The shape I’m in: Dean Friedman, singer/songwriter

WHEN a rescue monkey came to live with singer/songwriter Dean Friedman and his family, she quickly settled into her new home at the foothills of the Catskills mountains, north of New York city.

“My wife Alison called me while I was on tour and said: ‘she is not doing well and I want her last days to be very peaceful’. But 33 years later she was still going strong. She was in her 40s when she finally did pass away but she had a very good, long monkey life,” says Dean, 60.

“Amelia was a beloved member of the family. She was like having a little hairy kid.

“She spent her senior years in what used to be our kids’ bedroom. Fortunately, we didn’t have to send her to college. But she did eat a lot of monkey biscuits.”

Lucky Stars (listen to it on YouTube and it’s plays like a loop in your head) hit the top of the British charts in 1978 which gained him a loyal following for his original and quirky approach to his craft. Other notable hits include McDonald’s Girl, Ariel and Lydia. He has continued to compose and perform internationally through the decades, with Ireland as one of his favourite destinations.

He has taken his mum’s advice, making sure that music is not the only string to his long career.

“I have designed a lot of interactive exhibits for children’s museums and science museums all over the world. I also designed a musical playground for kids with instruments that kids can bang on and make a lot of noise. (See the cool stuff section on his website).

“There is always some musical compotent to [my projects] — I always get to do music for the games.”

* Dean plays at Authur’s Pub, Thomas Street, Dublin on Saturday September 19, and at Wineport Lodge, Glasson, Co Westmeath on Sunday, September 20. For details, telephone: 090-6439010 or visit wineport.ie

What shape are you in?

I work out seasonally, starting about two months before a concert tour; a bit of running and some mild, low-impact karate warm-ups. You need a bit of stamina to run around on stage, singing and playing for two hours every night.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

In the morning I’ll slice an avocado and I’ll slice a small tomato, throw in some local greens, and whatever that’s lying around that’s interesting. We have a nice farmer’s market where we live, so once a week I go there and get a bunch of stuff.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I’d have to say a late night Sticky Toffee pudding with a generous dollop of sweet clotted cream. Might take me a day or two to recover.

What would keep you awake at night?

The large cup of cappuccino I drank to accompany my delicious sticky toffee pudding with the generous dollop of sweet clotted cream.

How do you relax?

I’ll go for a walk or sit around and watch cartoons. I’m a huge fan of the Teen Titans.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Thadeus T Cahill (inventor of the electronic music synthesizer), John Philip Holland (Irish inventor of one the earliest submarines), Jacques Cousteau (oceanographer, cinematographer, champion of the seas).

What’s your favourite smell?

Almond. Vanilla is a close second.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’m not doing any fashion modelling but and it’s not a big concern of mine, I worry about other things — my kids, that everybody is OK and I’m getting the job done.

When is the last time you cried?

Watching the animated film, Despicable Me.

What traits do you least like in others?

Intolerance.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

My own intolerance for intolerant people.

Do you pray?

I’m very much aware of the mystery of life. But I grew up with the understanding that ultimately we’re each responsible for improving our own circumstances; waiting for someone — or something — else to help us out of jam never seemed like the wisest course of action.

What would cheer up your day?

I try to be mindful of the fact every moment that you are alive is a miracle and so just sitting in our yard, watching the birds and the squirrels fighting over a nut — that’s the stuff that refreshes me to go into battle in the regular world.


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