Tuesday , September 29 2020
"One of the amazing things about them is that they are giving dollar for dollar whatever we give them directly to research."

Interview with Barney Saltzberg, musician/songwriter of Crazy Hair Day

I had never heard of Crazy Hair Day – the book, the album, or the themed event before I was asked to do an interview regarding this album but I love this whole concept. The album is great fun.

I’ll let the composer explain the concept but I do want to mention that throughout this interview I kept hearing song from a different artist.

That song is from Trout Fishing in America which has a refrain so catchy that I’ve been used to explain it my own crazy hair days:

My hair had a party last night,
It musta got into a terrible fight,
Cause when my head hit the pillow it was lookin' all right,
My hair had a party last night.
My hair had a party last night,
When I lay down everything was all right,
It started out friendly but there must have been a fight,
My hair had a party last night.

When I interviewed that wonderful band earlier this year I confessed to them what I had done and they offered me an absolution of sorts.

I think Trout Fishing in America and Barney Saltzberg should do a festival together and call it Hair-A-Palooza. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Are you pulling your hair out just waiting for me to proceed with the interview? Oops, I did it again. What’s the saying, “To hair is human…?”

And if you don’t have have hair, don’t despair. Instead, check out the lyrics to a fine song by Christine Lavin (the only artist of which I’ve requested an autograph) with the chorus “I Love Bald Headed Men.”

Rather than write a long summary or introduction let’s just get into the interview before I cause you any more pain or distress. Too late? Sorry about that.

How did this whole Crazy Hair Day phenomenon start? I’m not familiar with it so please educate me. Was it already going before you got involved?

Crazy Hair Days are events that have been happening for years. Sixties day. Twin Day. Backwards Day. I came to school early one day with my son when he was in the fourth grade and a boy walked up to a group of kids I was talking to. He had crazy hair and someone said he was a day early. He looked devastated. I knew the story right then and there. I wondered how the other kids could have made him feel better and thought about an article I had read where a boy who lost his hair from chemotherapy was amazed to finds his friends had shaved their heads to welcome him back to school. I wanted to weave that into my story.

What was your first Crazy Hair Day-related project? When was that?

For the San Diego Children’s Museum in 2004 over three hundred volunteer readers read my book, Crazy Hair Day, to over 8,000 students. 120 Starbucks gave out 250,00 crazy for literacy bookmarks and had volunteer readers in each store as well as baristas with crazy hair!

Now, let’s talk about this cd. All of the money from royalties goes to a charity?

100% of all the artists royalties are going to charity.

How long have you been working to get this cd done?

It’s been a labor of love for three years.

How did you convince people like guitarist/vocalist Richard Thompson and actor Dustin Hoffman to get involved?

I wrote them nice letters! They each gave me one hour! I crammed a lot into that hour! All of the special guests were amazing!

Now, at the end of the cd Dustin Hoffman reads a story about a Crazy Hair Day. Is that the same story that it’s in the children’s book or is that another story?

He wanted to read the story verbatim but I explained that not everyone hearing the CD would have a book in their hands so I asked him to embellish. He was wonderful!

Now at some point during the project your 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How did that factor into all of this? Did that turn this from a cause into a personal issue or was it already at that status?

I had worked with some boys having chemotherapy way before I decided to do this project. I wanted to raise money for pediatric cancer after I met them. Having been inspired by the article I had read about kids shaving their heads in solidarity, it seemed perfect to donate proceeds from this project. My daughter’s illness just made me that much more passionate! She’s perfectly healthy and back in college, thanks to amazing treatment.

What was your goal with this cd? Did you accomplish it?

My goal was to write an album of songs that I was really proud of. To produce the songs so they came out sounding as I envisioned them. I accomplished that. Sometimes you finish a project and think, “That didn’t come out like I had planned. I had lofty goals as far as bringing in the talent that I was able to bring in. That alone was quite an accomplishment!

What’s next for you?

Right now I have many books in many stages that I’m trying to finish. Plus, there seems to be a lot to marketing this album. We’re just getting started. Musically, I would love to record an acoustic album with a live band sitting around in a room playing everything all at once. No overdubbing.

What did I not ask you that you were hoping I would.

You covered everything I can think of other than the organization that I’m raising money for, CONCERN. One of the amazing things about them is that they are giving dollar for dollar whatever we give them directly to research.

A lot of times there's an a fee deducted or the money raised goes into buying office supplies or whatever is needed. All of that's important because organizations have needs in order to function, but I'm thrilled that this album is raising money that is helping directly!

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

Check Also

Cover Please Don't Eat Me by Liz Climo

Book Review: ‘Please Don’t Eat Me’ by Liz Climo

A bunny wants to avoid becoming a bear's lunch, in 'Please Don't Eat Me by author and illustrator Liz Climo.