Sunday, November 18, 2007

Barry McGuire Interview - November 16, 2007

-Copyright 2007 Stain Free Media-

SFM: Speaking to us from his home in Fresno, California, we're very happy to have Barry McGuire. Barry, how are are you?

B: Good morning, good morning, I'm great. I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet, but that's alright.

SFM: Well, this oughta be interesting then.

B: Yeah, exactly.

SFM: Let's jump right in. What exactly is "Trippin' The 60's"?

B: A friend of mine, Terry Talbot, came up to me nearly a year ago, maybe ten or eleven months ago and said, "Ya know, McGuire, you have all these great stories that you tell, so why don't we do a show where you tell all your stories and we'll sing all the songs that take place around all those moments in your life?" And so we put together the show and at first I thought we'd call it "Trippin' On The 60's" and then Terry said, "Let's just call it "Trippin' the 60's". Its just taking a trip through the 60's. Actually, it's not nostalgic. It's taking the songs and the truth that was in those songs from the 60's and bringing them into the present moment. Living the truth now. It's not going back to the 60's, it's pulling the 60's into the present moment. I still sing "Eve of Destruction", not to go back, but because the song is more valid today than it was in 1965 when I first recorded it. Every one of the songs that we sing are more valid today than they were when we first sang them 40 years ago. So that's what it's all about. And there's a lot of great songs that were written and recorded during that time period. And we only sing songs by the people that we hung out with, like Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, the Loving Spoonful, John Sebastian, Hoyt Axton, Tim Hardin, John Denver. People that we knew personally and were on stage singing with them. It's not a cover pack, it's us singing songs that we sung with a lot of our friends that aren't around anymore to sing them.

SFM: You alluded to "Eve of Destruction". When you recorded that song written by Phil Sloan in 1965, it went to #1 on both the Cashbox and Billboard Charts. How did that change your life?

B: Well, it didn't. (laughing) Not even a little bit. When I sang "Eve", I had left the Christy's (New Christy Minstrels) having already had a gold album with a song I had written called "Green, Green" and I recorded that song with them and it became a huge hit for us. And because of that I hung out with people that I would have never been able to hang out with otherwise. And I saw that most of them were unhappy. Most of them were empty and unfulfilled. One time Sinatra had a little gathering at his house in Palm Springs. And at the end of the evening , he had his forehead against the wall and his drink in his left hand, punching the wall with his right hand, saying, "I'm bored, bored, bored", 'punch, punch, punch', and I'm thinking, "Frank is bored?" I mean, what's it take to not be bored? Why should I spend any more of my energy trying to get what he had if he's not happy? And so I left the Christy's and went looking for value in life and to find what brings contentment to the human soul. "Eve of Destruction" was really just pointing out the hypocrisy of our society; the spiritual, political, military, industrial and social hypocrisy. "You hate your next door neighbor....You're old enough to kill, but not for voting." Nobody was asking any questions and the song was filled with questions. No answers, just questions. Well, it was labelled a 'protest song', and I thought, "Well, that's silly. It's not a protest song, it's a diagnostic song." If you go to a doctor and he tells you that you have cancer, do you call him a 'protest doctor'? That's what "Eve of Destruction" was, a diagnostic of societal hypocrisy.

SFM: I believe you actually referred to it as a 'love song' at one time.

B: Yeah, well, it was. It was gently trying to wake people up, ya know? "Hey folks, we have a major problem here." If somebody is driving a car and they go to sleep at the wheel, the most loving thing in the world you can do is wake them up. (laughing) So the song was trying to wake people up and it woke a few people, but like I said, it had no answers, only questions. So then I got a call to go back and do "Hair", on Broadway because somebody had seen me in "The President's Analyst" (with James Coburn). It was Tommy Smothers. They had money invested in the show. So I went and did "Hair" for a year and I thought there were answers there, and there were a few, but the very lifestyle we were living at the time was killing us. In a ten year period I had lost 16 of my personal friends from drug overdoses, suicides and sexually transmitted diseases. Something was missing so I left New York and came back to California looking for the answer and actually reached a point where I gave up. I didn't think there was an answer. And then I just stumbled into the Person of Christ, and it wasn't Christianity or religion, it was just understanding Who and What Christ is and what the universe is all about. What time and space and matter and energy is all about. Where it came from and what my opportunity at this moment is. It's a long journey and it's impossible to put it into one little conversation. Basically it just comes to living in the moment. Living now. Now is the only source of life in the universe. Right now. The past is dead, the future's a fantasy, 'now' is reality. So if you live in 'now', you're living in Christ because Christ is 'now'. I ask people, "Where is Jesus?" They usually say, ".......uh.......Well, He's living in my heart." You mean there's a little bubble in your heart with a tiny little person living there? "Well, no...." C'mon, think this through. Let's ask some real questions here. (laughing)

SFM: What happened to you, as you tell it, "in that house just off Mulholland Drive in Stone Canyon up in the Hollywood Hills"? What happened to you that day?

