but the recording of it, we did in less than three months. And it was coming and going. It wasn’t all in one seating. We went in for – I think – three weeks, and then we’d kind of took it from there and came back and did over-dubs and what have you. And of course there as mixing and mastering and then voila.

Shadow: Now unless you factor in a couple of early 1970’s MGM singles, you have never gone solo. Why?

Susan: Well, I think first of all when you born in a band, then that’s a comfort zone to stay in a rock and roll band with a bunch of people. And secondly, I don’t think I was ready. So, you know, you kind of have to live a life before you can write about it. And it takes a little bit of commitment to decide to take on a project all by yourself. And, of course, it’s called a solo project, but it never really is because you always have a band and people helping you out. But I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t grown up enough and now I am.

Shadow: Now Susan, in the 80’s you collaborated with cult figure and long time friend of this program, Dwight Twilley of The Dwight Twilley Band, working on harmonies on many of Twilley’s greatest hits, including his smash single “Girls” a #16 pop-charter released February 18th, 1984. He is such a driven musician, isn’t he?

Susan: Oh he is most certainly that. I’ve never seen a guy like that before. He’s still plugging away too. He’s got a records – if you go to you can find out what he’s up to. In fact, I recorded with him last year and there’s going to be a live record out of those couple of shows we did. Dwight’s great. He’s a great artist. He’s a true artist and he will go down, like the Titanic, making records.

Shadow: Live – coast to coast – with singer, songwriter, and former member of the legendary pop group The Cowsills, Susan Cowsill joins us. Susan, let’s take a listen back at some of the classic tracks recorded with your famous musical family. The inspiration for TV’s The Partridge Family beginning with “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things,” the title track of your self titled LP spending two weeks at #2 September 30th, 1967. Followed by the #21 pop-charter “We Can Fly” issued January 13th, 1968. Susan, how were you signed to MGM records back in 1968? Was that a Mike Curb deal?

Susan: No, actually it wasn’t. The president of MGM at that time was named Mort Naiser. Mike came a few years later. And, you know, again I was only 7 years old so how I don’t know, but I certainly remember where and when. I remember my brothers and - I didn’t actually sign that record deal because I wasn’t in the band yet officially – but I remember being up in an office in New York City and everybody signing, signing, signing and lots of excitement and then I think we had a – went out for a nice big celebration dinner. And had a really successful run with MGM. They were very good to us. In fact, it was kind of cool because my next birthday – MGM was the people who put out “The Wizard Of Oz” movie – and the people from MGM put up a birthday party for me in a movie theater and I had my own private showing of “The Wizard Of Oz” on big screen. And they gave me a lot of memorabilia from “The Wizard Of Oz” movie that of course I don’t have anymore and I wish I had. But that was really a kind of cool memory for me as a kid and I think it was a pretty successful run on both ends – for MGM and The Cowsills.

Shadow: That’s too bad. I imagine you lost quite a bit of irreplaceable memorabilia.

Susan: Yes, I pretty much lost everything – well certainly – not ‘pretty much.’ Everything that I had – memorabiliawise from The Cowsills – and any other – any old stuff like that – family photos and more than I even want to start mentioning, we lost it all. However, our fans have been incredibly loving and supportative as they always are and they have been replacing as much of it as they can. From photos to 45’s and albums and all that. They’re awesome. The Cowsill fans are the best and they know it.

Shadow: Now “In Need Of A Friend” taken from We Can Fly issued March 16th, 1968, peaked at #54 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Indian Lake” from Captain Sad and His Ship Of Fools hit record stores, June 1st and clocked in Top Ten. Susan, how do you explain – and can you explain – the longevity with your audience?

Susan: You mean as in how it comes in up to this very day?

Shadow: You better believe it

Susan: You know what? I think we struck a chord in a lot of children’s hearts. These folks who are still with us today are grown up. They are our age. They are in their 40’s and 50’s, but they were our age back in the 60’s and I think they kind of related on some level, whether they were musicians or not. They are looking at these kids making rock and roll music and it was like a fantasy of anybody. Music is so universal. It keeps us all going. I dare anybody can picture their life without the soundtrack of music in it. And I just think that it’s kind of a slightly different situation where our fans have grown up along with us. And The Cowsills have never really gone away. You – we’ve “broken up” as in taken hiatuses from one another and from the music but we always, always come back and we’re a functioning band today. We’re actually in the process of making a documentary film about our life and our careers. So I think, in our specific case, it has much to do with the fact that we were all kids together and it’s kind of like being in a big school and you check in with each other and have reunions. You see who’s bald and who isn’t.

Shadow: And who got fat as well.

Susan: That’s right.

Shadow: Now Susan on September 14th, 1968, “Poor Baby” was released peaking at #44 pop followed by the international sensation “Hair” from the historic Broadway musical stalling at #2 for two straight weeks beginning March 15th, 1969. Susan, I know you’ve worked and recorded with other bands and artists including The Continental Drifters, Psycho Sisters, and Jules Shear. Have you had other recording projects as well?

Susan: Oh my gosh yes. I can not even – when I look at my discography I start to wonder if I have multiple personalities because I don’t remember so much of them. I have recorded on so many things. I mean I remember once I look at them. I go, “Oh yeah I sang with the Smithereens” or “Oh yeah I sang with Hootie and The Blowfish.” I mean it just goes on and on and on. Again, I think I have a discography on, which is my website. And also on I think you can see there’s a specific thing you can hit where you can see all the different project that I’ve been on. I’ve been incredible fortunate to have been excepted into the music community, decade to decade. I guess – I mean it’s all I know how to do, Shadow. I’m a singer. I’m a songwriter. I’m a musician. And you don’t want me anywhere near the Xerox machine in your office, I can tell you that right now.

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