In support of his latest album release, We’ll Talk About It Later in the Car, multi-platinum singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop recently shared an evening of conversation and a live performance at the Grammy Museum. Moderated by Scott Goldman, a capacity audience filled the museum's intimate Clive Davis Theater to listen to stories and songs from one of popular music's most gifted songwriters. Before the event, I had the opportunity to sit down with Bishop to discuss the new album and some of the highlights of his amazing career.
“It’s an organic record, it’s got a little bit of everything on it,” says Bishop. "I was raised on the Beatles, still to this day just amazing, I love the Beatles so much. I was trying to emulate them like Sgt. Pepper where they had so many different kinds of songs. I wanted to do a wide variety of different types of songs. There are so many that I had that I never really developed. So I decided to take them into the studio and fulfill my old dream of making them work, so that’s what I did. Hopefully, it will please everyone who hears it. I’m very proud of the album.
“As for the title,” says Bishop. “I dated, of all people, Carrie Fisher many years ago right around the time that she did Star Wars. She was amazing, but it didn’t last long. It was only two weeks, but it was a hell of a two weeks (laughs). One time we went to Saturday Night Live, she knew people there and I knew people there. Earlier in the day, she was holding my hand, and when we got there she stopped holding my hand. And I was like, 'Why isn’t she holding my hand? I must have done something.’ At one point she was talking to a friend and she said, ’We’ll talk about it later in the car.’ I overheard this, and I was like, ‘This is definitely about me.’ So I kept that phrase in my head and I thought this is what I would call my album."
Bishop’s best known for his timeless classic hits, “On and On,” “Save it for a Rainy Day.” “It Might Be You”, and the Oscar-nominated “Separate Lives” recorded by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin in 1985. Bishop's songs have been recorded by Barbra Streisand, Luciano Pavarotti, Burt Bacharach, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Art Garfunkel and Kenny Loggins, just to name a few.
“I was having a really tough time and I was getting nowhere early in my career,” recalls Bishop. "Art Garfunkel, back in the '70s, heard some of my songs and recorded some of them. That was a big moment for me because it validated me as a songwriter. Also when Phil Collins did my song 'Separate Lives,' that was cool.
“A good song is one that is intriguing and interesting and catching your ear as far as a great melody,” says Bishop. "Inspiration comes in the strangest ways, usually it’s from titles. If I have a great title it will throw me into writing a good song. To be a good songwriter I always say ‘You have to have your heart broken first.' I had that when I was 15, and that was the start. I always write songs late at night. That’s the best time for me. Writing is hard, you have to reach deep into your soul and come up with something. I’m surprised when I look at how many songs I’ve written, I’ve written a lot of songs.”
Bishop has appeared in a variety of feature films including Kentucky Fried Movie, The Blues Brothers, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and the classic Animal House. It was Bishop that sat on the steps of a party at the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house performing the folk song ”I Gave My Love A Cherry” for a group of infatuated girls until John Belushi abruptly smashed his guitar to pieces. Bishop had the cast of Animal House sign what was left of the guitar, including Belushi. It is framed and hanging in his home. Off-screen, Bishop has written songs for the films Tootsie, The China Syndrome, Roadie, Mickie & Maude and Unfaithfully Yours.
"I’m working on a new book that’s almost finished called On and Off,” says Bishop. “There’s a documentary we’re working on about my strange life, we’re trying to finish it up and get it out there by the end of the year. I’m also doing custom songs. I will write and record a song specifically tailored for an anniversary, as a gift for a loved one or an idea you may have, something they will cherish. I will take the time to talk with you and be with you every step of the way. Surprisingly I’ve found that there are a lot of good songs out there."
To stay up to date with happenings at the Grammy Museum visit grammymuseum.org.
To stay up to date with Stephen Bishop visit stephenbishop.com.
Photos by Rob Nagy 2020