The smooth operator Lionel Richie
The smooth operator Lionel Richie

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ALEX CULLEN: How do you sit down - how do you do it?

Lionel Richie: That's the hardest. See... OK, so here's the answer. It's very simple. The answer is there's only 12 notes. Let me count them for you. (PLAYS CHROMATIC SCALE) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Right? So don't let all of the rest of these keys scare you. That's just a repeat of the 12 that I just showed you. So to answer the question for you, I don't know. The reason for that is because there's no logical reason why I know...
.that I know there's another melody in there.

(SINGS) # Stuck on you # Got this feeling down deep in my soul # that I just can't lose... # Right?

ALEX CULLEN: That's nice.

Lionel Richie: Now, the same...# Know it sounds funny but I just can't stand the pain... #That's the same...Keep going. (REPEATS CHORD PATTERN)

  1. Deep river woman... # See what I'm saying?

ALEX CULLEN: Yeah!

Lionel Richie: # Lord, I'm coming home to you. #Now watch me. The same thing is when you start dealing with the same chord. OK. (SINGS) # Well, my friends, the time has come # To raise the roof and have some fun. # Throw away the work to be done # Let the music play on, play on, play on. # (TRANSITIONS INTO BAND PLAYING)

  1. Everybody sing, everybody dance # Lose yourself in wild romance, # We are going to party, karamu, fiesta, forever # Come on and sing along.

Lionel Richie: Now, to answer your question, how do I get there? God only knows. Yeah. I'm just glad he lets me know from time to time so that I can put the song down.

  1. All night long # All night long #

Lionel Richie: Understand where we are going with this.

ALEX CULLEN: OK.

Lionel Richie: OK? If you were to leave this house right now... ..do you hear that silence?

ALEX CULLEN: Yes.

Lionel Richie: That piano does not play one note for you.

ALEX CULLEN: It does not.

Lionel Richie: It is the loneliest feeling in the world when everyone goes, "What are you going to do next, Lionel?" And the answer is, "Did you hear that, God?" It's very lonely. I want you to know that I'm very happy that you are impressed.

ALEX CULLEN: I'm so impressed.

Lionel Richie: But then I go back and do my workshop and go...(SINGS RANDOM NOTES). It's only 12 notes, you've got to find the next one. So that's the beauty of this thing.

ALEX CULLEN: Working in the confines of those 12 notes?

Lionel Richie: It's only 12 notes. So if you think now, do the math - 35 years of records with 12 notes.

ALEX CULLEN: Yeah. Far out.

Lionel Richie: OK, so, that's my story.

ALEX CULLEN: So, Lionel, this is what success buys?

Lionel Richie: Um, yeah. Yep.

Lionel Richie: The simplest thing I can say to you is I write a hook first.
So you get...(SINGS) # I'm easy... # I'm easy like Sunday morning... # Right?

ALEX CULLEN: Yeah!

Lionel Richie: Get that first then you figure out... (SINGS NOTES, CONTINUING MELODY) You got it? And then you go home and try and figure - write ABOUT it.

  1. Sail on down the line about a half a mile or so # And don't really want to know where you're going. # # Maybe once or twice, you see, # Time after time I tried to hold onto what we got # But now you're going # And I don't mind... #See, that's the story! # About the things you're gonna say, Lord # I gave all my money and my time # I know it's a shame... #

ALEX CULLEN: This is happening, this is happening! Lionel.

Lionel Richie: Lio-NEL, Lio-NEL. Because it's such a slab. This is the joint,
this is my tranquillity. Here's the scary part - you ready for this? You have to go inside yourself. Ah, what's that word now? You have to be vulnerable.
It's almost like group therapy.

ALEX CULLEN: Yeah.

Lionel Richie: I'll be very vulnerable for a minute and you'll think, "This is the sappiest song I've ever written in my life." And then you realise
the sappier it appears, the more vulnerable it is, the more honest it is.
Yeah. I just told the truth.

ALEX CULLEN: And why it speaks to people.

Lionel Richie: That's exactly right. ('EASY' BY LIONEL RITCHIE PLAYS)

ALEX CULLEN: How did 'Three Times a Lady' come about?

Lionel Richie: (CHUCKLES) God. Now, you know, you're talking about 200 years ago and I'm thinking, "How DID that happen?"

ALEX CULLEN: I heard it was something your father said to your mother.

Lionel Richie: That's exactly - you're dead on. I was at, I think it was a Thanksgiving, one of those celebrations where we're all around the table.
My father had done something that I actually thought was probably out of character for him. He decided to make a speech about my mom. "You're mother's special," he said. "Here's a toast to Alberta. "She's more than just a mother, more than just a friend, "she's more than just a lady," you know.
"She is.." Kind of, "three times" was his theme. Of course, I wrote this song
'Three Times a Lady', and, of course, he worried me for the rest of his life - where's his cheque?

ALEX CULLEN: Fair enough!

Lionel Richie: I spent the rest of his life paying him off! # You're once, you're twice # Three times a lady # And I love you. #It's your turn.

