Al Jarreau
by Shannon West

visit Al at
Converting a conversation with Al Jarreau into print is like dancing to a song with the sound turned off. He speaks with such nuance and inflection, just like he sings. As a matter of fact he sings parts of songs in conversation and turns parts of conversation into songs. Our previous talks mostly focused on his recent projects and we are giving you a big dose of background on the Grammy nominated Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest: Live but this was also the great catch-up. We talked about the changes in the business, about being a mature artist in an industry that worships youth, about performing and touring on both sides of the ocean, and about adapting to the physical changes that come as we add on the birthdays. We talked a long time and often veered off on the kind of tangents that happen where there is a shared history of at least 120 years of music junkie-dom. Pruning was difficult too. Jarreau is an original and independent thinker who has life experience to back up and feed his point of view. When that happens you let it go where it leads you, abandon attempts to make it linear, and just enjoy the process. I enjoyed the process very much. Now it's your turn.

SmoothViews (SV): This album came totally out of the blue. Some recent articles about you mentioned that you were in the planning process for a studio album. Then, I hit your website one day and it said that the Metropole Orkest project was coming out in a few weeks. Now it is nominated for a Grammy award. The album got nominated and  Vince Mendoza got nominated for his arrangement of “Spain.” How did that feel when you heard about it ?
Al Jarreau (AJ): I was jumping up and down. I'm still jumping up and down.

SV: It would be grand to win but with the amount of music that is getting released now getting noticed enough to get nominated is a real honor in itself.
AJ: The nomination is enough. To be recognized by your comrades and colleagues, to have your peers saying that what you did is good and you deserve special recognition, that's deep! And for it to happen at this point in my career, in my life, to be nominated again!  It's a similar feeling to the one I had when we were nominated for things on the project with George Benson. It's amazing stuff to happen for people whose careers are at this stage. A lot of people who resemble me aren't doing it, they aren't getting a chance. People are going away because the industry has changed so much. They don't get the opportunity to do what they do. It's quite wonderful to be recognized and have things like this happen. 

SV: When we did our first interview in 2004 you said one of the things you really wanted to do was a big band album. 
AJ: That has been in the back of my head for a long time. When we began talks about the first live dates I did with Metropole around 2008 it was in the back of my mind that this might be what I am looking for. It was some part of the hope mechanism back then. It might have come as a surprise to anyone who hadn't heard about the dates that I had done with the Orkest in '08 and '09. After that, we started talking about doing a couple of dates and recording them. They proposed the idea to me and my management and we saw this as a real opportunity!
Vince Mendoza is terrific and loves and respects what I do. It seemed like the perfect opening for me to do a large group thing. 

SV: So you went back and decided to record.
AJ: They proposed the idea to me and my management and we felt like it was a real opportunity. They are a wonderful group with a wonderful history and we had done some dates with them that worked out. Vince is terrific and loves and respects what I do. I felt that if I was going to do a large group thing this would be the way to go. After that it was just a matter of formalizing it and starting to work on the material.

SV: Sometimes when solo artists and bands move into an orchestral setting there is a tendency to start sounding more serious or ponderous and even a little bit dated. This is anything but that, it sounds extremely contemporary and even brings fresh new takes to songs you did a long time ago. 
AJ: That is a characteristic of Vince and his approach. He wanted to show off what I do in a different kind of way and to do some things that don't happen a lot in that context. He stayed up some nights thinking it through and I stayed up some nights learning a whole new way to do things. There are things happening inside of this music that require me to do things exactly, to not improvise. The arrangement may call for the band to play and then I re-enter at a certain point. All of that stuff gives me a new setting to operate in that is a little different than singing the song with my band.  There are exact points where I sing, then they do their thing. This is a different way of working and it happens all over the place. The “Agua De Beber” arrangement, that's some other stuff and it requires me to really focus and sing in a certain way. It gives the music a thing that the listener has not heard before and that's really a great thing to be able to offer people. They can hear me doing a song that they already know but here is a whole different version of it. They get something they know and something they don't know at the same time.

