An Interview with Peter Sinfield
In Issue 6 of Impressions we were fortunate enough to interview the one and
only Pete Sinfield, the great master of the lyrics. Pete spoke for nearly 2
1/2 hours about his life with ELP, his hopes and aspirations and his
achievements as a great lyricists. The following is a segment from that
interview, in which Pete speaks about the making of the album "Love Beach":
Many people view "Love Beach" as ELP's worst album. You
had a large chunk of the song writing credits on that album. What do you
think of it?
"I think it is crap!! It was bound to be. It's such crap that it's
almost gone organic (!) (laughs!) And I really wasn't working with them at
that point, but Stewart asked me if I would go out to Nassau. I knew the
band weren't really talking to each other and they were being terrible
spoilt brats, so I wasn't sure. I asked them if they could increase my
percentage. And I had this very beautiful new Spanish girlfriend, who was
Miss Spain at the time and I'd literally only known her for a month. And I
thought "Well, two or three weeks in Nassau would be nice and I'd like to
take my new girlfriend with me". And she liked to dive and scuba dive -
she was an expert. And everything was paid, so I went out there. But I
told them that I couldn't do it as I would normally do an album, because I
knew of the frictions between them. So I said "You'll just have to let me
do my best and write it". So that was one rare occasion where, because of
the restricted time, I really couldn't, for better or worse, have Greg going
"Oh, I don't know about that..." - I just couldn't have that on this
occasion, because there was a deadline, they're in the studio, they need the
lyrics, so I wrote the most I've ever written in my life - I think I wrote
nine lyrics, if you count "Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman" as three.
I must say, they're not the best thing I've ever written, but I did my best
in the circumstances and there are a few good lines here and there. I think
"An Officer and a Gentleman" works quite well and I put most of my efforts
into that. But the cover of that album is so terrible, with ELP looking
like the Bee Gees!!"
Yes, but that's not ELP, is it - it was really not their
image at all, was it!
"No, they didn't know where they were, I think they were a bit lost
and they were taking the piss out of themselves and they didn't know it at
that point in time. And I can't even remember half the tunes on that album,
they don't stick in my mind. Anyway, I sat at my typewriter, various
substances around me and I had this incredible villa, with a black maid and
a cook and my beautiful new girlfriend there and she'd go off swimming and
catching these huge fish with
Keith Emerson, scraping fish scales over the
kitchen and I'd be there writing day after day, just trying to get a job of
work done so that they could finish the album and deliver it.
Officer and a Gentleman" I think I put in a little more love and care.
Well, I put love and care into it as much as I could, but there was pressure
because it was "Can we have the next lyric, can we have the next lyric...."
and, as you would have gathered, I take a long time and it can grow like
gardens, you know, and that's why I decided I couldn't have Greg going "Oh,
I don't think so". So I said "You'll just have to take it or leave it and
trust me that I'll do my best". And it did work - and it didn't work, but
it was a very odd album. Because when you've got three guys who are really
not talking to each other, it's rather stressed circumstances for making a
record. And yet, there is a tension here and a thing there and as a social
experiment, it was interesting. And with "An Officer and a Gentleman" I
think I captured a few things and there are a few lines in there that I
think Keith is very happy with. But, huh, pressure?!?!? (smiles)"
So you obviously did foresee ELP's break-up then?
"Oh yes. Because I'd spent time with all of them, although not so
much with Carl. But more with Keith and also Greg. And I had to be
careful what I told one and it was very hard and I had to be very diplomatic
on occasions. And when I forgot to be diplomatic - well, when I forget to
be diplomatic, I really, really get it wrong (laughs!). Because to try and
keep three egos like that happy - and I have one too, which won't surprise
you very much - is not easy! (more laughs!)"
You can read the whole of this very interesting interview in Issue 6 of
Visit the Peter Sinfield web domain at www.songsouponsea.com
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