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A winding road, indeed

By |2009-02-19T09:00:00-05:00February 19th, 2009|Entertainment|

As if Maureen McGovern’s latest covers album, a disc honoring singer/songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s, isn’t a good enough clue, she flat-out admits: “I’m a dinosaur here.” The digital music fever still hasn’t zapped the 59-year-old, who sang the theme song for 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure.”
For “A Long and Winding Road,” in which she covers Boomer tunes, it’s a plus – she knows how to stay faithful to an iconic number, but give it an honest, internal new life. Perhaps it’s because, after sifting through 400 songs, she selected the ones she most connected with. Or the ones that brought her to tears, like Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game,” and “MacArthur Park,” recorded by Richard Harris in 1968.
She’ll perform selections from the album, which she’s currently turning into an expanded 100-minute theatrical show, at 8 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts. And just as she was about to leave her New York pad to head out on tour, she spoke to us about the relevance of “Imagine” today, her AIDS activist work, and who turned her onto Revlon’s red lipstick. Clue: It was a dude.

I find your inclusion of ‘Imagine’ especially meaningful today, considering that we’re in a war and that gay people are still fighting for their rights. Why’d you personally decide to include that one?
Well, it’s the universal hopeful song and the universal peace anthem – and it’s what humanity continues to strive for. Always. It’s the dream. And certainly it’s John Lennon at his best. And ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’,’ Bob Dylan’s song, could’ve been written this morning as well.

The album honors singer/songwriters from the ’60s and early ’70s, so in like 30 more years, who do you think we’ll be honoring from this decade?
(Laughs). You tell me.

Miley Cyrus?
Yikes! Sting; I love Lyle Lovett. There’s great, great writers out there. Alanis Morissette, I love. Oh, think, think, think, think. My mind is blank, but I have a million things I do listen to.
A lot of the recordings over the last 30 years have been more for the feet rather than the heart, which is fine. It’s fun to dance and whatever, but I like to have music transport me emotionally, as well.

Now, you’ve had a special bond with your gay listens for a long time. When did you first realize how much they adored you?
I shared a dressing room for a couple of years with (actor and female impersonator) Charles Pierce when I was doing Freddy’s, a wonderful little cabaret jazz club on the upper east side of Manhattan, and he was – he turned me on to Revlon red lipstick (laughs). He said, ‘Here, take mine; go ahead!’ He was a doll.

You’ve also been a huge supporter of many organizations, including being an AIDS activist for over 20 years –
I think one of the earliest AIDS benefits in New York, I was a part of. And it struck me (as) so heartbreakingly unjust that in that time, donors would have to anonymously give money to these associations because they would be chastised and god knows whatever. And I thought, ya know, if you can’t say it, you can’t cure it. So it took so long, obviously, to change. Unfortunately, as our new president is finding out here, it takes patience and tenacity. I’ve always been a huge advocate of human rights.

Since you’ve been such an integral part of the AIDS fight, how have you seen the virus’s impact change over the last 20 years?
Well, I had a dear friend who lived probably 25 years as a result of medicine, and his attitude was – he was the most profoundly hopeful, positive person I had ever known. But what worries me today is young people who tend to feel invincible anyways, not taking precautions and thinking, ‘Well if I get it, I’ll just take the drugs.’ We need a massive, massive reeducation here.

Maureen McGovern
8 p.m. Feb. 21
Macomb Center for the Performing Arts

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi is the Editorial Director of Pride Source Media Group and Q Syndicate, the national LGBTQ wire service. He has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.
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