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Of your classic hits, is there any one in particular that holds a special place in your heart?
“I don’t like any of them. It’s not that they’re bad songs – I chose them and did the best I could with them, but I don’t think I did very well. Before 1980, my phrasing just wasn’t very good. I started to do the Nelson Riddle stuff in particular to work on my phrasing; I think I succeeded to a degree.
“I wasn’t the world’s greatest phraser. I still wasn’t as good as Bonnie Raitt. I love Bonnie – she’s fabulous. I’m going to take her to lunch next week. I’m delighted that she can phrase better than I can. And same with Jennifer Warnes. I heard her sing at the Troubadour the same night I heard Bonnie. I had already heard Jennifer on the Smothers Brothers show, and we played together at a little beatnik dive called The Insomniac. I remember seeing her warm up outside, and I thought she was very dedicated. There are these people that make you go, ‘I’m never gonna be that good.’ But so what? You just do the best you can.”
Are there any current singers you like?
“Of course, there’s Adele. And there was Amy Winehouse, poor girl, who was better than any of us. There’s a singer I love from Spain named Estrella Morente She’s a very traditional flamenco singer, and she’s just fabulous – a very beautiful girl. I listen to her all the time now. And there’s a really good singer in Mexico City named Natalia Lafourcade. She’s very urban. I mean, there’s some really good people sticking their heads up out there. Like I said, talent never leaves the gene pool.”