20 Questions: Steve Wynn

Founder of the highly influential Dream Syndicate, a vital innovator within the L.A. Paisley Underground movement, songwriter and guitarist Steve Wynn has collaborated with an array of talents, drawing from a variety of musical styles over his storied career. Wynn is one of those rare musicians’ musicians. His new solo record Crossing Dragon Bridge drops on 22 April and he embarked on a solo acoustic tour of Europe in February and March to preview the new album, but not before answering PopMatters‘ 20 Questions.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Neither. It was the last episode of Season One of The Wire. Now, I may have been crying at first because I was the last person around who hadn’t seen the show and I knew I had a lot of catching up to do. But by the time I had raced through the DVD of Season One, I found myself getting very misty at… well, I’m not going to say.

There still might be someone left in the world who hasn’t seen this mighty fine show. Now I’m looking at a DVD of Season Two and getting weepy because I’m leaving on tour and can’t watch it until I get home six weeks from now.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Damn, I thought I was a fictional character. Okay, I’d have to say the Tasmanian Devil. I can work up a pretty good level of energy when I get going.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Oh, this question. I might have a different answer any given day of any given week but usually it comes right down to Marquee Moon — that’s the instruction manual on how to be in a two guitar-bass-drums combo.

I listen to that like an auto mechanic who has decided to take apart a well-made classic car (don’t ask me to name one, please). I marvel at the exquisite engineering, the interlocking parts, the eccentric choices and it just makes me want to get behind the wheel. Okay, enough for that metaphor.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I’ve never seen Star Wars and was never all that into Star Trek. I think I would say “Stars on 45”-always liked that single.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Sunflower seeds. Unsalted in the shell. There is a certain state of zen, a physical mantra that happens when I eat them. I get going on a bag and I’m in some other world. And my brain works much better in most other worlds.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I’ve made a living of making records and touring for 25 years and have yet to make a record I’m not proud of in all that time. Go ahead. But I also love the chance that the next record could not only be my best but also my worst. It keeps you interested.

7. You want to be remembered for…?

Brokering a lasting peace treaty, curing cancer, winning a batting title at age 52, opening a four-star restaurant, and celebrating my 200th birthday. But, failing all of that, I’d like to be known for making a lot of good records that hold up after I’m gone.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Lenny Bruce and Miles Davis. The rest are just variations on a theme.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Disneyland, Exile on Main Street, and the AMC Gremlin.

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

I’m a very good cook. It helps me with my procrastination.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

John Coltrane once said to Miles Davis, “Man, when I’m going on a solo sometimes I just don’t know how to stop” and Miles responded, “Maybe you should take the horn out of your mouth.” I always try to know when it’s time to take the horn out of my mouth.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

The answer to all three is probably the first Velvet Underground album.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?

I like a nice suit.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Babe Ruth. I bet he’d know how to have a good time.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

I’d like to make a little investment in Microsoft.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Vacation. A beach, fresh fish, and music with a lot of reverb.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?

Yes, please. I’ll skip the cigarette but if you’re offering a martini, some Belgian chocolate and a shot of espresso, I’m game.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

New York City. And that’s why I made a point to move here while I was still young enough to enjoy it.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

I’m just finishing my new album, Crossing Dragon Bridge. It will be released on April 22, and I’m as thrilled with the results as I would be with an endless supply of the answer to #17.

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