Daryl Hall on five decades of Hall & Oates ­— the most successful pop-rock duo of all time

AS one half of the most successful pop-rock duo of all time, Daryl Hall has seen his songs take on a life of their own.

None more so than the 1980 love song You Make My Dreams which has just reached a BILLION streams, 40 years since its initial release.

The song gave the pair — the tall blond Hall and his short, dark partner John Oates — a No5 hit in the US when it peaked on the Billboard 200 chart in July 1981, kept off the top spot by Kim Carnes’s Bette Davis Eyes.

Surprisingly, it was never released as a single in the UK.

“The song is certainly an antidote to the uncertainty of the world we live in now,” says the singer on the phone from his home in upstate New York.

“It still feels very current to me because I’ve been playing the song for all these years. Time really doesn’t play a big factor in the way I look at anything really, but especially music.

“I remember writing the song, sitting in my apartment in New York City. I had a Yamaha CP 30 piano, which is a very distinctive sounding electric piano. And I started playing that riff, it just spoke to me.

‘It’s an expression of exuberance’

“It just sounded really on point and aggressive and happy. And I just started singing, ‘You make my dreams come true’, over it.

“I wondered if it was too happy? Could I think of something a little more complicated? And I tried but it is what it is. It really just wrote itself.”

The song has appeared in adverts, film, TV and soundtracks including (500) Days of Summer, The Wedding Singer, Despicable Me, The Office and Modern Family.

Hall says: “It’s more than a love song. It’s an expression of exuberance. I hear it all the time involuntarily but the last time I listened to it, I noticed how on point it all is. It’s in your face and the rhythm of the melody is bang, bang, bang. Like that. It’s a very aggressively happy mood.”

You Make My Dreams is just one of the many hit singles the Philadelphia band enjoyed in the Seventies and Eighties.

They sold a certified 13million albums and 6million singles including six No1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: Rich Girl, Kiss On My List, Private Eyes, I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), Maneater and Out Of Touch as well other chart hits including She’s Gone, Say It Isn’t So and Sara Smile.

Hall, 74, says his songs are still “a big part of my life”.

He adds: “I wouldn’t call them autobiographical, but they certainly touch on the things that happened to me and my observations. And I feel like that communicates to people. I feel the commonality between how I feel and how they’re feeling.”

You Make My Dreams appeared on their ninth album Voices, which peaked at No17 in the US in 1980.

It was the first album the pair produced on their own, a factor which Hall believes played a huge significance in its success.

He says: “It was extremely important. If the album had been produced by some of the people that I was working with before (including Christopher Bond, Todd Rundgren and David Foster), it wouldn’t have been as direct or as raw.

“It would have been creation by committee and that was not what I was about. I didn’t want to argue with producers or filter things through other people’s perceptions of our music.

“I was also really testing myself as an artist. I was evolving and sucking influences out of the world and trying to combine all those things with my innate Philadelphianess.

“I’m a Philly soul singer but I have tried so many different things. And some of them worked, and some didn’t but at least we went for it.”

Hall & Oates formed in 1970 after first meeting when they were both students at Temple University.

Hall says: “Philadelphia is one of the strongest regions of music in America and I always compare it to New Orleans or Detroit. It’s really unto itself.

‘People in the UK really dig soul music’

“And if you grew up with that, you absorb all these things.

“My mother sang in church and in a band and my father sang with a vocal group. I was immersed in gospel soul music from an early age. It’s a real grounding and allows you to fly.”

Straight talking and headstrong, Hall says his self-belief helped the duo in their earlier days. “I am very strong, creatively in what I want. And I succeeded and exist in spite of a lot of things that went down over the years.”

Hall & Oates enjoyed their first UK hit in 1976 with the re-release of She’s Gone from their 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette. Hall says: “UK and European fans were intelligent and receptive especially in the early days. I find American audiences get it innately — our sound is very American.

“I found that people in the UK really dig soul music and I responded to that. And then obviously the audience responds to me. It’s one of the reasons I spent so much time outside of the United States. I still have a house in London.”

