5Q :: ‘Sugar, Sugar’ co-writer Andy Kim back on the sceneAndy Kim, a Montreal native, is behind two of pop music’s most undeniably catchy songs: the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” (which he co-wrote and sang on) and his No. 1 solo single “Rock Me Gently."
Even if you don’t know Andy Kim by name, you surely know some of his songs.
The Montreal native, who has been in the music business since the late ’60s, is behind two of pop music’s most undeniably catchy songs: the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” (which he co-wrote and sang on) and his solo single “Rock Me Gently,” which shot up all the way to No. 1 in 1974.
Not content to rest on his laurels, the Canadian songsmith released “Happen Again” late last month — his first album in more than two decades. To celebrate Kim’s new disc, and his recent induction into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, we traded e-mails with the legendary musician:
Budgeteer: Is it true you were coaxed out of retirement by a member of the Barenaked Ladies? Did he approach you out of the blue, or had you two crossed paths before?
Kim: I never felt that I had [been in] retirement. I had come to see that my recording and touring days had come to a halt. I had met the Barenaked Ladies at an AIDS benefit concert and became friends with Ed (Robertson). One day we talked about writing a song together, which we finally did, and that became the song “I Forgot to Mention.”
Did it take a lot of pleading to get you out of retirement, or did you kind of have an urge to get out and record music once again? Were you doing any songwriting at all, or were you completely detached from music?
Looking back at it, I think I was ready. I had been writing all along, just not releasing anything to the public. When I got together with Ed, I was ready and excited to write, but I was not ready for his feeling that my recording and touring days would once again be a big part of my life. He was right, though!
You’re responsible for two of the most timeless songs of the pop era. Outside of those recordings, what are you most proud of in your career?
I feel very honored and blessed to have realized my dream of being a singer/songwriter. I guess what I’m most proud of is to have had the courage to go from Montreal to New York to chase that dream before Canada had any music industry to speak of, no “Canadian Content” rules for radio to follow. (In Canada, broadcasters must air a certain percentage of works with ties to the country.) The music got to stand on its own against all other artists out there.
I’m connected to my songs in a way that parents are connected to their children. I always thought that inspiration, especially [when it comes to] songwriting, can’t have the word “proud” connected to it. It just magically happens.
I found it interesting that you named a song on the new album after a semi-local girl, Judy Garland (who was born in nearby Grand Rapids). What inspired this song?
I’ve always loved Judy Garland. From child actress to icon, she was able to fight her battles with her amazing talent. The sound of her voice always made me understand the human condition. The line “You’re beautiful, just the way you are” — and the whole song — is [about] her, yet people can relate it to that special woman in their own lives.
As a Canadian, what can you tell us about today’s music scene up there?
Canadian musicians are really exploding these days, from songwriting to singing to making great records. The Barenaked Ladies, Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, K’naan, Metric and even Justin Bieber are commanding the world’s attention. It really is amazing that there are so many world-class musicians that not only have international acclaim but continue to inspire the next generation. I also think that Canadian musicians get assimilated into U.S. culture so much that it’s hard to distinguish their “Canadianism.” I don’t think that’s a word, but you know what I mean.
In the end, I believe music is the international language. That is where honesty and peace survive.
The entire “Happen Again” album is streaming over at www.myspace.com/andykimmusic.
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