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Pianist Dave Burrell, Back on the Scene

Pianist and composer Dave Burrell was an important part of the free jazz scene of the 1960s, recording with Pharoah Sanders, Marion Brown, Archie Shepp and others. His new CD with his Full-Blown Trio, Expansion, marks Burrell's first recording for a U.S. label in almost 40 years.


Other segments from the episode on August 9, 2016

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, May 9, 2005: Interview with Dave Burell; Interview with Goldie Hawn.


TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Dave Burrell discusses and performs his jazz piano

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

The last time I heard pianist and composer Dave Burrell perform solo, all I
could think of was, `We have to get him to play on our show.' Well, today is
that day. In the late '60s, Burrell was one of the mavericks of the jazz
avant-garde. He's recorded with Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders. But he
also loves early jazz styles. As our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has said,
`Burrell mixes the antique and the modern with a naturalness recalling Earl
Hines, Monk and Sun Ra. Like them, he evokes more than recreates early jazz
styles. Burrell combines an avant-garde pianist's love of density with a
buoyant, old-timey sense of rhythm. Gary Giddins has called Burrell `a
scintillating solo performer.' Thurston Moore of the band Sonic Youth put
Burrell's album "Echoes" in the number-one slot on his list of the top 10 free
jazz underground recordings.

Dave Burrell grew up in Middletown, Ohio, Harlem and Hawaii. When his family
moved to Hawaii after World War II, they were among the few African-American
families there. Burrell's latest CD is called "Expansion," and it features
his group The Full-Blown trio: drummer Andrew Cyrille and bass player William

Dave Burrell, welcome to FRESH AIR. This is something I've been wanting to
do for a long time. So...

Mr. DAVE BURRELL (Jazz Pianist and Composer): Thanks.

GROSS: ...good to have you here.

Mr. BURRELL: Thanks for having me.

GROSS: And there's a song that's on your new CD that I'd love you to start
with. I've also heard you perform it in concert. It's a real treat. This is
your reworking of the Irving Berlin song "They Say That Falling In Love Is
Wonderful." Would you do it for us?

Mr. BURRELL: Sure.

(Soundbite of "They Say Falling In Love Is Wonderful")

GROSS: Wonderful. I love the way you do that.

Now one of the things I just particularly love about your playing is that some
of it's really rooted in the very early days of jazz--ragtime, Jelly Roll
Morton. At the same time, you've played a lot of free jazz--You're an
avant-gardist--and the two kind of come together and meet in the middle in
your playing. You're drawing on both ends plus on the whole kind of history
of American popular song. And I love the way you've kind of fallen in love
with both the historical ends and incorporated it for your own means.

Mr. BURRELL: Right. I--thanks. I didn't really start off for it to be that
way. I think that I was caught up in the avant-garde or free-jazz movement in
the mid-'60s in New York, and I was still working on becoming a firmly-rooted
traditionalist. The players around me that I really respected were interested
in both as well. John Coltrane was just departing from tradition and had
really validated for all of us colleagues that it was OK if you had a firm
tradition, a solid foundation, that you could go ahead and explore other ways
of hearing, other ways of soloing, painting.

GROSS: When did you start listening to and playing the music of Jelly Roll

Mr. BURRELL: I started when producer/historian Sam Charters did a public
radio show in the late '80s, and he said to me that he heard in my playing
what he heard in Morton's. And I wanted to know exactly what that was. And
he told me that they were getting ready to do a special on the bicentennial of
Morton's life, and he wanted me to be a part of it.

GROSS: So you had to learn the music.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BURRELL: I did. And I thought it was easy. I went to Pedelson's and
bought the book, and Monica said, `Can you play this?' It was perform book.
And I said, `Sure.' And she said, `Let me hear one of them.' And it was a
disaster. And so I told Sam, `Sam, I'm not going to be ready by the
deadline.' And he said, `Oh, of course you will.' And then he took me in the
studio maybe a month later, and I did sort of squeak by with some of the
stuff. And I fell in love with it. I felt that it was just what I needed to
go to at that time.

GROSS: Well, a few years after that, you recorded an album that was Jelly
Roll Morton compositions and some originals in that vein. I'm going to ask
you to play a Jelly Roll Morton composition for us now, and this is "The
Crave." Do you want to say anything about it before you play it?

