"Now welcoming on the New Orleans Saint Podcast presented by SeatGeek. We promised you a very special guest and a very special guest indeed we have the son of New Orleans, Grammy award-winning artist, songwriter, musician, actor, the titles go on, the accolades go on. It is none other than Harry Connick, Jr."
Caroline: Harry, thanks so much for joining us today.
Harry: "Thanks Caroline. Good to be with you."
Caroline: We are so happy to have you on. And first, happy belated birthday to your wife, Jill and your father who both had birthdays this past week.
Harry: "Oh, yeah. Thank you. And my step-mom too, actually, so it was a big. We went down and we celebrated my step-mom at Irene's and then my dad had a big, like a drive-by birthday thing. So, you know, he just turned 95. So it was really funny. He sat out on the lawn and we all sat with him and people just, you know, for hours just drove by and it was really cool."
Caroline: I love that. Yeah. What's this year been like, I mean, with your dad, obviously being older and, and this Covid-19 affecting everyone, what has this past year been like for your family? I can't even imagine.
Harry: "Well, we're you know, we're some of the lucky ones. I mean, all of the people out there who sacrifice so much to keep us safe, you know, those are the people in my thoughts and prayers. I mean, we had some setbacks over the last year, lost some people that were very close to us, but, you know, it's been tough for everyone, and I'm just glad that it looks like we're finally starting to see the end of it."
Caroline: Yeah, hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel. Well, Harry, you know, I listened to your interview from a few years back when the Saints Podcast, formerly known as the Black and Blue Report, you came on and you were joined Sean Kelley on the show. And you said if you were to play for the Saints, you would play tight end because you'd run a 6.1. Would you like to update your time on your 40 speed or your position or?
Harry: "Yeah, that'd be like a slot guy. I just sit out there and wait. And you know, if you needed like a half a yard, I'd be that guy. I definitely, I wouldn't, I'd just wait out on the edge and that's it, man. That's all I need to do. You don't need speed when you can just get the first down."
New Orleans native, singer and actor Harry Connick Jr. shows his support for the New Orleans Saints through the years.
Caroline: You don't. Would you be more of a blocking tight end?
Harry: "I don't know if you know this, but did you know that I was signed to the Saints for one day?"
Caroline: I did know. We have picture. We have photo evidence. You wear the shoulder pads quite well.
Harry: "Not quite. You know, for me, it's like I know this sounds so stupid. Right? I mean, I was so nervous about getting signed. I thought they may trade me on the same day they signed me. I mean, that's like my entire childhood is watching those Saints. And so, I mean, they started the year I was born, so it's been like a part of my life. So, you know, that one day of just kind of pretending that I was the Saint, it was like the highlight of my life."
Caroline: That's incredible. And the Black and Gold looks so natural on you.
Harry: "That's my jam. I mean, that's my jam. That's what I wear anywhere, all I wear is black and I love gold. I'm so glad we have cool colors."
Caroline: Yeah. I noticed in most of your videos, you're wearing a Saints hat or beanie. Do you own any other hats?
Harry: "That's all I wear. People give me caps. I remember somebody gave me a Packers cap one time and 'Oh my gosh, what am I supposed to do?' I can't wear that. I remember when Adrian Peterson was playing on the Vikings and he came to the Dome to play and somebody came up to me on the sideline. I was hanging out before the game and they said, Hey, you want to meet AP? I'm like, I can't go over there. I was serious. I said, what am I supposed to do - walk onto the Vikings (sideline)? For me, it's like a religion. You talk to the Saints players and they're like, man, like we're just playing football game. It's like, well, you know, I mean, you're an athlete. To the fans, it's goes way beyond sports. It's like a cult almost."
Caroline: Harry, I must know, how have your game day traditions changed? Because I imagine you and your family had traditions. You talk about the first year the Saints started was a year that you were born. So it's kind of in your blood. How have those traditions changed and maybe some of the things that you've picked up from your family over the years, or have they changed or have they stayed the same?
