March 12, 2022
Greetings friends. Today we're talking with Randy Schmidt, who wrote the definitive biography of Karen Carpenter who, along with her brother Richard, was one half of the immensely popular 1970s musical ensemble, The Carpenters. Everyone knows the Carpenters. For me, they were just that "pop act" that I didn't pay much attention to, and didn't really have any thoughts about one way or the other. Then I saw a video of Karen drumming...then I started listening to some of the music and realized what a golden voice she had...and I started thinking about her sad and untimely death in 1983 due to complications from Anorexia Nervosa. By this time, I had Karen Carpenter on my mind, and I wanted to know more about this truly amazing singer.
I turned to Randy Schmidt, who has written the definitive biography of Karen, entitled Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter. Randy has written on a number of performers, but it's his work on Karen Carpenter that has struck a chord with so many, and I'm so pleased he came on the show. And...we had an AMAZING conversation.
We talked about how the Carpenters came to be, their beautiful music that often transcended the traditional pop format with which they're often associated, and the circumstances surrounding Karen's death. I know you'll find yourself enraptured in Karen's story - just like I was. It's a special conversation, and a bif thank you to Randy for sharing his insights with me.
See you soon with a new episode. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this one.
January 22, 2022
It's episode 50 folks! And to help celebrate this milestone, I'm joined by four alumni of the So Important Podcast: Mike Edison (episode 28), Gary Graff (episode 5), Jim Wilson (episode 7), and Chris McKittrick (episode 23) - four great guests convening to discuss a topic near and dear to all of our hearts: the late, great drummer of the Rolling Stones, Mr. Charlie Watts, who passed away last August. It's rare for me to have more than one guest, but the conversation was well worth it. Jim Wilson is a professional musician whose solo work reflects his deep love of the band. Chris has written a book on the Stones' early days, detailing their love of New York City. Mike Edison wrote the book on Charlie - quite literally. And Gary Graff is a widely published, internationally acclaimed music critic out of Detroit. What a crowd!
We had a great time talking about a man who was one of the world's greatest drummers - celebrating his life, his music and his enduring legacy. It doesn't get better than this!
Enjoy this special episode. Share it. Go to Apple Podcasts and give the show some love. We've made it this far and I hope you enjoy this milestone episode as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Love you all, see you soon, peace out. Thank you for your continued support!
December 24, 2021
Greetings friends and fans of the So Important podcast! It's the holiday season, and I thought a story of inspiration was in order. And our guest on this episode is very inspiring, to say the least. Spend a little time with Amy Edelstein, who discusses her lifelong personal journey to attain a higher level of spirituality and one-ness with the world - but also to translate her life's lessons into helping others deal with life's stresses and traumas. She has run programs for inner city youth in Philadelphia, written numerous books, and hosts her own podcast.
Amy is an award-winning author, and her most recent book, Adventures in Zanskar: A Young Woman's Solitary Journey to Reach Physical and Metaphysical Heights, chronicles her solitary, 500 kilometer trek in the early 1980s, when she undertook a months-long trip through the remote, westernmost corner of the Tibetan plateau that had just been opened to travelers. It's hard to envisage taking a journey like Amy describes; the fact that she did it in her early 20s makes her story all the more impressive and inspiring. We discuss this journey extensively and for the record, Amy's book has become my go-to gift for the holiday season!
I know you'll find Amy's story moving, elevating, and so inspiring in these often-challenging times. Thank you Amy for spending time with me, and I'll see everyone soon for a new episode of So Important: The Interview Podcast!
September 12, 2020
So pleased to chat with Bruce Pegg, who wrote the definitive biography of Chuck Berry back in 2002. The title says it all: Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry. It's available on Amazon, and wherever great books are sold.
Chuck made some of the most important and enduring music in American history. Yet he never seemed to recognize the extent of his own contributions; he usually toured with a pickup band hired by the club or outlet; and he just couldn't stay clear of the law. Racial incidents that he experienced in his youth seemed to scar him significantly, and while he played right up to his 88th birthday in 2014 - just three years before his death, Chuck lived in relative obscurity and carried a huge chip on his shoulder - right to the end.
We barely skimmed the surface here, but it was a real pleasure for me to talk with Bruce and I think you'll enjoy learning about this enigmatic, but extremely important, figure.
Bruce's web site is worth reading; lots of great insights and the man can write. And the book is so good, I read it twice! So go give it a shot!
See you soon with a new episode. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!
August 22, 2020
Hello friends! It's been a busy time so I apologize in the lag since our last episode...but here we are, back and fresh as ever, with my GREAT conversation with Michelle Dresbold, who is one of the world's preeminent handwriting analysts. We talk about her important work supporting law enforcement, her upcoming book, and many other aspects of her fascinating career. And...well she even analyzes me!