Mr. BURRELL: Yes. "The Crave" is one of the most significant of all of his
rags because it has the Spanish tinge, which is bum, bum, boom, bum, bum,
boom, bum. And that ingredient at the time Morton--when I heard him talk to
Alan Lomax at the Smithsonian, he said to Lomax that that ingredient was a
very necessary part of the jazz of his era to be included.

GROSS: So this Dave Burrell at the piano playing Jelly Roll Morton's "The

(Soundbite of "The Crave")

GROSS: That's Dave Burrell playing Jelly Roll Morton's "The Crave." And Dave
Burrell has a new CD with his group The Full-Blown trio, and it's called

Could you illustrate a little bit what's happening in "The Crave" that we
just heard, what makes that Jelly Roll Morton?

Mr. BURRELL: Yeah. The Matilda(ph) bass line is evident, the Caribbean
influence in this last strain.

(Soundbite of "The Crave")

Mr. BURRELL: So it gets as folky as you can imagine, and that's so very rare
for the very first jazz composition to be written down and to have the
European ingredients because, of course, he studied with European teachers.
He has the sort of the neighborhood sound. He has a sophisticated technique,
and yet he has the street sound of the brothel.

GROSS: You had already played a lot of free jazz and avant-garde jazz before
playing Jelly Roll Morton, but were there things in the Morton compositions
that struck you as being almost avant-garde in some way? Do you what I mean?
Being much more modern than you would've thought they could have been in the

Mr. BURRELL: Yes. Yes, bass lines that are so very syncopated that they're
timeless, and it doesn't matter what you attach them to. You could have a
Morton-inspired bass line at this release point, for example, on "The Crave."

(Soundbite of "The Crave")

Mr. BURRELL: That note at the end is just sort of shoved into the ensemble of
notes as an intrusive pedal-point sound, which has just sort of been mimicked
throughout the decades. And it still doesn't have a rival as far as the
effectiveness that it brings to the composition's swing. The rest of the
release of the piece--I'll demonstrate now how it sort of flowers out and ends
and the tension is released. So...

(Soundbite of "The Crave")

GROSS: That hard to learn?

Mr. BURRELL: Yeah, it was for me. I don't think that anyone really has
difficulty with the notes because they call it third-grade classical music,
they compare it to. But what it needs is a lot of strength, and it needs a
lot of thrust to enable--to execute the syncopation.

GROSS: My guest is Dave Burrell. His latest CD is called "Expansion." We'll
hear more of his concert and interview after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Dave Burrell, and he's a
pianist and composer based in Philadelphia, but he spends a lot of the year
traveling around the world performing. He has a recent CD which is called
"Expansion," and it features his group The Full-Blown trio.

When you were playing free jazz--I mean, you came to New York in the '60s?

Mr. BURRELL: '65.

GROSS: And you were playing free jazz. You were playing with people like
Ornette Coleman, Marion Brown, Pharoah Sanders. And was it hard to find a
place for yourself in free jazz as a pianist? Sure, there's Cecil Taylor, but
Ornette Coleman, for instance, didn't have a piano in his group. And I think
a lot of free-jazz players might have felt that, you know, piano just
harmonically didn't belong.

Mr. BURRELL: That's correct. That's what most everybody said. And the piano
players had to figure out how to not disturb this new trend, and so what I
started doing was learning the melodies. And I'd play along with the horns,
and I wouldn't play any chords, and so I became a horn myself. And if it was
a short, snappy head, like `rup, a-dup, dup, da, da, da, da, da, da, bum, ba,'
then I was out, and the horn went on to solo with the bass and drums: cha,
cha, cha, ga, da, cha, ga, da. And then later on the horn soloist, front-line
people, would turn around to me, and they didn't want chords; they wanted
color and rhythm from me. So I had to play clusters that sounded in the idiom
of where the melody and the solo--where it had...

(Soundbite of piano chord)

Mr. BURRELL: ...had come to what--something like a cluster, like what I just
played, wouldn't disturb it.

(Soundbite of piano chord)

Mr. BURRELL: So maybe the horn player's up here...

(Soundbite of piano music)

Mr. BURRELL: And I just went...