Harry: "They haven't changed too much. Like, I just remember when I was a little kid, I wasn't really interested in football when I was like three and four. I just didn't understand it. But I remember hearing my dad hollering like crazy, you know, he would eat peanuts and drink a beer and watch the game when he wasn't taking me to the game. It really hasn't changed. I mean, I sit around with my kids. My wife is a huge Saints fan. It's like buying a puppy. Like you love that puppy and you know maybe one day, you're not going to have that puppy anymore, but you don't care. The love that you have for it surpasses that and the Saints are like that. Like it hurts when we lose, but the wins feel so good that it's just, we give everything. We basically just, you know, sit around and scream and yell for hours."
Caroline: Who is Jill's favorite player, your wife, who's her favorite player?
Harry: "She is a huge Taysom Hill fan. She loves Taysom Hill. Yeah, I mean, she obviously was a big Drew fan. She loved Jimmy Green when Jimmy was on, uh, sorry. My tenor player is named Jimmy Green. Jimmy Graham. I asked him to make her a video for her birthday one year and I really thought she was gonna leave me for him. You know? Like how do you compete with Jimmy Graham? You know what I mean?"
Caroline: Yeah it wasn't looking good for you, Harry. I'm just going to say that.
Harry: "And even if you try to be cool, like you're standing around a guy, like I would never let her meet him ever because that'd be it. It'd be the end of my family. Or Taysom or anybody, I'm just keeping them all away. And of course our daughters are like Alvin Kamara- all three of them would marry that guy today. I might marry Alvin Kamara today. I mean, we just love, you know, Demario Davis. I just love, I love our team. I just love our team."
Caroline: Well, you talk about this year and you know, the difficulties that you've all had. Harry, were you guys in an RV at some point? I saw the memories that you guys made in the RV. Tell me a little bit about that experience.
Harry: "So that was right at the beginning of the pandemic and I was sitting in lockdown with my family saying, 'you know what can I do?' I feel so helpless here. They're not letting us leave and I don't really know what I can do. So my daughter, Georgia, is a photographer and a director. I said let's rent an RV and drive down to New Orleans and stop along the way and thank the essential workers and just let them know that they're loved and appreciated. And then on the way, I can call up some of my friends in show business, get them on an iPad and have my friends thank them too. So people like Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey and Sandra Bullock, they thank them. And I told CBS, I said, 'Hey, you want to film us doing it?' and that way everyone that is working so hard to keep us safe can see how much they're loved. And they said, yeah. So we did a TV special and it ended in New Orleans and I sang a song that I wrote for the essential workers called 'Stars Still Shine' at Jackson Square. So it was a really great trip for us."
Caroline: It's so clear that New Orleans is near and dear to your heart and it's so fulfilling I'm sure to give back to the city that has given you and your family so much. Harry, with your love for the Saints, obviously there comes a love with Drew Brees and him calling it a career this past off season. I'm sure you have a few Drew Brees stories up your sleeve on and off the field. First, can we start with the off the field memories? Have you guys gotten dinner or anything? I need to know some good Drew Brees stories that you have.
Harry: "I'll give you some stories, but this again will affirm or reaffirm what I'm talking about with the way I think about the Saints. I know that sounds crazy, but like, I would never text Drew Brees during the season. Like I just wouldn't do it. Or if I did, it was in response to maybe something he said to me or something that was really important. Like on game day and stuff, I just would never want to say hi to those guys because it's was almost, I mean, I shouldn't say the word sacred, but you know..."
Caroline: Taboo. It's a little taboo.
