Q: Thanks to Google, I was able to call up the infamous cover of the 1970 album you made with your heavy-metal duo Atilla. Why were you dressed as a barbarian and surrounded by hunks of raw meat?
A: I knew that was going to haunt me all my life. I hated doing the photo session. I thought it was a horrible idea. But I was like 19 or 20, and you donít knowthe guys from the record company are going, ďNo, this is a great idea,Ē and the art directorís saying ďOh, itís going to be fantastic.Ē I said, ďThis is stupid and I feel like an idiot.Ē I was right. Go with your gut.
Q: Is it true that after the failure of Attila you tried to kill yourself by drinking a bottle of furniture polish?
A: Thatís true. Yeah, I was suicidal. I was 21. Itís a tough age. Things hit you really hard. A relationship with a girl had ended and I was devastated, and then it didnít work out with the recording we did, and I just figured the world didnít need another failed musician. You take yourself so seriouslyyouíve got your head so far up your ass you canít see straight.
Q: But why did you use furniture polish?
A: I was just lookiní for poison. I looked in my motherís closet and there was bleach, and it had the skull and crossbones, and then there was furniture polish. And at the time I thought, Well, the furniture polish will probably taste better than the bleach, so Iíll drink the furniture polish. And all I ended up doing was farting furniture polish for a couple of days and polishing my motherís chairs.
Q: Itís amazing and horrifying to think that your life mightíve ended there, when so much success lay ahead.
A: I suppose that is part of the reason I wrote the song ďThe Stranger.Ē Weíve all got a dark side. And maybe weíre not always aware of it. Maybe it shocks us when it pops out.
Q: Now youíre 59, your album The Stranger is getting a special 30th-anniversary reissue treatment, and youíre about to play the final concerts at Shea Stadiumwhich the Beatles christened.
A: I think itís kind of strange that in my lifetime Iíve seen a stadium come and go. I remember when Shea was builtit was state-of-the-art, like a big Roman edifice. Now theyíre taking it down because itís out of date. I find that a little odd. I said, ďWow, am I that old?Ē
Q: Your wife, Katie Lee, is 26. How is it to fall in love at this stage in your life as opposed to when you were younger?
A: Itís really no different. Itís the same feeling as when I was a teenager and I had a crush and I was in love with somebody. Some of those things just donít change. Itís different because itís a different person, but the intensity is very, very strong, just like it was.