BMAF: Roger Hodgson
Music & Festivals
Roger Hodgson, the acclaimed singer-songwriter from 70s stadium-filling soft-rock group Supertramp, is on his way to Beirut. He tells Time Out Beirut why he thinks songs like ‘Breakfast in America’ and ‘The Logical Song’ have stood the test of time.
What can we expect from your upcoming gig in Beirut?
An incredible show [laughs]. For anyone who likes Supertramp, there will be the best of Supertramp – Dreamer, The Logical Song, Take the Long Way Home – plus more!
You’ve been in the business for just over 40 years. How have you kept your voice in shape?
Luck! But really, I think I’ve just generally taken care ever since I was in my 20s. I was vegetarian for a long time. Now I’m singing much better than I was then, from a much deeper place. I’m older and I’m wiser, so people feel it in a whole different way.
Do you think that’s what’s kept your songs on the radio, decades later?
I have a very special connection with my fans. I wrote these songs not knowing if anyone would hear them. I didn’t think ‘I’m going to write a hit song’. I wrote them to express my heart and my deepest emotions. Writing songs was the way I wrote down my thoughts and feelings. I have a very personal connection with my fans – they’ve been listening to these songs, and my heart, for 30 to 40 years. It’s an incredible feeling.
Are you working on any new material?
I write all the time. I guess I have around 60 to 70 unrecorded songs. Fans are always writing to me, asking me when they can expect a new album. Right now I prefer to stay connected by playing live. But I try and play one or two new songs to give them a taste.
Is there a song you’d never leave off the setlist?
That’s like asking if I have a favourite child. But ‘Give a Little Bit’ always does something, people jump to their feet. I played it at the tribute to Princess Diana at Wembley Stadium and the whole audience were on their feet. Even the Princes stood.
As a songwriter, what is the essential ingredient of a good song?
You have to have a strong melody. I think that’s why my songs have stood the test of time, and still sound fresh today – my songs come from a pure place, from soul searching and a heart longing for love. A songwriter shouldn’t try too hard. For me true art comes from a magical place inside, it’s when we leave our minds and brains and let the paintbrush take us. Classical composers used to describe god writing through them – I know that feeling. I play my instrument and I’m gone.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I like Secret Garden. They’re from Norway and the composer is wonderful – I feel my heart being touched by them. Music is being trivialised now. It’s more important to be a star than an artist. We need to get back to the art.
Your song ‘Breakfast in America’ is one of your most popular. But I’ve always wanted to know one thing: what do you like to have for breakfast?
Eggs Benedict. I was in a very whimisical mood the day I wrote ‘Breakfast in America’. I was at home in my mother’s house. I had just bought an old pump organ for 26 pounds. And it was the first thing I wrote on it – probably the best investment I ever made! It’s one of those instruments that takes me.
Author: Natasha Dirany
Roger Hodgson and his band will perform at the Beirut Music & Art Festival on May 31