Harry: "Yeah. You know, with Drew, like I never wanted to bother that guy. He had such an immense load on his shoulders. I mean, if you really think about it, and I think you could make an argument for the fact that the Saints were probably the main reason New Orleans came back after Katrina. I really, really believe that. It goes so far beyond football and here's the quarterback of that team. I mean, this is really heavy stuff. So like, I know it sounds crazy, but I'll probably get to know Drew better now that he's not playing just because I would never want to bother that man while he was in the throws of a season because his responsibilities were so great. And I mean I saw him a bunch of times and he was always so nice. You know, I was in the locker room one time after a game and I was talking to a couple of players and my daughter, Kate, was there with her boyfriend at the time and Drew kind of came up behind me and put his arms around me and hugged me. I didn't know who it was and the faces of my daughter and her boyfriend, their jaws just dropped. I turned out and it was Drew and they couldn't believe it. They're like, 'Wow, you know him?' and I'm like yeah I've known him for a while. He's an incredible guy as we all know. I mean I couldn't tell you anything you don't know. I will tell you one funny thing. He came to the Musicians' Village one time, which is something that I started with my buddy Branford Marsalis, which is the neighborhood surrounding the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music and we were doing something for some TV show and I wanted to give him a piano lesson. So he sat down at this piano and I said, 'OK, Drew just play a note' and he took his ring finger and pressed the note down, which is so not the finger anyone else would use.
Caroline: Right. It's usually the pointer finger. That's what I'd go with.
Harry: Yes. You'd use your index finger or a thumb, and I'm like, this is never going to happen. This guy is never going to play the piano and I'm so happy about that because if he had been able to play, that would have just rocked my world. You know, Jill and the girls are standing around and like, dude, if you can play piano seriously, I'm going to do my best to tackle you and pummel you on the ground. That would be so unfair. He has always been so kind. And the Drew Brees that people see in the media is really the Drew Brees that I know."
Caroline: Harry, I'm not going to lie to you. I thought that story was going to go a different direction. I thought you were going to say he pressed down with his ring finger and then he started playing, you know, some sweet melodies. I thought he was going to be automatically good at it.
Harry: "That would have been it. There was something that was supposed to happen that day, but it didn't happen. I wanted him to fire like a line drive at me from like 15 yards just to see if I could catch it. And I was willing to break a finger or whatever I had to do just to. I really wanted to experience the power of an NFL quarterback throw, but it didn't happen. I'm kind of glad it didn't because I would have broken at least one finger or a bone in my chest or something. I'm kind of glad it didn't happen, but it would have been fun."
Caroline: Yeah I think all your fans, maybe your agent, maybe your wife is probably happy that didn't go.
Harry: "Yeah I think so but you know, I just wanted to feel that. Now Taysom - I still have a chance with him. I'm not talking about go easy on me. I mean, I want you to fire the thing at me from about 15 yards as hard as you can possibly throw it. I just want to see what happens."
Caroline: Yeah I've heard Taysom has some zip on it, so I'm sure we could make that happen. Maybe we should sign you back for another contract.
Harry: "I almost broke my sternum when I was working with Thomas Morstead like screwing around in his position and the long snapper snapped it to me. And I thought I was going to die because the ball slipped through my hands and hit me in the chest. And Thomas said, 'Dude, you gotta catch it out in front of you.' Like you can't like try to pull it in. I mean, it was like a bullet. It was so embarrassing. I'm standing out there with all my gear on like. Ugh I wanted to die."
Caroline: No, I completely understand. I did the same thing. One time I caught a ball from a long snapper thinking it would be some easy thing. You know, I'm an athlete. I can catch it. And it burned my hands. I was like, wait, what?
Harry: "It is no joke. It is so different. I mean, it looks so gentle on TV, you know, but it's not."
Caroline: Well, Harry being such a lifelong Saints fan, how much did Drew in his era change the culture and the perception of the Saints?
Harry: "It's everything. I mean, there were some amazing teams before Drew, obviously. I mean, we had, I think, I remember like maybe it was like 1991 or something. We were like 9-1, at some point. We had some great teams. I mean, we really did. We had some bad teams, but so,does everyone. But when Drew came and Sean Payton, that was a whole, I mean, they won a Super Bowl for us. I mean, as you know, and everybody knows, that's like impossible to do. To get that far into the season and then the postseason starts and it's like a new season and your guys are tired and they're playing the best of the best. And then, I mean, when they did that onside kick at the beginning of the second half, no one could believe what we were seeing. I've asked Sean Payton about that a hundred times. Like, 'what were you thinking?' and to have Drew lead us to that championship. I was standing with his wife and I forget which baby it was with the headphones on when he went out for the Super Bowl celebration..."