(Soundbite of piano chord)

Mr. BURRELL: So that was working sometimes. I think that the most difficult
part was the horn players were just figuring out how to become very energetic
and not play within some box or some framework. So you can imagine someone
just taking a motif and arguing the motif as vigorously as they chose, and the
pianist going...

(Soundbite of piano music)

Mr. BURRELL: So the drums and the rhythm section are all doing a chant that
stays the same. The horns, however, are leaving the immediate premise.

GROSS: Was it ever frustrating--here's this, like, free jazz, and the horns
are being, like, liberated to scream and do whatever they want. But you, as
the pianist, are kind of boxed in. You know, they don't want chords. You're
doing, like, clusters. You're doing this repetitive line underneath them.

Mr. BURRELL: Right.

GROSS: So it sounds like it wasn't that liberating for you.

Mr. BURRELL: It wasn't that liberating, but it was challenging. And then,
later, after we heard back what we had, for example, with this Upper and Lower
Egypt motif that Pharoah Saunders wrote that I just played--when we did that
in Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey--Bob Field(ph) was producing--he
said, `Well, that's a great formula. You just have the chant. The rhythm
section is blocking along. And you have all of this wild freedom on the front
line. And then later the pianist can go ahead and take his solo while
everybody else sleeps.' And...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Not the audience.

Mr. BURRELL: Yeah. No, not the audience.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BURRELL: So then I thought, `Oh, my goodness, now it's my turn. Now what
am I going to do?' And I had to figure out some other stuff to do.

GROSS: So what did you do?

Mr. BURRELL: I did have an interlude function that became very necessary
because everybody was exhausted anyway.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BURRELL: And I was going deaf from symbols in my ear.

GROSS: We'll continue our performance and interview with pianist and composer
Dave Burrell in the second half of the show. His latest CD, which features
Andrew Cyrille and William Parker, is called "Expansion." Here's Burrell with
Pharoah Sanders recorded in 1966.

(Soundbite of music)


(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: Coming up, more of our concert and interview with pianist Dave
Burrell. Also, Goldie Hawn on turning the ditsy girl from "Laugh-In" into a
powerful actress and producer. She has a new autobiography.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with more of our concert and
interview and composer and pianist Dave Burrell. His latest CD is called
"Expansion." Burrell's music draws on both ends of jazz history--its early
roots and its avant garde. When we left off, we were talking about his life
in the '60s, when he was part of the free jazz scene in New York.

At the same time that you were, you know, playing all this free jazz in
concert, would you go home and then try to learn, like, Scott Joplin rags?
Because that has been such a fundamental part of who you are.

Mr. BURRELL: Yes, in the back of our minds, most of the innovators knew what
Coltrane had done, and I think that he was the leader of being able to say,
`Well, I departed after I thoroughly explored the so-called inside, and I
wrote "Giant Steps," and I feel now that I must move on to--not only into
atonal music but to modes and other approaches, and I have my credentials in
order.' That's Mr. Coltrane talking. And I think everybody else in the jazz
community would agree.

GROSS: Now I think--I think--tell me if this right, that John Coltrane's
"Giant Steps" is based on an exercise?

Mr. BURRELL: Yeah. It is based on a chord progression that has been taken
after its initial...

(Soundbite of piano music)

Mr. BURRELL: That chord progression has a linkage that takes it to an
identical chord progression in another key.

(Soundbite of piano music)

Mr. BURRELL: So it's something that he put together. He got a motif,
probably from a book like Nicholas Leminski's(ph)--You could call it an etude,
like a Chopin etude--to get better in scurrying around different chord
changes, for him personally.

GROSS: Now "Giant Steps"--a lot of horn players have played that, and it's, I
think, usually a horn musician's, you know, tune. You do it on piano. You
have, like, a stride piano version of "Giant Steps." Would you play it for

Mr. BURRELL: Sure.

GROSS: This is Dave Burrell at the piano.

(Soundbite of "Giant Steps")

GROSS: When I listen to you play, I think how strong your fingers are.

