Jackie Collins

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Jackie Collins has written 29 novels, all of which have appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list. Not surprisingly, her tastes are geared towards soulful singers with a sensual edge, from Al Green and Marvin Gaye to Sade. She also shares a couple songs that define important personal moments in her life. Her books have sold over 500 million copies and her latest is called “The Power Trip”.

More info: http://jackiecollins.com



Eric J Lawrence: Hi I'm Eric J. Lawrence, and I am here with author Jackie Collins. She has written 29 novels, all of which have appeared in the New York Times best seller lists.  Her books have sold over five hundred million copies, and have been translated into over 40 languages. But today we're going to talk about music. We're going to chat about some of the songs that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.  Jackie, thank you so much for coming down. 

Jackie: It's my pleasure to be here. I love talking about music. 

EL: Well what’s the first song you’ve got for us?   

Well the first one, I would say, is the most famous track of all time, "What's Going On" by Marvin Gayee. I had the pleasure of meeting Marvin before he was shot dead by his father, which was such a tragedy. He was the most amazing man: charismatic, extremely sexual, very good looking with this incredible voice and incredible appeal because he wanted people to get a message from his music. You know, when he did the album Sexual Healing, that was really a message he was sending to people about sex.  And I think in "What's Going On," he's talking about war, and how we should not have war and all of these things. I love this song. I love this track. I put it in the first of my Santa Angelo novels.  I've written seven Santa Angelo novels, and lucky Santa Angelo, who's my favorite character to write about, is trapped in an elevator with a gorgeous black guy who she does not know is her half brother, and they're trapped in this elevator, and after they get out of this elevator the first thing she does is want to hear music and she puts on "What's Going On" by Marvin Gayee. So, yeah, it’s a very special track to me and I play it all the time. 

(music plays)

EL: Where do you discover music?

JC: I was a very naughty school girl who would get out of my window every night when I was 14, 15 and go to jazz clubs in London.  So I knew a lot of musicians -- Dizzie Gillespie, people like that who were at the peak of their careers -- and my boyfriend at the time was actually writing for a music paper called the "New Musical Express," which was a very big music paper in England.  So he would get all the demo records and things to review, and I would hear everything. So I really have a huge collection of vinyl records because now I won't part with them!  I love my vinyl records, and they're coming back.  I have a lot of original, you know, jazz ones and soul ones. I was very into American Soul living in England. I loved it.

EL: That was Marvin Gaye, with the song "What's Going On." What's next track you have for us?

JC: Next track is "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green.  I mean this is a classic track and I don't think anybody can ever beat it, although they often try on all these singing shows. You know, some people come up and sing it and they do a good job, but nobody can beat the Al Green version. I love it.  Tina Turner does a pretty good version too, but Al Green is the king. And I chose this song because it always makes me feel happy. And I have it on my phone, so that's my dial tone on the phone. I mean my ring tone. So yea, every time I hear it I go "Oh my gosh, I love this song so much," and then I realize it's my phone ringing. So uh, it's just one of those songs that makes you smile, makes you feel very good, about yourself, about everything, about life.

(music plays) 

EL: Now Al Green obviously is a very romantic, seductive guy. 

JC: Of course!

EL: Is that something that you look for in your music as well?

JC: I do, because when I'm writing a really long sensual scene I want to have music on in the background when I start to write. And normally I would put on something like Usher, maybe Teddy Pendergrass, usually Al Green, sometimes the Temptations. There are so many great soul singers out there, and I go way back with soul singers. And Smokey Robinson, so yea, music has really influenced me in writing. It creates an atmosphere. 

EL: That was Al Green with his classic, "Let's Stay Together." I'm Eric J. Lawrence sitting here with author, Jackie Collins, talking music on KCRW's Guest Music project. What's up next?

JC: Another of my absolute favorites -- this was very difficult picking out five tracks, I can tell you that…

EL: We're tyrannical, I know. 

JC: Right?  But we have to have "Smooth Operator" by the fabulous Sade. I was back stage at The View, and I happened to meet her, and she is an amazing woman.  She told me she reads my books, and I told her I love her music. But "Smooth Operator" always reminds me of a book I wrote called The Stud, because you can just see this guy, you can imagine this guy.  He's the kind of guy that I write about all the time -- a Smooth Operator with a fabulous wardrobe.

(music plays)

EL: So is it the case that a lot of people that exist as characters in your books are based on real people?

JC: Absolutely, and I'm not going to tell you who they are. You have to play the guessing game along with everyone else!

(music plays)

EL: That's Sade with "Smooth Operator." Jackie, what's your next song choice?

(new music starts playing)

JC: "Yesterday" by the Beatles.  And it has great memories for me, because when I met my husband he owned a fabulous club in London called the Ad Lib. And all the Beatles, and the Stones and Eric Clapton all used to hang out there. So when I had my first daughter Ringo was the first one to give my husband a large cigar. And I remember at the time he told me that "Yesterday" was playing at the club. So I think it's beautiful song, it's always been a beautiful song, and it has great memories for me.

EL: Beatles with "Yesterday."  Jackie, your last song choice is "Have I Told You Lately that I Love You" by Van Morrison. Why this particular track?

JC: Well it's kind of a different track for me because I really like Van Morrison. I am a great appreciator of all different kinds of music.  I mean I love rap as long as the lyrics aren't too sexist, I love Latin music, as I said before I love Pop.  But "Have I Told You Lately" by Van Morrison…I was kind of torn.  Should I do the Van Morrison track or should I do the Rod Stewart track because Rod did a pretty great job on it.  And it has a lot of memories for me. Rod said to me one day that he would sing it to me at my wedding because I was engaged to this fantastic man who was like a hero from one of my books, who unfortunately passed away from cancer, which you know affects so many people in life. So this song always reminds me of the fact that Rod would have sung it at our wedding. But Van Morrison did sing it in my car every day. 

(music plays)

EL: Thank you so much for coming down and sharing these picks with us.

JC: It was my pleasure, thank you. 

EL: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.

{music closes with "Have I Told You Lately that I Love You" by Van Morrison }