"I didn't have DWBH on the roster of tunes that I had for the CD Simple Pleasures. That was something I scribbled in the studio at the last minute. Literally, the lyrics and everything was just boom boom. That was that. Within an hour, I think, it was all done. I mean, who would have thought? Within an hour it was all taped. A very, very simple song.
It's not that I don't love the song. My songs are like my children. Some you want around and some you want to send off to college as soon as possible. I just don't like doing the same thing over and over again. Picasso wouldn't keep painting blue paintings just because people like them. He got himself caught up in something else. Well, that's me. I get restless easily.
It drives me a little crazy because that's many people's understanding of me. It drives me crazy that they're not giving themselves up to pieces like Circlesongs. "What have you done? We haven't heard from you" and I say it's because you haven't been listening. You haven't really followed up on other things I like to do. But I have a core of fans who know what they can expect from me. Expect new things, new experiences whether its jazz stuff or classical stuff or whatever."
We were going into the studio in Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, and we walked in and there was a studio door that said "Stu Dios." We all immediately started playing with these bad Spanish accents. "Stu Dios." Bobby was doing this character named 'Juan', and we were doing these silly jokes about, you know, "It takes Juan to know Juan."
Bobby sat down at the piano, and in the character of "Juan," started doing "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Doing the riff, it was just very funny and delightful and we (Bobby and I and the engineer, Chris Terguson) were laughing our heads off. I said, "Hey, why don't you go write some verses for that?" and basically, within several hours that song was created.
Unbeknownst to any of us, the song became #1 in just about every country in the entire world. It was staggering. It was absolutely shocking to all of us. Now mind you, I think the only country that it wasn't #1 was in Japan, because [Emperor] Hirohito was dying at the time and the Japanese felt it was inappropriate to be bandying about "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
You know, it was almost mortifying! I mean in a way it was coming back to haunt us. I remember being in line at the DMV to renew my driver's license. The clerk told me to stand in the wrong line for an hour. Getting to the front of the line, I said "But you said..." and she said, "Don't Worry. Be Happy." Oh, no, what have I wrought? I mean, it was ubiquitous! It was phenomenal. Who knew? We really didn't try! To this day, it's fascinating to me when people set out to have hit records. I actually believe that there are certain cultural phenomena that have wings. They fly on their own because they somehow just spark. But the particular irony of this was that it was the antithesis of Bobby's life path.