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Bobby McFerrin looking forward to time off

Vocalist hasn't taken a touring break in 15 years
/ Source: The Associated Press

For years he’s been telling people, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Now Bobby McFerrin has decided it’s time to take his own advice.

“I’ve got one week left, and then I’m done for a year,” a weary McFerrin told The Associated Press during a weekend visit to UCLA, where he was accepting an award from the Henry Mancini Institute for his contributions to music.

“I haven’t had a sabbatical, I haven’t taken a year off from touring in 15 years at least,” said McFerrin, whose bright and bouncy ditty, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” seemed to put his name on everybody’s lips in 1988 when it won Grammys for song of the year and record of the year.

“Music can be very exciting and very challenging and very tiresome and very wearisome, said McFerrin, dressed in jeans, sandals and black T-shirt, his dark, dreadlocked hair beginning to gray.

Ostensibly McFerrin is leaving the road to write and record a new album. But he indicated during a break from rehearsing with the Mancini orchestra that work will likely be far down on his list of priorities.

“I want to take dance lessons. I want to learn Spanish. I want to find new restaurants. I want to hang out with my 13-year-old daughter. I want to hang out with my dog,” he said, reciting his to-do list.

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Then he added with a laugh: “I want to sit in my porch swing and sleep in my own bed. What a concept, huh?”

Known for carrying around an entire jazz and classical music orchestra in his four-octave voice, McFerrin said he was particularly touched to be honored by the Mancini institute, whose namesake’s music he grew up listening to.

“Remember ‘Hatari?”’ he asked excitedly, recalling one of many films Mancini scored. In this case it was a film released in 1962, when McFerrin was 12.

“Remember ‘The Elephant Walk?”’ McFerrin asked before breaking into a perfect vocal copy of the film’s bouncy jazz instrumental.