B: Well, I had been struggling. I read the words of Jesus in this little modern translation of His story and the thing that caught my attention was when He said to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. And I thought, man, if there's an answer to the "Eve of Destruction", then that's it. If everybody lived according to those two little bits of instruction we wouldn't need the military, the government, lawyers, jails or welfare systems because we would all be taking care of each other. We would realize that 'you're me, I'm you and we are all together, (singing) goo-goo-g'joob'. Right? (laughing) That's the truth. (singing) 'Close your eyes and point your finger on a map and let it linger. Anyplace you point your finger to, there's someone with the same blood-type as you." Isn't that amazing? We're all brothers and sisters in blood. And the 'lie' is what separates us. To think that I'm different from you or that the Muslims are different from Buddhists or Buddhists are different from Christians or white is different from black or Asians are different from Indians is the stupidity of human thinking that's brought the world to the brink of annihilation.

SFM: If I'm not mistaken, you've released about 20 albums since becoming a follower of Jesus. How did life change for you as a folk singer who suddenly started following Christ? How did the 'old friends' react?

B: They were happy that I had found something that turned me right-side-up. I was a capsized ship that was slowly sinking into the depths and all of a sudden they saw me right-side-up, sails full, racing off over the waters of life. And they were all very pleased for me. It wasn't THEIR cup of tea. They didn't understand Christ. See, the problem is, and this is tragic, it's almost like the Name of Jesus has become the enemy of the Person of Jesus. So many acts of hypocrisy, self-aggrandizement, greed, empire-building have taken place and so many millions of people have been slaughtered, burned alive, skinned and then boiled in oil in the Name of Christ; from the Crusades all the way through to the 'Christian' gunmen in Beirut, the Catholics and Protestants murdering each other in Ireland.... There's nothing more divided in the world than Christianity because everyone thinks that their little take on it is the right take and they're the one who has the Word of God. Christ said, "Call no man 'rabbi' or 'teacher' or 'father'." But, "the Holy Spirit will come and dwell within us and lead us into the fullness of Truth". "In the counsel of many is wisdom", but the Kingdom of God lies within us. And so many things have gone on in the Name of Jesus that have nothing to do with the Truth of Christ. And as soon as they mention His Name, this preconceived image of fundamentalist Christianity with all the finger-pointing and condemnation is all people see. So at that point they don't hear another word we have to say. That's why I wrote "Cosmic Cowboy" because I was trying to paint a verbal picture of Christ in a way that would allow people to catch a glimpse of Christ before they actually knew Who it was they were looking at. We have Christ dressed up in this Western uniform and in this little box. The Scripture says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life". The word "Truth", as it appears in the original Greek language means "Reality". The Word also tells us to humble ourselves under the Mighty Hand of God. Well, what is the 'Hand of God'? Is that the 'Hand of God' painted on the ceiling of the Sisteen Chapel reaching out to touch Adam's hand? Is the 'Hand of God' the clergy or doctrine? Where can you go and escape the 'Hand of God'? Nowhere! Ok, so what IS 'Reality'? You cannot escape 'Reality'. Wherever you go, there you are. You can go to the moon and there's still 'Reality'. We are in the inescapable grip of 'Reality'. To me, 'Reality', itself, is the Hand of God. And if I just surrender to 'Reality', I'm surrendering to the Hand of God. I'm surrendering to what God is providing for me to experience. Things happen to me that are uncomfortable because God is trying to show me that those areas of discomfort are nothing more than entities living within me that are not true. Anytime I'm emotionally upset, that's just something within me that's not true. It's telling me a lie and at that moment I'm living a lie. This is my perspective. You may have a different perspective, but this is mine. Jesus is the Way, the Reality and the Life. Life itself is Christ. Life itself is the Godhead. The 'Way' is nothing more than the unfolding of the present moment. The 'Way' is surrender to 'Reality'. And then it's at that moment we discover Life. So, it's been an incredible journey for me. I've never known a peace that I'm starting to slip into. I'm just trusting God no matter what happens. I'm saying, "Bring it on, Lord!". I don't want any of these untruths, these enemy strongholds living within me. And 'Reality' exposes them. My wife and I used to say at the beginning of our relationship, "If something gets your goat, it's because you got a goat to get." (laughing) It's not the 'something', it's the 'goat' that lives within me. How can I help someone get a splinter out of their eye when I've got beams and logs in my own eye?!? These 'goats', these 'dragons', these 'splinters', these 'strong men', whatever you want to call 'em, they're all the same thing. 'Multiple personalities' that dwell within us. Psychology and everyone's saying the same thing, they're just using different words. You can call it a 'demon' or you can call it a 'multiple personality' or you can call it a 'stronghold' or you can call it an 'altar to something that dwells within us' or you can call it a 'parasite'; a psychological thought-parasite that's sucking the life out of us. The 'Reality' of Christ will deliver us from our parasites. To be totally parasite-free, wouldn't that be awesome?!? (laughing)

SFM: I'm shifting gears here, Barry.......Recently I saw a beautiful picture of you and your lovely wife, Mari (pronounced 'Mah-ree', as I was instructed) obviously laughing and giggling like a couple of kids on Prom Night. I mean, c'mon, Barry, get a room!! (Barry laughing hysterically, thank goodness)

B: It's been 34 years and she's my best friend.