  1. Yes, you're... # (AUDIENCE SINGS) # Once.. # You're...# Twice...
  2. Three times a lady # Three times a lady

Lionel Richie: I don't know whether I found the pot of gold or not but love is the only subject that does not go out of style. I don't care whether
you're a gangster, a mobster, a politician, whatever. It doesn't matter your occupation. Sooner or later, you're gonna use "I love you," and you're gonna say it to somebody. # Tell me how to win your heart for I haven't got a clue
  1. But let me start by saying I love you. # It's that simple. They don't want to hear, "I like you," or, "We could be good friends." I mean, that's cute.
But those three letters the whole world wants to hear. That's it.

Lionel Richie: I'm more of a hazard to the golfers than I am to the course.

ALEX CULLEN: Well, the next album, 'Tuskegee'...

Lionel Richie: The fact you can say it, the fact that you can say
'Tuskegee', I am shocked!

ALEX CULLEN: Well, Shania Twain...

Lionel Richie: Oh, yeah. She got involved but it was pretty hard to get her involved, wasn't it? I didn't know it was going to be that hard because it's Shania Twain, you know? You call up Shania Twain on the phone and you say "Can I sing a song?" and you figure the answer is, "Yeah, that's what I do.
"What day do you want me to be there?" And she said "Well, I don't know"
so I assured her, "You know what? It's gonna be a piece of cake. "I'll be right there with you and we'll make it real easy." No problem. Next thing - "Do you want me to meet you in Nashville? "Do you want to meet me in LA?
"How do you want to do this?" "I don't want to do Nashville." Well, I said "Let's do it in Miami, let's do it wherever." "I don't want to do it in America." "Well, I mean, where would you like to do it? "Let's do it in Bahamas." "Great," I said, "I'll find a studio in the Bahamas." "No, no,
I don't want to do it in a studio." "OK, well..."Not realising what's the problem - she lost her voice. I didn't know she lost her voice - it sounded great to me. See, I didn't know that this was happening.

Lionel Richie: First of all, I just want to thank you for, after all this time off, pondering, that you chose this route back in. We did it at my beach house. I have a beach house that I go to down in the Bahamas so we set it up as a studio, so, she came in the room and she said "I'm not sure" and I said "No, no. Come here and talk to me for a minute." I said "Here's the problem.
"When's the last time you sang on stage?" She said "Seven years ago." "When's the last time you sang in a recording studio?" "Seven years ago." I said "Oh - there's the problem." See, most artists, we're egotistical maniacs with inferiority complexes. As long as we're standing in front of a microphone,
or standing on a stage, we're fine.

ALEX CULLEN: Yeah.

Lionel Richie: As soon as we walk off stage, a little voice comes back in
and goes "You're nothing. "You can't do that." You start talking yourself
into this craziness and that's what happened to her. For seven years...Right?
So I said "What's gonna happen is "you're gonna actually walk in front of that microphone, "open your mouth "and you're gonna sound just like Shania Twain."

Shania Twain: You're an icon. How can I put myself in a scarier situation?
This is, like, big. "Shania, why don't you scarier the heck out of yourself
"and go sing a song with Lionel Richie?"

BOTH (SING:) # All my love with you This is better. This is good. # No-one else will do # And your eyes # Your eyes, your eyes BOTH: # They tell me how much you care # Oh, yes # You will always be # My endless love. #
And she turned around and looked at me and I said "Of course."

Lionel Richie: Welcome back, Shania. Welcome back. And by the way, I told you so. Thank you very much.

(BOTH): # I can't resist your charms # And love # Oh love, oh love (BOTH): # I'll be the fool for you # I'm sure. #

ALEX CULLEN: You cured her?

Lionel Richie: Not so much, I just introduced her back to herself.

BOTH: # You mean the world to me

  1. Meeeee, oh!

Lionel Richie:Just keep on singin! Jesus! You see, did you see how you just left Lionel Richie standing around looking at you?

  1. You mean the... #

ALEX CULLEN: And lastly, you're learning more about yourself now than you ever have?

Lionel Richie: Listen, I am so amazed, you don't really know how you got here
until you look over your shoulder just once or twice. And you'll scare yourself. But that was my journey. And the answer is, "Please, don't be safe." "At 19, 18, 17 years old, don't be safe. "There's plenty of time
to be nice and cautious. "Now is not the time."

ALEX CULLEN: The journey just keeps going and going and going.

Lionel Richie: Go, go, go, that's all it is. It comes like that.

ALEX CULLEN: Yes!

Lionel Richie: And so, it's the same chords.

(SINGS) # Say you, say me

  1. Say it for always

  1. That's the way it should be

  1. Say you, say me. #

Lionel Richie: Now, if I just play those chords by themselves, you can go...
Understand?

ALEX CULLEN: That's beautiful, Lionel. That is magical.

Lionel Richie So, that was a musical listen in, I don't know. Lionel, thank you so much. My pleasure. Welcome to my house, and my crazy world.

ALEX CULLEN: Oh!

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