Let’s Interview Men Like They Were Women
Recently, I had to do a lot of research on Sheryl Crow, and one of the better places to start for full interviews is Rolling Stone. So that’s where I went.
Not one of the authors – even the women! – could resist detailing the clothing choices, undressing-journalist-with-her-eyes tendencies, or predilection for seducing the audience with come-hither expressions and husky vocals of the “leggy blonde”. One article spent the first three paragraphs talking about her body-hugging jeans, finely chiseled face, skintight microminidress, and tosses of auburn hair. I never accused Rolling Stone of respectable hardline journalism, but considering it’s a music magazine, perhaps they could investigate … uh … something about her music?
As such, I’ve decided to turn the tables. What if I conducted my own interview with a male singer and came up with the same results?
As I wait for the man of the hour to arrive, I nervously fiddle with the wine menu. Should I order? What if I pick the wrong one? This man has, after all, been known to order a $25,000 bottle in the past. The most expensive one on this list is $44. Shit. I’ve picked the wrong place.
Oh wait, he picked it. What to do, what to do. I ask the waitress if she knows any of his favourites. “I have no idea who you’re talking about,” she shrugs.
I panic, drop the menu on the floor, and when I look up, there he is. His silhouette is framed by the late-afternoon sun streaming through the front windows. His hair flows past his shoulders in luscious, bouncing curls – barely a hint of Dippity-Do graces these locks. In fact, his whole look is a nod toward understated casual. Gone is the stage attire of skinny jeans, converse sneakers, and band tees, replaced by a green flannel shirt, dark blue denims that hug in just the right spots, and a pair of work boots that suggest “I was just digging through my garage for the snow tires before I left to meet you”, even though we all know he has an assistant who does that for him.
“Gillian,” he says with a gracious smile, sitting across from me. “A pleasure to meet you.” He is warm, friendly, not a hint of the oozing – near threatening – masculinity that dominates his stage shows. Those hands that so gracefully dance across synth keys reach for the wine list. “Let’s get a chardonnay, shall we?” he says with a wink. “I’m going to go with this one,” he continues, pointing to the menu – an unpronounceable title – “It’s only $14. Bonus!”
I ask if he wants any food. “Nah,” he replies. “I only eat once a day – and usually it’s a meal of steamed white fish and veggies. One drop of sugar heads directly to my hips. And carbs? Forget it. I’ve been fighting this spare tire since I hit middle age.” His hand drifts across his lean torso, and I have to look away before I giggle.
Conversation is much easier than I had anticipated. “You like cats, huh?” he asks. “So do I.” For some reason, that is the ice-breaker. His smooth skin glows as he regales me with tales of his cats’ antics and the new greenhouse he’s installing on his property to grow tomatoes, and hopefully someday, the seedlings of a vineyard.
“It’s my lifelong dream, to own a vineyard. I’ve been trained as a sommelier for 20 years now, and I really feel like I should be more giving with that knowledge, you know? It seems like a calling.”
On his third glass of chardonnay, he lets the big secret slip. “I’m considering plastic surgery,” he says. “I thought I could handle wrinkles. The crow’s feet were okay, and I can generally hide them behind my glasses. But there’s no denying these laugh lines.” Mark of a life well-lived, I suggest. “Maybe. I mean, maybe that’s always been the problem with my music, you know? Too happy. To informed by laughter and positivity. I’ve been trying to tap into my darker side on these last couple of albums, but I really believe that if I botox out these laugh lines, then I’ll fully be invested in my dark self. I don’t think my true struggle will reveal itself as long as I bear the marks of joy.”
I’m so drunk at this point that I can’t even respond intelligibly. “You might benefit from botox too,” he murmurs, drawing his finger slowly along the edge of my mouth. His hands are remarkably smooth for a bass player. “I know, right?” He examines his fingertips. “I found the best lotion in the south of France. I have cartons shipped to me, I go through it so fast. It’s a total indulgence – $400 a jar. But then it’s like starting from square one every time I get onstage. They’re too smooth!”
Little does that matter. Lately, his dance moves have started to take precedence over the virtuosic playing that once defined his live show. “I feel like I need to make things spectacular, now that I’m into my 60s,” he says. That hasn’t affected his singing, I tell him. How does he deal with impending register changes now that he’s 40 years into his career? “Don’t you fuss about complicated things like that, little one. You know what matters? How excited I make the ladies – if I can sing well enough to get them going, that’s all I care about.” And how he does. If he’s not bouncing in time to the driving bass riffs that can only be produced by someone with his energy, then he’s letting that microphone take the assault of the full, raw power of his voice.
At the end of our interview, he insists on paying for the bottle of wine. I try to stop him, but he’s a stubborn man, pulling a slim wallet from his back pocket. “Why don’t you leave the tip,” he suggests. I’m tempted not to, considering the waitress doesn’t know him.
“Do you have a ticket to the show tonight?” I nod. “Where are your seats?” They’re in the last row of the stadium’s back section. “Hey – no nosebleeds for you,” he says. “Tell you what: I’ve got your name on the guest list. Front row. You deserve it.”
He turns with a lingering glance before heading home to feed the cats. And indeed that night’s show is spectacular – you’d never know he’d moisturized only twenty minutes before showtime.
See what I mean? Stop writing about girls like this.