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Q&A with Lionel Richie: 'All the Hits' homecoming

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie Credit: Lionel Richie (Getty)

Lionel Richie has been all around the world, performing for audiences from Australia through Europe. For the past few years, though, his schedule hasn’t included the United States, despite the success of his 2012 album “Tuskegee.”
“There’s something magical when you play your home,” Richie says. “You can’t beat it. I just kept saying to these guys, ‘I’m not going back out another day until I play America.’”

amNewYork caught up with Richie as he prepared to launch his “All the Hits All Night Long” tour, which makes its way to Barclays Center Tuesday night.

The tour is called “All the Hits All Night Long,” but to play all of the hits you’d have to be on stage for days. With so many beloved songs, how do you come up with a set list? I’ll play the ones that are the most obvious. And I guarantee that every night someone has that one hit that’s left of center. And with the band, I’ll just turn around and say, “Does anyone know that song?” And they’ll go, “Lionel, you wrote the damn thing.” But it’s a wonderful problem to have.

What makes a song timeless? I would love to tell you I had that magic formula. But from my observation, it has to coincide with an event. In other words, it was the first song you heard when you fell in love, or the first prom you went to, or the wedding song, or mom and dad wedding songs. So, it’s things like going to the frat house to “Brick House,” or that toga party with “All Night Long.”

What keeps you motivated? There’s a little edge of pain and agony that you fall in love with. You write what you think is the ultimate song. Then something comes along, and you go, “Man, who wrote that one?” Like, Daft Punk comes out and you go, “Are you kidding me?” It keeps evolving.

Lionel Richie is at Barclays Center Tuesday night at 8, 620 Atlantic Ave., Fort Greene, 917-618-6700, $39.50-$149.50.


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