SV: You went through a short recording hiatus in the late '90s, then did three albums for Verve/GRP. They went under, there was another gap, then you did the project with George Benson which was a great album but not a pure Al Jarreau project, then there was another gap before this one. During that time there were some reissue packages on  Rhino, the Love Songs album and Excellent Adventure, which was a hits collection with one new song. I got a little bit scared when the 2 reissue packages came out in a row because there is so much pressure for mature artists to rest on their laurels and slip into this catalog comfort zone instead of continuing to grow and try new things. Then this one popped up, it was a relief to see something new from you. 
AJ: Something important was going on there with the changes in the business climate. The reissues kept my name and my music in front of the audience during that time period. The main thing was that in this new environment where a lot of people are doing independent releases I didn't feel like that was something I wanted to adjust to. I was still quite uncomfortable with not having a record company or a deal with a label. That is still the model that feels right to me. I'm not ready to go start my own label. I know people who are doing that and it is going well for them but I am just not ready. I may never be (laughs.)  I think I've got some good support at Concord. I think they know who I am and like me as an artist, and they would like for us to have some success there. Making this the first project really says something about that because it is not a traditional Al Jarreau album. This is new territory.

SV: Was being in between record deals a scary thing for you? 
AJ: Oh yeah! We are starting to find new avenues because we have been forced to live without the record company.  For whatever ills we think the old model had, it took care of you. They put you in the studio and said make good music again and there was this agreement that you will have to sell this many records to begin to share the profit, and to put out another record. If I had not thought there was something for me with Concord I would have found another way. I enjoyed my work with them earlier and it's great that we are going to be able to have this relationship. Now, having said that, I'm a guy whose name might get mentioned in the same breath as Aretha Franklin or Stevie Wonder - these artists who have sold mega amounts of albums - but my sales have always been really modest. I've survived because I've gone to play for the audience, I've survived because of live performance. I go to them and I give them 199% from the stage. Then they come back and bring their mamas and their children. I'm singing to three or four generations now. A lot of times I am traveling with an album out that nobody has heard and they may not ever hear. There is something else going on beyond the record that has sealed this relationship with my fans. I stay alive and continue to do what I do because of that.

SV: The pressure is to stick with the formula, or stick with the hits. I see a lot of artists actually re-recording their old stuff. Were you surprised that Concord was willing to jump on this?
AJ: Yes and no. We have been talking for a long time. I've known some people over there for a while, particularly John Burk, who produced the album I did with George Benson (Givin' It Up) I feel like he is in my corner and I've had a feeling that there might be a home for me there. If this record is any indicator I think they are going to allow me some latitude and I will take as much as they will give me and push for more. I have been pretty lucky to stay at a high level of creativity and if I can maintain that it will be the wonderful thing.

SV: I think you can look out into the crowd and see that they want you to maintain that and carry it further. You have done tours with a set list that was loaded with some of the songs that were not the familiar hits and the audience was eating it up. The set you recorded here is kind of like that.
AJ: That is part of what is going to be the attractive thing about it. There are some unlikely things there. How many people heard “The Flame” or “Something That You Said?” These are good songs for people to hear. 

SV: One of the things that struck me in the conversation with Joe Turano was the part about how when we are young things spill out, we tend to go with the ideas we get and we are refining and growing. Then you get more experience and you get older and there is more of a tendency to self  edit and second guess. You start to judge things more and bring in this wariness based on what has worked or not worked in previous experiences. You have mentioned that your albums often did not sell as well as the albums by other artists who had your credibility and high profile.
AJ: Or even earlier versions of myself!  

SV: I think of L is for Lover which was ahead of its time, then Heaven and Earth, which was when Warner Brothers was starting to go through some radical changes. These were adventurous albums that didn't hit the target in terms of charts or sales and I've read interviews where you said you almost regretted not doing something else that might have been more successful commercially. Thus, second guessing?
AJ: I am constantly in this process of self examination and material examination, career examination, and latest project examination. I am constantly going for the brass ring, meaning that I have had the notion that I can stay true to who I am and sell a billion records (laughs.)  I know what a tall order that is but that is the goal that I have set out for myself since the beginning. I'm doing some music that has lots of faces and facets, but there are facets that are so like what is huge out there in the marketplace. The song “Heaven and Earth,” is as good as anything that has ever been sung but it was not a big hit. I have this hope that the brass ring I am reaching for is not unattainable. When I don't grab that brass ring I am always doing this healthy second guessing. I am asking myself what I did not do that I should have done that I will do next time. I think looking at what you might do next time that will reach more people is a healthy process. Maybe there is something I did that didn't work, or something I did not do that I should try. 

