It has been a good year for Daryl Hall and John Oates. The film “(500) Days of Summer” featured the duo’s 1981 hit “You Make My Dreams” in one particularly energetic scene. Hall’s Web series, “Live From Daryl’s House,” in which he chats and jams with fans like Travis McCoy of the Gym Class Heroes and Chromeo, is going strong in its second year. And this week, they released a four-CD box set, Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall and John Oates, spanning their 40-plus-year career.
“The songwriting of [artist id=”8714″]Hall & Oates[/artist] is deceptively complex,” Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard says in the box set’s liner notes. “There are a number of key changes that pass you by as you’re listening to the song because they’re so seamless and clever. I’ve been a huge fan of the band since I was a kid. Hall & Oates is one of the few musical groups as satisfying now as it was back then. There’s something incredibly musically satisfying about their songs. Nothing has diminished my love for them.”
For a group who arguably reached the height of their fame two decades ago, being recognized by younger artists is particularly gratifying. “It’s an amazing thing,” Hall admitted. “Every artist, either secretly or overtly, wants to be across generations, and that’s the true test. You can make it and be big in your own day, but if you cross it and you become part of, I guess, history, and you start crossing through generations — that’s the cool thing. That’s the most exciting thing to me. It spawned this whole idea for me with my Internet show, and I do interact with new bands, especially ones that have talked about being influenced by John and me, and we’re putting that talk into reality. It’s really happening. There is that sort of interplay between these brand-new artists and veterans like me.”
“The younger artists are referencing us and appreciating us and sharing that appreciation with their fans,” Oates added. “It’s really cool. And I think that’s a really positive thing for music.”
Chromeo’s Dave 1, who frequently shouts out the ’80s icons in concerts and interviews, added his praise to the liner notes as well. “What makes us admire them the most is the way they combined musical risk-taking, sophisticated songwriting and innovative production techniques with an unwavering deference to soul music,” he wrote. “They must be acknowledged as the only group who managed to fuse styles as diverse as prog, doo-wop, folk, funk and rock ’n’ roll, into inimitable, intelligent pop.”
And McCoy, who actually has tattoos of Daryl and John on his hands, says in the box set, “Let’s put aside the influence Hall & Oates has had on me, it’s emblazoned on my hands for the rest of my life for crying out loud. What’s more important is the crater they’ve left on planet MUSIC in general. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty as far as influencing any artist who cares about the craft.”
McCoy’s committed fandom amuses the duo. “Well, I know Travis pretty well,” Hall laughed, as Oates interrupted, “Not to mention marking your body for the rest of your life with our faces!”
“I love his hands!” Hall continued. “A lot of these people, I’ve read what they’ve said about John and me, and I’ve experienced it firsthand at my house, bringing people in. … It’s just amazing. It’s a good thing.”