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Michael Franks Is Happy to Be “Some Old Jazz Guy”

The jazzy singer/songwriter talks about the beauty of poetry, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and nature

Michael Franks (photo c/o the artist)
Michael Franks (photo c/o the artist)

JazzTimes’ own Christopher Loudon once called Michael Franks “the trippy troubadour,” which has a nice alliterative ring to it that the literary singer/songwriter might well appreciate. The reality is that he’s not some old hippie burnt out on ’70s drugs, but rather a thoughtful and intellectual songwriter whose vocal style and persona are sui generis. And as we learned in the conversation excerpted below, he delights in being called “some old jazz guy.” (Though he’d likely prefer to be known as simply “a jazz guy.”)

Since arriving on the jazz scene in the early ’70s, Franks has not only amassed a remarkable and consistent discography as a leader, but also has had the thrill of seeing his songs covered by a wide range of singers and performers inside and outside the world of jazz. That list includes Diana Krall, Carmen McRae, Al Jarreau, Natalie Cole, Lyle Lovett, Patti Labelle, and the Manhattan Transfer. He’s even had some hits that crossed over onto popular radio and sales charts, including the infectious and sweet “Popsicle Toes” and the romantic ballad “The Lady Wants to Know.”

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