If you are of a certain age, he was part of the duo who made you swoon with Sara Smile, and a decade later, Oates, 68, and bandmate Daryl Hall served you a string of MTV-driven hits like Maneater and Private Eyes. Hall and Oates are now gearing up for a 29-city megatour (with stops in Miami and Orlando) with Tears for Fears, but before that Oates is publishing a memoir, Change of Seasons. The book came about after co-author Chris Epting urged him to team up to tell his story. Oates shared with Epting journals he had kept in the 1970s. "Chris would look at some of the pages and say things like 'Hey, this is interesting, in 1973, you were here.' And that would kick-start the (storytelling) process. I'd color in the details." We caught up with Oates by phone on March 8.
What's on your nightstand?
Oh boy. I read all the time. I'm a crazy reader. I've got Chris Epting's book, Teddy Roosevelt in California. It is about our national parks system. And I have Shades of Blue and Gray, which is a concise history of the Civil War. I'm also reading The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard. It's a fun kind of detective story set in the 1930s. I'm fascinated with the 1930s right now. I do enjoy reading about history.
What do you look for in history books?
I like to read about what I don't know about, or I want to go deeper with things that I thought I knew about to get more into the mechanics of how it all happened, like the political ramifications, the behind-the-scenes stuff. As a kid you learn history in terms of the broad strokes, the historic moments, the dates. You know Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and you get all that stuff, but what I'm fascinated with now, as a sophisticated reader and lover of history, is what made him write it and finding out what were his influences to take on this incredibly challenging job.
I know your roots go back to rhythm and blues. Is it easy to continue embracing your pop hits all these years later?
I embrace it because I am a professional. It's a game you enter into. I became a professional recording artist, but at the same time, I never lost my desire to tap back into my roots of who I am, and that's what I was able to do in more recent stuff from 2000 on. Unfortunately that didn't get into the book because I was 400 pages in and I didn't want to start something and have to cut something off.
Contact Piper Castillo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Florida_PBJC.