Justin answers your latest questions...
1. In a BBC2 radio broadcast last April, you refer to a time "a few years back" when you met Australia's Tina Arena to consider doing some work together. As she recorded a beautiful version of Nights for release in 2008, did this coincide with the time frame of that meeting? (In other words, were you in consideration to be included in that recording)?
I didn’t know she had recorded ‘Nights”. That’s nice. I wasn’t asked about being included in the recording - she didn’t need to.
I like Tina very much (it’s mutual) and she is a wonderful singer – adored especially in France.
2. What do you feel most enriches your life at present?
Music, friendship. Love and responsibility.
3. From a fan perspective, your recent solo tour was a resounding success. How was it from a commercial aspect for you?
We sold out the gigs and every promoter asked us back. I do want to do some more – Lets see how the routing and travelling can be worked out – but I loved every minute.
And I need to watch the pennies next time!
4. Some of the songs done on your solo tour were exquisite bare bones versions of Moody tunes that haven't been on the band's tours in recent times (or not at all). What are the chances of getting them into the band's setlists in the future (ie New Horizons, It's Up To You, Land Of Make Believe, Forever Autumn)?
5. Originally, during the promotion phase of your solo tour, you spoke of planning to do songs from previous solo albums. As this did not occur, what was the reason for that?
The gigs and promoters wanted max 90 minutes from me – and they wanted an interval every night with an opening act. I suggested Mike and it turned out great.
We had to leave out several songs that we had rehearsed because of that, and just chose essentials.
6. You loaned your custom Tom Anderson guitar to Mike Dawes, a generosity previously unheard of (to my knowledge). How could you do that, and when will you get it back?
It’s in very safe hands. He loves it so much (so do I by the way, and it features a lot on SOTWS). When I need it he’ll bring it round.
7. Are there any future plans to work with Mike outside of solo tours? It would be nice wouldn’t it? Let me think about that.
8. Will you take the solo tour to the UK/Europe at some point? (Fans are clamoring for that).
I would really, really like to, and I think about it a lot. But, I need a promoter to ask me and put a tour together – maybe Live Nation, who do the Moodies tours?
Touring is not something you can just decide to do and then it will magically happen. It has to be structured by an agent, and the promoters and owners of the venues. Touring is by invitation.
9. Do you feel working with Mike has had any sort of an impact on your playing after that tour?
I learned a lot from him. He is a wonderful player, that goes without saying. But he is also a truly great gigging ‘on the road’ companion for all of us.
10. Mike was an incredible choice, and I'm sure you've won him many new fans. Likewise, Alan and Julie did fantastic jobs in their roles. Can you say they exceeded your expectations?
Yes – I’m very lucky to be able to work and play with them – and their vibe is loving and giving. They are also ready to learn – not always a common trait for great musicians. I love them all.
11. It appears that Jeff Wayne may have killed The War Of The Worlds stage show by altering it too much. Do you miss it (minus the leaves), or does not having that obligation just help free up your schedule?
I miss it and would love to do it again, if it fitted in with my plans and projects – But it has a special place in my heart.
13. Soon another Moodies cruise will be upon us! As Shawn Phillips is to be included from the 1970 Isle Of Wight alumni, over the years he has recounted tales of attending parties at the 'Moody Blues house' back in those early days, can you share any memories of him?
I look forward to meeting him.
14. Is there anything you would you like to see changed or improved on this 2014 cruise over the last one?
Better TV stations on the cabin telly?
15. When do you expect to get back into the studio?
16. Do you have any collaborative projects presently planned?
Not in a writing sense, (I’m not really good at co-writing) although I have a couple of projects to think about
17. In the course of the release and marketing of Spirits Of The Western Sky, is there anything you wished could have been done differently?
I wish I could have devoted more time to the promotion and touring around the release, but I had other responsibilities. But I shall be on Spirits for a long time. It’s part of me.
18. A few years ago in a Q&A, you were asked if you had surround sound equipment at home, and you said you didn't. Has that since changed?
19. Do you have a favorite website that you navigate to on a regular basis?
Mercedes car configurator.
20. Could you tell us about the silver pig on your piano, shown in a fairly recent interview video?
I don’t remember it – which must mean it wasn’t mine, or anything to do with me. But I do have a friend who collects them – maybe it was from them. And I was born in Swindon.
Most likely it wasn’t filmed in my place.
21. Your white Squier guitar is noticeably missing from recent Moody concerts, what made you switch that one out?
It has made a comeback recently – it’s still out on the road.
22. Are there any songs the Moodies do regularly that always make you think of a certain person or place?
Yes. But t’s so too complicated to list or explain. No simple answer I’m afraid.
23. Many fans have commented on You And Me and how much they love this live version you and the band are doing. Did you have any awareness of just how much fans had been wishing for it to be included (it had been an ongoing online rally, wanting to get it in the setlist for at least 5-6 years if not more)?
I wasn’t aware of that until recently – I love playing it, and Graeme’s lyrics are magical.
24. Was the Quad mix lost for “In Search of The Lost Chord”?
Yes, sadly. But it may turn up – it was just not with the other masters – it should be somewhere, but finding it, so far, has proved impossible.
25. Would you please let us know how you are feeling and wish you a speedy recovery, you're much beloved.
“I Feel Fine’
26. Do you have any big celebration plans for the big birthday coming up? Partying into the night? (Happy Birthday!)
No. I had a cake from the group on the bus though.
