THEY'RE MORE THAN just the heterosexual answer to George Michael's Wham!—when it comes to gold records, the sweet "Philly-stylin" Daryl Hall and John Oates are the most successful duo in pop music. Much of their "crossover appeal" was a consequence of their sleek "white soul" that featured them in as many jukeboxes in Detroit as in Portland. As it is, their most recent record, 2004's Our Own Kind of Soul, boasts 13 covers of soul classics. Though Oates (over the phone from Colorado, his current home) mentioned to me that they delve into their recent albums on the current tour, they stick close to their '80s rock star repertoire. Thus, "Kiss on My List" is practically guaranteed.
MERCURY: You have your 2002 solo album, Phunk Shui. Are there going to be opportunities to play music from that at your Portland show?
JOHN OATES: No, Daryl and I have such a huge repertoire—our fans come to see that. We try to play the songs that we feel have stood the test of time. Some of them have, I think, and sound as contemporary as when they were written. As songwriters, Daryl and I are most proud of that fact. We can play a song like "She's Gone" from 1972 or "Sara Smile" from 1974 and they sound great. We reinvent them as well, which I think is also the mark of a good song.
Do you think that a song of yours like "Private Eyes" would take on a different meaning today? A stalker theme, perhaps?
It's always interesting that what [a songwriter's] motivation was for writing a song is very different than what a listener ascribes to the song. The song "Rich Girl," for example—everybody thought that was about Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
It had nothing to do with that. It was actually about a guy who was an heir to a fast food fortune. But, if "Private Eyes" was written today by a contemporary group, I would think that, yeah, people would think it was about wire-tapping.
Do you remember the exact day you shaved your moustache?
I shaved it for the first time in 1990. We were on a plane coming back from Tokyo.
Do you regret it?
Not a bit.
I'll close by mentioning I had a boyhood crush on you.
Thank you very much. I assume it's over?