I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in “Cheers & Jeers”.
OK, you’ve been warned – here is this week’s
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES – a sixty-year retrospective of American Impressionists will be at the Dayton, Ohio Art Institute through May 31st.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the English bassist Andy Fraser – who joined John Mayall’s band at only age 15, then wrote the hit single All Right Now for his next band Free in 1970, and later wrote Every Kinda People for Robert Palmer – who has died at the age of 62 …… and to the songwriter/keyboardist for the “baroque rock” band named The Left Banke, Michael Brown – a co-writer of its 1966 hit song reaching #5, Walk Away Renee – who has died at the age of 65 …. and finally to the attorney for John Dean during the Watergate scandal, Charles N. Shaffer – who asked John Dean, “Now, are you ready to go down there and lay out the facts? You have to, unless you want to keep lying and covering up” – who has died at the age of 82.
YUK for today – Duncan Black, a/k/a Atrios (or the Baby Blue Cherub) is skeptical of a new casino to be built just outside of Washington, D.C. … that is focusing on parking spaces and not allowing any public (and few tour) buses on their premises, saying:
“The people who go to casinos … aren’t the people the casinos want to go to casinos. Why they don’t realize, this I have no idea. James Bond in a tuxedo … is not to be found”.
THURSDAY’s CHILD is Marbles the Cat – an English kitteh whose family believed to be female … until Marbles fancied another female cat, at which time the vet determined Marbles was a hermaphrodite (with both male and female genitalia) … with further testing needed to determine what the next step is.
MUSIC NOTES – Dan Aykroyd and the widow of John Belushi have announced the creation of Blues Brothers Records – a new label dedicated to the development of blues artists (“a true mission from God“) that will be distributed by Blue Note Records.
FASHION NOTES – the Italian hat-maker Borsalino – in business since 1857 and noted for their felt hats (worn by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman at the end of Casblanca) – are close to filing bankruptcy, seeking a final arrangement with creditors.
FRIDAY’s CHILD is Perche Pearl Camina the Cat – who became a hero kitteh by saving a sixty-seven year old Welshman’s life … after detecting a gas leak and leading him to the source.
SCIENCE NOTES – forensic scientists believe they have found the tomb of Spain’s much-loved giant of literature, Miguel de Cervantes – nearly 400 years after his death – in Madrid’s Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians. Side note: Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on the same date, but not the same day – as Britain was still on the Julian calendar until 1752.
BRAIN TEASER – try this Quiz of the Week’s News from the BBC.
TRAVEL NOTES – the city of Boston will be the latest to coordinate the renting of hotel rooms during the day only – not for romantic trysts, but to allow travelers to use rooms to shower/nap after a red-eye flight or freshen-up during a day trip (at 30-70% off overnight stays).
FATHER-DAUGHTER? – TV/film star William Shatner and TV star Mindy Cohn (“The Facts of Life”, the voice of Velma in “Scooby-Doo”).
…… and finally, for a song of the week ………………………… while I was not a fan of the early records by The Eagles – nor could I say they were a favorite at the time of their (1982) official disbanding … I definitely grew to like them more when two new members joined in the mid-to-late 1970’s, as they helped change the band’s sound.
Lead guitarist Joe Walsh – who joined the Eagles in December, 1975 – is someone I have profiled in this space before: several years ago as a solo artist and for his work that I loved so much with the James Gang two years ago. All I will add is a note about his most recent solo album, 2012’s Analog Man – being an “analog man in a digital world” – produced by former Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne.
During a 2012 appearance on Daryl Hall’s program Daryl’s House – at the time of that album release – he elaborated on this, expressing sympathy for young musicians trying to make a living in a world of downloads (plus the overabundance of technology) in this 90-second commentary.
Instead, I will focus more on the other musician whose career I had already avidly followed (and who joined the Eagles in September, 1977) – bassist Timothy B. Schmit – with TBS for short – who has a singular distinction in the world of country-rock, as will be noted. (By-the-bye, he says there is no particular reason why he always adds his middle initial).
Born in Oakland (and whose family later settled in Sacramento), he is the only member of the Eagles (past or present) who is a California native, despite the band’s many allusions to the Golden State. The son of a musician/salesman, TBS joined a band in 1962 (at age 15) with two friends that – unlike many youth bands – stayed together for several years, although several times it changed (a) its music and (b) its name in order to stay current.
At first they were Tim, Tom & Ron – playing the folk music of the early 60’s. After adding a drummer in 1963, they switched their music (to that of the surf boom of Dick Dale, etc.) and their name (to The Contenders). The following year of 1964 (following the British Invasion) they grew their hair, adopted a Merseybeat sound and called themselves The New Breed who released a single. TBS went to Sacramento State for a time, before dropping out to focus full-time on music. The New Breed (by 1967) had now become a folk-rock act (in the style of The Byrds) and had changed its name to Glad. Signed to a record deal, they eventually released a debut album Feelin’ Glad – but were unhappy with its sound.
