"Pet Sounds" co-writer Tony Asher (June 2006)

Welcome to the Slow Boat Inquisition, in which musicians, celebrities and famous people who cross our path share their thoughts with us over a few probing questions. First up, a quite delightful session with "Pet Sounds" co-writer Mr Tony Asher. 1: Your full name Anthony Douglas Asher - but I didn't murder the victim. I swear. I wasn't even within miles of here last night!! 2: Where do you call home? I live in Southern California. More specifically, I live in a suburb of Los Angeles called Woodland Hills. I've been spending part of my time lately in Panama City, Panama and hope to move there for a good part of each year starting in 2007 when the building in which I purchased a condominium is scheduled to be completed. I speak passable Spanish and quite like Latin America. 3: What is your earliest musical memory? I had a record player at quite a young age. I'm not sure exactly when. But I couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 years old. My father was a movie producer and used to bring home acetate discs of music they were using in the films he was making. Some were just scoring which I thought was okay. But some were original songs which I thought were terrific particularly since I understood that virtually no one else had ever heard them at that point. So I'd play them over and over. And I think I was bitten by the writing bug way back then. I eventually made some trips to New York City with my father and on one occasion, we went to see "My Fair Lady" with Julie Adrews and Rex Harrison - all of the original cast. It was thrilling and I longed to write a musical for years although I've still not gotten around to it. (Reg Dwight - are you listening?) 4: What, push comes to shove, is your favourite record/ piece of music? Couldn't possibly whittle it down to one. Record? Well amongst pop music, perhaps Rubber Soul. Almost anything by Van Morrison. I love a lot of Sting songs. I'm a big Billy Joel fan. And from my youth, Goffin and King, Leiber and Stoller, Mann and Weil. All the really heavy writers of that era. But my real love is Jazz. The one album on a desert island would be anything Bill Evans ever recorded. Maybe an album where he played with Miles Davis. Or just his own trio stuff. I love an album made by John Lewis (of MJQ) with Gunther Schuller called "European Windows". As for Jazz songwriters, I'd have to say Matt Denis, Bobby Troup, Dave Frischberg and the one and only Cole Porter. What one song do I wish I'd written? How about "Yesterday"? And if not that one, then maybe "Blackbird". Or "Michelle". 5: What is your favourite food? My favorite food? Seriously? I love a truly great steak. I really like good sushi. Indian and Pakastani food is great, as well. But I'd have say my favourite is some sort of really fine dining experience. A truly superb French or Italian dinner can be a marvelous experience. Actually, everyone order venlafaxine online uk talks about how great the food in France is. And certainly it's fantastic. But I think Italian food is generally the most under-rated food in Europe. But wherever it is, there's nothing quite so satisfying for me as a finely prepared multi-course meal with carefully chosen wines. The kind of meal you can really only afford once a year or so. My late wife was born in Shanghai and grew up in Hong Kong. I've had some absolutely incredible very formal meals in Hong Kong. The kind that are experiences you truly carry with you for the rest of your life. 6: Your favourite holiday destination, and why? Well it keeps changing. Because I like to try new places. I consider travel the best experience one can have. I'll travel almost anywhere just to see what it's like. But my favourite would have to be the south of France. There's a little seaside town called Villefranche Sur Mer which was home to Jean Cocteau for a while. If I could live the rest of my days in only one place, that would be it. Spectacularly beautiful. And maybe the world's best seafood accompanied by arguably the world's best local wine. 7: What is your proudest musical accomplishment? Meeting McCartney and having him tell me what a wonderful song he thought "God Only Knows" is. He's quoted as calling it the greatest love song ever written. I don't know for sure what the greatest love song ever written actually is. But there's a very good chance McCartney wrote it. 8: What's the last great film you saw? There's a great little film called "Mad Hot Ballroom" which I really loved. I also really liked "A History of Violence". And I was surprised at how much I enjoyed "Brokeback Mountain". There's a wonderful Japanese film called "Afterlife" that everyone should see. And - although it's not new at all - I thought "Love Actually" was terrific not least of all because it featured "God Only Knows" so nicely. You didn't ask, but I saw a really delightful "Broadway" musical when I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago called "The Drowsey Chaperone". Very clever. Very funny. And Canadian, to boot. 9: And the last great record you heard? An album called "Vibe" by a beautiful Brazilian singer by the name of Vanessa Fallabella. If you find Brazilian music - Bossa Nova particularly - as engaging as I do, you should listen to it immediately. 10: Who is going to win the soccer World Cup? Speaking of Brazil... Well... it's a fair bet it won't be the good old United States of America. Although, we play Ghana next, I think. And Italy beat Ghana whilst we were able to tie Italy. Not sure exactly what that suggests. But at the very least, we can take heart that this will be one dismal U.S. failure in the rest of the world that our current dismal administration can't take any credit for. Actually, it looks good for Brazil, as always. But the Germans are a force to contend with. It should be a good wrap up however it turns out. TA