Dave Mason was a founding member of the English rock band Traffic. During his on-again/off-again period with that group, he penned the song "Feelin' Alright," which has become his most enduring composition. After leaving Traffic for good in the late 1960s, he embarked upon a successful solo career, notable for his 1977 hit, "We Just Disagree," which was penned by Jim Krueger. He continued to have solo hits into the 1980s, then became a member of Fleetwood Mac during the following decade. His tenure in that band is marked the by 1995 album Time, a record that Mason says received almost no record label support. (The English-born musician has also racked up collaborations with Michael Jackson, Phoebe Snow, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.)
He returned to his solo career shortly after and continues to be a favorite on the concert circuit. His most recent collection of original material is Pink Lipstick. Mason performs with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Cropper at Salina's Stiefel Theatre on Thursday, July 5.
One of the most interesting things about this pairing of you and Steve Cropper is that you're coming out of the English scene and he's coming out of this deep southern scene. But that music must have been an influence on you.
Bottom line is that if it wasn't for America there'd be no British musicians. There wouldn't be anybody. There'd be no Eric Clapton. No Rolling Stones. No Beatles. This is where we all learnt from. As I tell everyone: The British Invasion is an American story.
Because this was music that England fed back to us.
There's a song that you wrote as a younger man and there's an entire section of your website that's dedicated to it: "Feelin' Alright." There are some writers who don't get that song ever in their career that keeps on giving to them. For you to have written it when you were so young and for it to have become such a consistent element of the culture. It has to be an amazing feeling.
I got lucky with that song when Joe Cocker did it. That's really what made that song become as big as it was and spawned all those other cover versions. To this day bar bands still play it. That's where luck came in for me regarding that song. For me, Cocker's is the definitive version. I say, "Yeah, I should have done it like that!"
You can't become too precious about these things if they're going to be out in the world.
It's fantastic that so many people did that song. Cocker cut that song nearly 50 years ago. But it sounds just as good now as it did then. A part of my thing with songwriting was that I tried to write timeless themes. They're all basically love songs in one way or another.
People might not be aware that you played on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass record. To have been part of anything to do with The Beatles, I know, is a huge deal for many musicians. How did you find yourself part of those sessions?
I knew McCartney through a girl I was dating. She was designing some furniture for him. Then I got to know the others. I got to know George and in Traffic I started picking up the sitar and George gave me one. I made a professional friendship there. I was invited to come and play on All Things Must Pass. I, honest to God, don't know what songs I played on because there was so many other players. It was great to play with all those people. I guess got really lucky, working with Hendrix, playing on "Street Fighting Man." I don't really think about it unless I'm doing an interview. I suppose I've gotten to be on some pretty iconic records and tracks. Again, just happened to be in the right place at the right time.