Mr. BURRELL: A lot of the avant-garde pianists, from having to keep up with
drummers that were so strong, like Alvin Jones and Andrew Cyrille and even
Philly Jones, not to mention Max Roach--but in order to, say, be there and be
heard and be in the mix, you found that you played a lot harder than you
though you could. And oftentimes when the ensemble was finished and they had
played for an hour, they would want a piano solo. So you would have to keep

GROSS: You know, tendinitis is such a problem for a lot of musicians,
particularly pianists. So when you're playing with that kind of finger strain
all the time, and volume becomes--volume and that percussive quality become
really important, are you putting your fingers at risk?

Mr. BURRELL: I think so. I that think you develop a technique that's kind
of like a beat-up boxer's technique. You can still go in the ring and throw
one, but maybe he's been hurt. I know I've taped my fingers, and I've nicked
them on ivory that was not smooth and not been able to play because I ripped
off a nail or something, especially 20 years ago when trying to just be as
aggressive, say, as Cecil Taylor.

GROSS: You grew up from the age of six till you were a young adult in Hawaii.

Mr. BURRELL: Right.

GROSS: Your parents are from the States.

Mr. BURRELL: Right.

GROSS: How did they end up with you in Hawaii?

Mr. BURRELL: Well, we were the first African-American family outside of the
military to settle there, and it happened right after World War II...

GROSS: To settle in Hawaii...


GROSS: ...or just in Honolulu?

Mr. BURRELL: To settle in Hawaii, as far as we know.


Mr. BURRELL: And it was great for me because I met people from all over the
world. We were at a settlement called Palama Settlement in Kalihi, and at
that time it was a postwar recreation, art and cultural center. The--my mom
taught piano lessons--where she taught piano lessons. And my dad was doing
his thesis on--he was as a sociologist, just passed away at 91--about Hawaii
being the melting pot of the Pacific.

GROSS: Was growing up in Hawaii a good experience?

Mr. BURRELL: It was an incredibly good experience. And what I ultimately
ended up doing was having a rhythm and blues band, and I was on television
every Saturday afternoon.

GROSS: Wow. That's great.

Mr. BURRELL: Yeah.

GROSS: Well, what a media family, because your mother did a jazz radio show
while you were in Hawaii, right?

Mr. BURRELL: Yes, she had a radio show in Waikiki. And I was on TV. And I
played at the military bases, too.

GROSS: You've talked about some of the many elements that have gone into your
music. Did you hear a lot of traditional Hawaiian music growing up in Hawaii,
and did that have an impact on your own compositions?

Mr. BURRELL: I did.

GROSS: Could you just play a few bars of one of those Hawaiian-influenced

Mr. BURRELL: Sure.

(Piano performance by Dave Burrell)

GROSS: Dave Burrell, it's just been great talking with you and hearing you
play. I'm so glad we did this. Thank you so much for being with us.

Mr. BURRELL: Thank you for having me.

GROSS: Pianist and composer Dave Burrell recorded in our studio. His latest
CD is called "Expansion." He lives in Philadelphia but spends a lot of time
performing around the world. In fact, tonight he leaves for Rome. He's
written an opera based on his experiences coming of age in Hawaii, which he
hopes to find the backing to stage.

Coming up, Goldie Hawn. She has a new memoir.

This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Goldie Hawn, whose new memoir is "Goldie: A Lotus Grows
in the Mud," discusses her career

Goldie Hawn first became famous for her performances on the TV series "Rowan &
Martin's Laugh-In," where she was often covered in body paint and almost
always not very bright.

(Soundbite of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In")

Mr. DAN ROWAN (Co-host, "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In"): Goldie, you'd be the
one to ask about this. You know a lot of pe...

Ms. GOLDIE HAWN (Actress): Yes, I know a lot of things.

Mr. ROWAN: Yes, I know. And I appreciate your telling me about them.

Ms. HAWN: Yes.

Mr. ROWAN: You know--well, what do you think about this? A lot of people
think that the country is becoming polarized.

Ms. HAWN: That now, Dan...

Mr. ROWAN: What?

Ms. HAWN: ..that is ridiculous...

Mr. ROWAN: Is it?

Ms. HAWN: ...because the world--how can they make us--gonna make us Polish?

Mr. ROWAN: I...