Michelle has an extraordinary website - you can really experience the full breadth of her work there and it's highly recommended. And we talked about her book, Sex, Lies, and Handwriting, on the show - and you can find it right here on Amazon!
We had a lot of fun chatting, and I hope you enjoy the episode as well - and as always, if you have a minute to drop a few stars and a favorable review on Apple Podcasts, it's very appreciated!
June 13, 2020
Hello everyone and welcome to a very special - and very personally meaningful - episode of So Important: The Interview Podcast. This is the compelling, and in the end uplifting, story of Dr. Yolanda Avram Willis, who survived the Holocaust during World War II, in Greece. The story of the Holocaust in Greece is not as familiar as the story in other parts of Europe. But in fact, almost all of the Jewish population of that country was wiped out. This is the remarkable story of how Yolanda survived, thanks to the ingenuity of her father, and the many Christian Greeks who helped the family.
I have known Yolanda for decades and I am so glad finally to have the chance to help tell her story. I am joined by her eldest son, Mr. Marty Willis, whom I have known since the 1960s; and because we were fortunate to have Yolanda visit my Temple in 2018 and tell her story, we are able to intersperse excerpts of her talk into the conversation.
Yolanda told her story in a 2017 book entitled A Hidden Child In Greece: Rescue in the Holocaust. It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers. It's a compelling read and highly recommended!
Thank you Yolanda for sharing your story, and thank you Marty for your great insights and for all your help in making this happen. And special shout out to Aaron Zitner, who recorded Yolanda's talk in 2018.
See you soon and if you find the episode to be special, please give the show a rating and good review on Apple Music. Thanks!
June 2, 2020
We're back with the great Steve Hackett, member of Genesis during that band's classic era in the 1970s, creator of well over 25 solo albums, and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to discuss A Genesis In My Bed, his long-anticipated autobiography that was almost a decade in the making. Steve talks about what led him to the guitar, his time in Genesis, his prodigious career as a solo performer, and lessons learned from a unique and fascinating life. And I'm happy to report, much improved sound from last time!
Steve's book will be published in July, but you can pre-order it here. It's also available for pre-order on Amazon.
The book is a good one! And thanks to Steve and his U.S. promotion company, Chipster PR, for all their help in making this interview possible.
Enjoy! New episode soon!
May 16, 2020
Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A trailblazer; an exuberant and charismatic performer from the 1930s all the way to the 1970s; and a wicked electric guitar player. This amazing woman was raised in, and remained loyal to, her gospel roots throughout her entire life and career; yet she took the secular music world by storm in the 1950s - and had a major, and largely under appreciated, influence on the birth of rock and roll itself. This is her amazing story, as told by the author of the great Rosetta Tharpe biographer, Dr. Gayle Ward.
Dr. Wald's book, Shout, Sister, Shout: The Untold Story of Rock and Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, is the definitive accounting of the life, music and influence of this truly groundbreaking performer. It's available here on Amazon, and if you want to visit Gayle's informative and entertaining website, you can do so here. The book is a classic, and I can't recommend it enough!
Dr. Wald is a professor of English and the Chair of American Studies of American Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and I'm sure you will too. Thank you, Gayle, for your great generosity of time and insights!
May 2, 2020
In December, 2019, David Montgomery, Staff Writer for the Washington Post Magazine, wrote an in-depth article on President Trump's proposal for a new branch of the military, to be called the Space Force. In preparing the article,, which can be accessed here, Montgomery evolved from a skeptic over the value of the Space Force to a supporter.
A topic of interest to me personally, I reached out to David to talk about Space Force - how it came about, what it's intended to do, and what the international community might do to promote stability and the peaceful exploration of space. And we talked about the abiding allure of space, and the great men and women dedicated to carrying out the Space Force mission.
Very grateful to David for his time and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I hope you do too, and see you soon with a brand new episode of So Important: The Interview Podcast!
April 21, 2020
Hello friends! Who's up for a second episode in a row...about Baseball?? I talked with Mitchell Nathanson, Professor of Law at Villanova University and the author of numerous books and articles on the subject of baseball, about his new book on the one and only Jim Bouton, whose 1970 book, Ball Four, was a rite of passage for fellas like me! It was a must-read as a kid, known for its honest and very revealing look at the life of a major league baseball player. But it turns out Bouton's significance goes well beyond that - and that's the topic of Mitchell's book.
Mitchell was granted access to Jim's extensive archival material that supported the writing of Ball Four and got to know Jim Bouton and his family personally. The result is a book that will prove to be unique and invaluable, in what it brings to the table about an extraordinary individual.
You can learn more about Professor Nathanson and his many books and publications on his excellent website, and you can follow Mitchell on twitter at @MitchNathanson. His book can be ordered on Amazon here. And a tip of the hat to Mitchell - thank you so much for chatting, and I am looking forward to reading Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original!
