Sunday, October 28, 2012
PodKast: Ben Harper on the new-look Lakers, Kobe's drive, artistic inspiration
By Andrew Kamenetzky
With the season just around the corner, I texted two-time Grammy winner and lifelong Lakers fanatic Ben Harper to see if our buddy could drop by the studio to record a show.
His response? "Gotta be done!"
Oh, yes. Yes, it does.
With the Lakers on the verge of playing real games with one of their most star-studded rosters, we wanted to get Harper's take on what may lie ahead for the purple and gold. As always, we also talked some music, including "Get up!," his upcoming collaboration with blues legend Charlie Musselwhite. (Harper was kind enough to give us advanced copies of the CD, and it's fantastic. Chock-full of slide guitar, harmonica, gorgeous vocals and other assorted goodies; if you enjoy blues, mark your calendars for Jan. 29.)
The show can be heard by clicking on the module, and a breakdown of talking points is below:
- (1:15): Less than two minutes into the podKast, a Christmas present for Ben emerges: A Lakers jersey with "Kamenetzky" on the back. Seriously. He wants one. How can someone with such strong taste in music have such poor taste in Lakers gear?
- (4:02): Harper recounts his delighted reaction to Steve Nash and Dwight Howard entering the fold. It was yet another strong summer for Mitch Kupchak, which raises a poignant question. Why don't more people rock a "Kupchak" jersey in gratitude for everything he's done over the last five years? Or a "Kupchak" neck tat, if that's your preferred way of giving thanks?
- (6:36): Harper may be a rock star whose life is filled with fame, connections and oodles of perks. But that doesn't mean he can't relate to Joe Q. Laker Fan shut out while Time Warner Cable negotiates deals with various providers. As US Weekly would say, "Stars: They're just like us!"
- (11:00): Ben shares his expectations for the season, neatly summarized in one word: Championship.
- (12:30): From Cream to Audioslave, rock has seen its share of "super groups." They often produce fantastic music, but the shelf life is typically short, given the egos involved. Harper, who's collaborated with enough legends to understand the dynamic involved, explains how the "super group" issues mirror those that faced by the Lakers with their video game starting five.
"You have to be as ready to learn and listen as you do contribute. And you contribute by learning and listening. Taking a step back. Knowing when to step back. Knowing when to leave the room. Knowing when to be present. A lot goes into the personal dynamics of making a super group or a collaboration work. But when they work, they work. It's chemistry."
- (21:45): Ben didn't get my August memo about why the 2013 super team Lakers aren't the 2004 super team Lakers, so we break down the differences and calm his nerves.
- (27:00): Kobe has talked frequently and insistently about retiring after 2-3 seasons, in part because of a drastic slippage he'd rather avoid than accept, and also because of how hard the aging process makes the preparation that comes with playing at Kobe's level. As a musician with a career now 20+ years in the books, Ben understands the difficulty of maintaining his own standards, as well as the physical and mental grind of touring, seeking inspiration, etc. How does he keep the process feeling fresh?
He also attempts to uncover the meaning of life and our purpose on this planet, but that's a bit trickier.
- (35:08): We close the show with "I Don't Believe a Word You Say," a track from "Get up!" Good stuff.