GROSS: After "Laugh-In," Goldie Hawn went on to star in such films as
"Shampoo," "Foul Play," "Private Benjamin," "Swing Shift," "Overboard," "The
First Wives Club" and "The Banger Sisters." She won an Oscar for her first
film, "Cactus Flower." Among the things she's now famous for is being the
mother of Kate Hudson. Goldie Hawn has written a memoir called "A Lotus Grows
in the Mud."

What I used to hear about you years ago, when you were still playing a lot of
characters who were kind of ditsy, was that she may play stupid in movies but
she's really smart. And one of the films that helped get that across was
"Private Benjamin," which you were in on right from the start. You helped get
that film made. Now the premise of this film is that, you know, you're a
young woman who gets married to Albert Brooks, and...

Ms. HAWN: To Albert.

GROSS: ...and on your wedding night you're making love, he has a heart attack
and just drops dead, and you have no idea what your place in the world is
after that. And you meet a recruiter. He pitches you this kind of fantasy
idea of what the Army might be. You enlist and find out it's not what you
expected, and you really hate it. Here's a scene where you're marching around
in the pouring rain with other women from the platoon.

(Soundbite of "Private Benjamin")

(Soundbite of thunder and rain)

Ms. HAWN: (As Judy Benjamin) What do you want from me? I didn't ask her to
punish everybody! You think I like schlepping in the rain all day and all

Ms. P.J. SOLES: (As Wanda Winter) Just keep marching, Benjamin!

Ms. HAWN: (As Judy Benjamin) My name is Judy! J-U-D-Y, Judy! And I'd like
somebody to call me by my name!

Unidentified Actress #1: Hey, Judy!

(Soundbite of slapping sound)

Ms. HAWN: (As Judy Benjamin) Ohhh. OK, I took my life in my own hands. I
made a mistake. Fine, I'm sorry. I'll never do it again. I wanna wear my
sandals. I wanna go out to lunch. I wanna be normal again!

Unidentified Actress #2: Would you please just shut up, Benjamin? God!

Unidentified Actress #3: Never in all my born days met such a whiny,
candy-ass as you!

Ms. HAWN: (As Judy Benjamin) I don't wanna be in the Army! I don't be in
the Army! I don't want be in the Army!

GROSS: Goldie Hawn in a scene from "Private Benjamin." Goldie, when this
movie landed you on the cover of Newsweek, what was the gist of the article?

Ms. HAWN: The article really was sort of celebrating my dumb-as-a-fox
personality, the fact that I was one of the first, you know, movie stars who
was female to carry a movie, to make that kind of money and be that
successful--that I produced, and suddenly I turned into kind of a mogul. And
the mogul aspect of my career was just sort of made up, but it did shape
perception of other people.

So it was a double-edged sword, really, and I do address that as well, because
it was a turning point in my life. "Private Benjamin" came at a time when I
was married, and my marriage was shaky, and my success didn't help that. And,
you know, the only thing that you--you know, about fearing success is the
actual--what success will do to people around you. And it wasn't easy. And I
mean, you don't blame everything on a certain circumstance, but I do know that
success for women in particular who really do have, especially, my
personality--as I'm very much a home--I'm very much a nurturer, I'm very much
a mother; I really wanna be everything to everyone. And my career, which was
just sort of, you know, growing just out of leaps and bounds and out of my
control really, weighed heavily upon my personal life.

GROSS: How do you think being successful hurt your marriage?

Ms. HAWN: How do you think it would? I think it's sort of understood. And
that is that, you know, one person is more successful than the
other--especially female--it's not always easy.

GROSS: You think...

Ms. HAWN: You know?

GROSS: Do you think that this movie might have hurt you in some ways by
inflating your image and actually making it difficult for you to be hired as
just an actress, because the word went out that you want to produce and not
just star in something? So can you talk a little bit more about the downside,
you think, that your success in this movie had professionally?

Ms. HAWN: Yeah, the downsides were that, you know, people were thinking that
I wanted to control everything, and that, you know, that's the--who they'd be
working with. And every--keeping in mind, the time of "Private Benjamin" was
1980. There weren't too many female producers out there, and there certainly
weren't too many people calling the shots, and if--a female, and if they did,
they were aggressive, they were a force to be reckoned with, their power did
not necessarily sit well with the male contingency. So I found that I was
sort of doing all my own stuff and wishing that a really great director would
come my way and, you know, sweep me off my feet like Hopalong Cassidy did in
my fantasy when I was a little girl and make everything all right.