April 12, 2020
Well, we should be deep into the baseball season by now...but life had other ideas, and here we are approaching May with no start of the season in sight. Not to worry...I've been talking with some TOP NOTCH guests to help fill the void, beginning with one Jeremy Newberger, the CEO of Ironbound Films, who talked with me about his fantastic documentary, Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel. If you haven't seen the documentary yet, you should! It is an uplifting tale of grit, and giving it everything you've got - even when the odds are conspiring against you.
This is the story of the team that represented Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and who progressed through the tourney well beyond anyone's expectations - except their own. It is the story of how these players bonded through their Jewish heritage, and how they took the Classic by storm when everyone had dismissed them. It's a great story, as only Jeremy Newberger, who directed the film, can tell it - with passion and enthusiasm, and great love and respect for these very human players.
Big news: The film will be released on DVD in early May - and you can preorder it right here! If you want to learn more about Ironbound Films, make sure you check out their website, and here's the official trailer for the film.
Enjoy the show, PLEASE go to Apple podcasts and give a good review and rating for the series, and I'll see you soon with a new episode! Go Bucs!
February 1, 2020
In 1937, the Nazi regime in Germany foreclosed upon a building in the heart of Berlin that was owned by Dina Gold's family. They received significantly less than market value in return. This is Dina's amazing and inspirational story of all that she did to see that justice for her family was served.
This is a story of determination, commitment, and conviction, and never giving up when the cause is just. Dina's story is an inspiration for all of us, and here it is in her own words.
Dina's book about her effort can be found here, on Amazon, or wherever great books are sold. Dina also maintains a website dedicated to her story, and a Facebook page that is informative and always interesting.
Thank you, Dina, for spending time with me, and sharing your amazing story!
January 11, 2020
Hello friends! Today we're talking with Mike Edison on his new book, Sympathy For The Drummer: Why Charlie Watts Matters. Mike and I share a deep and abiding love for Mr. Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones. There are few like him in the rock and roll world, and as Mike and I agree, the world is a MUCH better place with him in it. As Keith Richards says, without Charlie Watts, there's no Rolling Stones. A point on which Mike and I heartily agree!
I love Charlie Watts, and I love this book. And I loved talking with Mike about our favorite drummer. As Mike notes, the Stones were smart enough to hire a jazz cat as their drummer - and the rest is history. I know you'll love hearing from Mike about why Charlie Watts matters!
Here's a link to the book on Amazon, and here's a link to Mike's website which has oodles of good stuff worth checking out. And for you play along at home types, here's a playlist I put together featuring some of Charlie's best songs. All the songs that Mike and I discuss - and many others - are on the playlist!
BONUS: Mike and I discuss the Stones' 2016 masterpiece, Blue and Lonesome, featuring covers of classic blues songs. Here's a playlist with all of those songs, as well as the original recordings. Enjoy every minute!
If you've got a second, please like us on I-Tunes and leave a nice review, and share the episode with your friends. All those things help and are appreciated.
See you soon, and thank you, Mike!
July 28, 2019
Hello friends! Had a great conversation with Christopher McKittrick on his new book about the Rolling Stones and their career-long relationship with New York City! I thoroughly enjoyed the book and could have chatted with Christopher for hours - like me, he's a dyed-in-the-wool Rolling Stones fan. He also resides in and loves New York City, and had lots to say about the relationship between the city and the Stones. A fun talk and a GREAT read!
Christopher is a prolific writer - a good place to start is on Amazon, where you can check out his Author Central Site. His website is worth a look too - a great place to learn more about our guest.
And hey, if you aren't familiar with the Rolling Stones and just gotta learn more...well, do a google search and if you're lucky, something might come up!
Thank you Christopher, and I hope everyone enjoys our conversation!
May 26, 2019
Well, it's Memorial Day Weekend, and that means baseball! Join me in talking with Cesar Brioso about his recent book, Last Seasons In Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba." Cesar is a digital producer for USA Today Sports, where he served as baseball editor from 2003 to 2004, and traces his lineage to Havana - a topic we briefly discuss at the end our conversation.
The book is an absolutely fascinating read, chronicling how the revolution brought an end to professional baseball in Cuba - but never dampened the passion of the Cuban people for the game they dearly love.
The book is filled with unforgettable characters and anecdotes, and we barely skimmed the surface in our talk - so that means, you gotta read the book! And you can purchase it on Amazon and just about everywhere.
You can check out the facebook page for the book, and follow Cesar on Twitter at @cbrioso - a great way to keep up with Cesar's guest appearances. It's a great book, and please do check it out!
Thank you, Cesar!
And may I make a plea to listeners everywhere to follow the podcast, give it a good review in I-Tunes, all those good things. I usually don't push on all that in the podcast itself, but it's important and appreciated. Thanks!