SV: You've been through some upheavals. You were on Warner/Reprise as they evolved from being so cutting edge to becoming very conservative, then they started jettisoning their jazz department. Then you hit Verve/GRP on the downturn and put out one of your best albums ever right when they were folding. The fact that you have survived this and are still recording and seeking and landing record deals makes you a big time survivor.
AJ: You said it! The fact that I survived all of that, that I am still making records, and touring and people are coming is an extraordinary feat. I do wake up every morning thanking God for putting the wherewithal in me to be hopeful and to think positively and to do all that I can do to make it happen. I'm not making a zillion dollars but nobody else is these days and I wasn't really even back when a lot of people were making lots of money. But I'm a little kid from Milwaukee who was hoping to get invited to the party. I was singing in little clubs and that grew into a gig in one of the most important places there, and it kept alive in my mind the notion and hope that maybe if I got lucky I could make part of my living doing this thing that I love to do so much. That was the dream. It began there. And it is still here.

SV: I think you nailed it in the context of evaluating what you are doing and trying to make it better on a number of levels. The place that it can become counterproductive is when it starts to make you get in your own way, it does that when it is driven by fear more than aspiration. When you become gun-shy.
AJ: Well hopefully you don't do that. That's when having people around who share your vision can keep you on track. Like Joe Turano saying “come on, Al, just let it be. God is here. Do what you do. It's good, it always has been good, let's go out there and let God flow through us.” That's what we do. 

SV: You can make a 30 year old hit sound fresh. The fabulous group of musicians that you surround yourself with are a big factor there too. Your touring band has changed very little over the last decade and they are simply stunning, as individuals and even more so when they come together. They bring out the best in you and in each other and you give them so much space to bring out the best in themselves too. 
AJ: All I have done is follow my nose and I have had people around me who have the job of being my musical director who know who I am and they help me follow my nose.  If someone understands who I am and sees a musician like Larry Williams in my line of sight, deep in my nest of creativity, they will point that out to me. Then those people find other people. Anyone who is a musical director for me can look at the people who I have surrounded myself with in the past and follow that lead. They can bring people into the situation and to our family and to this playground and the stage who resemble those people.

SV: There is something more than that. I see a lot of bands and there is something intangible going on here. And you are based in LA but you have guys from Wisconsin and  Texas in there. How does that happen. 
AJ: The Houston connection came from Chris Walker, who is from Houston and so gifted. He brought (guitarist) John Calderon and (drummer) Mark Simmons  to the band. Here's the deal. This is what makes for a cohesive thing that lasts through the decades. It's the opportunity to come and play your heart out. They are given all kinds of opportunities to shine, and when you're not shining you're accompanying the other guy as he shines. You're doing that in the way that you think he ought to be accompanied, in a way that hasn't been written before. It's only been suggested in the music, in the recorded versions. These guys come there and get the opportunity to jam.

SV: Which is not the way it always is with musicians backing a headliner.
AJ:  There it is! They get to play their heart because I know as a group leader that this is how you keep it fresh every night. I do things and they do things to keep it fresh.

SV:  How have you stayed in touch with your individuality and authenticity when you also want to remain commercially viable?
AJ: I got lucky. It didn't happen to me when I was really young. When it happens to you at that point you are just beginning to have an adolescent's notion of who you are as a singer or musician. I was 35 when it happened to me. I had that time to find out who I was because it did not happen to me when I was 19. The industry loves fresh faced 19 year olds.

SV: But fresh faced 19 year olds haven't fully grown into who they are, they don't have that experience yet.

AJ: They can be really gifted, but if you don't have that sense of who you are you can be manipulated away from yourself, that's part of finding who you are but it's also a way to get lost. By the time I made my first record I had a deep sense of who I was. I slipped through the cracks, I was a lucky one. I found my parent record company, Warner Reprise. I was doing something different and they were scared to death. They were not sure what to do with me but they thought there was something going on that they needed to grab and not let go. They saw the reaction I was getting from audiences and critics who went beyond just the jazz thing and they were willing to let me do it. That was the spirit there at the time. 

