‘That’s what drives me’: John Oates still hopes to match career-defining moments like ‘She’s Gone’ again

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Hall and Oates’ last charting single — at No. 97 — was a 2004 cover of the Spinners’ “I’ll be Around.” Their most recent original Top 10 hit was 1988’s “Everything Your Heart Desires.” That doesn’t stop John Oates from trying.

His chart magic with Daryl Hall, a partnership that would include three co-written No. 1 songs in the 1980s, is even now still defined by one of their earliest Top 10 hits: “She’s Gone,” from 1974’s Abandoned Luncheonette.

“We play it in our set every night,” Oates tells Steve Benz of The Blend. “I don’t think either of us have played a professional show since 1973 where we have not played that song. It’s a defining moment.”

As he continues a song-a-month series of releases called Good Road to Follow, which included the debut earlier in June of a tune recorded with Hot Celle Rae, Oates’ goal of recapturing that moment remains: “I may never top ‘She’s Gone,’ in my life — and, you know what, that’s as it should be,” Oates says. “But I still think I can. Whether I can or can’t really doesn’t matter. It’s whether I think I can. So that’s what drives me forward.”

Good Road to Follow is the latest project in period of creative rebirth for Oates, who issued the bluesy Mississippi Mile in 2011 followed by a roots-focused live album. His 2012 song “Stand Strong” was featured during a recent Nationwide stockcar race, as well. Twenty five years after “Everything Your Heart Desires” went to No. 3, Oates may be busier than ever.

“I don’t think any creative people ever feel like they’ve done their best work,’ he adds. “I think they always feel like it’s ahead of them — whether that’s true or not. It might not be true, but you have to almost think that way in order to continue going forward.”

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