First Word - Terry Callier

  • The List
  • 28 May 2009
First Word - Terry Callier

The influential American guitarist and singer-songwriter proves he’s no Ordinary Joe as he tackles our Q&A. Just don’t ask him to run the country – under any circumstances

First record you ever bought
The first record I ever bought was ‘Crying In the Chapel’ by Sonny Til and the Orioles.

Last time you were chatted up
The last time I was seriously chatted up was after a concert last year at Wayne State University outside Detroit, Michigan.

First film you saw that really moved you
The first film that did something to me was Lili with Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer. The theme song from the picture is still with me.

Last lie you told
I don’t really remember the last time I lied but I do remember the first time. I lied to my mom regarding the fate of my newly broken piggy bank (I said I didn’t do it).

Last time you cried
Too personal to go into but it was about six weeks ago.

First thing you do when you’ve got time off work
Go see my daughter who lives outside Chicago or travel up to Michigan.

Last extravagant purchase you made
The Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar I currently play on stage.

First crush
My first crush was on the young woman who was my babysitter from the time I was two or three years old until I was old enough (about 16 or so) to be the sitter for my younger brother.

Last book you read
I can’t remember the title but it was a biography of Van Morrison.

First great piece of advice you were given
It was from an old family friend when I told him I wanted to be a musican. He said I would have to ‘C sharp and B natural’.

Last time you were star struck
The first time was when I saw a stage show with Duke Ellington and the Flamingoes. The last time was my first encounter with the live show of John Coltrane.

First thing you’d do if you ran the country
I wouldn’t want to run the country under any circumstances.

First song you’ll sing at karaoke
Either ‘The Impossible Dream’ or ‘Nessun Dorma’.

Last time you exploited your position to get something
I don’t really have a ‘position’ to exploit – I’m fortunate to have enough of an audience that allows me to visit Europe and the UK once or twice a year.

First time you realised you were famous
The first time I realised my work was being recognised was my first gig at the Jazz Café where everybody in the audience knew the words to ‘Ordinary Joe’.

Last time someone criticised your work
My daughter critiques me all the time.

First three words your friends would use to describe you
Generous, funny, thoughtful.

Last time you made an impulse buy and regretted it
I purchased a winter-weight jacket that looked great on me in the store mirror but looked funny when I got home.

First concert you ever attended
The show with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, vocalists Jimmy Grissom and Betty Carter and the Flamingoes.

Last time you bought someone flowers
For my daughter on Mother’s Day.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning
Usually how lucky I am to wake up that morning.

Last thing you think of before you go to sleep
‘The Night Prayer’ and how lucky I am to have had another day.

Terry Callier plays the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 4 Jun.

Terry Callier

Veteran folky soul singer, who has collaborated with the coffee table likes of Groove Armada, Zero 7, 4 Hero and Massive Attack.

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