Black Rose (Expanded Edition)

Black Rose (Expanded Edition) – Spotify playlist

I was gonna e-mail J.D.

You see I was reading Mike Mettler’s interview with him in “Sound & Vision,” at least I think that’s where it was, I get so many magazines, they start to blur together, but not the point that J.D. was releasing expanded editions of his catalog.

Maybe you weren’t waiting for “Black Rose,” his initial solo record was a dud, half-baked, but in the interim his star had risen, his talent had come to the surface, been evidenced, so I plunked down my money and took a chance.

And was wowed. “Black Rose” was slick where the first album was rough, and that was a good thing, the team of Peter Asher and Val Garay focused the work into a bulletproof enterprise that touched my heart. “Black Rose” was a record so perfect you admired it, and at the same time it spoke to you, like a biblical text.

It only gets better as it rolls on.

“Banging My Head Against The Moon” is a good, but not great, raucous opener.

And the follow-up, “If You Have Crying Eyes” was too slow thereafter.

But then came the piece-de-resistance, “Your Turn Now.”

The moon was yellow
And the sky was cool
The night can make a promise of love
Or it could make you a fool

Forty year old wisdom that still rings true today.

How would anybody know it
If the real thing shined
You’ve seen so many movies
You’d probably think it was a line

From back when our bards revealed the world to us, explained it via their personal observations, I sing these lyrics to myself all the damn time.

The last track on side one is “Baby Come Home.”

If you’ve ever been left, this is the cut for you. The only thing in its league is “My First Night Alone Without You” from Bonnie Raitt’s “Home Plate.”

If you could trust me
Try to believe me
Listen to me when I say
When I say that love
Is a burning fire
And it will not fade away
No, it will not fade away

No, it won’t. You can break up, they can be far away physically, but you just can’t get them out of your brain.

And the funny thing is, despite the sentiment, “Baby Come Home” is not a dirge. It’s not upbeat, but it’s plowing forward, one foot in front of another, just like you do after the shock wears off and you’re still in limbo.

The second side opens with “Simple Man, Simple Dream,” that’s right, the title track of Linda Ronstadt’s 1977 album, you heard it here first. And J.D.’s version is more subtle and therefore more meaningful.

And then another song Ronstadt covered, “Silver Blue,” from “Prisoner In Disguise,” her 1975 follow-up to her great success, 1974’s “Heart Like A Wheel.” The title track was J.D.’s, but it’s not on “Black Rose,” but this is, done in a very quiet, slow, almost jazzy take.

And then the ethereal “Midnight Prowl,” that truly sounds like late night.

And after “Doors Swing Open” comes the closer, the title track, “Black Rose,” which puts you in such a mood you’ve got to play the LP all over again. And I did.

But I skipped over a cut. At number four on the LP, on the first side. That’s right, it’s “Faithless Love.”

Faithless love like a river flows

Every baby boomer knows this, at least all with a heart, it’s smack dab in the middle of side one of “Heart Like A Wheel.”

Faithless love, where did I go wrong

Approach your seventh decade and you’ll start asking yourself this question. Even the winners have detours, and who even knows what winning is anymore. You may have your money, but did you spend any time with your children, do you HAVE any children? You thought you were steering, you pulled out of a couple of ditches, and then you found out you were far from your original destination.

And like I said, the original version of “Faithless Love” is on side one of “Black Rose.” But in the extended, expanded edition, there’s a live take, which is ever more personal and meaningful.

The new version of “Black Rose” was not on Spotify, even though the other LPs were there. That’s when I made a note to e-mail J.D., when I couldn’t find it, but I didn’t want to bother him, and I just saw this note now and decided to check Spotify again.

And there it was. I “dropped the needle” and I was wowed, my whole mood changed, that’s the power of music.

Track 15 of the new edition is the demo for “Border Town.”

That’s right, J.D. couldn’t get arrested. So David Geffen decided to create a supergroup, of J.D., Richie Furay and Chris Hillman, and the initial Souther Hillman Furay Band album was quite good, it went gold, and “Border Town” is my favorite cut. It’s upbeat, it locks into a groove, and speaks to a completely different time and generation, when it truly was about experiences, not flying private, staying in a five star hotel, but piling into an aged machine to sleep in a dive after getting messed up in a bar trying to have the time of your life.

And “Black Rose” did not break through. Although it did cement my relationship with my girlfriend, when I saw it propped up against her cinder block bookshelves.

J.D. switched labels, to Columbia, he had a hit with “You’re Only Lonely.” And then came the ’81 duet with James Taylor on “Her Town Too.”

But before that came the years with Ronstadt, when neither could get arrested, included in this expanded edition is the demo of “Can Almost See It,” the opening cut on Linda’s initial Asylum album, before “Heart Like A Wheel.” But this demo is even more powerful.

From an era when singer-songwriters were king, when you couldn’t fake it, when talent was king, when we hung on every word, when the music was enough.

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