Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Forgotten Hits Exclusive -- Jim Shea Looks Back At The Music That Changed His Life

As promised, here is an EXCLUSIVE First Look at a brand new Classic Music Essay Series put together by Jim Shea, former Y103.9 FM Morning Man here in Chicago.  (Jim has just inked a deal with Prime Magazine, a Wisconsin Publication, that will be running the entire series ... more info here: 
 ... check back often to catch all of the latest installments.)
But before they run their series, the very FIRST one is running right here in Forgotten Hits ... enjoy Jim's look back at The Eagles, circa 1975 ...
The first in a series of essays devoted to first impressions of classic music
It was the first few days of June, 1975. It had to have been, because senior year of high school in suburban Cleveland was over, which is to say that classes were over, but the commencement ceremony was not until Sunday June 8th. The summer which would follow would be the stuff of legends: long, steamy, succulent nights of smoke and rum; nights you could actually taste. These were nights when I still trusted my emotions; when I accepted my Ali Baba hallucinations as fact. These were nights when absolute belief was always one drink ahead. They generally ended around 4 am, then we were up for summer jobs by 7 am.
But in these first few days of June my friends and I were temporarily, hermetically sealed between final exams and summer jobs; between the world of being together every day and that other world that was waiting out there, where we would not.
We were invited to spend those few days at a friend’s parents’ cottage in the Lake Erie Islands. The only thing we had to do all week was spread a bit of gravel in the back yard. We did not mind. The time was spent in swimsuits, drinking beer and playing cards, incredulous at our own sudden weightlessness.
At sunset of the last day we headed back to Cleveland on the Ohio Turnpike and endured a bit of static until we were able to tune in Denny Sanders' evening show on WMMS. He said he had in his hand a brand new album from the Eagles. It was called One of These Nights and it was not even out in the stores yet. He said he had listened to the whole thing and decided to play his favorite cut. The opening notes were majestic and sad, then came the vocal: “All alone at the end of the evening, and the bright lights had faded from view”
The song was a natural road song, but more than that. Its texture conveyed the exact mood of pulling away from one sweet known thing and heading toward an unknown other. Like Plato’s cave, the real sunset was at our backs as we headed East. The true magnificence of it was merely reflected in the oncoming Westbound cars.
“I was thinking ‘bout a woman I loved but I never knew”. Wow. Is this not what sets us apart from the other species, this longing for the mythical? Doth the mighty king of the jungle yearn for some lioness of his own imagination? Does the chimp survey the moment and feel sadness for moments that will never be?
“And when you’re looking for your freedom, nobody seems to care”. Yes. True. “Put me on a highway”. Check. “Show me a sign and take it to the limit one more time”. Yes Lord, whisk us away as fast as heaven will allow. Send us hurtling into this magical dusk. Let summer begin.
Nothing was said at the time about how perfect that song and the moment were. This was an age when nothing needed to be said. It was all about living then. You weren’t constantly playing journalist, providing color commentary for your own life. No texting. No pics. We just kept rolling, waiting for the next great song, the next great moment.
Maybe artists like the Eagles realized how deeply they were able to touch us. They surely knew that every newly finished album enjoys a brief state of grace before it reaches the stores and the critics and the charts. Maybe they knew that in our young lives we too were celebrating the high of having made something (of ourselves), while not yet knowing quite what we had made.
I have heard Take It to the Limit 3,926 (rough estimate) times since and I would be lying if I said it had the same sublime feel every time I hear it. Likewise, daily life pollutes us and wears us out. But there was a moment in early June 1975 when we were hanging between being and becoming, and a song on the radio made it all hang together beautifully.
-- Jim Shea (August, 2013)

Tomorrow ... some of my own Eagles memories ... stay tuned!  (kk)

REMINDER:  Jim Shea will be taking part in the Open Mic Program this Sunday, August 18th, at the Longshot on Route 120 in Lakemoor.  It runs from 3 - 6 pm and Jim will be performing a bit of music and comedy.  Hope to see you out there!  (kk)

Nice to hear Jim Shea will be in our neck of the woods. I didn't think anybody knew of Lakemoor until I found out one of the station's board of directors lived there. Let Jim know that there's always an open mic here at WRLR for him and his friends. Kent, now get outside and enjoy what's left of summer!
- Bish
WRLR 98.3 FM
Wouldn't it be awesome if Forgotten Hits could, in some fashion, help facilitate Jim Shea's return to the airwaves?!?!  He was always one of our favorites and I swear that not a week goes by without some Chicagoland reader bemoaning the woes of losing a couple of their radio favorites, Jim Shea and Jeff James.  Never Say Never!  (kk)