Songwriter Jack Tempchin’s Peaceful Easy Feeling

By Terry Roland

With the release of Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs of Jack Tempchin, the soulfully seasoned singer-songwriter is experiencing a career renaissance that defies the conventional musical biography story that has the songwriter ride into the musical sunset of obscurity.  Tempchin has turned out an album that is inspired, energized even as it honors his good friend and collaborator, Eagle founder, Glenn Frey.  Peaceful Easy Feeling is a reminder of how diverse and versatile a songwriter can be. Here, Tempchin digs deep into his treasure chest of songs.  He has traveled in the shadows of the music business bringing light with an ear for what makes a good song, talent and skill.

As the writer of The Eagles 1972 hit song,“Peaceful, Easy Feeling,” he walks the talk of a great songwriter. The term ‘great’ is not used casually here. Since the late 1960s, when he first met Glenn Frey, a unique friendship began to take hold. It was a friendship that would help shape the future of American rock music. But it happened over a period of years in mostly unassuming ways. The musical chemistry became a bond that kept them working together until Frey’s untimely death in 2016.

Tempchin, in 1969, was the quintessential counter-culture hippie complete with a van, a huge old house that included a candle factory, which he described as his ‘beloved hippie crash pad.’  When Frey’s band with J.D. Souther folded, he made his way from San Diego to Los Angeles. In 1971, Linda Ronstadt was beginning her solo-career. She was looking for a tour band when she met J.D. Souther and Glen Frey.  She hired Frey for his guitar skill along with Bernie Leadon and a Texas singer-songwriter drummer named Don Henley. She had her band. Soon, The Eagles were formed.

One day when Tempchin and Frey were in Jackson Browne’s house in the L.A. district, Echo Park, Jack played him a song he had written at a San Diego Weinerschnitzel. The song was meant to woo and win over a waitress. It was “Peaceful, Easy Feeling.”  It was the third hit song from The Eagles’ eponymous debut album.  According to Tempchin, he had written it with just guitar and vocal. Tempchin recorded it on a small cassette player for Frey. When he returned with the finished version by The Eagles, Jack was nearly speechless. He said the vocal harmonies and the arrangement lifted the song to a new level.

1972 began Tempchin’s professional career as a songwriter. Since that time his songs have been recorded by Glen Campbell, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Rivers, Tanya Tucker, and Tom Waits among many others.

During the Eagles’ 14-year hiatus-from 1980 to 1994-Tempchin and Frey seamlessly continued their songwriting team. They wrote songs like “Soul Searching” “Smuggler’s Retreat,” “You Belong to the City, and “Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody.” These songs sent Frey into a successful solo career and solidified Tempchin’s status as a skilled songwriter.

Now into his 45th year as a songwriter Tempchin has embarked on a new chapter in an already storied career. In 2014, Jack was signed to a new dream deal with the upcoming Los Angeles based, Blue Elan Records. The label has focused on Americana, alt country and a new generation of singer-songwriters.

The move resulted in a new breath of life for Tempchin’s creativity and energy.  He is still at the top of the songwriting game. Since 2014, he has released four albums of mostly new material.

However, Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs of Jack Tempchin consists of re-recordings of classic songs. The selections include collaborations with Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen on an acoustically based rousing version of “Already Gone.”  Rita Coolidge, sounds as soulful than ever, duets with Jack on the Johnny Rivers hit, “Slow Dancing.”  Jack recreates the gospel-R&B feel of “Soul Searching,” with Janiva Magness.

The album has its share of rockers including blues-rocker, “Everybody’s Gonne Love Somebody Tonight,” “Party Town,” and “Privacy.”  The ballads go as mellow as “Slow Dancing,” and “Your World Now.” The country songs are beautifully driven with mandolins and finely honed acoustic guitar and a simply fine pedal steel.

Although he’s now a veteran of the Laurel Canyon Sound and the San Diego music scene, this new release has shown that it’s never too late to start over again. Especially when the road behind and, I’d wager, the one ahead is strewn with songs that carry the depth and breadth of one of America’s finest songwriters. This album rightly dedicated to his old friend, Glenn Frey, even while it places Jack Tempchin on a path that will inevitably lead him to the Great American Songbook.

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Terry Roland

Terry Roland

Terry Paul Roland was born in West Texas, grew up in Southern California absorbing music as diverse as Buddy Holly, Love, The Doors, Hanks Williams, The Beach Boys and Woody Guthrie. His past features and interview subjects have included country and roots singer-songwriters Jimmie Dale Gilmore, John Prine, Butch Hancock, Iris Dement, Ricky Skaggs, Blame Sally, Peter Case, Mary Gauthier, The Jayhawks, Taj Mahal and David Lindley. His articles and interviews have been prasied for their insights and unique perspective on some of today’s finest singer-songwriters. He also publishes with San Diego Troubadour, FolkWorks, No Depression and Sun209.
Terry Roland

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