SFM: How did you first meet?

B: She first came to California from New Zealand with a team of about 18 other people to go through a discipleship training school in Fresno. We met casually and probably over the next six months saw each other maybe a half dozen times in the office or out and about. And then the day before she went back to New Zealand, she was with her boss, my dear friend, Winky Pratney and he was taking his wife and his mom and dad to Disneyland. I had a concert in Anaheim that evening, so I joined them. The whole thing was God just weaving our lives together. I didn't know she was going to be with them and she didn't know that I was going to meet Winky, so there I was sitting in front of the Magic Castle when up they walked. And when we rode the rides, there was Winky and his wife, Faye, and Bill and Lynn, Winky's mom and dad and Mari. So, Mari and I would ride all the rides together and she was so beautiful, but I had so totally violated that part of my life. I thought there was no way I could have a healthy relationship with a lady. I thought I had totally destroyed that part of my life. That was my big sin. My deep addiction was sexual promiscuity. So I had given up and thought I'd live celibate the rest of my life. Then one year later I met Mari and a year after that we got married. So we just talked while hanging out at Disneyland. She was going back to her brother's the next day and I told her to drop me a line and let me know how it's going. About a month later I got a letter and we starting writing back and forth. And about a year after that I wrote and asked her if she would marry me. She wrote back and said she would. So the first time I actually kissed her was when she got off the airplane two weeks before we got married. She was with her mom and I kissed her, too; about the same amount of passion in both kisses. (laughing) We were all just standing there, dumbfounded; "Well, what do we do now?" So I took them over to my mom's house and dropped them off and two weeks later we got married.

SFM: You spent a considerable amount of time in New Zealand in the 80's, didn't you?

B: We lived there for about six years, but we didn't want our children to grow up with a New Zealand mindset. The world is a lot bigger than the New Zealanders believe it to be.

SFM: Could you tell me a little bit about your children and grandchildren?

B: Well, my daughter is a high school teacher working on her Master's in Counseling, because there are so many hurting kids with destroyed homelives. How can you take kids who have experienced nothing but violence and alcoholism and drug abuse and profanity and sexual promiscuity and expect them to learn anything at school? It's insane and then the teacher gets blamed because the child is not graduating. She has two little girls, Michaela and Meguire. She wanted to keep the 'McGuire' name, so we call her 'Meg', for 'Meguire'. She's delightful. And Michaela can walk out into the yard and hold her finger up in the air, call out, and a praying mantis and dragonflies will come land on her finger. She's such an 'earth-angel'. She's awesome. We just spent the whole day yesterday with those two little ones and had tons of fun. My son is suffering from bi-polar disorder, an associative disorder, altered personalities, multiple personalities because he was abused by a family member when he was a young child and it's totally shattered him. So he's struggling up out of that hole. And he's also 'wired'. He's a genius. He sees reality as it really is. He sees all the leeches and the parasites and the lies that people tell, just through kinesiological body language and facial expressions. It's all there to be seen. Some people have that gift and he's one of 'em. And he writes the most incredible poetry and music that we've ever heard in our life. He's the keyboard player.

SFM: Well, I'm going to close with a brief quote from your website, You write, "I spend hours, days and weeks just hanging out with my wife. 34 years married. She's my best friend. We laugh, talk, read and play with our grandchildren. Life has become a wondrous thing for me."

B: It's true! (laughing)

SFM: 'Legacy-building' seems to be a big thing these days. In closing, could you share with us what it is you would like people to say about Barry McGuire years from now?

B: Yeah, I would like it to be said that, "from his perspective, he spoke the truth." From MY perspective. If you had a thousand people holding hands and standing in a circle and you put an elephant down in the middle of the circle, and said, "Ok, what does the elephant look like?" Well, you don't tell what the person standing next to you says or what the person 50 people down the row says just so you'll be accepted. You tell what you see; an honest description of what the elephant looks like. A lot of us don't tell the truth. We say, "Oh, look at the beautiful clothes that the king is wearing." The king doesn't have a stitch on. But since we don't want to be rejected by the crowd, we go along with what everyone else is saying. The thing is, if everyone tells the truth about what the truth looks like and we all get to know the other person's view, then we'll get a pretty good understanding of what the elephant looks like. We have such a narrow perspective. I mean, God is a pretty big elephant and I just have my little narrow perspective, but if I tell the truth about what I see, and you tell the truth about what you see and then we compare our truths, our picture gets a little bigger; a little more accurate.

SFM: Barry, thank you very much and send our love to Mari.

B: I will. She just walked in from cutting some roses and has a bouquet she's putting on the table.

With that and a few more comments on how to go about getting "Trippin' The 60's" to come to Texas, we ended our conversation.

Thanks, Barry.