By Warren Kurtz
Jack Tempchin is the name record buyers first saw in parenthesis between the bold type, capitalized lettering of “PEACEFUL EASY FEELING” and EAGLES, as the songwriter of the third Top 40 Asylum single from the group’s self-titled debut album, released in 1972. Two years later, Eagles fans saw his name again as the co-writer of “Already Gone,” the first of three singles from the group’s eclectic third album “On the Border,” and later covered by Wilson Phillips. As a songwriter, he achieved his first Top 10 gold single with Johnny Rivers’ “Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancin’),” a song he recorded with his mid-‘70s band, the Funky Kings, on Arista. On his Arista 1978 self-titled debut album, with the fun single “Fifteen Days Under the Hood,” the flip side also included his version of “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” joined vocally by Jennifer Warnes. In the ‘80s, during Eagle Glenn Frey’s solo years, Jack Tempchin was his co-writer on six of his Top 40 singles and most of the album cuts. Now, he has released the CD “One More Song” on the Blue Elan label, which he discussed with Goldmine, in addition to his other compositions over the decades.
GOLDMINE: First of all, we offer our condolences on Glenn, and thank you again for the beautiful quote and the fun photo from the “No Fun Aloud” album sessions you provided for our April issue. Now let’s talk about that exciting album closer, with almost a touch of a Duran Duran beat, “Don’t Give Up,” with keyboards from Hawk Wolinski, who Midwesterners first heard on the Shadows of Knight summer of 1966 single “Bad Little Woman.”
JACK TEMPCHIN: Glenn wanted to record a song for televised sports, hoping to have “Don’t Give Up” as a theme. Hawk provided incredibly exciting keyboards at a time when MIDI recording was new. I was able to catch up with Hawk at Glenn’s memorial.
GM: At the end of side one on Glenn’s next two albums “The Allnighter” and “Soul Searchin’,” Nick DeCaro arranged the beautiful pair of songs “Lover’s Moon” and “I Did It for Your Love.”
JT: I started “Lover’s Moon” in Hawaii with a I, VI, II, V chord progression, changed the melody and kept it simple. For “I Did It for Your Love,” Glenn wanted to do a movie theme. He was sitting at the piano singing, and I wanted to be a part of that, and help give it a haunting melody. It resurfaced in the film “Joy” late last year.
GM: Also from the album “Soul Searchin’,” there is the flip side of “Livin’ Right,” the album’s title tune “Soul Searchin’” with the soulful choir.
JT: Our lives were changing. I went from being “Midnight Jack” during the sessions for “The Allnighter” to appreciating how Glenn was changing his lifestyle. It was no more “life in the fast lane.” He hired a trainer and would wake at 4:45 a.m. to head to the gym in Aspen. He said he was doing some “Soul Searchin’.” The Waters family were fantastic on the background vocals.
GM: Before Glenn’s ‘80s solo albums, on Randy Meisner’s “One More Song” album, you not only wrote the title song but also one about footwear I was no longer permitted to own as a newlywed.
JT: “White Shoes.” Your wife was right. Nobody in the U.S. was wearing these, but in Amsterdam I did see guys wearing white shoes, and recorded a demo there with guitarist Hans Hollestelle who had a drawer of percussion tape loops. I chose one called “Willie DeLoop.” Hans went on to have a huge Beatles-driven hit called “Medley,” with the Dutch studio group Stars on 45. In addition to Randy’s version, Emmylou Harris recorded it a couple of years later and named her album that, too.
GM: You brought Johnny Rivers to the Top 10 gold for a final time with “Slow Dancing.” Only Casey Kasem called it “Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancin’).”
JT: I voted “no” on the retitling, but the Addrisi Brothers had a Top 40 disco hit at the time called “Slow Dancin’ Don’t Turn Me On” so the Big Tree record label changed the Johnny Rivers’ record title to be “Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancin’).” I’ll admit that hearing Casey Kasem say that weekly on his “American Top 40” show did feel good.
GM: The new CD opens with “Slow Dancing,” closes with “One More Song,” and has your version of the Funky Kings’ album opener “Singing in the Street.” From the Funky Kings, we mentioned Jules Shear’s composition “If She Knew What She Wants” by the Bangles in our September issue. Then there was a third composer in your group, too.
JT: We also had Richard Stekol. At Glenn’s memorial, Don Henley and Jackson Browne performed Richard’s “My Old Pals” from the Funky Kings album. This is another example of how wonderful the Eagles are. They can write great songs, but if they hear one they like, they share it with spiritual generosity. On the new CD, on “Singing in the Street,” I play harmonica, which is the first instrument I ever bought. I used to just walk and whistle along the streets of San Diego, until I spent $2.50 at Ozzie’s Music on a harmonica.
GM: On the CD, you wrote “Still Looking for a Way to Say Goodbye” with Lisa Angelle, who is the co-writer of Wynonna Judd’s country single “I Saw the Light.” I love Joel Piper’s piano, which gives the recording a Jimmy Webb style. And I was touched by the opening lyrics, “People move on and cannot be replaced and around your heart they leave an empty space.”
JT: Lisa and I were trying to get this song placed in a movie but were competing with J.D. Souther.
GM: You wrote “Song for You” with Blue Elan label-mate Keith Harkin. I like your line of comfort, “Sometimes it’s just good to know you’re not the only one who’s been down this road.”
JT: Keith, who first gained recognition as part of the five-man group Celtic Thunder, wrote the guitar part that Joel uses in the song.
GM: In the relationship song “Tumbleweed,” you said it best with the key line, “You never will fence in a blowing tumbleweed.” For this live recording with guest violinist Jessy Greene, she told me, “I love my Dahlia five string violin. It has a warm and melancholy tone. My work on ‘Tumbleweed’ was very improvisational. I like to use the violin to carry supportive rhythmic lines as well as melodies and solos. The low C string really helps to make the violin a more versatile instrument. I love playing with Jack. He is a wonderful musician and human being.”
JT: Oh, that is so nice. I met Jessy at a music conference and loved playing it live with her. I generally play around the southern California area and will be highlighting songs from this album and have another one coming out in January featuring covers of Top 40 hits.