Log for The Artist Shop/Talk City IRC Chat with Shaw Phillips on Wednesday, February 10, 1999

WotanCCC: Today's Featured Artist conference is with Shawn Phillips.  We will be talking about the past present, future and the release of his work on CD.  Troubadour Shawn Phillips was one of the great voices of the 60's and 70's originally starting in folk music, but eventually expanding beyond that genre to create a sound that was uniquely his own.  His fans have been clamoring for the re-release of his albums on CD.Finally Wounded Bird has taken on that challenge and in the last few months has released eight Shawn Phillips classics with more to come! Shawn will be taking your questions as well as discussing the new reissues, his current activities (which includes lots of live performances) and plans for the future. 

Shawn and I'm A Loner are super rare collectors items previously available only as rare import vinyl. They are Shawn's very first two albums, originally released in 65/66 in England. This is the first time they are being released in the United States in any form and the first time in the world on compact disc.  These two CD's each have a bonus track. Transcendence was the album Shawn made for RCA Records shortly after leaving the A&M label in 1978. This album is also making its world debut on CD and features Shawn with a symphony orchestra arranged by Michael Kamen.

ShawnPhillips: Glad to be here with you all from Austin!

AskShawn: mysterygirl says: Shawn, welcome to Talk City! Tell us about your new releases, and what you've been busy working on.

ShawnPhillips: The new releases are very interesting...basically because what you can hear. Many of my releases were very dense musically. Now that they are on CD, you can hear many things in the orchestration, that you could never hear on the original recordings... because my original recordings on RCA and A&M were very long. The Collaboration recording was 29 minutes long on one side, and optimum time on an LP at that time was 17 minutes. So you can imagine how things were muddled. I am very pleased with the results. The original mixes were remastered for CD.

GaryArtistShop: One thing that has struck me about listening to your music is the extreme dynamics - from rockin' to delicately soft ballads.  I just can't imagine that that was served well on vinyl.

ShawnPhillips: No it was not Gary. The secret of music is dynamics. And one of the other secrets is unpredictability. If you can predict was is going to happen lyrically or musically the music will never move you. If an individual is in crisis...the words if they are appropriate will take you to the edge-but it is the music that will make you jump.

AskShawn: GentleGiant How did you develop your style? Who did you listen to growing up?

ShawnPhillips: I listened to classical music mostly. Being from Texas, I was subjected to... or influenced by depending upon your point of view, the country and blues of Southern Texas. Because I was so well traveled, I was influenced by musical cultures all over the world in my growing years. There are three things that I create with. They are anger, wonder and technique. The anger is if you look around at the world and you think everything is okay-then you are probably certifiable! The wonder is looking at the world and your life through the eyes of a child. And technique is keeping a polished balance between the first two elements. If you use that criteria to create you will be creative all your life.

AskShawn: jc33571 says: Which of the songs that you have written is your favorite?

ShawnPhillips: Probably my most favorite songs are "Moments" and "The Peace Song." Those are the two most important pieces that I have written. Unfortunately, "Moments" is on the album "Beyond Here Be Dragons." This one is not yet released on CD-it is from 1989 on Chameleon Records. The Peace Song needs to be re-recorded, because it does not have the creative energy that the song requires.

GaryArtistShop: BTW, now that you've announced your certification as an emergency medical tech, you realize you might have more than the usual number of female fans at your gigs requiring resuscitation. LOL!!!

ShawnPhillips: I don't mind Gary! But my wife might!

GaryArtistShop: Oooops! LOL!!!!

ShawnPhillips: These days most of my groupies are around 68.

AskShawn: RandomTask Who are your main influences?

ShawnPhillips: They would have to be the classical composers. My main influence is listening to the sounds that life and nature make. That is what music is trying to express; a combination of those things, and what your heart and mind are expressing.

AskShawn: mysterygirl says: Shawn, do you find differences in the audience of the 60's...the 70's and the 90's?

ShawnPhillips: Not really Myst. We are all one species and react and sympathize to the same stimuli.

AskShawn: Alucard How do you feel your music fits into the sounds of today?

ShawnPhillips: That is a difficult question. As far as the music industry is concerned, they do not care about the quality of the work .  They are only interested in the bottom line. Although I have written a lot of music that would be considered popular, many of my works I consider to be timeless. An example would be "SpringWind," a song on the Collaboration CD. Today when I write, and I write only when it strikes me, if I do not feel it is going to be timeless-I trash it. The most difficult thing in music to do is to create a unique melody that has never been heard.

GaryArtistShop: In listening to your work I've noted that while musical influences are different, you've much in common philosophically with the Moody Blues. I've also noticed that the personality of the Moodies' mailing lists is very similar to that of the Shawn Phillips mailing list. Care to comment on this interesting convergence?

ShawnPhillips: Gary I think that they are people that are greatly appreciative of timeless music. When you listen to works of this nature, the responsibility of the musical piece is to evoke something different in you each time you listen to it.

AskShawn: bobf6153 says: Any chance of starting to perform some of the *really old* songs in concert; for instance, "Storm" now that the CD's have been released.

ShawnPhillips: Thanks Bob...Oh Boy! Possibly yes, but I don't like to backtrack too much. I am much more enamored of creating new work . I have to go back and refire all those synapses again.

