With more than a dozen records, Garland Jeffreys moves listeners from the very first note. His new record, The King of In Between, tells honest, compelling stories that were inspired by his own life. His loyal fan base waited nearly a decade for the release.
Why the long wait since his last album? Jeffreys explains to Tell Me More host Michel Martin that he wanted to be with his family.
"I made a decision to be with my kid — not just to be a good father — but to have the experience for myself," he says. "To make a kind of family that I've never had."
When his daughter was 6-years-old, she asked Jeffreys if he was ever beaten by his dad. He answered: "Yes, I was, and it is something you never have to worry about." Jeffreys' daughter is now a teenager. She spent years with her father, learning to play the piano, sing and write her own songs.
Yet, Jeffreys always kept the rock and roll spirit of his youth. He began his career in the 1960s, playing in Manhattan nightclubs. His first hit song "Wild in the Streets" propelled him to the national spotlight in 1973. Since then, the song has been covered by several artists, and has become an anthem for skate boarders worldwide. Then in 1977, Jeffreys was named best new artist by Rolling Stone Magazine.
In Between Worlds
As Jeffreys grew up in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, he often faced the reality of being mixed race in America.
"It's always been there, it's something I've struggled with like many black kids — not feeling comfortable in my case on either side, black or white," he says.
He often used his songs to challenge racial stereotypes. One of his most recognized songs, "Don't Call Me Buckwheat," emerged from his experience at a Mets game. A man shouted at him, "Hey buckwheat, get the 'f' out of here!" That moment deeply upset the artist, but it also helped him express his feelings through music.
Jeffreys continues to keep his pulse on present-day challenges. He starts his new album with the last song he wrote: "Coney Island Winter."
"Woman walks down the street. Tears come rollin' down her face
Frozen on her cheeks. Steeplechase, no time to waste
Heaven blessed, heaven sent. Hark the angels, can't pay the rent
Jobs are gone, they came and went. All the money has been spent
All the games are broken down. Rust is fallin' to the ground
They say they're going to fix this town. Straight from City Hall."
Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.