James Gang At Universal


Good things must end
They never last
Look to tomorrow
Forget the past

You know when love ends.  Usually just a couple of beats after they do.

For every guy who hits on a girl, there’s a plethora of males who wait to be approached, wait for the girl to take the initiative.  They need to be pre-approved.  To avoid the heartbreak of rejection.

It came for me on lower Standard.  At Stratton.  On April 8th, 1967.  When Steph called out to me from the lift.  I thought she was yelling for someone else.  Then I looked around and realized there was nobody else there.

She recognized me from Bromley, across the way.  She said she’d wait at the top.  And from there ensued a connection that didn’t die until years after I’d graduated from college.  But the romance, the spark, that evaporated for me that late 1969 evening between Christmas and New Year’s in her ski house in Dorset, Vermont.

I’d pushed it.  Not hard.  I sensed maybe she was over me, but sometimes girls are hard to read.  She could have said no.  But, instead she allowed this newly-nascent driver to navigate the dark Highway 30 to her abode, to be completely rejected.

It took place around a mini pool table.  Fashionable in that decade.  Ostensibly my friend Ronnie and I were playing Steph and her friend.  But in the middle, the girls dropped out.  And then I got that sinking feeling, it was time to go.  But it wasn’t long after we’d arrived.  I hung in.  As my stomach turned sour.  As I listened to the James Gang’s "Yer’ Album".

I don’t know who turned Steph on to the record.  She lived in Old Greenwich, listened to the same New York City radio stations I did, but I’d only read about the band.

I can picture it like it happened last Christmas.

I don’t think you know
Though you’ve been told a million times
It’s not clear to see
Unless you read in between the lines

I saw her around Bromley a few times later that week.  We only locked eyes once or twice.  I did my best to avoid her.

And as soon as I got back to Connecticut I got in my mother’s VistaCruiser and drove to Korvette’s to buy "Yer’ Album".

It was strange.  Steph had turned me on to the record.  But in my bedroom that January, it was me and the James Gang getting over her.


Would you like to come home with me
I can think of things to show you

A long lunch period in the library gave me another love.

More like another hope.  Ellen was too confusing, she blew hot and cold.  We went to see Sly & the Family Stone together, but I went to see the James Gang and Rhinoceros at Staples High School without her.

Fairfield, Connecticut borders on Westport.  But the two towns couldn’t be more different, especially the half of Fairfield I resided in.  My domicile was a melting pot.  Westport was all upper crust.  We’d go shopping on Westport’s Main Street, to Sport Mart and the Remarkable Book Shop, but we integrated not at all with the students at Staples.  But, in the spring of my senior year, I journeyed with a buddy I can’t remember to the Staples auditorium to see my favorite new band.

Rhinoceros headlined.  They were a big priority at Elektra.  After all, Billy Mundi had played with the Mothers.  At the end of their performance, they allowed the assembled multitude to take the stage and sing along with "You’re My Girl (I Don’t Want To Discuss It)".  I was too inhibited to climb the stairs, yet I noticed a sophomore from Andrew Warde, my school, mugging.  But I wasn’t a show-off, I was a listener.

Gigs at high schools were so different from the Fillmore.  There was no production, just music.  You had to make it on your ability.

This was before Joe Walsh was Joe Walsh.  But when he sat down at the organ and played the intro to "Take A Look Around" I felt that rush of elation that only music can generate.

Not long thereafter, "Rides Again" was released.  Suddenly everybody knew the band, kids getting stoned all over to "The Bomber".  There was one more album when I was a freshman at Middlebury, then Joe left the band.


Spent the last year Rocky Mountain way

Joe’s solo album, "Barnstorm", stiffed.  But then, after everybody counted him out, Joe Walsh became a star.  Talking on the box during his guitar workout, "Rocky Mountain Way".

I didn’t see him when he played in Salt Lake City in the spring of ’75, but I did buy his live album to drive cross-country with the following spring.  And as I crested Vail Pass at the beginning of June, I listened to "Meadows".  A rip of "My Woman From Tokyo", but with added dynamics, just as powerful in its own right.  When that riff happens, you’re as happy as a listener can be.

Then Joe joined the Eagles.

Then Joe had a resurgence.

Then the Eagles broke up.  Joe couldn’t sell a record.  Almost nobody wanted to see him.

But then hell froze over and the Eagles reunited.  But on Don Henley’s schedule.  And now, with time on his hands, in between Eagles extravaganzas, Joe Walsh has reunited the James Gang.  If you think I was going to miss this gig, you don’t know anything about me.


Indulge me.  Please.

