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DM) Do you find that you are always writing?
JH) No, No I didn't all summer. I didn't pick up the guitar all summer. But in the last tour, I wrote about 14 songs in 10 days. It kind of comes when it comes.
DM) A lot of people focus on your songwriting abilities. Do you prefer being known as a songwriter or as a musician?
JH) It's a whole package, singer/songwriter. I like writing but I like performing just as much.
DM) Who do you feel has done the best cover of your songs?
JH) I couldn't even say, there have been a lot of good ones. Johnny Adams did my stuff great for one...
DM) Has there ever been one you heard that you always wish you wrote?
JH) Hundreds and thousands... there's been so many songs that I loved. Fingertips by Stevie Wonder was the first single I owned and kind of got me into songwriting. It just had this great groove and his singing was so great.
DM) What do you feel are the key elements of a well-written song?
JH) As far as lyrics, you shouldn't see the writing. That is, it shouldn't seem like somebody sat around and composed it. It has something more to it.
DM) I remember when I was taking piano lessons, my teacher used to say the best songs were those written during the 20s, 30s and 40s with the songwriters of tin pan alley who used to crank out the well crafted show tunes. Do you feel there is any period of music that truly had the most well crafted songs?
JH) Well, the 20's, 30's and 40's did have a lot of great stuff, but also earlier blues although primitive were great. I think every era has great written songs.
DM) Having covered a number of different styles in your songwriting, do you feel more comfortable with one style or is one more true to you?
JH) Yes, that's true... I always seem to come back to the blues as a base though. I'm more comfortable with that. I started on the blues pretty round about, but what really opened up the blues to me was Bob Dylan. When I discovered him, I discovered this other culture. Even though I found him on Pop radio when I went back and got his first few albums I found this whole roots music culture all over the place. But for a kid from the Midwest this was a new thing for me.
DM) If we're talking about the blues though, I'm surprised you'd say Bob Dylan before Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.
JH) Well, Dylan was the guy that opened that door being part of that legacy. I think a lot of people, when you say the blues, people have this stereotype of a 12 bar blues band but that's not the blues necessarily, there's many different styles of the blues. I don't think most people have gone into it far enough to understand the blues, it's beyond the finger picking style or the sort of hard sound of a guy like Buddy Guy. There's so many different types of blues that cover such a wide range. It's almost like hearing someone on a light jazz station saying all of this is jazz.
DM) Just like Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder left a mark and an influence on you, what type of mark do you hope to leave on other musicians?
JH) It's more of a stain! (laughs) I don't really think in those terms. I suppose I mark my territory like any other dog, but as far as leaving my mark...
DM) But there are people who are greatly influenced by you.
JH) Well, that's nice, I'm glad to be of service. (laughs) It just sort of happened and came along.