I had a good, long chat with good ol’ boy Buddy Goode late last year, in preparation for his gigs at the 2013 Tamworth Country Music Festival, where he’ll be playing at the Legends Bar, West Tamworth Leagues Club, from 21 to 27 January. The chat was so long, in fact, that it’s being published in two parts. This is part II. Part I is here. And I’m still laughing because Buddy Goode is a seriously funny man (and musician).
Buddy’s latest album is Unappropriate and it’s available from wherever unappropriate country music may be found …
Speaking of your CD, because, as I said, I jumped ahead to my last question so I’m going back to the earlier questions, I’m really curious as to why you would let ‘Back in the Bush’ be sung by someone other than you.
Well, you know, it’s not my song, you know? I mean, that was Barry Sarkokov and the Sarkokov Brothers had formed the Doughwackers. I mean, you have to respect the heritage, you know, when people – you listen to country music radio or you read magazines and everybody’s always talking about Slim Dusty, the great Slim Dusty. You know, for me, the Doughwackers, it’s the Doughwackers all the way. You know, to me, they’ve created some of the most brilliant Australian bush country ballad music you’ve ever heard. So it would be an insult, it would be a slap in the face for Buddy Goode to put that song on his album and not have the Doughwackers singing it. I’m hoping that in the near future, Buddy Sarkokov and Sarkokov Brothers from the Doughwackers will be doing their own records. Yeah. Put that in print [laughs].
[Laughs] But does that mean you don’t endorse the sentiment of ‘Back in the Bush’, if you let someone else sing it?
No, I’m for the sentiment [laughs]. I wrote the song. You know – no, to be honest with you, it didn’t suit Buddy Goode’s style, you know? It’s not a kind of Buddy Goode kind of song, a little bit too much innuendo for that. I’m a more serious artist. So if you’re looking at that, respect it, you know? That’s what I want. I want – I need somebody to do my shows for me so I thought the Doughwackers might come along and do that and maybe they will in Tamworth.
Well, I will put that in print as well. But you say not so much innuendo in your songs and I guess that that’s true, because you’re more straight down the line. For example, the song title and the song ‘Granny’s Gettin’ Some’ sounds like a literal statement. So I was wondering if that’s actually based on any family member in particular?
It certainly is – my great-grandma Goode. She was a wonderful lady. She was J. Edgar Hoover’s secretary for many years and we’ve learned a lot about life from her. I remember when I was just a little boy, I remember she bought me a bike, she bought me this little bike, and she said, “Buddy, this is all yours.” And I said, “Has it got a seat?” And she said, “No, I couldn’t afford the seat.” So I had to ride it standing up. But it was a very important lesson in life and I learnt that from Grandma Goode and she was a wonderful woman. But she was also a very flippant – a very, what would you say, free-spirited lady and that song came from some times of her free-spiritedness. And she was always courting genial gentlemen. So that song, that’s where that come from. I was proud to put it in song and put it on my record.
So did you learn anything from your great-granny in that this inter‑generational –
I certainly did: date women younger than you.
[Laughs] You know, I don’t necessarily like to ask personal questions in these interviews but it’s highly probable that there will be some female fans in Tamworth, if not before, so any tips you can give them to attract your attention?
To attract my attention? Just – if I can see breath coming out of their mouths, that’s all I need. Or if I can see slight movement in the chest from a heartbeat. I tell you what, that’s all I need. I think all women are lovely in their own way, even the fat ones.
So brunettes, blondes, redheads, they can all apply for the position of Buddy Goode’s girlfriend?
You know what? I’m going through a bit of a phase at the moment. I’m really attracted to Asian ladies with red hair. You don’t see many of them and I guess that explains – I’m searching the world for one, you know, with a tattoo; with a tattoo and green eyes, yep, just like someone you’d see in a Japanese comic book. Maybe that’s where it comes from.
And I think maybe there’s a website you can go to find that, I just don’t know what the name of that website is.
Maybe if I type in ‘Japanese lady, red hair, green eyes, tattoo’, it’ll come up straight up away. There’ll be a whole plethora of photos of all the young ladies. Who knows?
And if she turns up in Tamworth, of course, you will have to seal the deal.
Where are you from?
I’m from Sydney.
Nice. I was in the city last night.
Are you visiting from the Central Coast or you’re in Sydney as well?
I was just in Sydney last night. I was – to be honest with you, I’m hanging out with Adam Brand today, my favourite country singer. We’re preparing because we’re doing a show in Melbourne on Wednesday, that’s tomorrow.
Yes, it is.
Just tomorrow. Yeah. So we’re just talking about how we’re going to do it and he’s just – I’m just giving him a few tips on how to put on a show, so hopefully that all works out. So, yeah, I stayed the night in Sydney last night and I had dinner at the Hard Rock Café down at the Darling Harbour. It was very nice.
