Singing To My Soul

goldbars

By your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries. – Ezekiel 28:4

When the lights go down in the California town
People are in for the evening
I jump into my car and I throw in my guitar
My heart beatin’ time with my breathin’
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

In 1978, I was an up and coming college student struggling to get by on my part time gig at a local steak house and trying to figure out what I was ultimately going to do with myself. I had given up on my fantasy of becoming a part of the Turner Broadcasting team working Atlanta Braves games (via an Electrical Engineering degree – not for me, thank you) and had settled into a more manageable course of study in Mass Communications and Journalism at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta.

Sports and music were my two favorite hobbies, but I was not good enough at either of them (drums and baseball) to even remotely imagine making money in those endeavors, so I was slowly coming to the realization that I needed to figure out a career path.

Well my buddy Jim Bass he’s a-workin’ pumpin gas
And he makes two fifty for an hour
He’s got rythm in his hands as he’s tappin’ on the cans
Sings rock and roll in the shower
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

I was making exactly $2.50 an hour at that steak house and with winter break approaching, I saw an opportunity to pump up my barely visible checking account balance. I say “saw” literally, because as I was sitting at a red light one day, I glanced over at the shopping center on my left to see a new record store that had recently opened. Hey, I thought, maybe I could get an extra part time job over the break…and what better place for a music junkie to work than a record store?

I pulled up, parked in front and approached the guy who owned the place. His name was Al. I needed a job and he needed some extra help checking in merchandise. Sixteen years – and hundreds of new stores – later I was still there, trying to help Big Al turn music into gold.

Ah, the California girls are the greatest in the world
Each one’s a song in the making
Singin’ rock to me I can hear the melody
The story is there for the takin’
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

John Stewart was a legendary singer-songwriter long before he teamed up with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to turn a bit of music into “Gold”, his come-from-out-of-nowhere top 5 single in 1979. John started his career in folk music with The Cumberland Three and then became a member of the Kingston Trio, replacing founding member, Dave Guard, in 1961. The Kingston Trio continued to perform and record throughout the early 60″s, but as the British Invasion took hold, the folk music scene began to decline and John’s writing shifted to a pop tilt.  His biggest claim to fame before hitting with “Gold” was composing The Monkee’s smash hit “Daydream Believer”.

John’s golden decision to team up with Buckingham and Nicks was obviously a terrific move as his album Bombs Away Dream Babies spawned three Top 40 hits including “Gold”, “Midnight Wind” and “Lost Her In The Sun”.

When the lights go down in the California town
People are in for the evening
I jump into my car and I throw in my guitar
My heart beatin’ time with my breathin’
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

Yes, sometimes life and success are more about good timing than anything else. It was surely good timing that put me in front of the record store that day and launched my career path. The music industry itself went from being a lucrative business for label execs to becoming the ruler of pop culture in the 70’s and 80’s with the product rolling from vinyl to cassette to CD’s, and everybody demanding their MTV on cable.

Record sales benchmarks went from being measured in terms of gold records to platinum to multi platinum. For those artists entering the market during these boom times, the sky truly was the limit. For a time during the second British Invasion of the 80’s, it seemed that all you needed was a guitar and the right hair (see Flock Of Seagulls) to turn music into literal gold.

John’s timing was perfect too, coming into folk, pop, rock and on into Americana at just the right time with just the right songs.

So, turn down the lights and give this little nugget a listen. And get a glimpse of the way the record biz – back in the good old days – could turn a blob of black wax into pure gold.

Listen to the original here:

My sources for this post include:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stewart_%28musician%29

 

My Secrets To Reveal

magnet

Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. -Proverbs 27:5

Now I told you so you ought to know
It takes some time for a feelin’ to grow
You’re so close now I can’t let you go
And I can’t let go

With you I’m not shy to show the way I feel
With you I might try my secrets to reveal
For you are a magnet and I am steel
For you are a magnet and I am steel

Isn’t there something in the Bible about not “coveting” your neighbor’s things? I’m sure I recall hearing and reading that somewhere. But who hasn’t done this? I have to believe this is one of the most common sins we all have. As hard as we might try not to, somewhere along the way, this little bugaboo bites you.

