Q: Have you been in therapy about it?
A: No. I think my form of therapy is songwriting. Writing in general. Thereís a lot of emotional expression in the music, whether it has words or not.
Q: Isnít it true that in the studio you and your bandmates werenít fond of ďJust the Way You Are,Ē your most commercially successful song from The Stranger?
A: We didnít like it at all. We listened back to it and went, ďEh, thatís a chick song.Ē It was a little too MOR. We were going to leave it off the album. And then Phoebe Snow came by with Linda Ronstadt and said, ďAre you crazy? That is a beautiful song! Youíve got to put that on the album.Ē They talked us into it. Youíve got to listen to a womanís point of view. Guys think they know everything, and they donít.
Q: As the man who wrote "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant", do you have any recommendations?
A: Oh, thereís a great place down on Houston Street called Ballatoís. Itís just a humble place on Houston Street, and the food is made with love. You can taste the love in the food.
Q: What are some warning signs that an Italian restaurant is no good?
A: Well, a bad sign is glop. Too much cheese. Too much garlic. Like the Olive Garden. Iím sorry. I know theyíre trying to bring an Italian cuisine to America, but it sucks.
Q: Are there certain books that have had a big influence on your way of thinking over the years?
A: I think the most influential book Iíve ever read was Mark Twainís The Mysterious Stranger.
Q: I donít know what that is.
A: It was a very risqué book for its time. Basically, itís a whole treatise on atheism. Itís done as a fairy tale, but itís really about doubting the existence of a deity. And when I was a kid I always suspected this, and when I read Mark Twain, I said, ďAha! A great writer thinks like this.Ē It kind of cemented my beliefs. I donít believe in religion. But as Iíve gotten older Iíve become less concrete in my atheism. There is a spiritual plane that Iím aware of, that I donít understand, that I believe science may be able to explain somedayor maybe not. But I mean, Iíve actually seen a ghost.
Q: Come on. Youíve seen a ghost?
A: I used to live in East Hampton, and it was an old house that had been renovated, and I was going to bed one night, and I walked into my bedroom and I saw what looked like a woman brushing her hair in front of a mirror. She was very old-fashioned-lookingit looked like a 19th-century woman in a dressing gown. It was quite realistic. It was quite three-dimensional. I wasnít dreaming. I saw this. It lasted for about a minute, and I said, ďOkay, Iím one of those people,Ē you know? I realized I donít know everything.