SV: There was a lot more of a sense of adventure then. This is a different time with different rules but it sounds like you have landed somewhere where they have some guts.  Right after this album was released you got pneumonia and had to cancel several dates. You took a brief period off but you were up and headed for an overseas tour right after that. What happened?
AJ:  I never cancel a date because of a cold, I always sing through it. This time I was feeling feverish too and I felt like this was something that needed attention so I had it checked out and they told me I had pneumonia. I went to the hospital, they filled me with antibiotics and I felt much better. The x-rays were not showing that it was clearing up so we decided to move some of the dates early in the tour so I could take time to fully recover. I got the extra rest, then we went over there and kicked butt! 

SV: You have often talked about music as a healing process. 
AJ: Oh yes. Always. And not just for the listeners, but for the people who play it. I'm an example of that.

SV: I don't think the listeners realize that it's a two way thing.
AJ: Oh I mention it a lot!

SV: You mentioned it when you were writing about starting the tour after you were sick.
AJ: It's incredibly healing when you get the opportunity to stand there and play something that moves you so much, then have it received out there and appreciated. It's healing when they send the message back to you that they got it and they enjoyed it. When they are smiling it lets you know that the time they spent with you has made a wonderful change in that day and given them something to take with them. For that period of time they aren't thinking about all that other stuff that drags them down, and you have been part of that process.

SV: There has been a transition in the concert business model from big arenas and highly staged shows to more intimate venues. You are still performing in a lot of larger venues but how does someone who has primarily done large scale shows approach the option of the more intimate room?
AJ: It results in some belt-tightening but it plays into what I feel like I genetically have to do. I love intimacy and being able to do music that works in places other than screaming, echoing arenas with a lot of staging. I love the quiet moments. It's a biological necessity in my music that I have to have that quiet moment that is represented by songs like “After All” and “Midnight Sun.” When I am in a smaller room, or when George Duke and I doing our trio set, it is an environment that allows you to be powerful and big but you don't have to stay there all night. You are appealing to an audience that can take a quiet moment. 

SV: You have done a lot of touring overseas for the last few years. Actually you just got back and are about to head out again. A lot of musicians I have talked to are saying that the lack of exposure due to tight radio formats and the economy in general have made it harder to set up tours in the U.S. that are profitable. 
AJ: There has been a massive music change in America. A massive change in the culture of pop music that has to do with which music gets played on the radio and which music does not get heard. Promoters see what is and isn't getting heard and they aren't willing to take the risks that they took in the past. That and the audience has less money to spend on entertainment. My music continues to get played and heard over there. Nobody is saying it is old hat or out of style because it isn't what young people are listening to. I have young people in my audiences here, and even more over there.

SV: The single you released last year, “Double Face,” did sit in the airplay top 10 here for months on both internet and traditional radio. Did you have any idea it would break like that when you recorded it?
AJ:  Absolutely no idea! The only thing I did was hope and pray it would get heard because I thought we had done something really special. I've done that before though (laughs.)  That song is it's own thing. I went in there with the idea that we had a good song and I was going to sing it with Deodato, and work with the Nicolosis, it was a chance to work with wonderful people!

SV: You wrote that straight out of the hospital didn't you?
AJ:  I recorded it the day after I got out of the hospital. When I heard the demo for the song the lyrics just came to me, that was a little bit earlier. When I got out I was ready to go, and we did!

SV  And there we have proof that music is healing!
AJ: Joe and I were working on it in and around that hospital stay. It was certainly healing to get a chance to do what you do and be inside that creative process. Boy! If I could bottle that and get that. There is nothing like doing the thing of making something where there was nothing before. You come away from that stoked and more powerful. 

SV: You just finished doing a series of dates in Europe with the NDR orchestra where Joe Sample came out and did a set of songs from his latest project and you did the second half of the show. He posted on his FaceBook page that the two of you were having some great conversations. I would love to have been the proverbial fly on the wall and hear you two have at it!
AJ: We had some talks! A lot of then. Joe is brilliant, the album is brilliant. It's new music, and it's very unique. 

SV: Two guys that are in their 70's who are pushing their edges creatively. That makes me smile.
AJ: Joe and I are doing some of the best work, the most inspired work, in our lives right now! We haven't done a lot of work together. This is the first time we have been on stage for an extended period of time and that's the way it is for most artists. You get together but most of your careers are off on your own. I've known Joe and loved him for a long time. He and I are old drinking buddies (laughs.) 

