Paul Williams Live at the Cinegrill, Hollywood Oct 10, 2004

(published on Paul Williams UK website, Oct 2004)

Just got home from seeing Paul Williams at the Cinegrill in Hollywood. I actually went down there just to get him to sign some items, but there was one seat left so I took it. That it happened to be in the centre (albeit at the back) was the clincher. And despite the fact that I hadn't had dinner yet.

Paul came out to the opening of Just an "Old Fashioned Love Song" (a hit for Three Dog Night), and then did "I Won't Last a day Without You" (Carpenters), which he described as a classic "co-dependant anthem". He said, "I mean, really. I won't last a day without you?!!" He had a five piece band, including his long time pianist Chris Caswell and two members of Melissa Manchester's touring band. (Melissa is playing at the same place next week, I wonder if she will have some of his band members with her.) He told a story before almost every song, some of them quite lengthy and all quite funny. He was completely entertaining, even though his "singing" is part Willie Nelson croak and mostly spoken word over music.

He talked about coming to Hollywood in the sixties and getting a part in a movie. He had his Mom move here, now that he was going to be a big star, he would buy her a big house to live in. Then his part got cut down to one line, and he didn't get any more acting gigs, so was very discouraged. He said his Mom was always mumbling to herself. Then he started singing, "Talking to myself and feeling old... " which was of course "Rainy Days and Mondays."

Next he mentioned that he had written a soundtrack for the movie Bugsy Malone, and the song had since been covered by Ella Fitzgerald, and he sang "Ordinary Fool" (also recorded by the Carpenters). Then he said, "I'm going to play two of my biggest hits and both of them start with the word 'love'. One of them won me an Oscar and the other one put my kids through private school." So he sang "Evergreen" and it was so funny, about half way through he started comparing himself to Barbra Streisand's vocals, and ended up abandoning it, and started right in with "Love, exciting and new, come aboard, we're expecting you..." which was the theme of course to Love Boat. He said that his wife said, "you may as well face it, you're going to be remembered for just two things: for playing Little Enos in the ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ and for writing that damn Love Boat theme!"

He then talked about becoming sober. Sipping from his bottle of Evian, he said, "Something miraculous happened to me fourteen years ago. I woke up one morning, instead of coming to." And then, "You know you’re an alcoholic when you misplace a decade," and he mentioned his over-use of drugs at several points in the show and some of the predicaments he had gotten into, including some "unplanned nudity." It was hilarious.

He then told a great story about his new wife and the song "Love Dance" recorded by Vanessa Williams, but I don't want to spoil it for you. He also did "Let me be the One," and told some funny stories about opening for Raquel Welch in Vegas, how much he loves Japan because he can go into a store and buy clothes size 'medium', and how he is currently working on a musical version of "Happy Days" with Gary Marshall.

Someone shouted out for "The Hell of It" (from Phantom of the Paradise) which seemed to surprise him, and he said, "So you're the one who saw it. Are you sure, that's kind of rowdy," as the band launched into it and rocked the joint. It was awesome. He mentioned that "Vegas" was interested in a musical version of Phantom (which that song is from) and that he thought Jake from Scissor Sisters would make a great Swan, because now he would have to play Swan's grandfather.

When he introduced "You and me Against the World," he said that Helen Reddy had done it sung to her daughter, which he had always thought was wrong. But then he said that last night in the audience was his son, and he sung it to him, and that it turns out Helen had been right all along.

He then talked about a bank commercial that he had written a jingle for, and that they had gotten a call for the complete song. He said, sure, and then quickly wrote the rest of the song. He said, "When I wrote this song, the number one song was 'Inna Gadda Da Vida', and there was no way it was going to be a hit. But then an angel sang it..." and he started into 'We've Only Just Begun." The crowd went wild. As it was ending, he looked up and said, "this applause is for you Miss Karen Carpenter" and a purple light shone down from above.

He also did "Old Souls" (also from Phantom of the Paradise), and a few songs that I didn't know, including one that he said was his first hit, recorded by Three Dog Night, and another called "Waking Up Alone". He introduced Bill Medley who was in the audience, and noted that they were born the same day. "Yet," he said, "you get to be 6' 2" and sing "You never close your eyes any more when I kiss your lips" and I get to be 5'2" and play Little Enos in Smokey and the Bandit."

At the end of the show, he said that working with Kermit and the Muppets was wonderful, and recommended it whenever possible, and sang "Rainbow Connection," which he dedicated to Jim Henson. After rapturous applause, he did two encores, "Loneliness," and "Nice to be Around" which he mentioned was from the movie "Cinderella Liberty" starring Marsha Mason in her first role, and was co-written with John Williams ("no relation," he said.)

After the show, he was out in the hallway signing autographs and shaking hands. I told him, "You wrote two of my favorite songs in the world." He said, "Oh, which ones?" and I showed him my sheet music for "We've Only Just Begun" which was signed by Richard Carpenter. He seemed really touched/impressed and looked at Richard's autograph, then amongst all the ruckus, he was quiet and he signed his name, asked my name, which he added and then a "God Bless" underneath.

Then I said, "and the other favorite song is this" and I pulled out my Muppet Movie soundtrack LP, and he asked, "which song?". "Rainbow Connection!" I said, "I have the sheet music and I love playing this song on the piano." He seemed happy with that, and later I found out that that is his favorite song. He signed a few other things for me (including the DVD for Phantom of the Paradise, the "Old Fashioned Love Song" LP (original gatefold die-cut cover), and a couple cds" and shook my hand and said "thank you."

It was awesome.

He then turned to the huge lineup of people wanting to meet him, many with records and a few with cds. He was selling a cd they recorded on this tour in Japan, called "Love Wants to Dance" which has a lot of the songs he played tonight (although not the Rainbow Connection). He also mentioned that they (actually Hip-O Select) are releasing a compilation of his A&M music, called "Evergreens: The Very Best of the A&M Years" in November.

See what he signed for me:

Info available on his website at

There is also an upcoming DVD "I'm Going Back there Someday" which is a song from the Muppet Movie, and on the DVD is Willie Nelson, Melissa Manchester and the great Gonzo and two hours of interview and concert footage. Info at:

Rod Reynolds
Los Angeles CA USA

Rod Reynolds ©2004 The Art Dept Los Angeles

read more reviews
back to main page