Add John Oates to the growing canon of thoughtful rock star memoirists.
His book, Change of Seasons, due out April 4 from St. Martin’s Press, follows the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and longtime Woody Creeker from boyhood in small-town Pennsylvania to his tenure at the top of the pop charts as one half of Hall and Oates in the 1980s through the quiet mountain family life he found here in the ’90s.
An affable narrator, Oates, who now splits his time between here and Nashville, tells his life story in short chapters, sharing the origins of hit songs, detailing his partnership with Daryl Hall, and spinning some tales of rock ’n’ roll excess (and, yes, he devotes a chapter to his fierce ’80s mustache).
But the back end of the book is a love letter to Aspen, which Oates first visited as a college kid in the ’60s.
“[L]ittle did I know that Aspen was the place that would someday help save my life,” he wrote in a journal. “I was born in New York. But one day, I would be reborn in Colorado.”
He recalls landing here in 1991, burned out and bitter after years on the road. He tells of skiing with Andy Mill; meeting his wife-to-be, Aimee, at a SKI magazine party; and settling in Woody Creek, where he builds a rustic home, navigates an at-first rocky relationship with neighbor Hunter S. Thompson, and begins collecting a menagerie of animals.
The final image in Change of Seasons is of Oates, who became an accomplished telemark skier, skinning up an unnamed mountain, reflecting with gratitude on all that brought him there. “Skiing let me transcend time and space,” he writes. “I could write a book about skiing. Maybe someday I will."
See John Oates with Daryl Hall back together again when they headline Jazz Aspen Snowmass' Labor Day Experience on Friday, September 1. jazzaspensnowmass.org