AskShawn: bobf6153 What are your plans for releasing a CD of new material?

ShawnPhillips: I am looking for an investor right now. I will not produce a new product unless I have the same marketing tools as the major labels have, in order to promote it. Therefore, what I am looking for, is backing money. Because I have established a world-wide market already, I simply need to reopen the supply and exposure line...and I need funds to do that.

GaryArtistShop: And Wounded Bird has already started to reopen the supply lines, right?

ShawnPhillips: That is correct Gary! I am just very grateful that Terry Wachsmith has taken on this task. I am indebted to him as our all my fans.

AskShawn: Alucard Are you planning any tours or video work?

ShawnPhillips: Difficult to do tours without new products.  The agencies and promoters and club owners do not know who I am. And in reference to how does my music fit into the works of today... there was a young A&R assistant at Warner Bros in Canada. When he was given the record that was produced in Montreal, he said... "I have never heard of Shawn Phillips." The producer said "Listen to this, it is really good," and the A&R engineer said "I don't want to hear the music..what does he look like?" At that point I almost said, " I am out of here!"...

AskShawn: bright_white says: Shawn..I'm sure a lot of us watched the 60's movie on TV the other night. Can you tell us what it was like to be playing in Greenwich Village when everything was happening there, and what it was like to be part of a movement that was changing the world?  For instance...being in the March on Washington and standing so close to Dr. King?

ShawnPhillips: Hi Ronnee! I was not really conscious of it at the time.  I was simply trying to survive. Those days, being close to Dr. King was an extraordinary event. I knew that history was taking place at that moment. The words Dr. King spoke resounded throughout the minds and hearts of everyone at that rally. There was a tangible shutter that went through the crowd when he said "Free At Last, Free At Last, God Almighty Free At Last."

AskShawn: psychicjanitor says: How is your website doing? Do you feel you have a strong core audience?

ShawnPhillips: Yes I think I do! I have heart-felt gratitude to everyone involved in the creation of that website. I believe our website did win a Legacy award.

GaryArtistShop: We should mention that Shawn's official website can be found at www.shawnphillips.com

AskShawn: leemellon says: How about opening for other artists for exposure?

ShawnPhillips: No problem! Can you pay me?

AskShawn: doriccc says: Are you currently writing a book in the Gall series, what is it called and where does the story play?

ShawnPhillips: No. I am not writing a book in the Gall series... that was my fathers work. At one point Malpaso Productions- Clint Eastwood's company held the rights to all of my fathers' books. I had hoped that maybe Mr. Eastwood would make a film about Joe Gall. The rights have reverted back to my brother and myself now.

Dori, once upon a time when I wrote a lyric, I wanted to tell that lyric to my father. I told it to him... and he grabbed me by the front of my shirt and jerked me within an inch of his face and said, "listen punk I have been writing for over 50 years, and I still cannot write a better line than Jesus wept." So much for incentive!

AskShawn: mrhappy says: What direction to you see music heading in, and where do you see yourself fitting in?

ShawnPhillips: I see music heading in a technological direction. It will become possible in the future for an artist to "think" the music.  By using the minute electrical output of the mind it can be translated through synthesizers into music, a combination of thought and emotion.  In other words, a composer will be able to stand on a mountaintop and by telemetry, express his feelings and his intelligence about that which he sees around him.

GaryArtistShop: As I'm listening to Transcendence right now, it occurs to me that the best performance situation would be to have you on a tour where every city you came to you performed with the local orchestra, much like the Moodies have done in recent years. Just you, an acoustic guitar and an orchestra!

ShawnPhillips: I would love to do that Gary, very much... but along with the orchestra, we would need a band as well. It would be an extraordinary moment in my life to be able to do that correctly, but we are back to the question of finances.

AskShawn: doriccc says: What area of your career did you enjoy most, the writing, film or music part - and why?

ShawnPhillips: I would have to say that I enjoyed all of them with the same gusto... but the creative part of it is what gives the greatest gratification.

AskShawn: PsychicJanitor Are you into digital recording and computerized music production?

ShawnPhillips: Only in my initial creative efforts will I use the computer. When it comes time to go into the studio, I want live musicians, and the spontaneity that comes with that moment... which has always been part of the magic in my music.

WotanCCC: Thanks so much for your time tonight Shawn... Is there anything else you would like to mention before we conclude today?

ShawnPhillips: Only that I wish too everyone that participated, Health, Love and Clarity! You can never have one of those three without the other two.

WotanCCC: Looks like our time is up...  I'd like to thank everyone for joining us tonight.  Shawn, we appreciate your taking the time to come and chat with us today, and hope you'll come back to Talk City again soon! 

GaryArtistShop: It was great chatting with you!

ShawnPhillips: thanks Everyone!

GaryArtistShop: Hope to do it again soon

WotanCCC: To purchase Shawn Phillips works, or for information on other Artist offerings, please visit The Artist Shop Online at:


and at Shawn's site; www.shawnphillips.com

Finally, thanks to the Artist Shop for working with us on this conference. We especially appreciate the efforts of Gary Davis in giving us the opportunity to speak with Shawn Phillips.




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