27. Are you allergic to flowers, by any chance?
Don’t think so.
28. The singer/songwriter Ben Rector you recommended has a song "You and Me" that's almost as great as your "You and Me"; almost. What's your favorite song of Ben's so far?
I think it’s called ‘White Dress’.
29. Your solo shows in August were extraordinarily great! When you bring them back next spring do you know if it will be strictly out west this time or some eastern stops again?
Don’t know yet – I haven’t seen a proposed gig list, but I hope so.
30. In what I like to call your "balladeering days" of the early '60s, I've heard you crossed paths with John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot. Did they influence your playing or writing (or maybe you influenced them)? Do you feel like you've come full-circle now (referring to your solo tour)?
I always admired those guys. John D had the same manager as us. Learning all the time!
31. A couple interviews, years ago, you said 90% of the time you were bored and 10% of the time your life was exciting. Do you still feel that way, or am I misinterpreting what you said? I imagine your life is a lot of "hurry up and wait" while others get organized.
What on earth was I talking about? – Sorry, I ramble sometimes – depends on my mood – ten minutes after that question I would have felt differently.
32. I can guess at songs you've written about your wife and daughter, father and brother, but have not been able to find one that seems to be about your mum. Perhaps New Horizon or Say It With Love are about both of your parents--their gifts of unconditional love and personal freedom?
Your question assumes much, but it’s your fantasy – I’m so sorry. But keep on making what you want out of the songs. If it has meaning to you, that’s fine, and I’m happy.
Love and thanks for your ‘from the heart’ assumption.
I often only realize what songs are about years later – and sometimes they are just stories.
33. What led you to the very talented Mike Dawes and having him play with you during your USA solo tour August 2013?
Fate – or probably just good luck in that moment.
34. You said when speaking about the Moody Blues box set, 'Timeless Flight', that you have all the unreleased gems still and that they would probably remain unreleased. What could persuade you to let them see the light of day?
I think I said I thought I was the only one that had them, but Universal found copies of almost all I have. And I have not much worth hearing, certainly not ‘gems’. It would be nice if the rest of Blue Jays Live turned up –I don’t have it.
35. What was behind the decision for the band to part ways with Tony Visconti?
We certainly did not part ways. Tony went back to live in the USA – if he hadn’t we would be working together all the time now. He is one of my dear, precious lifelong friends.
36. Were you ever a fan of 'lounge type crooners' like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Paul Anka?
37. Are you a 'hard working' composer or does inspiration come easily to you?
Inspiration has to find you working.
38. Do you find rhythms, harmonies and melodies in nature?
Mmmm – don’t think so, but I wouldn’t rule it out – would you?
39. Are you enjoying playing 'You and Me' live in concert as much as it appears? Your guitar work on that song is awesome.
Love it – and we all love singing the words.
40. Can you share a fond, happy or funny moment during the rehearsals for your August solo U.S. tour?
Alberto and I made a giant thick paper chart, as big as the studio double doors, listing all possible songs, that we could just walk up to and draw on when we had each something to write on it or to remember – or just to list our parts and harmonies. It’s huge – I still have it. It was Alberto’s idea – he has the best ideas.
42. Are you not ceaselessly puzzled that many people to this day think it's "Knights In White Satin", and why that is?
No – we always knew it was a double entendre. Nothing wrong with that – and Phil Travers drew a ‘Knight’ on the original sleeve. No worries.
43. When & where did you write the exquisite song "The Western Sky", which from its very first note is so powerfully moving?
In my little room, deep in the middle of many nights.
44. Can you share any thoughts on Phil Spector's "wall of sound" music in the early 60s?
It turned me on!
45. Do you type these answers yourself or does someone do it for you?
Who on earth would write this scatty stuff but me – are you kidding? So – yes, it’s me!
46. Do you ever consider yourself "on vacation"? Where's your favorite spot to go?
My little room.
47. A songwriter is surrounded by sounds (as are we all). Do they influence you and are they in any way of significance for your songwriting work?
Er…. don’t really know – that’s a bit too deep for me. I love playing – songs come from that.
48. Are you visited by a muse?
Yes, they’re over there in the chair! Spooky.
49. When writing a song how do you know when a song is finished and perfect?
Ah, that’s a great question. Usually it’s Alberto or whoever is the engineer – and they say ‘It sounds finished to me’.
50. How did you and the band get into and out of the 1970 Isle of Wight concert surrounded by that sea of humanity; by helicopter or what
We went over by ferry, with lots of festivalgoers, and managed to find a ‘bed and breakfast’ on the other side of the album. It took ages to drive in to the venue, in our van with the equipment. We didn’t have a tour manager in those days – just us, and two roadies.
Our roadies were very forceful and we had the right passes, but we had to wait hours and hours past our scheduled appearance time to get on stage. We were all very, very tired when we finally got on. But we were one of the few acts that were well received that day.
51. What's your secret for keeping your audience happy?
Play it right.
52. What are your thoughts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
I don’t have any. I expect you do, seeing as you asked.
53. Are you definitely all through with writing us update letters on your own website? We miss them immensely!
No – and thank you. I have not had time. Not just because of me my music, but lots of other responsibilities that I have to take care of every day. But I will get back to doing that.