GROSS: Did it happen?

Ms. HAWN: And so I was--oh, I worked with some good directors. Yeah, it did
upon occasions. But, you know, that's what happened, and lots of things
change. Success is an interesting catalyst to learning, really.

GROSS: Well, in your memoir you point out that early in your career when your
image in the film was of, you kn--not being very bright, that some people
thought that your characters were almost like a setback in the women's
movement. And, of course, then in the "Private Benjamin" era, suddenly you
were, you know, more of a role model of, like, women taking power in...

Ms. HAWN: Yeah.

GROSS: Hollywood and asserting themselves. So I'm wondering, having
during different parts of your career represented two different facets, you

Ms. HAWN: You know, it's true.

GROSS: ...of women's assertiveness, like what does the women's movement
actually mean for you?

Ms. HAWN: Oh, it--you know, I was never involved in any movement, you know?
So I just sort of--you know, the greatest movement of all for me was the
movement of just becoming. And we do that through different periods of our
lives, you know? What are we becoming? Who am I? I never looked at a
movement other than what it was, and they're very important. Movements are
important. The people that head up movements are sometimes fairly radical,
not necessarily who I would align myself with, but we do have to have those
radical people in order to, you know, sort of blaze the trail. And I've
blazed a few trails in my life. But my radicalism is not about anger or
discontentment. It was just sort of a path I took that I felt was the most
practical. And, of course, it ended up being something that no one had done,
and `How did you do this?' and `You are so brave.' Well, for me, it was just
about a practical approach to moviemaking. Simply being in a movement or
being part of a movement, I honor and respect those that do that, but I didn't
align myself with any movement.

GROSS: When you made "Private Benjamin," there were still very few women in
positions of power in Hollywood outside of acting power.

Ms. HAWN: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And that's changed a lot.

Ms. HAWN: A lot.

GROSS: Yeah. So do you think the fact that there are many more women in, you
know, positions of power--in studios, many more women producers, has it really
changed anything fundamentally in terms of the stories being told in movies or
the roles that are available for actresses?

Ms. HAWN: No, it has not helped one bit. Not really. I think that the
fact--see, it's like anything else. When a woman gets into a position of
power, she wants to hold on to it. So you have to play the game, and it's a
man's game. It is still a man's game. And I'll tell you why, and this is the
smart part. Men, young men, drive the economics of the movie industry. They
go to the movies, they go to the movies that make the money, big money.
Unfortunately, what they're not seeing is that there is a very unserved
constituency that is completely without movies to see, which is hence why
"First Wives Club" was so huge.

So the problem is the writing. The second problem is the men--and by the way,
at this point in time, they're quite young--men who are, you know, in
positions of sort of--you know, the associate producers or people who are head
of production or assistant heads of production, people who are funnelling
material to the higher-ups, who--by the way, these higher-ups don't make
movies, either. They're usually just business people. So they just find out
what's going to make money, and a woman's movie is very hard to get made, very
hard. If you make a woman's movie today, and it flops, it's a bad thing,
because it's not going to be easy to get a movie made for women, particularly
on whatever subject it might be. If it's mothers and daughters, and the
mother-daughter movie comes out and it fails, it's going to be a long time
before you get another mother-daughter movie out there.

GROSS: My guest is Goldie Hawn. Her new memoir is called "A Lotus Grows in
the Mud." We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is actress Goldie Hawn. She has written a new memoir called
"A Lotus Grows in the Mud."

Early in your life, you thought you would become a dancer, and ballet was at
the center of your life when you were a child.

Ms. HAWN: Mmm.

GROSS: Your mother was a dance teacher.

Ms. HAWN: No, my mother wasn't. My mother was a--ran the dancing school. My
mother was a business woman.

GROSS: Oh. Oh.

Ms. HAWN: My aunt ran the dance--was the dancer, my Aunt Roberta(ph). She
taught me to dance. But they were best friends. My mother literally started
the business, she ran it, she sat in the front office, she counted the bucks.

GROSS: So do you think it was any harder or easier to be taught by your aunt
than it would have by just somebody who was a teacher who wasn't part of your

Ms. HAWN: No, no, no, no. It didn't make any difference to me. I was three.

