Buddy Goode is the risqué troubadour of Australian country music – our very own piece of Pennsylvania in a jumpsuit, spreading joy and love (or some form of it) around the countryside. Ahead of his run of shows at Tamworth 2013, I got to talk to the man – the legend – that is Buddy Goode. And my cheeks are still sore from laughing so much. Buddy’s latest album is Unappropriate. Tamworth show dates are at the bottom of this post.
I’ve got to say, I’ve been nervous and excited about interviewing you because I’ve been listening to your album and I’m not quite sure what to expect.
[Laughs] I’m going to ask you, first of all, who is Buddy Goode as a man and as a musician?
Well, I guess the musician maketh the man, that’s what I like to say. You know, all those years of toil behind a guitar and piano writing songs and everything has made me the man I am, because it makes me think about my life in great detail. I still remember all the things that I did as a child, all the things I did as an adolescent when I started being affected with the opposite sex.
And, of course, in my later years, that I’m in now – my mid to late years, you know, same thing, you know – so all those times all come together and they make the man that’s Buddy Goode.
So there is no man without the music. Is that what you’re saying?
There’s no man without the music but I tell you what, I’m going to use that and I’m going to use that on my posters. There’s no man without the music. I love it [laughs].
[Laughs] it’s just all music. Your DNA is semi-quavers and crotchets and all sorts of things.
You know, you don’t even have to interview me. You can write it yourself. [Laughs] You’re expressing what I’m thinking.
[Laughs] Well, look, you’re clearly a man of the world, Buddy. You’re working in Australia but you’re from North America. So given that you are a man of the world, what on earth made you choose country music?
What do – you know what, I’ve always said – I said this to Rod Stewart once, you know, “After making all those great pop records, why did you go and do all those standard ballad, swing records?” And he looked at me and he said, “I’m sorry? Who are you?” I’ll never forget that moment. It made me think about my past and why I chose country music and my thing, you know? My daddy, my daddy Buddy Senior, he loved all the great performers like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and, of course, everybody loves Willie and he loved Willie so much and so I guess that’s where I get it from. The old 45s we used to have, there was an artist – the most famous artist to come out of Pennsylvania state where I was raised was a guy called Chuck Newton. And Chuck Newton – not many people know who Chuck Newton was but he had – one of his great songs was – I remember growing up with it, I’ll never forget – it was called ‘Take A Break from Under the Car, Dad, your Son’s Come Home with the Jack’.
One of my favourite songs I ever heard. And Chuck Newton, that was his name. You might want to look him up. He was my inspiration.
Is he a relative of Wayne Newton?
[Laughs] No, but he sang really high pitched, too. He was kind of like the country choir boy.
Because I can see that there could be a double act in Vegas but perhaps Chuck has now left this world, I don’t know.
No, I think he’s still – I think he’s about 108, he just turned 108.
So you said that you were raised in Pennsylvania. Your accent now sounds a little more Deep South, so has there been some movement in the Buddy Goode world from the north of the United States to the south?
There’s been plenty of movement downstairs for sure. There’s always been. And I must admit that – yeah, I know I – to be honest with you, it’s really hard to do a Pennsylvanian accent [laughs]. Ever since I was a young kid, I could never quite speak the way all my relatives spoke. For some reason, I came out talking like this. I guess it’s all those years singin’ and listenin’ to all those great people that come from down south.
Well, that’s absolutely true. I mean, if your life is dedicated to Willie, that’s going to happen.
There’s plenty of stuff downstairs, Willie, plenty of stuff. God, I’m choking on something.
[Laughs] So when you set out to make an album, Buddy – I’m sensing that with your albums there are certain themes that come to the fore. So I’m just wondering how hard it is to settle on a theme for an album.
The themes? It just comes natural, you know? I don’t really set out with any specific things in mind. I must admit though, I remember talking to Meat Loaf once many years ago when he just brought out the Bat Out of Hell record and I said something similar to him. I said, “Where do you get these ideas, these great ideas?” And he told me his mentor, Jim Steinman, who wrote all those great songs for that record, came up with the whole concept, the whole thing, you know? So it got me thinking I needed my own mentor. I needed somebody, my own musical direction. So I gave Burt Bacharach a call and he said, “You know, the best thing, Buddy, you can do is just write from the heart”, you know what I mean? He said, “Just think about it.” He said – because I remember him saying to me – he said, “The day I sat down and wrote a song, you know, ‘What the world needs now is love, sweet love’, I thought to myself, you know, this is coming straight from the depths of my soul.” So I thought, you know, I can do that, too. And that’s how I come up with the song ‘Jimmy Likes Dick’.
[Laughs] I’m really curious as to why you would choose Burt Bacharach, because I would have thought that he was not quite in your genre.
He was my neighbour at the time, so I just leaned over the fence when he was making some barbecue.
I don’t know if that was during the time when he was married to Carole Bayer-Sager, because I think they’re now …
The second time he was married to her, yeah. Yeah. He was married to her twice. No-one knows that. So the first time they were quite young, and they had three kids and nobody knows about the kids either. Then they split up because she was having an affair with what’s his name, the actor, Ryan O’Neal. And so, anyway, after that, it was like a love triangle: Carole Bayer‑Sager, Ryan O’Neal and Carly Simon, so the three of them were in a love triangle. Nobody knows about this. And the song ‘You’re So Vain’ was actually written about Burt Bacharach.
All this time I thought it was about Warren Beatty.
Exactly right. Nobody knows that. It’s amazing.
Anyway. We could talk all day about this kind of crap [laughs].
Yeah, yeah, I could as well. But I’m curious, then, given Pennsylvania, mining country, coal country, I can understand why you’d want to move to Australia, where it’s a bit warmer and we still have coal mining but it’s a quite different kind of lifestyle. So what first brought you down under?
