Last Updated 20th January 1999

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The following is my own personal review of the chapter in Linda Sivertsens' book 'Lives Charmed' in which she interviews Paul Williams.

The book is published by 'Health Communications Ltd., 3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, Fl 33442-8190 and can be purchaced on line from Amazon.

In this facinating book Linda also interviews Catherine Oxenberg, Keely Shaye Smith, Guru Singh, Beatrice Wood, Robert Townsend, Lord Robin Russell, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Leeza Gibbons, Sandy Gallin, Wyland, Chris Chandler, Tatjana Patitz, Arnold Palmer, Robert A. Johnson, Janet Yang and Woody Harrelson about their 'Charmed Lives'.

"Lives Charmed"

Intimate Conversations with Extraordinary People

by "Linda Sivertsen"

"I think, for all of us, more powerful than the fear of death is the fear of life. Life makes me insecure - I think that is the constant battle for people in general" Paul Williams

INTRODUCTION by Linda Sivertsen

"This has been the hardest (chapter) for me to write...".

"How do I express the deepest feelings on paper without sounding trite or redundant?"

"With Paul..a man who has been like a second father, an only brother and a guardian angel to me all at once, I'm left a little tongue-tied. So I shall start at the beginning."

As can be seen from the above quotes Linda has a deep affection for Paul and all he has achieved. From talking initially about how she started off as a 'minder' for Paul's two husky dogs, Chewy and Tasha, Linda moves on to paint vivid pictures of her, and her husband Marks developing friendship with Paul.

"Paul and I shared countless heart-to-heart talks on the carpeted stairs. We cried to each other about lost loves and broken hearts, coaching one another to forgive the past and move on"

The stories in Linda's introduction convey an image of a very human "immensely generous" man with a great talent and drive for serving mankind.

"Perhaps the greatest contributions our society gains from this man are the quiet acts you do not hear about: the way he drives through dangerous parts of town picking up addicts who need help....or the vast amounts of time and money he gives every year helping to heal tangled lives"

THE INTERVIEW with Paul Williams

Rather than a 'question and answer' type of interview Linda has very effectively chosen to divide up her chapter about Paul into headings, and leave it up to Paul to tell his story in his own words. Below are 'tasters' from each of these sections to whet your appetite and encourage you to buy this inspiring book. It can be purchased on line from Amazon.


"To be at peace with my own emotions is the beginning of happiness"

A theme which runs through Paul's account of his life is one of the importance of faith in his life. Paul talks about the part fear and faith have played in his life and the way the past can be "an ally or an enemy". Paul has found that there is a danger in not "letting go" of trying to recreate the joys and successes of the past:.

"The goal is to leave myself wide open to what the new day is going to bring"

Early Years

"I was raised in an alcoholic household where there was great fear and no consistency"

Paul talks about the affects on him of his family being a 'family on the move', always being the newest and littlest kid in school.

"My childhood frightened me so badly that I ran through those years rather than experience them"

Paul movingly, and honestly, describes some of the relationships within his family and the effects these had on him. Paul relates how, at a time when he needed his mother most, after the death of his father, she "shipped" him off to live with his relatives in California. Whilst being able to convey some of the hurt he felt, Paul manages to convey what happened without bitterness or blame, but rather with philosophical understanding.

"I guess you could say that the 'Woman' who cared for me constantly and unconditionally for a long period of my life was my drugs. Self-medicating allowed me to shove the fears down to where they didn't speak to me so loudly"

Paul describes his school life in California. How the interests he developed in reading, the theatre and cinema, whilst being an 'escape from reality', were wonderful teachers and helped develop his appreciation of some of the finest creative talents.

When looking back at his early years as a whole Paul does not see them as wasted, miserable years. Whilst acknowledging the hurt and loneliness he concludes with hindsight:

"Now that I get far enough from my past, I see my childhood was exactly what I needed for me to be who I am today. Yes it was painful, but what history has shown me, at least at this point, is that I'm always going to get what I need"


"Unable to handle the fear in the family, I consciously replaced my anxiety with thoughts of grandiosity. I came to believe that I was so special that one day I'd be able to do things nobody else could do. You know, because we manifest destiny for ourselves, I managed to do that in some way" Paul talks about how his need to get away from being the frightened "little guy" was a major driving force behind his achieving many of his goals. Paul describes the ways in which this influenced his early career in his striving to become an actor.


"In hindsight, I backed into the right career (songwriting) by not getting work as an actor"Paul has always been a great story-teller, whether in writing songs or talking about his life. Paul has some wonderful stories to tell here about the ways in which he moved into the career of songwriting. Early compositions for a group called 'The Chancellors", early co-writing with Biff Rose and finally to his 'big break' composing a Crocker Bank Commercial with Roger Nichols which eventually became the smash hit 'We've Only Just Begun' for 'The Carpenters'.