Success in the Seventies was gradual but they were appreciated by fellow artists.

He says: “My first inkling that we were doing something right was when contemporary musicians from The Eagles to Led Zeppelin would say, ‘We love Abandoned Luncheonette’. That meant more than listening to album reviewers.

“Then with (1974 album) War Babies many just didn’t really understand what I was doing as it was unconventional.

“But we moved from Philadelphia to New York and it was a really exciting city and an influence. We just were swept up in the complete unfettered creativity of it. I listen to War Babies now and it sounds like squirrels on drugs to me!”

Hall & Oates opened for David Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust American tour in 1972 and became friends.

Hall says: “I knew David fairly well over the years. I liked him and he was a nice guy to hang out with. I appreciated his intelligence. He was a great artist and I felt akin to him.”

The duo’s 1975 self-titled fourth album, known as The Silver Album, had a cover of an androgynous-looking Hall & Oates, in make-up.

Pierre La Roche, the make-up artist, was behind Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane face-paint as well as work with the Rolling Stones and Rocky Horror Show.

‘I jumped off the train and calmed down’

“It was intentional to be controversial. The same way we were breaking barriers musically, we wanted to break barriers visually too,” says Hall.

“Pierre said, ‘I will immortalise you’ and I said, ‘Go for it. You know, let’s just shake people up’. And he did.”

Other famous friends included The Rolling Stones and Hall famously joined Mick Jagger and Tina Turner at JFK stadium for Live Aid in 1985.

Hall says: “Musicians just revert to being musicians when they’re together. And, to me, it was a really good set.

“With The Stones I certainly knew Mick and I knew Ronnie pretty well. I didn’t know Keith so well though but, I mean, they were exactly as you’d expect.

“There’s no surprises. It was six rounds of drugs and rock and roll, man.”

Memories of Live Aid are “surreal” for Hall. “That’s a cliched, overused word but it really was. Everybody was in one place talking to each other, then patting each other on the back and lots of smiles. Everybody was really feeling like they were doing something.”

After the release of Maneater and I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) in the Eighties, Hall & Oates were the biggest rock-pop duet on the planet.

He recalls: “Everything in the Eighties was extreme in hairstyles, clothing and colours. It was all very in your face.

“Most of the Eighties was a whirlwind to me. There was a lot of activity — we were working all the time, travelling the world and in the eye of a hurricane. There wasn’t much time to be introspective, which is unusual for me.

“So late Eighties I jumped off the train and calmed myself down. It was a whirlwind.”

Today Hall & Oates remain as influential, with Kanye West, Brandon Flowers and Miley Cyrus all famous fans.

He says: “It’s so gratifying. I have my TV show Live From Daryl’s House and the guests that come on and the things they say to me is so gratifying.

“These are people that I respect. It’s probably the best part of the whole thing for me. I’ve had The O’Jays and Smokey Robinson on.

“Every show is significant to me. Weirdly, when it started 13 years ago it was right after the SARS epidemic and I thought to myself, ‘You know, this might be the future. My tour has been cancelled and so I should bring the world to me’. And that’s where I got the idea of Live From Daryl’s House.

“So it really did come out of a response to an earlier possibility of a pandemic, and what could happen and here we are in the middle of the reality of that.”

Does Hall fancy following Oates who released a book, Change Of Seasons: A Memoir in 2017?

He says: “I’m not big into autobiographies. If I ever do a book, it would be more anecdotal, like my experiences and observations.

“That’s more my style . . . I have a million stories, though.”

Hall has, however, been writing a 19th Hall & Oates studio album, too, which would be the first since 2006’s Home For Christmas.

He says: “I started the project with a Dutch producer and songwriter and we were hitting it off really well. We cut about five or six songs, and they came out fantastically well. And I was just bringing John into the project then everything shut down. The direction was identifiable as Hall & Oates.

“It will be good to get back together again. Our relationship is like brothers. You don’t really need to see your brother very often. He will send me a joke and I do the same.

“We are very much together on the road and then we’re not. But recently, this virus has meant something different altogether. I can’t wait for us to reunite and get back on the road.”

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