Wendy Wilson Stays ’Dedicated’
After a successful wintertime holiday recording called Christmas in Harmony, Wilson Phillips rejoiced in the season of Spring by releasing "Dedicated" in April of this year. Along with her sister, Carnie Wilson and long-time trio member and friend, Chynna Phillips, Wendy Wilson decided to honor the legacy of songs their parents sang with "Dedicated."
The result is a fresh yet true-to-the-original spirit of some of the classics from both The Beach Boys and The Mamas and The Papas. Wilson Phillips proves that though the seasons come and go... their musical quality and talent continues to shine through the years. Here for The Rage Monthly, Wendy gets to the heart of the newest recording, reflects on the initial success of Wilson Phillips and shares her philosophy on keeping up with all that life has to offer.
I wanted to begin with the new CD "Dedicated." You three did such majesty in keeping the original flavors of the songs and at the same time, adding so many unique additions to the arrangements and in the harmonies of the songs.
Thank you so much. We had a lot of fun making the record and of course, we wanted to keep the integrity of the original music there... Which is obviously brilliant. We didn’t want to depart too far from that. However, we tried to add our own style as we did it.
In choosing the songs for this CD, how complicated or smooth was the selection process?
It was a little bit complicated because there is such a big library of music. The hardest part was choosing what to cover because we loved so many of the songs. We went with a list of songs that we thought the public would like and also songs that were not as well known that we liked, as well. We kind of married the two.
I’m really glad that Wilson Phillips honestly feels a true responsibility to this music as Brian Wilson [Beach Boys] and John Phillips [The Mamas and the Papas] are just masters at the art of songwriting.
I know, they’re unique individuals, they don’t come around very often. We’re very blessed.
I was honestly flabbergasted to hear Owen Elliot-Kugel [Cass Elliot’s daughter ]on the recording of "Dedicated to the One I Love." When I heard Owen sing, "And it’s something... that everybody needs," I got the chills on my arms as to how much she sounded like her mother.
I know... you’re not the only one who’s said that, everybody’s said it. It’s astounding, isn’t it, how much she resembles her.
How did she come to be on this song and what are some of your thoughts on recording this track with her?
When we first formed the band, back in the late 1980s, Owen was originally the fourth member. Things didn’t work out timing-wise; so it turned out to be just the three of us. That’s when we made our group name,"Wilson Phillips."It is really a wonderful feeling to have her on this record; we of course remained friends with Owen for all of these years. There was always this void and we wanted to sing with her and we knew that someday we would and this was the perfect opportunity to have her sing with us-It was very wonderful and very cathartic.
We thought for "Dedicated" that she would sound just beautiful on that song. So, we chose that song for her. She is getting a great response from this record and it’s well deserved. She’s very happy about it and so are we.
Now, for your rendition of "Good Vibrations," it’s amazing to hear Carnie [Wilson] go to that low register in her part of the trio. Will you please share the recording experience of this song? For some reason and maybe I’m off... I see laughter in-between takes of doing this because she really nailed the lower ranges and that’s got to be so hard to do.
Oh yeah, we were laughing hysterically actually... you are right about that. Carnie sometimes referred to herself as "Linda Blair" when she was doing that part. (Laughter) So yeah, that was really funny. It was very, very challenging for her to do that. In just one part, we had to lower her voice electronically, for one part of the song. But, she was almost there! We did on one part because she couldn’t hit just this one note.
It’s amazing. All three of you did an incredible job with "Good Vibrations."
That song in particular was a labor of love, that’s how I can describe it. It was so much fun to dissect the song and just put it back together piece by piece and layer by layer and really see what The Beach Boys did! It was just amazing and a lot of fun to sing. We love the way it turned out; it took us weeks to actually get that done.
I can believe it. Going back to 1990 and to knock Madonna’s song "Vogue" out of the number one spot on the Billboard charts and then in 1992 to be the only girl group to outsell The Supremes with your debut... this must have been a very heady time for all of you. Will you share some of your emotions at this time?
We were euphoric; we were really excited and on cloud nine-everything was happening so fast for us. It was kind of hard to absorb. I think that when you are that young, you are still really growing up at the same time. There was a lot going on emotionally and physically... we were traveling the world and so I think in retrospect, I can appreciate it more than I did then.
When the CD Wilson Phillips came out, it was always along for the ride in my car. I will always remember listening to it at that time in my life-thank you for that.
Oh, you’re really welcome. I’m glad we could move you and affect you in a great way. I know that music is always connected to times in your life and emotions. It pulls your emotional strength, in a good way and in a bad way... it’s amazing. I have the same thing with other bands where I connect with it in a certain time of my life.
It honestly seems like 2011 and this year has been extremely productive for you. There is the reality show Still Holding On, the appearances with The Beach Boys, a new album and a new group forming called California Saga.
That plus being a wife and mother of four sons. What is your personal secret to balancing all this activity and for you, what’s a favorite part of the day?
To be honest with you, (laughter) I don’t have it all figured out. Whatever I’m doing at the moment, I try to give it my all and it’s hard to do everything well at the same time. Sometimes, I feel very torn, with being a mother and wife and my career. I just try to be present with whatever I’m doing at that moment. I try to take care of myself... I don’t know how to describe it. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance that, to be honest. It’s not an easy task. I love it and I’m very lucky.
My favorite part of the day? (Laughter) First off, I love taking walks; that’s my meditation. That’s a great thing for me because it takes my head to another place where I can just let go and decompress. I love swimming with my kids; I also watch a lot of those shows about renovating houses. That’s like my obsession right now, anything to do with homes and decorating... I’m there.
Oh, okay. I wanted to know who was your first musical crush as a kid?
My first musical crush was Shaun Cassidy; he actually wrote a song with our Dad when he was at his height of his stardom. He came to our house when Carnie and I were 8 or 9-years old. We were freaking out! We were getting ready... we were putting on make-up; we knew he was coming over.We were just beside ourselves. He came over, we got to meet him and we took pictures. It was incredible.
How fun. Well Wendy, it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you so much.
It was so nice to talk to you, Bill.