I'm reading the John Adams biography [by David McCullough]. It's very heavy, but I have a lot of nights in the [tour] bus. I'm not as much of a history buff as it might seem from all the biographies I read, but I find people's lives fascinating. Most of the people that biographies like that are written about are heroes of their own time, even if they're not really known that way in history - revisionist history. I think it's so interesting to see where we've come from.
... Listening to?
I love this new Bette Midler tribute to Peggy Lee [Bette Midler sings the Peggy Lee Songbook]. Icons like Peggy Lee are people who new generations don't get to hear unless an artist like Bette Midler decides to do it, like she did with the Rosemary Clooney album. [Midler] is sort of an interpreter-type singer. One of the things I love about her is that she knows what she's singing about. She's acting the song. The performer has to be able to bring the song to life and connect the song material with the audience. [It's] not how loud they can sing a note or how many riffs they can do. That's what always frustrates me about the "American Idol" generation. Some of the pop music I like: Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20. It's personal and inventive. I listen to some country. Keith Urban represents the ability to make country music accessible to everybody.
I really loved [Good Night, and Good Luck] the Edward R. Murrow [biopic] that George Clooney directed. It falls in the same category as why I'm reading [the Adams biography]. As I've been getting ready for the tour, I've asked for ... DVDs of TV shows I can take with me on the road. So, every night after the show, I can watch an episode in my bunk on the bus before I go to sleep. I requested "CSI," "The Sopranos," "The West Wing," "Arrested Development": Things that I think are well written, interesting, and engaging but don't require a commitment of two-and-a-half hours.
• Jim Brickman's new album,"The Disney Songbook," is in stores. A concert taped for PBS airs this weekend - see jimbrickman.com for local listings as well as tour dates.