GROSS: Right.

Ms. HAWN: It was part of my life...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. HAWN: know? I don't even remember, you know, never having her.
She taught me all the way till I was 19.

GROSS: So...

Ms. HAWN: And by the way...

GROSS: Yeah.

Ms. HAWN: ...that is the most important thing, looking back on me, as I
write in my book about dancing and what it does to me and how important and
what a great teacher it is. Those dancing years developed my character as
much as being the daughter of my two parents, because it taught me how to
work, how to break myself down, how to learn to turn myself, how to be hard on
myself, how to sweat and lose my breath and try again and again and again
until I got it right. That was my teacher.

GROSS: One of your early jobs, I think, was working as a go-go dancer,
dancing on a table?

Ms. HAWN: Yeah. It was amazing. I mean, I tell you, what a time in my life.
I mean, the things that we do in order to survive, you know? At least I was
moving my feet. It was pretty horrible. There was a lot of men around there
who exposed themselves and did some pretty raunchy things. It was pretty
awful, stuff I didn't tell mommy about and really not my dad.

GROSS: If this was, like, 30 years later, would it have been pole dancing or
was it more of a...

Ms. HAWN: I don't know. You tell me. You know where the world's going
today. I mean, God knows I could have been more than pole dancing, I could
have been lap dancing for all I know.

GROSS: Right. Right.

Ms. HAWN: But the reality is is I was a dancer, and it's what I did every
day, and I just did that on weekends to make some money.

GROSS: What would you wear?

Ms. HAWN: Fishnet tights and leotards and fringe, high-heeled shoes.

GROSS: Not go-go boots?

Ms. HAWN: That's funny. I did--I'm trying to think about that. I think I
did have a pair of go-go boots at some point. Absolutely. I forgot about

GROSS: And what did you dance to? What were the records?

Ms. HAWN: "Hang on Sloopy," "Twist and Shout," did some Bob Dylan stuff.
And, of course, I had one horrible, horrible story, which I share, that I
danced all night to Dean Martin's "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes." I
mean, `How am I going to dance to this?' Some guy yells, `Put another quarter
in, make her dance.' Oh, how I ever came out loving men.

GROSS: So how did you dance to Dean Martin?

Ms. HAWN: Very slowly.

GROSS: Let me ask you about your name, your name Goldie. When I first
started seeing you on television and in the movies I thought that Goldie must
be maybe even, like, a nickname because you had blonde hair or because, you
know, a golden personality or something like that.

Ms. HAWN: Sure.

GROSS: But then, of course, there's also, like, the kind of Goldie from
"Fiddler on the Roof," a kind of, you know, Jewish name that somebody who was
more from the turn of the century was likely to have.

Ms. HAWN: Sure. Sure.

GROSS: So what are the roots of your Goldie?

Ms. HAWN: I was named after my great-aunt who raised my mother. My
grandmother--my mother's mother--died when she was three, and she went over to
live with my Aunt Goldie, who had subsequently seven children of her own. So
when I was born--Tante Goldie had died a year before I was born. So in the
Jewish religion, you really don't want a name after the living, so I got her
name. And it was a really cool name to get. And I was bald, so nobody knew
what my hair color was for almost two years.

GROSS: You were bald for almost two years?

Ms. HAWN: I was. I didn't have much hair.

GROSS: That's a long time. Writing a memoir is an interesting exercise in
the sense that you have to take stock of your life and literally give it
shape, figure out what is the narrative thread that runs through your life.
Do you feel like you learned something about yourself in doing this book?

Ms. HAWN: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HAWN: No. No. I only helped share what I did learn and what I continue

GROSS: Well, I should mention, you've been in analysis for years, so you've
probably already gone through your story.

Ms. HAWN: Exactly. And I don't really--you know, a lot of this stuff
is--the reason I'm able to impart whatever it is my perceptions are, is that
I've thought a lot about it.

GROSS: Goldie Hawn, thank you so much for talking with us.

Ms. HAWN: I like this day.

GROSS: Goldie Hawn's new memoir is called "A Lotus Grows in the Mud."

(Soundbite of "Everybody Loves Somebody")


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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