I’m sure almost everyone who interviews you must ask about “Time Is on My Side.” But could you talk about why you gave up playing it for a while in the middle of your career?
"Well you know, after a while, when you sing something that you know you’ve recorded, and you did the first national version of it, and when you’re singing, somebody tells you: “Oh, you’re doing a Rolling Stones song,” I got tired of explaining that I did it before the Rolling Stones. After a while that gets to be old. And so I stopped doing it, because I got tired of explaining that. They didn’t do their homework, they made assumptions. And so at some point you get tired of repeating yourself. Even now, I don’t do it as much as I do others. I sing it, but a lot of times it’s requested before I think about doing it, because I have so many other songs I can do.
I have a large enough repertoire that by choice I can either do all of my own material or I can do a few cover songs that I like. And by taking requests, it makes it simpler, because then you are doing what your audience wants to hear. And I’ll put it this way: Most folks leave satisfied that they’ve heard their favorite song.
In fact, “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” — I recorded that back in 1964. I was at a show on the East Coast somewhere, and somebody in the audience asked me to play “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is.” I said, “Wow, I haven’t heard that request in a long time.” I sang it for them, and then when I got through, I asked them: “What album did you get that from?” They said, “We didn’t get it off an album. We heard it on ‘Black Mirror.’” You never know where you’re going to get a request from, or where they heard the song. And so I prepare — I put as much of my own material in my iPad, lyrically, so in case someone asks for it, I’ll do my best to do it for them."
Is there one song that you consider nearest to your heart?
"The only one that I could say I’m closest to would be the one that got me my first big hit, which was: Wish Someone Would Care". It became No. 17 in the nation, and if it hadn’t been for the British Invasion, it might have gone a little higher in the charts. There were some personal things going on in my life and I wrote the song because of those things. So that would be the closest to me."