Paul Young is one of the most influential UK pop artists of all time and a versatile musician whose talent as a singer and songwriter is second to none; in a career that spans more than 40 years, he has been especially acclaimed for the 1980s hit songs Every Time You Go Away and Love Of The Common People.
He took part in legendary music events such as the 1985 Live Aid concert to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia which hosted artists like David Bowie, Dire Straits and Spandau Ballet and had famously been the scene of one of the most magnificent performances of all time by Freddie Mercury and Queen.
Paul Young also participated in the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness in 1992 – and loads of people worldwide will remember the 1987 song Senza una Donna (Without a Woman) by Italian superstar Zucchero featuring Paul Young sort of singing in Italian.
The hit topped the European Hot 100 Singles that year and entered the top 5 charts in 19 countries including the United States but excluding Zucchero’s homeland; Senza una Donna (Without a Woman) reached only number 22 in Italy, but that’s another story – a story scandalously similar to the ones of Andrea Bocelli and Il Volo.
And so, the one and only Paul Young is in today for a quick Q&A about 1980s memories, streaming platforms and his stellar pop music career.
Paul, what achievements are you most proud of?
I think to still be a musician. I mean, every musician likes to think that they could make a career and a living out of being a musician. So the fact that I’ve been doing it now since I was 20 years old is a great thing.
Which of your songs are you most attached to?
Mmm, that’s difficult. All have different favourites at different times. If I go on a tour wich is all about my first album, I have a lot of fun playing the songs that I haven’t played for nearly 40 years. So my favourite one back then was my first ever single which was called Iron Out The Rough Spots.
What would you be doing today if you weren’t a musician? Did you have a plan B?
No, there wasn’t. I once heard another musician saying that his best plan was to have no plan B so you’ve got nothing to go back to, and, therefore, you have to succeed. So, the best thing I think is not to have a plan B. I mean, I trained to be a kind of a machinist but I hated the job and I wasn’t going to go back to that.
Would you like to share any memories of the Radio Ga Ga duet you performed with Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992?
I remember that when we were in rehearsals, the song is very high and all the parts are very high, I think a little bit too high for me. And so I asked if we could drop the key of the song at all, but we could only take it down one tiny bit because it would have been very difficult then for Brian May to play the song. So we only took it down one little piece and I remember it made it slightly easier for me, but for Brian, he really had to concentrate to make sure he was playing it in the same key for so long, he really got to concentrate to make sure he didn’t make any mistakes.
Will there ever be another Live Aid?
No, I don’t think so. I think that’s gone, I think the main part of the excitement with that was all about human contact and physically being there at the concert. You know, this probably won’t happen again. If they do a worldwide concert, it’ll be streamed, and there will not be so much of a sense of occasion, because don’t forget that the biggest thrill ever about Live Aid was if you actually had a ticket and you were there. So okay, people around the world watched it on their TVs, but to be able to say “I was there”, you know, it was such a big thing.
In his interview, Zucchero discussed the song Senza una Donna (Without a Woman) you two performed in 1987. How was it to sing in Italian?
Haha, well, there’s not much Italian in that record, but I did learn some Italian about 30 years ago. So, when I sing the song live, I always do the first verse in English and the second verse in Italian, it’s a lot of fun to do that! Even though I’m singing in English, I’d say “non è così che puoi comprarmi baby” [translates as “there is no way that you can buy me, baby”] ... it’s a little strange but I want to do it anyway as a homage to Zucchero, you know!
Has the internet changed the way you release music?
What I might do is what younger artists are doing right now, and they don’t necessarily release albums anymore. They just release tracks. So maybe I can finish the first three or four songs of a new album, put them up on Spotify and iTunes, then work on the next four and put those up and then, once I’m finished, there’ll be a complete album. It’s a very different thing for me, so my manager suggested that perhaps we do it this way. So I’m gonna give it a go and see… it sounds interesting, an interesting way to get your music out to the fans.
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