I was on the back patio of the Universal Amphitheatre speaking with John Boylan about "Home On Monday", the Little River Band track he cut, when he got an urge to introduce me to Linda Ronstadt’s keyboard player.

John reappeared with not only the ivory-tickler, but Paul McCartney’s guitarist/keyboardist.  I didn’t know exactly what to say.  But then conversation shifted to Timothy B.’s solo record.  I knew Timothy B., didn’t I?

Well, sure, I knew who he was.  I even heard a Poco song on the way over, but I didn’t know him.

And John reaches over my shoulder and shags Timothy B. and introduces me.  Which is always uncomfortable, pressing the flesh with people who have no idea who you are.  But, as we shook hands, Timothy B. said it was good to put a face with the voice.  HUH?

He’s a listener to my KLSX show…

I asked him why he didn’t call in.

Timothy B. shrugged and then it was time for the gig.

They started off with "Funk #49".

It was like being in a time warp.  It was as if MTV hadn’t happened, never mind hip-hop.  The venue was two-thirds full and nobody in attendance was there casually.  They’d gotten the memo.  They needed to see the band.  Whose records they listened to in their parents’ basements.

After "Funk #49" came "Take A Look Around".

I don’t think you know
Though you’ve been told a million times
It’s not clear to see
Unless you read in between the lines

This was not a teenage gig.  In other words, everybody didn’t stand throughout.  Oh, they left their seats upon the band’s emergence.  They rose when excited.  They clapped for solos.  They sang along.  But mostly they sat in their seats in deep contemplation

This was a sixties crowd.

Going to concerts was different.  It was not about making an appearance, but EXPERIENCING THE MUSIC!  Being enveloped by it.  Rolling around in it.  Allowing yourself to be free, to let your mind wander.

I used to say there were two different kinds of concerts.  The kind that was all visceral excitement, and the kind wherein your mind drifted, loosened from its mooring by the tunes.

It’s thirty seven years later.  And thousands of people still care.  On a Wednesday night they needed to come out and not only kiss the ring, but touch their own lives.

This isn’t the Rolling Stones, all spectacle.  This is about playing.  God, you could see the joy on Jimmy Fox’s face.  And Dale Peters played with the dexterity and furor of Entwistle.  But although he fit in with the band, it was Joe Walsh’s night.

That became clear when he sat down on a stool at the edge of the stage and played "Ashes, the Rain and I".

Those MTV Unpluggeds were a gimmick.  None of those artists were recording music on acoustics.  Everything was overproduced on the album and just stripped down for this show.  Whereas in days of yore, bands had vast repertoires, including not only blazers, but quiet numbers.  A concert wasn’t just a thrill ride, but a whole day at Disneyland.  When Joe hit every note on that guitar, when he played the twelve string thereafter, my mind was jolted from its mental reverie into the present.  When confronted with excellence, you stand up and take notice.

But for so much of the gig, I was sitting down, reviewing my life.

How did I get here.  Who’d have thunk I’d be involved with who I am.  Isn’t it amazing that all these years later those elements that were the center of my life still hold?


Too many roads to walk
Moments too few

After the gig, Larry Solters told me how hard it was to get the word out.

Radio’s not interested and the target demo doesn’t listen anyway.

You’ve got to rely on the Internet, but baby boomer word of mouth is not explosive.  When the band had played at Mandalay Bay two nights before, there were three gigs at the HOTEL!

It’s too confusing.  We used to listen to KMET and know everything that was happening.  Now, you can pay attention and still be out of the loop.

And it’s not like we have to sit through albums and discover secondary cuts like "Wrapcity In English" and "Fred", tracks that only reveal themselves over time.  It’s an all hits all the time business.

And that’s what it is, business.

Whereas sitting there last night I saw it through the band’s eyes.  Barely twenty, they’d heard the Beatles and picked up their instruments.  And being so popular at Kent State, they’d gotten to make a record.  And TOUR!  All the way to Westport, Connecticut.  It was not only about the music, but the adventure.  It was a way to see the world in the pre-Internet era.

Those days are never coming back.  I’d like to tell you where’s we’re going, but I can only guess.  I can just tell you I lived through something.  When music was the most important thing on the planet.  Eclipsing not only TV, but sports.  Going to the gig was one’s ultimate desire.  That’s where it happened.  That’s where the records came alive.

The records came alive last night.  Aged discs that I still play.  To hear them re-created on stage was akin to seeing an unfurling of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

But this was truly my religion.  Guys not interested in celebrity speaking from deep inside their souls to me, for the JOY OF IT!

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