I can’t hope that I’ll hold you for long
You’re a woman who’s lost to your song
But the love that I feel is so strong
And it can’t be wrong

Now, this sin can come in the form of material envy -say your neighbor’s classic 1968 ‘Vette – or wealth envy – how did he or she get that job? – and just occasionally in the form of thy neighbor’s significant other.

And sometimes this bite is so hard and the pull is so strong, that you just have to give in. As the late, great Luther Ingram once sang “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.”. You know in your heart it’s not right, but it’s just too good to resist.

With you I’m not shy to show the way I feel
With you I might try my secrets to reveal
For you are a magnet and I am steel
For you are a magnet and I am steel

Yes, the attraction is just like that; a magnetic pull so strong you just feel locked in. You throw all caution and rational thought to the wind and just go for it.

“Magnet And Steel”, the hit single off of Walter Egan’s second album, Not Shy, is a tale of exactly this type situation. In this case, the coveted object was one Stevie Nicks, the ex-wife of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. Now we may have to give Walter a bit of a pass on this, as I believe that Stevie and Lindsey were not exactly “together” at the time. But given the close relationship between Egan and Buckingham, it seems a bit too close for comfort, if you ask me.

egan4

Walter met Lindsey at a party in 1976, and as a big admirer of his work on 1975’s smash hit Fleetwood Mac, he asked Lindsey to help with his debut album, Fundamental Roll. Lindsey agreed to work with it a bit and brought in Stevie to provide some background vocals. Walter wound up naming Buckingham and Nicks as album co-producers, along with himself and Duane Scott.

After that, it was a natural progression for Lindsey, Stevie and Rumours producer, Richard Dashut to jump in full force on Not Shy. The rest, as they say, was history. The album’s hit single “Magnet And Steel” went on to sell over a million copies and reached #8 on the Billboard charts.

Walter tells the story “behind the story” on Songfacts.com:

“On the night when Stevie did the background vocals for my song ‘Tunnel o’ Love,’ (on the Fundamental Roll lp) my nascent amorous feelings toward her came into a sharper focus – I was smitten by the kitten, as they say. It was on my drive home at 3 AM from Van Nuys to Pomona that I happened to be behind a metal flake blue Lincoln Continental with ground effects and a diamond window in back. I was inspired by the car’s license plate: “Not Shy.”

By the time I pulled into my driveway I had formulated the lyrics and come up with the magnet metaphor. From there the song was finished in 15 minutes. It was especially satisfying to have Stevie sing on ‘Magnet,’ since it was about her (and me).”

Most folks regard Walter as another “one hit wonder”, but he actually went on to release a total of 9 albums, with the latest being 2011’s Raw Elegant.

A few more interesting notes about Walter:

  • He never had another Top 40 hit himself, but a cover version of his song “Hot Summer Night” went to #18 for the band Night, who also had a female lead singer named Stevie (Stevie Vann aka Stevie Lange).
  • In 1985 he was a four time champion on the TV game show Catch Phrase.
  • He got credit as a co-writer on Eminem’s hit “We Made You” because producer Dr. Dre felt the song’s bass line was influenced by “Hot Summer Night”.
  • Walter got his start in music with a group called the Malibooz, imitating the Pac coast surf music sound of the Beach Boys and the Ventures, although the group was entirely from NYC and had never even visited the West Coast.

So, quit admiring your neighbor’s new car and focus on the blessings you have in your own hand. And please repress those longings for beautiful “things” others may possess. Then again, just looking never hurt anyone…did it?

Listen to the great original studio version here:

Night’s hit version of “Hot Summer Night” here:

Sources for this post include:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Egan

Songfacts.com: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=10286

Walter’s website: http://www.walteregan.com/