Featured Artist:  JACK TEMPCHIN


Jack Tempchin Live / Photo by Chuck Philyaw

Jack Tempchin Live / Photo by Chuck Philyaw

Writers:  Jack Tempchin, Kim Richey, Joel Piper, Robert Stein

Video:  Josh Knoff


JACK TEMPCHIN Web-Exclusive Interview

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David


How did the idea of “Nothing with You” come to you? 

I wrote this song at Michele Clark’s Songwriter Retreat in Las Vegas—with Kim, Joel and Bobby. Kim had an idea and we started playing it. It is very different to write a song with four people at once. Suddenly we thought of a great chorus and the rest just flowed. Joel Piper and Kim went into the computer room and came out with a killer demo.



Jack Tempchin / Photo by Joel Piper

What is your creative process for writing songs?

Every which way! (Laughs) A good song has an idea behind it. Sometimes I start with a title. Or I just sing until I hear a good idea come out of myself, then I focus it. Sometimes I co-write and perhaps the co-writer has an idea I like, and we clarify and amplify it. I may wake up and write down a song I was dreaming. I did that this month with two songs—“The Old Couch” and “This is Another Trying to Drink You Off My Mind Song.” So—every which way!


What songwriting tip would you like to offer?

Check my site for a video series I did call “Go Write One.” It is many short videos where I give a million tips on how to get in the mood to write. I do not tell you how to put the song together or how to get it placed with an artist. That is because I think the most important thing is: You must get in the mood or zone, then it will flow.


How do you keep thinking of new song ideas?

I go down to the beach and watch the ocean—and play guitar. After a while, songs come out.


How does where you live geographically influence your music?

I’m a Southern California person. The world you live in goes into your brain each day and the songs are made from that. I don’t see the effect, but I am where I live. Where you are is who you are.


Jack Tempchin with Eagles' Glenn Frey

Jack Tempchin with Eagles’ Glenn Frey

How has co-writing shaped your music?

I love to co-write, and have been fortunate to do it with some of the world’s greatest writers. You must learn to not be attached to an idea just because you thought of it. You have to always think what is best for the song, just as you do when you write alone.
Tell us about writing Eagles’ hits (“Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Already Gone,”) and writing with Glenn Frey (“The One You Love,” “You Belong to the City,” and so many more songs.

Great things of my life! They took my songs, and put them into a form that people loved. They make great records! They captured the desert, captured the feeling—in a way that went on to become a part of everybody’s life.


Is writing for TV difficult? I believe it yielded one of your biggest songs for Miami Vice “You Belong to the City”).

That was such a great experience. They sent us a script of the episode—where the guy goes back to New York City, where he’s from. We read the script, and started fiddling around with it. Then Glenn said “You belong to the city.” And we just knew that was it, and we wrote it. Writing for TV is unique and good in many ways because it actually gives you a framework.


When you wrote “The One You Love,” did you have those wonderful Ernie Watts/Jim Horn sax parts in mind?

Glenn was amazing. He was thinking that right from the beginning. He was always thinking of the record as he wrote the song. Every step of the way, as he wrote, he had a lot of the parts in mind. He was an amazing lead guitarist, and he would write the lead part as we were writing songs. He’d say, “I think we need a lead here”—and he would write the guitar lead as we were writing the song.


You songs have been covered by a wide variety of artists: New Riders of the Purple Sage (“Fifteen Days Under the Hood”), Tom Rush (“East of Eden”), Emmylou Harris (“White Shoes”), George Jones (“Someone That You Used to Know”).

I know. It has been amazing! I was an opening act for Emmylou Harris—one of my musical idols, and I was so excited and happy when she decided to do that song. And George Jones was one of the greatest singers.


Jack Tempchin-8 - Photo by Joel PiperHow has the business of songwriting changed through the years?

The digital technology revolution has changed every business in the world—from taxicabs to hotels to record stores to newspapers. You can still have a liquor store because they can’t download beer. But soon Amazon will have drones that fly beer to your house so the liquor stores will be gone as well! I was fortunate to live in a time where songwriters got paid for records sold—for records that had their songs recorded on them. That is all over. Unless you write a big pop hit, and there are only so many of those a year—and Max Martin and his friends write most of them (which is OK, because they are so good at it!) you will never make any money writing songs. I truly believe that until the wheel turns again and creators have once again a legal way to get paid, there is no way to make money being a songwriter. Even if you get songs in movies, TV and commercials—you probably cannot make a living from that. Whose fault is it? It is no one’s fault. The world changes—and we just live in it.


Top 5 Musicians or Songwriters who inspired you to become a musician?

Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Hoyt Axton, Robert Johnson, Ewan MacColl (he wrote “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”)


Jack Tempchin-5 - Photo by Joel Piper

Photo by Joel Piper

First lines of songs are so important. What is your strongest first line for one of your songs?

Probably the first line of the song “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (“I like the way your sparkling earrings lay against your skin so brown”)


On—there’s a photo of the handwritten lyrics, and the opening line reads “earrings swing” rather than “earrings lay.”
Yes, it was “swing” at first, and then I changed it to “lay.” There are also a lot of other lines I had, but what jumped out at me most was “peaceful easy feeling.”


What instrument/equipment can you not live without—that helps you write, record or perform?

Guitar and Voice, and these days—iPhone—to capture and remember what I make up. Thank you, Steve Jobs.


Tell us how your most recent Learning to Dance album evolved?

Two things happened. First, I got an amazing record deal with Blue Elan Records, a truly artist-friendly label. They let me follow my creative heart. Then I met producer Joel Piper. He comes from a young generation and a completely different kind of music. I wanted to try something different, while still keeping the focus on having people feel the power of the song itself. Joel and I wondered what would happen if we could combine our two totally different musical lives. And we thought that it had a million to one chance of working, but if it did—it would be really cool. It worked, and I love the album we made!


Jack Tempchin-7 Harmonica - by Joel Piper

Jack Tempchin / Photo by Joel Piper

What’s next for you?

My next CD One More Song! I’m working on two videos for my next release with legendary music video producer and photographer Jim Shea—a video for the title track “One More Song” and a video for “Slow Dancing” (my Top 10 hit popularized by Johnny Rivers in 1977).


Didn’t Randy Meisner record “One More Song” back in 2007?

Jackson Browne & Linda Ronstadt recorded it live. Kate Wolf was the first one to record it in the studio. Then Randy Meisner did a version I really like. And now, I get a chance to record the song my way.


When will One More Song be released?

Due out September 2, 2016—on Blue Elan Records


What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?

They Harder They Come (1972) – Jimmy Cliff and other artists—soundtrack from the movie

Solitude on Guitar (1973) – Baden Powell

Between the Buttons (1967) – The Rolling Stones (the one that has “Ruby Tuesday”)

Rubber Soul (1965) – The Beatles

Desperado (1973) – Eagles


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