SV: You did the dates with Metropole, then you took a break and went back out with NDR doing a totally different type of program. How do you jump from the Metropole set to a few gigs with your regular band, a symphony date with that program, then straight into the Gershwin music you are doing with NDR? 
AJ: I have no idea. You gotta learn how to pray (laughs.) Sometimes it is a leap but the selection of material has to be thought out and it needs to be in the range of things that I can do. I'm not going to do something operatic, that would be too huge a leap. The music I did with NDR is from Porgy and Bess and I'm not doing the whole thing. I'm doing the things that work for me. I do “I Got Plenty of Nothin,” “Bess You Is My Woman,” “Oh Bess, Where Is My Bess,” and “It Ain't Necessarily So.” They are swingin' little songs that I have been doing for a while and you notice some of that same swing in the stuff on the Metropole album, like the swing in “Beginning To See The Light.”  It's right there in my vision. It sounds like a quantum leap to another universe but it's my universe. That little step to the side is pretty natural. 

SV: And you have songs that you do in all these settings, mostly the crowd favorites and hits, that don't seem to get old.
AJ: The version of “We're in This Love Together” that is on the Metropole album has this different lilt about it, which is important to do if you have the sensibilities to get there and the stretch in one direction or another to get to a different read of a song. I'm always looking for that. I look for it in the faces of the audience. A face in the audience will make me sing a line differently and I just love it when that happens - when I see someone and I sing the line differently because I want to communicate directly to them right now. 

SV: That is both beautiful and scary because I have never thought that the person on stage saw the people in the audience that way. I always thought you saw us more as kind of a cluster of shadows in the semi-darkness. I have seen this connection you make with individuals in the audience and it's something really unique.
AJ: It's not all the time. Very often I'm singing to a point out there and it's somewhere kind of straight ahead of me and it's kind of hazy and foggy and my eyes are nearly closed. Then it can be a look across to someone in the band, but there are lots of times when I am finding individuals in the audience that I want to sing to at the moment. One night it was a little girl who came with her parents. I sang to her for a while. Things like that make the evening different for people who are there too. They will remember that there was a little girl there that I sang to, or an older man who started dancing in the aisle, anything like that. I see that stuff and I think it's fun to go with it.

SV: Have you ever done a gig where everybody is just stiff and you can't seem to connect with them or get them moving?
AJ: They're a still life painting. They're a painting of an audience and you're trying everything and it's just going right past them.  You learn to project to that person who is out there and into it, someone who may be in the back of the room. A lot of times those people will eventually come down front. They've just blown right past those people sitting still on the front rows and they are dancing and grabbing my pant legs. It's so fun to be able to give an audience something that's kind of sophisticated to listen to like “Midnight Sun” then give them something like “Boogie Down” that makes them just get up and dance.

SV: The cool part of that process is that you have this entry point calling card, your radio hits that people know, and because they know you from that point you can take them into more challenging territory – into stuff they might not seek out if it was by people they had never heard of.
AJ: There are people who found Dave Brubeck because of my version of “Take Five.” They find Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, then if you listen to that Chick Corea isn't far away. They find Joe Zawinul and Jaco Pastorius and Weather Report after they hear “Something That You Said” which was my lyric to “A Remark You Made.” They make these connections and I hope they have a chance to dig deeper. 

SV: You have had some physical issues, specifically with your back, that have limited your ability to move around the stage  
AJ:  I think I have an inherited degenerative thing going on with discs in my neck and spine. There are places where I am bone on bone in my spine. My neck went out first, I had that surgery around 10 years ago. I have titanium rods in there keeping things in place! That affects a lot of stuff - legs, diaphragm, things you take for granted when you have been doing the type of performances that I do. 

SV: And you were back on the road a month later doing what you always did, which I thought was crazy  but there you were. These are things that affect what you can do on stage vocally and in terms of movement. Is it scary to have to look at that and work with and around these limitations?
AJ: It is. It is kind of challenging because every night that I am singing I feel this thing of not being able to move the way I would like to on the stage, of walking more slowly and not being able to do the dance steps, and kind of being stuck in one spot  I'm learning to work with those abilities and inabilities that I have and get around not being able to move the way I want to. Yeah, it affects your performance. And that's an aspect of getting older that I truly feel.

