Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hiatt Hotel — John Hiatt feature story from SPIN, 1987

He's late.
It's not necessarily his fault, but he's late just the same.  Too late to do anything about it but sit tight in a cab that's sitting tight in the Soho traffic. "I'd hate to blow my last chance as an old dog to be a fresh new face," John Hiatt says.  It's supposed to be a joke.

The photo session is for the magazine section of the Sunday New York Times, and the idea is to assemble a diverse dozen rapidly rising up-and-comers from different aspects of the arts, stand them against a wall, and shoot them.

How it came to be that John Hiatt, who's had seven albums out over the last 13 years, got included is one of those mysteries that occur spontaneously in the marriage of journalism and public relations.  It doesn't matter — he's not too late after all, just the second-to-last of the rapidly-rising up-and-comers to arrive.

A Ray Charles record is moaning somewhere in the upper reaches of the loft, and one of the photographer's assistants introduces Hiatt around.  "This one is a sculptor,  and this one is an opera singer, and this one is an actress.  And you're a. . . you're a blues singer?"

"That's right," he say.  It's better than "singer-songwriter," better than hearing himself described once more as another of those new-wave-era song-mongers oozing clever words from every orifice, better than having her annouce him as a perennial critics'-darling also-ran who never seems to sell any records and has bounced from one record label to another. " A blues singer," he says.  Ray Charles moans.

excerpted from SPIN, September 1987