Speaker Well, I the first time I met Jeff was through a friend, a mutual friend, Chris Polonius, and it was a surf trip we took up to one of those secret California spots. And we had a great day. We just went out surfing. And I think at that point, I was just kind of enamored with meeting Jeff Bridges. But but also struck me what a nice guy he was, you know, just really down to earth. And, you know, with Jeff, you know, falling into conversation, interesting conversation is pretty effortless. You know, I mean, from his standpoint, he's just so genuine. And we were talking start talking about music. And I could tell that he was really interested in music.

Speaker And did you have any sense up until that moment of really how?

Speaker Well, you know, I didn't. Chris had asked me to maybe help, you know, play some piano, do some backgrounds. Would I, you know? And I said, sure. Know. Of course, I was kind of star struck, to be quite, quite honest with you, you know. But what I really came to realize quickly with Jeff was that if there was ever one of those people that I've ever met, that is kind of a Renaissance person, you know, whose life just seems to be naturally drawn to artistic endeavor of many kinds. Yeah, it was. He was one of those people, you know. And so I, I kind of an interest in the course of that day. Well, you know, went from being an artist. Great. I'm going surfing with a movie star to really genuinely liking the guy very much as a person and looking forward to doing this project, you know. And Chris, I had played me some of the songs and I was struck with the songs for a couple reasons that not only were they interesting, they were so different. You know, they were in some ways, they kind of broke a lot of musical rules that I think just came from the fact that he wasn't obliged to those rules not being a trained musician, you know, so much. And. And so his songs had a real freshness to me that I know he kind of just got right to the point with the lyrics and the music never really encumbered the point of the song or the lyric, you know. And so we had a lot of fun making the record. And it was really a kind of just a fun project. And and the fact that we all got to just kind of hang and just garage. And we recorded some of the stuff over Allen's house and, you know, just in homes and, you know, around our friends. So we kind of made the record right in plain view of of people we all kind of know.

Speaker And it seems to be all of his as well.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. And it's it's it's good and bad. It's a double edged sword because, you know, your friends are all the way through it or telling you what they think, you know. But that's OK because it's keeps you honest somehow, you know. But as I get into the record, more and more, I started to really feel like, you know, this is one of the best projects I've been involved with. You know, I know I've had the good fortune of playing on a lot of great records over the years or singing backgrounds. But I really enjoyed this project for its uniqueness more than anything. It just really I really felt like I was in the studio with an artist who had something unique to say about human nature and about just life in general.

Speaker Well, I think he just from what I've been now see and watching myself and getting to be around him, know a little bit. He does. He has a remarkable take on life in a rather highly evolved.

Speaker Yeah, yeah. I think he keeps, uh, above it all in that good way, you know, like it doesn't you know, most of us today, it's like, you know, even just like all the lousy weather in L.A. in the last couple of days, you can make people miserable. But. And and again, I also kind of marveled at the fact and I and I was kind of inspired by the fact that getting to know Jeff, that he does so many things at the same time and he doesn't let it really get to him as far as a stress level or, you know, it. During the time of the album, he was working on movies, you know.

Speaker Well, he has a real it seems to me also he comes out. This was such a real freshness and adoration of each one of those things that he does. Yeah. And one of the things about the music that we've just talked about right before we are here, I meant to say is, do you know this is Niagara Falls thing to me? Is it an interesting sort of confluence of what did Fabulous Baker Boys sort of was sort of that kind of venues that didn't quite the same.

Speaker But and then this sort of meets sort of where the heaviest Baker Boys meets Crazy Heart because he's now himself got this gig going, which is which is kind of as legit. Oh, absolutely. This is no one points out one of. Movie.

Speaker No, I think in some ways with Jeff, he reminds me of that kind of artistic character that has a very fortuitous life. He always seems to wind up doing the very thing he's been working on for years. At the time, it's time for it to be made. You know, I mean, look what I found with a crazy heart, the one I was watching the movie. The thing that I noticed is that just been working on this role. Not not so much a role, but it's a part of him that has been developing since certainly since I've known him for the last six, seven years. And it's it's why it's I think it felt so natural as a role for him. And he seemed to really understand, probably because of all of his old friends who are musicians now, he seem to understand that that phase of life in a musician's life where, you know, you're kind of walking through an existence you've been comfortable with all your life and all of a sudden you're faced with what the hell am I doing at my age, you know? Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker I must factor into your thinking about yourself to some extent.