During their touring performances, TBS met-up with the former Buffalo Springfield guitarist Richie Furay, who was in the process of putting together a band along with Jim Messina (later to form Loggins & Messina). In early 1968, Furay contacted TBS to have him audition on bass, which he did but lost-out to Randy Meisner – who had a similar high-harmony vocal style. But after Meisner had a falling-out during the recording of the first album for this new band, he was fired (going on to a career with Rick Nelson at first) and TBS was recruited: first as a fill-in and later a full member.
And this was for the band Poco …. which was the first country-rock band I ever liked: in no small part due to my favorite radio DJ, Pete Fornatale who became their East Coast champion. Today in listening to them, I hear them more as a country band than rock – but at the time, they sounded like a rock band with country influences (and thus were much more relevant to me). And TBS contributed several songs to its repertoire, such as “Hear That Music”, “Keep On Believing” and “From the Inside”.
This is a group that (with numerous personnel changes) never broke-up: allowing for various hiatuses, it continues to this day. In its first decade it received much critical praise, and its concert tickets sold reasonably well. But for one reason or another, their records never sold the way the big record labels were expecting them to (especially with Furay’s stamp on the band). In fact, let a Timothy B. Schmit fan-site tell you:
In the span of seven years, Timothy and the other members of Poco released 11 albums. Poco was always the band that never made it, the band that should have been more. They watched many of their contemporaries, who formed bands after them, surpass them on the road to success. They were a fantastic band and put on a good concert, but never seemed to have that breakthrough of a record that made people take notice.
Meanwhile, Randy Meisner in time joined forces with musicians such as Glenn Frey, Don Henley and others, who eventually formed The Eagles in 1971. They succeeded (where Poco had failed) in attracting large audiences and became superstars, as is well-known.
By 1977, though, the band had numerous titanic personnel clashes – as previously noted, Joe Walsh arrived in late 1975 due in part to those clashes – and Randy Meisner began to have both substance abuse and marital problems. Plus, he had health problems affecting his singing of Take It to the Limit – all of which led him to leave the band in late 1977.
Then in an amazing twist of fate, TBS was recruited – with the full blessing of his bandmates in Poco – and so, for the second time he had replaced Randy Meisner on bass in a prominent band.
But those personnel problems continued ….. TBS has said that he was used to band squabbling, and did not recognize how destructive it had become during his (relatively short) time in the Eagles. Or, perhaps, he had simply averted his eyes … all of which led to the break-up of the Eagles (as a continuous, going-concern band) in 1982.
Over the 30+ years since, TBS has been an active musician (if not necessarily on the front pages). He also has a signature electric bass made by Carvin guitars, of which I have one.
Just after the Eagles break-up, he sang So Much in Love for the Fast Times at Ridgemont High film soundtrack.
He has participated in several Poco reunions, the most recent of which took place when they were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame this past January. He has been a member of various incarnations of Ringo Starr’s eclectic All-Starrs and has also been a prolific studio session player (most notably with Steely Dan).
In 1993, he contributed background vocals to the album Common Thread – where a number of the biggest stars in contemporary country music came together to pay tribute to the influence the Eagles had on country music.
At the Eagles induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, TBS paid tribute to his predecessor in saying, “I was not in the trenches with this particular band, so thank you to my predecessor Randy Meisner for being there and paving the way for me to be here tonight with him here beside me.”
He has released five solo albums over the years, with one on a 1990 release containing the song “For the Children” – featuring a children’s choir including Timothy’s two daughters (Jeddrah and Owen Faye) and Joe Walsh’s daughter Lucy. TBS’s most recent solo album was 2009’s Expando – with guest performers that included Graham Nash, Garth Hudson, Dwight Yoakam, jazz vibist Gary Burton and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
In 2012, he underwent surgery for throat and neck cancer which seems to be in remission. In recent years, he has toured as a solo artist, with various musicians in his back-up band. And now at age 67, he will (with his old band mates) commence a new Eagles tour beginning in May, as he has done in the past. Sounds like a full plate to me.
Of all of his songs with Poco and the Eagles: my favorite is one that he brought (incomplete) with him upon joining the Eagles, the melancholy I Can’t Tell You Why – which Glenn Frey and Don Henley helped him complete in 1978, and later reached #8 in the charts. The jazz singer Diana Krall covers it on her most recent album.
And when TBS originally sang it on the recording of the Eagles’ album The Long Run he recalled that Don Henley turned to him and said, “There’s your first hit.”
Below you can hear Timothy B. Schmit perform it on one of his solo dates that he performed last year.
Look at us baby, up all night
Tearing our love apart
Aren’t we the same two people who live
through years in the dark?
Every time I try to walk away
Something makes me turn around and stay
When we get crazy,
it just ain’t right
Girl, I get lonely, too
You don’t have to worry
Just hold on tight
Cause I love you
Nothing’s wrong as far as I can see
We make it harder than it has to be
And I can’t tell you why
I can’t tell you why