Buffy Ford My brother lost his teeth in the ocean. They fell out and he called John and he said, “John, can you get over here and make me a set of teeth?” John loved the opportunity to make teeth and he said, “I’ll be right over.” We drove to Sausalito and went to his house boat and John was there for three hours making the teeth and filing them and soon my brother had a whole new set of teeth. It was unbelievable.
Spencer Leigh Did John sort himself out in the end?
Buffy Ford Well, in the end, he had a fixation with his teeth and he had many sets. I kept saying, “Honey, let’s do a burial for that file. Let’s just get your teeth right and bury the file please.” He would have it going in the middle of the night. He was always filing his teeth. He took the file with him. The file is with Johnny in heaven.
Andy Fergus He told me that the RCA contract came to an end after Wingless Angels because one of the executives had said to him, “This stuff is just phenomenal, John, but there is some hissing on some of the songs.” John said, “Yes, that’s my teeth.” (Laughs) And he had a huge fallout with him. So his teeth have been quite prominent in many ways.
Andrew Doble John’s career was a saga of occasional hits and of course you hear “Daydream Believer” everywhere, but his near misses are fascinating. John said that he had it on good authority that Elvis sang one of his songs as a warm up in Las Vegas.
Buffy Ford Yes, that’s true. Elvis loved “July You’re A Woman”.
Spencer Leigh He would have done it better than Pat Boone. John sings “I’ll pull on over to the side of the road to show you what I mean.” Pat Boone thought it was too racy for him and he sings, “I’ll pull on over to the side of the road to show I’m not so mean.” I played it to John once, knowing I would get some funny reaction. John said, “What’s Pat Boone going to do? Show her his American Express card?”
Buffy Ford There was a time when Elvis warmed up every night in the dressing room with “July You’re A Woman”. The record never happened, but he did request that John write him a song and that was (sings) “Mississippi boy, learning how to live on the road” which he wrote for Elvis. That’s “Runaway Fool Of Love”. He definitely sent it to him, but there are so many near misses, John just slipped through the cracks, and it was so unfortunate.
Geoff Davies John told me that he met Elvis in one of these cubicles that you have in bars and restaurants in America, your own little, private thing, and Elvis said that it was great to meet him and John’s response came out as nonsense, he couldn’t talk properly.
Buffy Ford That’s right, he did a Woody Allen.
Geoff Davies “July You’re A Woman” was scheduled to be recorded and then Elvis died.
Andrew Doble There is still time for some of these songs to be reborn.
Buffy Ford I think so too as I am discovering new John Stewart fans all the time. There are lots of people who want to hear more of his music. I have rough versions of some new songs but I can’t release them as I have to protect his legacy. The songs are great, they are golden songs and I want to get them to the right people. I am very positive about this.
Andrew Doble Everybody who came into contact with John was touched by him. There are millions of people who have never heard of him but they know “Daydream Believer”. Crowds sing it at football matches with new words.
Buffy Ford It is paying the rent, thank you Lord.
Spencer Leigh There are some fantastic songs on those Secret Tapes like “Justiceville” and yet nobody knows them.
Buffy Ford Well, my record is coming out and I hope that something will happen with it. I’m doing six of John’s songs and eight of my own. There is one song that John never recorded and I hope that Kris Kristofferson will be doing it with me. Kris will sound great on it. I also am recording the song that John recorded of mine, “I Never Got To See New Orleans”, which I’ve done with Dan Hicks. I’ve also recorded one with Timothy B Schmit from the Eagles.
Rosanne Cash is such a wonderful friend and she is singing on three new songs, two of mine and one of John’s. Another song that Rose is doing with me is called “Redemption For The Man” and that has a great sound to it. The ones with Rosanne are really the frosting on the cake for me. She has been such a wonderful friend and so wonderful to John. She mentioned John as her musical mentor in her book, Composed.
Andrew Doble I remember a Rosanne Cash sleeve note from some years ago in which she referred to John Stewart as her “dear, strange friend”. What did she mean by that?
Buffy Ford She would send her new songs to John and John would say to her, “But, Rose, where is the madness?” She would ask John if there was madness in her songs or not. She looked to John as her musical mentor but John also looked up to her and really loved her song writing. I do too. She is a great friend and a great songwriter.
Spencer Leigh What did he mean by “madness”?
Buffy Ford Well, John never wrote his songs for praise or for somebody to like them. He said, “Write from your heart” and he thought that the madder it was and the crazier it was the better.
Spencer Leigh There’s a little touch of that madness in the original version of “Daydream Believer” as John sings, “Now you know how funky I can be.”
Buffy Ford Yes, and I’ve just done “Daydream Believer” with Davy Jones from the Monkees and that was very funny. You know how the Monkees sang “happy” instead of “funky” and so Davy went in the studio and started singing “happy” and I said, “Davy, no. It’s funky”.
“Yeah, that’s the original word.”
He didn’t know. He put a great “funkeeee” on it for me. It was so much fun and that night I went to his show and he said, “This is for Buffy and for the first time I am singing this right” and he sang “funky” and the whole audience went crazy.
Geoff Davies And what is the official explanation of a homecoming queen?
Buffy Ford A homecoming queen is some girl who is elected queen for the end of the year football match.
Spencer Leigh We wish you all good fortune with your projects, Buffy. It’s quite clear that you are a woman with a mission.
Buffy Ford Well, John was an archangel. He was here on earth with a message that was just so deep. He affected so many people, so many hearts and souls.
Spencer Leigh Thanks to you all for sharing all these memories of John Stewart.