Speaker Well, true. Yeah, I but I think he brought those little subtle aspects to the character I thought were really great.

Speaker Well, I remember watching it and not knowing then, you know, when when an audience, no matter who we are watch is an actor that we don't associate with a certain skill like that. We don't associate Jeff as being a musician. So you give it to that. You're thinking, how did you learn how to do a good job of this? Is this him actually playing it actually? And bigger boys then? When I first watched it, it didn't occur to me one way or the other one I done now. So doing screen things like that. Of course, he played his own piano and actually he didn't.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker At that moment, even though he could, he learned it and then he did along with Goosen and this now realizing this really was him and he didn't. Yes. This was not a stretch. It was sort of a it was sort of a sliding into this little space.

Speaker Exactly right. Mean, like I said, I kind of remember being struck with the thought that, you know, this is really the culmination of a lot of years of his own life experience, you know, coming to bear in this role.

Speaker Delbert, tell about man records and just being I mean, the record is the recording that you guys made was the single RAM.

Speaker Well, one of one of two mine and his that's the only two records we ever put out.

Speaker But yeah, with Jeff was there was a project that we said we met. And then I kind of jumped in with both feet, in with Chris and and Jeff. And we use a lot of just really local guys locally around Santa Barbara, musicians that, you know, that Chris had played in clubs with. And so it wasn't a big budget kind of session guy kind of record. It was very much an organic endeavor that I think for that reason, it had a lot of character that I don't think any of us would have had the forethought to bring to it.

Speaker You know, it just kind of happened. Well, you do will ramp you. Well, we keep talking about it. But, you know, if you took the three of us and put us in a room and asked us to think our way out of a wet paper bag, that would probably be difficult. We're not businessmen, if you know what I mean. But we had great fun. And I think if we ever found the project, that was that kind of fun for us and that kind of, you know, artistically, at least for us, not too much of a you know, not too much work.

Speaker I guess, as I say, more fun and more. We would jump at the chance to put something else up. Another thing about Jeff, that being a musician is No. One more jaded about music and new music than a musician. You know, I mean, and a professional musician. And so I've always enjoyed friends of mine who aren't professional musicians. And when they play me stuff, you know, when they when they introduced me to music, I haven't heard. And I Marvel said sometimes that it was a great instinct for music. People have, you know, the average person, the average listener, you know. And in some ways that real musicians don't always have, you know. But with Jeff, he introduced me to a couple things, you know, over the years that we worked together, played me some things, and it was all stuff really out off the radar, you know, but really great stuff. And one one guy, we actually did one of his songs on Jeff's record. John Goodwin, writer. Yeah. It is a great, great songwriters in Nashville. Songwriter Steve Bruton was another guy that Jeff can introduce me to and both really great writers that just kind of occupy that space on the peripheral of the mainstream music.

Speaker But they really are the guys that I think make American music really have some value, some worth. And artistically, you know, and unfortunately, with the way things are in the music business, mainstream radio doesn't really play a lot of that stuff, you know? For a real window of opportunity there. And now the Internet has taken over. But F.M. Radio kind of brought a lot of stuff to our attention that most of us otherwise would have never heard.

Speaker You know, he has a tremendous range as well. I mean, he's also a lover of Bill Evans. I mean, deliver jazz. And he actually can sit and play with them in Montana, several weeks gone and did some footage of him just sitting and playing, you know. Yeah, yeah. No, no, no. You can't go anywhere. And so just meaning the. That it's not just this one sort of character if you wanted to.

Speaker No. No. Very much. And even in his own artistic you know, from a graphics standpoint, he's he's great. He's he's brilliant. And on the on the cuff, you know, I mean, I love his his website. To me, this is just brilliant in its simplicity. And, you know, you almost get the feeling like he's drawing it, as you say, an end to.

