Dean Friedman: 'I did Top of the Pops with the Boomtown Rats and the Buzzcocks'
- Henry Northmore
- 3 August 2018
New York troubadour revisits his classic album "Well, Well," Said the Rocking Chair
American singer-songwriter Dean Friedman occupies a unique place in the world of music. 'I grew up listening to people like Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, writers who painted pictures using very vivid imagery,' says Friedman. He scored a series of top ten hits in the late 70s with 'Ariel', 'Lucky Stars', 'Woman of Mine' and 'Lydia', just as punk was taking hold on the music scene. 'I think it was unlike anything else on the radio at the time,' he says of his work. 'Punk was just happening, I did Top of the Pops with the Boomtown Rats and the Buzzcocks!'
Friedman is returning for his 15th Fringe to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his most successful album, "Well, Well," Said the Rocking Chair, a collection of pastoral acoustica inspired by his move to New York. 'It's impossible not to be influenced by the sights and sound, colours, textures, even the tastes and smells of a city like that,' he says. 'Inevitably those colours and sounds ended up on the album.'
However, that's just half the story. Friedman has cropped up in all manner of unlikely places: as a world authority on synthesisers, with people still checking out his YouTube videos to this day; an early pioneer of virtual reality gaming; a designer of musical playground equipment and writer of the soundtrack to beyond-cult British horror movie I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle.
Surely his most surreal musical adventure was as the subject of a song by Half Man Half Biscuit ('The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman'). 'It was great, he's a brilliant writer. I met Nigel [Blackwell] and the band at the Fringe in 2003, and he confessed he had "Well, Well," Said the Rocking Chair.' Friedman did the maths and soon realised he was only seven-years-old when Blackwell was conceived and wrote cheeky rebuttal 'A Baker's Tale' in 2009. 'I have a lot of respect for those guys and I feel like we have musically addressed each other's place in the pop music firmament,' laughs Friedman.
Sweet Grassmarket, 8–19 Aug (not 13 & 14), 7.30pm, £20–£22 (£18–£20).