Well, it did have a lot to do with coal, you know? It was definitely the coal. My great, great grand-daddy, Buddy Senior – he was a coal miner and he used to drive the trucks, you know, in and out of the coal – he’d drive a truck into the mine and then he’d go down there, he’d dig it all out and he’d put it on the truck and then he’d drive the truck out of there. He did the whole thing, you know? So when I was lookin’ for somewhere to come, Keith Urban said, “You’ve got to move to Australia, Buddy. You’re going to love it down there.” So I was thinking to myself, well, you know, where am I going to live if I come down there? I got a map out and the first place – the first place I found was Newcastle.
I thought, Newcastle. That looks like a cool city, you know? That’s where they dig coal out of there. So I went to Newcastle and I didn’t like it so I headed over to the Central Coast, that’s where I am now [laughs].
So you’re on the Central Coast now?
There’s no coal there. It’s all about beach. I love the beach. I love swimmin’, I love scuba divin’, I love paddle boardin’, I love wind surfin’, I love hang glidin’ and I don’t mind getting the odd melanoma.
[Laughs] Well, you’ve moved to the right country for that.
Slip, slop, slap’s what they say here.
I’ve got to say, though, with the idea of you living on the Central Coast, your hair looks like it needs a lot of care because it’s a lustrous mane. You also tend to wear the long-sleeved jumpsuit, which is not exactly beach friendly. So is there a beach side of Buddy that his fans have yet to see?
Sophie, there certainly is. Nobody has ever seen me in my beach attire but I’m not one of those – you know, I’m still livin’ in the 70s, darlin’. I don’t go for the full body suit, or wetsuit or, you know, those cover-up shirts with the hat with the thing floppin’ down over the back of your neck. I’m pretty much in a G-string, lettin’ it all out there because, you know what, I’ve always thought, you know, when you’re gettin’ a tan, the last thing you want is your butt cheeks to be white. So if I can’t get that G-string – and usually I put it on backwards because it fits better – but if I don’t have the G-string, I just get the Speedo and I’ll crank it, crank it straight up my crack just like they see on Bondi Rescue. The boys do that. I got it from there. We used to see that on TV over in the States, you know? You’d watch – not Baywatch, but we’d see Australian, you know, lifesaving programs, you know, from the ’70s and they’d be there, you know, with their thing cranked right up their crack and doing the thing with the rope on top of their head, all that sort of stuff. It was fabulous. So I mould myself on a little bit of David Hasselhoff and a little bit of them.
Well, you can’t hassle the Hoff, that’s for sure, and there’s a lot to admire about the Hoff.
I love the Hoff. You know, I must admit, I was good friends with him up until the time he sang on top of the Berlin Wall when they were bringing it down. He just sang out of tune that night. I lost a lot of respect for him.
[Laughs] So clearly you’re not an artist then who goes into the studio and has to have autotune applied – you sing in tune.
No autotune. No, we don’t use autotune in the studio. We normally use it live. The thing is, you know, in the studio, it’s just – it’s just a cheap cop-out, it’s the cheap way out, you know? But definitely live, yeah, why not? And I do a lot of dancing and stuff. You know, you see people like Madonna and all those kind of cats, when they’re doing a lot of dancing and singing, they sing out of tune, you know, and they get out of breath. So pretty much, because of all the dancing and stuff that I do with all my props and stuff and just entertaining the general public, you know, it was a lot of pressure on me and the last thing I want to do is get bad notes so I pretty much mime live.
Well, this actually brings me – this was going to be my last question but I’ll jump ahead to it, because you’ve raised live performance. And I know that you have a whole lot of dates in Tamworth in January so I was wondering what your Tamworth audience can expect from the Buddy Goode live experience?
Well, I’ll be there –
[Laughs] And it’s going to be fun. I tell you what, last year I went to my first show in Tamworth at the Legends Bar and it was so successful they’ve asked me to do a couple this year, so I can’t wait to go there to Tamworth and – what was the question again?
What can they expect from the show – is it going to be you and a guitar or do you have a band?
A lot of – just colour, all I’ll say is colour; musical colour, visual colour and maybe a little bit of skin colour.
Depending on the colour of your Speedos or your G-string.
Exactly right. And I might just play that live. Who knows what’s going to happen but it’s going to be fun, it’s especially going to be fun if people turn up.
If you’re not wearing the G-string or the Speedo on stage, how do you cope in the Tamworth heat with the jumpsuit?
Well, you know, you just acclimatise to stuff like that. I remember once I spent about six months living in Alaska. It’s hard walking around Alaska, you know, with your Speedos on, too, but you just acclimatise. You can see an English gentleman, a British gentleman, you know, out here in the Australian sun, you know, and he’s like, you know, walkin’ down the street, he’s got a red face and he’s sweatin’. I look at that, every time I say to them, “You know, you’re a fool. You shouldn’t come down to this hemisphere. You should stay out of it.” But people like me, we’ve learned to acclimatise like the alligators.
You mean alligators acclimatise into Australia?
You mean, they acclimatised and became crocodiles?
[Laughs] It sounds like hopefully your performance in Tamworth will have less teeth than that but perhaps, you know, smoother skin.
Plenty of teeth. I love plenty of teeth. I’m proud of my teeth. I’ve taken great care of my teeth over the years. You know, I brush at least once a week so I’m proud to say that I like to display them in all my photos and I like to smile. So I guess when people are looking at me on stage, they’re going to hear some nice tunes, they’re going to see some nice action, they’re going to see some nice moves, they’re going to see some nice clothes but they’re going to see a nice smile.
We can see your smile on your CD insert because it’s proudly displayed.
That’s right, ma’am.
Buddy Goode at Tamworth 2013: 21 to 27 January, Legends Bar, West Tamworth Leagues Club