Caroline: I believe it's Baylen. I think it's the first born.
Harry: Yeah. And we were standing with them and just, you know, right before everybody went out on the field and just looking at her and thinking about what this child is going to think about his Dad one day. Drew Brees changed everything for us. I mean, he made us a team that consistently year in and year out was a Super Bowl threat, a threat to win the Super Bowl. I mean, we know what the past three, four years looked like. You know, we easily could have had five rings. So I think it's five or three or four plus when we have so easily gotten five."
Caroline: Yeah we could have easily gotten five. I agree.
Harry: Yeah. I mean we were favored to win all those and it is what it is, you know? And that's the legacy Drew Brees has. That's what I felt like I learned about anything, not just sports, but performers, whatever, golfers, you know, it's the consistency. I mean, you may have a guy who has a great day, but every week, you know. Obviously there were weeks when certain performances were better than others, but you always felt like you were going to at least have the edge to win the game. I remember when we beat the Patriots in, I guess it was 2008 on our way to 2009, thinking in my head, I hate to say it, but I was like 'there's just no way.' We can't beat these guys. And then when Drew gets out on the field, he's the same Drew Brees. He's calm. He's cool. He's such an unbelievable master of working those progressions and it's just unbelievable work ethic and you just thought, you know, if anybody's going to win this game, it's going to be him."
Caroline: How excited are you to hear him in the booth, Harry, because I am excited to get inside the mind of Drew Brees?
Harry: "Yeah. Well, that's the thing like everybody talks about Tony Romo and how amazing it is and he predicts things. I love Tony Romo. I think he does a great job, but I think Drew is a very rare combination of talents. I mean, not only is he a great leader, he's an unbelievable quarterback. He's incredibly articulate. I think he has the ability to distill these high concepts down to these accessible bites that we can understand as just fans of the game. He's a sweet guy and he's charismatic. He's got all of the things that are in place to really make the game more fulfilling for all of us."
Caroline: Well, Harry, of course we don't want to keep you too much longer, but we do want to highlight some of the projects you've been working on. You released 'The Fear of Rain' movie release in December of 2020. And then most recently, you released your album 'Alone with my Faith' on March 29, I believe. Can you tell us a little bit about that project?
Harry: "Sure. I remember being on the road in March of 2020 and, you know, coming home, tour got canceled and I was sitting at home thinking, you know 'I would like to record some music'. So I have a studio at home and I ended up doing an album about my faith and all the whole spectrum of it throughout this pandemic. You know, when I found out that somebody I love died or when I found out that some good news, it was the whole spectrum of faith. I recorded all of the instruments and sang it all, I did it alone. It was no one here. There was no recording engineer. So all of the instruments and all the vocals are me and it was a chance for me to kind of go pretty deep within myself and think about how faith could get me through in real time. So, I'm happy with the record and, you know, I hope it resonates with folks."
Caroline: Any other projects that you're working on right now Harry?
Harry: "I'm working on a ton of stuff. Um, I can't really talk about any of it. Excuse me. Just cause it's a little too early, but yeah, there's a bunch of stuff that I'll be talking about real soon."
Caroline: Well we will certainly be itching to keep an eye on that especially on your social media, on your website, on your Twitter. And hopefully, Harry, we will be seeing you at a Saints game here in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome next season.
Harry: "I cannot wait. I think it was amazing that the NFL was able to pull off this last year. I, for one, did not think it was going to happen but the fact that they got through the whole season and all the way through the Super Bowl was unbelievable. I think, you know, Saints should have been there again, but that, you know, the breaks. Listen, I feel really great about the roster next year and you know, I'm so grateful to Drew Brees for his incredible dedication and excellence over these 16 years. I think something like that. So, you know, God bless him and his family on their new endeavors and thank you for allowing me to talk about something that I'm so passionate about."
Caroline: My pleasure, Harry. We appreciate you. We appreciate your time. And like I said, hopefully we're seeing you here soon.
Harry: "I look forward to it."