SV: What I heard on the Metrople album and felt when I saw you in concert last year is that it is pushing you to find other ways to convey the song and connect with the audience. Your creativity is challenged because you have to work with what you have in the present moment and find different paths into the songs. The gift is that you have grown with it and brought new facets into the performance. 
AJ:The outcome of having to deal with that is that you do find other ways. The other ways for me are things that I have found all my life. I am at the extremes of having other ways that I can do things and using them(laughs.) I've been testing the limits and boundaries of this throat and the things that I can do as a singer that are a little beyond singing since I started doing this. I am just going to places that have always been a part of me that are not as much about being in motion and I have a lot there to go deeper with.

SV: One thing I noticed that I mentioned in the review is that with less pyrotechnics you are getting more nuance and more depth in the song and how you put it across, so it's not a bad thing, it's a different thing. How do you feel your way into this new place?
AJ: It just happens.  I think that as a performer you gather tools that you use to various degrees in what you do. The experience of performing and the years of performing give you a lot of tools. I'm painting with these tools all the time and it's not a big deal. I'm not thinking about it, I'm just going there and selecting this tool for this spot and that one for that spot (at this point he sings “sing it low, sing it high, sing it sweet, sing it with vibrato, sing it with a sound effect.”) I'm just reaching for stuff that paints a new picture for people. 

SV: Here is a quote from an article that was written about you a really long time ago, it had to be around the time of the first live album so it was over 30 years ago. “I like the spontaneity that goes on between me and the audience and even before we did our first album we were lying in wait for the opportunity to do a live album. I knew that the live situation would bring us something different than what we did in the studio. I didn't want it to be 'Al's Greatest Hits'  as so many live albums usually are so we had to do some special kinds of thinking about it.”  That was talking about Look To The Rainbow but  it could have been put in a time capsule and brought right into the conversation about the Metropole project.  
AJ: That's me, that's exactly what I was talking about!

SV: And you're still talking about it. Then you went out and did it and you won a Grammy for that one, and you got nominated for one now. 
AJ: That's really the deal. To come with it every night. Strip off what everyone thought it was and begin anew. I approach every audience, every night, as though they never knew me before. Here I am, I am going to sing you some songs from where I began, and some songs from the middle period of my life, and some songs from now. When you recognize the chorus everybody sing along. And that's church, that's where we connect and that's more important than my skill at doing this. What I am saying, what a lot of musicians are saying when we are in front of an audience, is “I want you to know that you are OK!” That's the connection, that's a message from God and that's the message that people need to know and hear.

SV: I think that's something that from the audience side you only get when you are in a room sharing live music with other people. You're sharing this experience with people who you may not have a lot in common with but in that room you are all a part of the same thing. You can't get that watching YouTube. 
AJ: And the audience knows in those moments when you attempt to communicate directly with them, as a group or to individuals, that this is a place where something special is going on. 

SV: Over the last few years you've dropped hints about a new studio album too. Is anything happening with that?
AJ: Oh yes! It is on the way. It is going to be with Concord.  My feeling is again along the lines of the gratitude I have for them taking a chance with me and allowing me to go forward with a live project with an orchestra as my first album with them. That was a huge leap of faith. So here we are riding the wave of whatever that created and they have invited me to do another project, a studio record. We have been working on it for three years and now we have a label and we can get it done.  I'm not sure how to describe the direction but you can be certain that it will be as crazy as anything I have ever done. It's going to go in a  lot of directions. I'm hoping that everybody will be OK with the notion of the album  being entitled “Collage” because that is what it will be, that is who I am and that's who I will be in the future.  

SV: Who are you working with?

AJ: Larry Williams, Joe Turano, Chris Walker, all these guys that have been so close to me and who know who I am, who want me to be who I am every night on stage, and make it possible for me to be just that. We want to bring that feeling into the studio and on to this record. We have the opportunity to do that in a way we haven't had before. There is a trust, I think, that this record company has in these notions that come from us as a little family – in these notions of songs to do that are true to what we do. They are giving us the opportunity to come from that place. 

SV: And I'm going to throw you one more quote from your early career. “As long as I live and breathe I want to sing. I will have realized my ambitions when I have continued to sing and make meaningful music my entire life.”
AJ: I am amazed that I said that so long ago, I felt that way then, and I feel that way now but hearing that those exact words were in print, and I am saying the same thing in words that are slightly different today, is amazing. It's who I am. It defines me.
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