Speaker I'm glad you it. Yeah. You and Anthony saw that. Oh, it's it's great stuff. Picasso is going away. Well, you know, let me tell you. We do. Yes. With them just for a moment. Do you. Have you ever seen that film of Picasso when he draws on plexiglass? Yes. Yes. We did the same thing with Javier. Oh, fantastic. And it really in Brazil, he does agree with you. He's got that very fluid. Very expressive. Yes. It really is one gesture.

Speaker This is just coming out from here onto it. Out of the brush your back. Yeah. Yeah. So we did. Well, I'll be happy you did. Have you seen this? Because it'll be I think.

Speaker I think it's one of the things I admire about him the most. Is that ability to not put too much in between. Too much technique or too much formality in between thought and expression.

Speaker You know, whether it be with his music, whether it be with his acting, whether it be with, you know, his art, his photography, you know, he himself in his photo book, actually, he said one of the things that I love that he said is that one of the things he feels most love for himself is just to get out of the way of it and just let it find itself. And I think that's what I think there's that funny little schism of he's an actor. So he knows how to make you feel that he does that.

Speaker No, it's true. Yes. I believe he does. I think he does. I think I think most people that really know to me a lot of the people that create. Well, in many ways, some of them come into the heading. They don't even know what it is they do well. And some of them know enough to not get in the way, you know. And I think there's a there's kind of two schools, because Jeff's a very thoughtful guy. But he just, like I said, doesn't let too much technique or or a thought process get between, because I think he understands innately that that might ruin the real ultimate expression. And we found that in the studio. We just we kind of got to things quickly. And we we tried to capture them as they were, you know, really wanting to happen and not so much giving it too much preproduction or anything like that to two of you play now when you see each other. Well, we do. Yeah. We just we were up at his house for his sixtieth and we all kind of sat down, got to play with Gary Busey playing with us. And it was. So that's do. That's an adventure. And it was it was fun. We had great time. You know, everybody just kind of got jumped in and.

Speaker And in fact, even wanted Jeff's daughters got up and sang is lovely that all of that and that that's another thing that, you know, I just said so obvious that he really has the people he trusts around him and he likes to work with around him on a lot of different levels.

Speaker I think when you see him in that environment with his family and close friends and you see who the people who are who are his close friends, his closest friends, I think that says a lot about Jeff.

Speaker I think that that pretty much tells the whole story about Jeff Bridges. Is he is. He is. Yeah. Well, that and he's a very loving guy that, you know, kind of knows the value of people. And it has nothing to do with their celebrity or their their, you know, importance in his business life or, you know, or whatever. You know, it just was it's very he's one of those people I have a hard time, not just kind of observing him because he's you know, you discover a lot about how much of a real person he is. I think, you know.

Speaker And also, he's had I mean, if you take a look at the long arc of his career, it is sort of so interesting that the Oscar came now, not at the point that I think his main point in any way, shape or form, but it's sort of in some ways he's gotten the nominations prior to now, but it's sort of, again, allowed to preserve that sort of wonder maybe about and not get jaded by it in so many ways. So did you feel by the time you got around to this crazy or Foremans that everybody did have such a remarkable response to that when even in even in theater, you know, even the oil itself, that it was you know, it does it kind of feels like it's quite well deserved. But for all of it, not simply the acting, but for the whole man that you.

Speaker Yeah, I think so. I think so, I think in the end, even like, again, you know, when you see him in an environment where he was thanking people. It's like you really get the feeling that he genuinely this was about an opportunity for him to tell Suzanne how much he appreciates her, you know? And I think, you know, you get the feeling that this guy means what he's saying, you know?

Speaker And so I have to say, I you know, I count myself as one of the lucky people to be able to say that, you know, I consider Jeff to be a friend and, you know, and I feel lucky to have met him.

Speaker I really do.

Michael McDonald
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Michael McDonald, Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 01 Jan. 2010,
(2010, January 01). Michael McDonald, Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Michael McDonald, Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). January 01, 2010. Accessed January 19, 2022


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