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WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

Mr. Smolin / Stew - conversation / interview

My long time friend-hero, Barry Smolin conducts a great interview with my long time friend-hero-of-a-friend-hero, Stew.

The interview, Stew Speaks His (Very Freaky) Mind, has too many good lines to pick out a favorite to quote—it's all good! Nevertheless, here's a quote, just in case, etc:

Stew: I learned how to be an artist from Jews. I was already an artist, but I was closeted about it. And I didn't know anything about James Joyce or French film or the Beats. I didn't know how to wave my freak flag. Jews were born carrying theirs. So being an artist was no biggie. The Jews I knew in high school who would unashamedly describe themselves as "artists" blew my mind and changed my life forever. They read the big books and wrestled with the big theories and dove head first into the continuum and they claimed the continuum. They didn't read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as just a novel. It was a manual for them. All art was an instructional manual. As was French film. And it was that way for me too. We weren't observing; Godard was teaching us and we were taking notes on how to live life. Most shockingly, they wrote songs while their moms cooked dinner within earshot. I never could have done this in my home. I was too ashamed of being an artist. I wrote songs in the basement or in the quiet of my room behind a locked door.

Stew recently won a Tony Award® for his Broadway musical, Passing Strange. I've also heard it's really great. My planned trip to New York keeps getting postponed, so I don't know if I'll catch it on stage :-(

Although I've never met him in person, I've thought of Stew's as being a friend-hero-of-a-friend-hero (and, even earlier, a friend-hero-of-a-cousin-hero-of-a-friend-hero) since I was a kid and got to know Barry via Bernard Bernard, who first played me The Wake and also Stew's early band, The Animated. (I just pulled out my copy of "4 Song EP" by The Animated—going to give it another listen a bit later.)


I just read this good review of Stew’s Passing Strange: The Eclectic Slide, by Martin Johnson at

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