There weren’t that many people who were in the room where it happened. And in time these stories are gonna disappear.
And we want to hear them.
You see once upon a time life was boring. And the way you dealt with that was to go out. Now it’s nearly impossible to get someone to go out, and I understand that, after the hour plus it took me to drive from Santa Monica to downtown. I used to go to the Valley for a movie on a whim! Now WAZE has created gridlock in my own damn neighborhood. I reminisce about when traffic was only bad, when it was one hour to Hollywood in rush hour as opposed to two, when rush hour ended at 7 instead of 9:30 PM.
So you’d go to the club to a hear a band, to throw back a couple of beers, to try and get lucky, to have a life. And most times the experience didn’t deliver. But that was the old days, when you stuck it out, knowing that if you kept going one time you’d mine gold. You’d see a band that blew your socks off. You’d meet the love of your life. Now people won’t go unless the act is already famous, they don’t want to waste their time.
But Jack Tempchin met Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther at a club in San Diego. He had them sleep at his house. Long before Airbnb, when we trusted each other, when we were all middle class and in it together. They became buddies. And when Jack played “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in Echo Park, in Jackson Browne’s apartment, with the windows taped over, to create that creative feeling, Glenn was enthralled, he wanted it for his new band, with the best singers, the best writers and the best players. Glenn called Jack from the studio days later, played him the hit recording over the phone.
And Jack wrote “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in a club in El Cajon, he’d sent the band along, he was gonna wait for the waitress to take him home, but she never returned, he was lying on the linoleum trying to sleep and… He showed us the flier with the lyrics written on the back, whew!
But there was still one verse to go. He finished it at der Wienerschnitzel, which has now lost the “der,” but they put a plaque in the table and gave him a golden hot dog and…
If you lived through the era, these stories are priceless. About his dearly departed friend Glenn. About hanging at the Troubadour. Driving cross-country with his wife in a VW microbus and hooking up with Jackson Browne in NYC who said he had to get back to the garden, but first he truly had to go to the Garden, as in Madison Square Garden, he was playing there that night.
And I own that Funky Kings album. I bought it because of Tempchin’s name, as well as Richard Stekol’s, of Honk fame. Back when the world was smaller and you graduated from sports scores to liner notes and you bought albums based on credits without hearing them first.
And there were stories about writing songs, getting in the mood, how they do it in Nashville, how Frey liked to do it, and Jack needs to be in the mood, he got up and wrote every day and found out it was crap. Then again, everything doesn’t come to him in a flash, he reworks the words.
And then Jack played.
“You Belong To The City.”
“Peaceful Easy Feeling.”
He’s covering his classics for a new album coming out in August.
And then he started telling a tale. Of seeing a legendary performer whose life ended poorly who you won’t know anyway, whose shtick was to call up his girlfriend on stage and argue with her, and Jack noticed that people only danced when the music was slow. And he thought about his desire to press up against the opposite sex, he thought about his new girlfriend, ultimately to become his wife, and he looked to the ceiling and sang…
Slow dancing, swaying to the music
Slow dancing, just me and my girl
And I flashed back to that high school dance, I went with Debbie.
And then I thought of my law school girlfriend. We’d gone through a rough patch, but this night was better and I put on the newly-released “Rumours” and when “Gold Dust Woman” came on we embraced like we hadn’t, like I thought we might never do again…
And my life is vividly flashing before my eyes, like at that HillBenders show on Friday night, hearing “Tommy” and then…
No one else in the whole wide world
No one cares. About you and your foibles. Nobody’s paying attention. You get out of school and you’re on your own. And if you can find one damn person you can count on, who you can slow dance with…