Paul talks in depth about the ways in which he writes songs:

"Writing is an easy process for me because I feel the words that are already in the notes" and what his songwriting has meant to him and to others: "What makes my songs successful is not what's different about me from other people, but what we have in common...People think: 'Yeah, I feel that, too; I sense that, too.'" With hindsight Paul reflects that he wrote some famous "co-dependent anthems" during the 70s. His songs were strongly affected by his emotions, usually about those things he was striving for. When 'in love' he wrote about 'loneliness' when 'out of love' he wrote about ' a perfect love'.

Paul gives many fascinating insights here into the motivations behind his songs and the part played by his substance abuse. Paul says he is more philosophical about his writing gift now. He has learned to trust that what is needed will come: "I trusted that my unconscious was tapped in to all the information it had about the subject....It's when I stop trying to remember that it comes".


"Along the way, however, I moved down the road from (drug) use to abuse to addiction. Once I became addicted, it was all over: I had to ride it out until I had a spiritual awakening" "I believe that the most valuable gifts I've been given, the greatest lessons I've learned, have not been in my success, but in my failure." Paul talks in depth about the part his drug and alcohol addiction have played in his life. Having to 'let go' of life as he knew it in order to: "Make way for God's constant creations" Paul describes his move into sobriety and into training and working as a drug and alcohol counsellor. Paul talks about this work as being some of the most rewarding experiences of his life.

"My quest now is freedom from fear. How do I feel safe? I have to go inside. I have to trust and have faith...I turn to my inner self: that source of Christ-consciousness"

Paul goes on to talk openly about how the fact that he was raised without healthy guidance makes it pointless for him to feel badly about who he was. Whilst trying to focus on what he can do now to right the situations where he did things that had negative results in the past, Paul feels that the greatest challenge is to forgive himself for some of his former actions.

Paul also reflects on the element of choice he had about how he lived his life. He does not see himself as a 'victim' but acknowledges that part of him invited the "devil of my own making" into his life. Paul quotes a few lines from one of his own songs 'Beauty and the Beast' from 'Phantom of the Paradise' to illustrate the point:

To work them out I let them in
All the good guys and the bad guys that I've been
All the devils that disturbed me and the angels that defeated them somehow
Come together in me now.


"Probably the most important word in my life today is trust: I trust there's a perfection in being me and that it's not an accident that I'm here. I trust that what I'm experiencing is going to be all kinds of things, including painful, but that it's safe to be me" Paul shares his views on God and how fulfilling it is for him to see God in everything around him. How spiritually uplifting. "All I have to do is honour the person before me as part of God and he or she becomes that beautiful" Paul talks about how seeing God as loving, helps him to see the "wonderment of this constantly shifting planet" and to "trust there is a divine plan in all this chaos".


As someone who sometimes feels like they have "the busiest head in the world" Paul talks about the discipline he has developed in giving himself time and space to "recharge my energy ..meditate, talk to God, let my mind wander and read my religious books stacked next to my bed".

Whilst Paul cringes at some of his past exploits "(I was such a baby then, but it got me where I am and for that I'm grateful)" he reflects on his ability now to be kind to himself and to see life as full of opportunities.

"I seek to smooth out my life, understanding that there are no big deals. Peace is forever the goal" "Life gets better the older I get, and I like myself more and more with each year"


Paul gives an insight here into his family.

Paul goes on to reflect on their own individuality within their relationship, and how the individual and couple counselling they attend helps them to get to know themselves and each other better.

Paul and Hilda Williams with his son Cole and daughter Sarah.
Photo by Lisa Stefanson

"Anything that enhances our communication skills is going to improve who we are together"


"We have evolved so much in a few decades. For all of the dark....there is also a universal healing taking place that may just outrun the darkness" As with his own personal life path Paul has faith that the Earth as a whole is moving forward.

"I have to assume that the world is changing and getting healthier. It sounds a little Pollyanna-ish, but that is where my energy has to go. ..I do what I can for people in front of me."

Paul finishes by returning to his theatrical roots. He talks about wanting to see something really big and theatrical happening here on earth.

"Perhaps it will be a great discovery that will change our thinking. For some reason, I think it has something to do with spirit: proving life after death, or that people have been here before from other planets."

Watch this space.......

If, once you have read 'Lives Charmed', you would like to add your own comments/review to this page, I'd be glad to hear from you.

Email me, David Chamberlayne, at:

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