And presumably, your photo would have been on the wall at the Hard Rock Café.
No. You know, they have one of my suits, my old suits from ’64, up in the window and the funny thing is they didn’t know it was one of my suits but it was bought by Porter Wagner and Porter hadn’t worn it for years, you know? Anyway, it ended up in Elvis’s wardrobe. So I’m walking past this glass case last night and this young lady who I was with, she said to me, “Hey, Buddy, that looks like one of those suits from those photos I was looking at.” And I had a close look at it and it had the BG and the gemstones all embroidered into it and I’m like, “My God, where did it come from?” and it’s done a full circle, through Porter Wagner, through Elvis, all the way – I don’t know where it went in between but it ended up in the Hard Rock Café in Darling Harbour in a showcase. But they didn’t know. And I told the lady. I walked up to the lady at the counter and I said, “You know, that Elvis suit you’ve got in there? That used to belong to me. I’m Buddy Goode.” And she looked at me and she went, “Really?” So, yeah.
[Laughs] On the subject of your suits, of course, Gram Parsons had his suits made by a tailor called Nudie.
Yes, Nudie. Yes.
I actually think Nudie would have been a good tailor for you.
I had some Nudie stuff back at the time I was living in Boston, I lived there for about a year because we were makin’ some underground blues record there. And what happened was, I was living in this great house and I had all my stuff still in storage, you know, all my great Nudie suits. I had about 400 of them all personally made by and they were sitting there in boxes. And I got home from work one day and my house burned down so all those great outfits have gone. I’ve been trying to get some Nudie suits made, you know? They’re certainly hard to get them these days, you know, especially when you ring up and say, “Can you make me a Nudie suit?” and they look at you and they go, “What the hell? Like, you’ve already got one [laughs] you were born with it” – “That’s not what I mean. Rhinestones and all that; rhinestones.”
Given that you had original Nudie suits and that one of your other suits made its way to Elvis, you’re a lot older than you look.
I know, I know. You know, my age varies just like any professional, famous person. You know, you walk up to Jennifer Aniston and say, “How old are you?” She’s never going to give you the same answer. You know, sure, hers ranges from between 40 to 50 but mine ranges from 30 to 70 but that’s – you know, that’s showbusiness. Everybody lies about their age. You know, I said to this lovely young lady the other day. I said, “Ma’am, how old are you?” She looked at me straight and I said, “I apologise. It’s really rude to ask a woman her age. How much do you weigh?” Anyway, that’s another story. Getting back to that, I think, you know, I mean, at least I’m using my real name, you know what I mean? A lot of people change their name: Elton John, you know? Who’s the other one – Beccy Cole. She’s not Beccy Cole. Adam Brand. Adam Brand’s got a different name, too. You know, it’s showbusiness. Don’t tell them your name, don’t tell them your age and certainly don’t give them your phone number. Tex Perkins.
Well, yeah, Beccy Cole is Rebecca Cole so, you know, that’s a big change.
Yes, of course. And Adam Brand, he used to be Neville Brand, you know? I’m glad he changed that first name.
Given that you are so well preserved, I was wondering if it’s your younger companions who keep you young or do you have any beauty and health tips for your fans?
No. See, many people don’t know this, too, but you see those – in those stores you can go in and you can put on a little mask and you can just breathe in pure oxygen? I pioneered that back in Pennsylvania back in the late ’60s. I said, you know, one time I fainted on the plane and I woke up in the arms of a beautiful hostess. She had an oxygen tank on me and I felt like – you know, I sucked in that beautiful, pure oxygen for, like, 20 seconds and I felt like – you know what it’s like – I don’t know – being reincarnated. So I thought there’s got to be something in this for everybody. So I devised my own system where you pour pure oxygen into people, whether we injected into their veins or we just – sometimes we’d burn it on a spoon and inject it and we did it all different ways, you know? We’d smoke it, we’d make capsules out of it and take them and used to melt down the oxygen and we used to put it on little pieces of paper and we’d put them on our tongue and all different ways of taking this oxygen. And they were some great days in the ’60s, you know? So I kind of pioneered that and I think that’s what’s kept me up, it’s all that oxygen floating through my system.
It seems like Pennsylvania was a very fertile creative place and time for you. Do you feel that your creativity has been enhanced or thwarted a bit by moving to the ’70s?
I’m listening but I’ve got a helicopter flying over my head and I can’t hear a thing. Just wait for it. It’s going. Where is it? Okay. Oh my God, it’s the guy from Skippy. Okay.
Which one and what shirt is he wearing?
