Love really interests you.

It's endlessly fascinating to me. Everything hinges on it, or the absence of it, or its opposite. Songs of Love and Hate. That Leonard Cohen album pretty much says it all. Being married 22 years now, my wife and I are at a place we've never been before. We talk about it a lot. Our minds are being blown by where we are being taken, taken by love, I guess. We couldn't have imagined that.

Taken to a place where you've stopped fighting?

Slayer? I barely knew 'er!
Slayer? I barely knew 'er!
John Hiatt: Still a Midwesterner at heart.
John Hiatt: Still a Midwesterner at heart.

Oh no. That wouldn't be any damn fun. We're still up for a good row. It's just a level, I don't know. It's as hard to talk about as write about. It just exceeds any expectations or imprint you came in with. The things you start out with in a marriage, so many twisted ideals and wants, blah blah blah. They're all basically illusions, as it turns out. The essence of it, if you can stick it out, the power is endlessly renewing. That's true for a lot of relationships. My wife and my family are the most entertaining people I know. There's no better show on earth.

Your songs take these utterly personal details and heighten them. "Our Time" on the new record may be the first song in history to reference pupu platters.

My friend Guy Clark says about songwriting, "You can't make this shit up." He's pretty much right. The best stuff is what goes on. You just have to notice it. That was in fact our first date. We had a pupu platter. I was knocked out that my wife enjoyed food. Here's this beautiful woman in front of me, and she was eating. I'd just gotten back from living in California for eight years. I'd been used to a waif picking at a lettuce leaf for two hours. It was great to see this Southern gal wolfing down this meal, gnawing at the bones of ribs. It turned me on, is what I'm trying to tell you.— Roy Kasten

8 p.m. Monday, July 14. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $36. 314-726-6161.

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