'(There's Just) Something About Her'
To coincide with the DVD releases of Ally McBeal: Season 1 and Ally McBeal: The Complete Series, Legacy Recordings celebrates the music of Vonda Shepard and Ally McBeal with a 14-track CD.
'Ally McBeal' followed the trials and tribulations, loves and likes, quirks and imaginings of modern-day heroine and lawyer Ally McBeal (played by Calista Flockhart). At the end of its highly successful and enormously popular run, the series had to its credit several Golden Globe® and Emmy® awards, including Best Comedy Series and Best Actress for Flockheart.
Driven by the voice of singer-songwriter Vonda Shepard, the music of 'Ally McBeal' was an integral part of the show, woven into the plot to reflect the mood of the characters and to parallel the plot of each episiode.
Shepard appeared regularly as a club singer at a local haunt for the characters, singing original songs like the show’s opening theme (“Searchin’ My Soul”) and classic, R&B and pop standards standards (“Hooked On A Feeling”, “I Only Want To Be With You,” “It’s In His Kiss”).
Personally compiled and produced by Shepard, this CD also features the previously unreleased “Something About You” and the brand-new recording “I Know Better.”
Exclusive Magazine had the recent pleasure of speaking with the lovely Vonda Shepard about her new compilation CD, behind-the-scenes of Ally McBeal, and, of course, penguins!
This new CD was compiled and produced by you personally. So, was it an easy set of choices to make or were there tracks you still wish could have made the cut ... and if so, why didn't they? "Originally, my concept was to have about 4 or 5 previously unreleased tracks that were on Ally McBeal. I get a vast amount of requests on my website, FaceBook, etc. for specific songs that were featured on the show, but were never on an Ally CD. In the end, there was such a time crunch and there were
financial obstacles which precluded us from going in that direction. We did manage to put one of those great songs on the CD titled Something About You."
"There is also a new song which I wrote titled I Know Better. It's the kind of song that if Ally were still in production, David would have used. I went back and listened again to the finished CD once it was released and wished that I had included What Are You Doing New Year's Eve ... but we only had 14 tracks!"
Also included is the new track, 'I Know Better.' Was this specifically recorded for this CD or was it one you'd recorded a while ago and now felt that this compilation was the right kind of home for it? "I wrote I Know Better for my solo album From The Sun, which was released a few months ago. It just really has the feeling of Ally, and I wanted to share it with those fans."
You’ve included the previously-unreleased 'Something About You' on this new CD, but with it accompanying a staggering 32-disc complete 'Ally McBeal' DVD box-set, how the hell didn't it ever see the light of day before now?! "The Box Set didn't see the light of day, because Fox had to re-license all of the songs! This was very expensive, but eventually all of the parties made deals. As for the song Something About You not seeing the light of day until now, I have no idea how we overlooked that one! It's so much fun. But here it is, finally."
You also appeared many times on the show as a club singer at a local haunt for the characters. And funny stories to tell about those occasions on screen, in a behind-the-scenes manner, perhaps? "Ah, the "behind the scenes" question! I can only say that working on that show was wonderful...the cast were all great, fun people. The bar scenes usually were the first scene to shoot in the morning, so often we'd arrive in hair and make-up at about 5:00 a.m. (torture!)"
"The actual bar scenes would begin shooting at about 7:00 a.m.! Everyone would be drinking these fake martinis... it was quite surreal. Once the music started blasting and the cast began to dance, it really was as if we were in a cool club."
With your third album being the one that finally garnered you the attention of show creator David E. Kelley, in the lead up years to that were there ever moments where you wondered if it would ever click for you in your chosen profession? "There were many moments when I wondered why more wasn't happening for me. It was so frustrating at times, but I never once thought of changing professions. I just loved music so much- I knew that it would be my life. I suppose it's a lesson in perseverance. I'm sure, however, that there are many very talented people out there who may never get a break like I did. I feel very lucky."
While on the 'Ally McBeal' show, you recorded two full soundtrack albums, but those songs were mainly covers of old songs with lyrics that paralleled what was happening in the title character's life onscreen. Covering songs for a #1 TV show must have been expensive for Fox, but did it also make you constantly wish you could write and sing your own show/character-orientated songs, perhaps? "We actually recorded 4 soundtracks for the show. The first 2 have 9 songs I wrote, or co-wrote, so I really did have a voice on the show in terms of my own
music, however I also really learned a lot doing some of those covers. In the process of learning them and recording them, I had to deconstruct the songs, get into the character of the scene, identify with the lyrics emotionally, so it was a sort of acting job for me."
"The experience was enriching musically. Obviously, there certain
songs like Tracy, or Gimme Dat Ding, where it wasn't a particularly deep experience, but boy was it hilarious in the studio. Most of my best times were in the studio with my fantastic band. There would be times we'd be laughing so hard, we'd have to stop everything and fall on the floor!"
Back in the day, you recorded a duet with the great Robert Downey Jr. ... but, were you actually in the same recording studio at the same time ever, and was he in his productive or 'hazy' stage of life back then?! (ie: Was it all put down smoothly or were there any speedbumps encountered along the way?) "Ah yes, Robert Downey Jr.! What a brilliant, high octane character! Yes, I was in the studio, as I was the producer of the albums and sessions. I worked with him
quite a bit doing preproduction for the songs ... including Snakes, which he wrote himself. Robert's approach to recording was that of a serious recording artist...most of the time."
"Being in his presence, one could clearly see why he is such a big star. At the time we worked together, he was lucid and productive. It wasn't until the night before we were supposed to do a highly publicized "In Store" CD signing that things fell apart, sadly. But he's back, and doing great. I'm very happy for him."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "If I were to record a song for charity, I would do my best to persuade the powers that be that it not be a cheesy 80's song! (But, of course for charity, I'd conjure up something ... nothing comes to mind at the moment."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins...do you? "Why do you love penguins? I actually am fond of penguins, now that I have a 3 year old! I like all animals...especially T-Rex's!!! (Yes, I have a boy!)"
Interview: Russell A. Trunk
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