It’s Tony Bonner. From here he’s got his khaki one on. We used to get Skippy back in the States. We used to watch Skippy. We loved Skippy. Everybody used to talk about Skippy. And when I first moved here, I was expecting to see Skippies. Everyone would have a Skippy in their backyard, you know, like, you know, tied up in a cage or something like we used to have with our bears back home? But, you know, it’s just very strange that I haven’t seen one kangaroo since I’ve been here.
Clearly you’re living in the wrong part of the Central Coast.
Maybe I am. I do live on the back of a reserve. Maybe there’s some kangaroos in there or some wildebeests. Maybe they’re in there because occasionally I let my dogs out at night when I hear some noise down there so they forage in there and I hear them growling and I hear them ripping stuff to pieces but, I don’t know, maybe there are kangaroos.
And if we say that music calms the savage beast then maybe if the beast isn’t originally savage, the music that you’re playing from your home, it’s not really working on the animals.
You’ve always going to release the beast. In any part of life – you know, I don’t know much about cricket but I was watching that Australian captain, Michael Clarke, hit some balls before. Man, he was releasing the beast. And I was thinking to myself, you know, all famous people who’ve reached the top of their tree, at one time in their life, they released the beast. You know what I’m talking about. I think people who choose to keep that beast hidden inside them, perhaps they don’t get very far in life. You just need to let it out, let it hang out, let it just run its course.
So given that releasing the beast is a good idea, probably, from a creative point of view, from a performance point of view, is it difficult to control the beast when you’re on stage?
I don’t want to control the beast, you know? It’s like I suppose if you have a chocolate factory, right, and you make chocolate and people come to the shop to buy the chocolate because they love to taste the chocolate when they want, they crave that chocolate, you know? And they come in droves to buy that chocolate, you know? So I go out there on stage and I know that people want the beast. So for me to keep the beast hidden inside would be detrimental to everything I’ve told to my fans.
Do you give the beast its own name? Like, is it a shadow‑self, is it an alter-ego?
I’ve got two beasts, B1 and B2, and they get released at different times depending on the ethnicity of the crowd.
[Laughs] Well, it’s always good to read your audience and stagecraft is hard to learn, so when you first started performing, was it just instinctual for you or did you find you had to learn how to please an audience?
Well, yeah, I think a lot of it’s just natural. Just anyone can lie – if you know your strengths, all the things that come naturally to you, you know? The things that make you successful, however, are the things you attain by purchasing them with money.
So you can’t – like, you can go and sing for somebody and they might think you’re a good singer and everything like that, but unless you pour a million dollars into your career, no one’s ever going to know who you are. That’s the way it is. Or you can get on one of those shows like The Voice or X-Factor or something like that where, you know, I think it’s – they’re great shows because everybody loves to watch singers on TV that yesterday were singing for their grandmas at a barbecue and now they’re on national television singing. I always like to see that; I like to encourage people like that. And around the water cooler on Monday morning when everyone says, “Did you see that girl sing last night on X-Factor? Wasn’t she just awesome? She was almost as good as John Farnham, compared to the other six people who sang next to her. I love it.” It’s very encouraging. It’s like giving someone a ribbon for coming eighth. I love it.
As I’m drawing to the end of my allotted time, I’m going to ask you one last question. In the ideal Buddy Goode universe, is world domination your goal? Do you want to touch the hearts and other body parts of everyone in Australia or are you happy with the way things are, just being in the country music community and the general pop and rock community not knowing who you are yet?
Well, I’ll be honest with you, you can’t set your sights with world domination, you know? Crazy people like Hitler did that. But, to me, it’s like foreplay. When you’re making love to a lady, you like to start with the toes, work your way up – and I won’t go through the details, I think you understand, but at the moment I’m in Australia so we kind of like make Australia like, you know, about in the middle of the body somewhere. And I’m doing my best but it don’t necessarily mean that I’m going all the way. You know what I’m saying? You can’t set your sights on world domination. You’ve just got to take it one little area at a time and see how far you can get.
Well, it seems as though you’re well on your way to taking one little area at a time. I thought you were going to tell me that Australia was the kneecaps, but I was wrong. So I think that you’re progressing well up the human body of world domination or wherever I’m going with that metaphor.
[Laughs] The knees? You know, I don’t want any country to be the knees. The knees are just nothing. Have you ever heard someone say, “Man, I love that girl. She’s got the best looking knees I’ve ever seen.” [Laughs]. They’re kind of like, you know, if you get in trouble with someone you owe money, too, that’s the first thing they take out. So the knees are kind of like not important. They’re kind of like eyelashes, you know?
[Laughs] That’s fair enough but I think I’d better leave it there so you can go back to Adam Brand and continue your preparations for your gig tomorrow. So thank you.
I can go back to having my hangover in peace. Thank you, Sophie.