Jim Ed Norman spent his life within the music trade, working as a producer and A&R man, ultimately discovering his solution to the highest the place he grew to become president of Warner Music Nashville.
Properly, it is the end result of a 50-year relationship with the California band, which took root in Texas a couple of years prior. It was a scorching day as Norman roamed the campus of North Texas State College. He heard the sounds of Led Zeppelin filtering by way of one of many condo doorways. Inside, he held out a Dillards album and stated, “Hey, you gotta examine that out.” The recipient was Don Henley and as Norman laughs, “The remainder was geography.”
Henley and Norman ended up in the identical band, Shiloh. They launched a single self-titled album in 1970, produced by Kenny Rogers, then broke up in 1971 when the Eagles started to take form. Henley wouldn’t overlook his former bandmate. As famous within the following interview, Norman obtained a cellphone name a couple of years later that might dramatically alter the course of his future profession.
Beginning with the Desperado album in 1973 and culminating together with his work on Hotel California in 1976, Norman grew to become the arranger and the pianist of the Eagles. He remained within the fold within the years that adopted, serving to to provide and prepare Glenn Freyit’s No enjoyable out loud in 1981.
Norman’s ultimate stint places his historical past with Henley and the Eagles on full swing. He not too long ago spoke with UCR through Zoom whereas on a break day on the street.
How did you find yourself within the Eagles combine for that Lodge California to go to?
It was actually Don – as a result of Don and Glenn, fairly frankly, gave me [my first shot. There were many] conversations I’ve had with folks about [how] I am an arranger and I need to be an arranger, and I need to be concerned in that a part of the enterprise. It wasn’t till Don and Glenn gave me that shot on “Desperado” [that it finally happened]. So “Desperado” grew to become the very first thing I ever did. This imprimatur, if you’ll, made it attainable. All these folks I attempted to persuade [to] let me do some preparations, they’d name me and say, “Oh, Jim Ed, we did not know you have been an arranger. It was simply that seal of approval. [Then] Don referred to as and stated, “We will put collectively a Lodge California to go to. We’re going to carry out the album in its entirety. Due to the position the orchestra performed on this document, [they wanted to feature that element as part of the tour].
It is superior.
As a result of you’re a vinyl fanatic, in case you recall, the document was first launched and aspect 1 ends with “Wasted time.” You flip it over and I bought to make use of the orchestral cowl of “Wasted Time” [that starts the second side] repeatedly in conversations with college students over time at universities in each nation I’ve spoken to, as a reminder, at all times do greater than you are requested to do. I used to be solely anticipated to return that day with what they requested me to do, however I had been so moved by “Wasted Time” and the melody and fantastic thing about it that I sat down and wrote this piece. As destiny would have it, there was time left after we completed what we had to do this day for the opposite songs. I stated, “Hey guys, I’ve this room. Would you be eager about listening to it? After all they wished to listen to it. Lo and behold, to my shock, it ended up on the document as a canopy.
Hearken to Eagles’ “Wasted Time”
It is a signature a part of the album.
Properly, thanks for saying that. When it is your style and your life and what you love to do, you by no means actually understand how folks will react to it. It was fantastic to listen to the roar that comes from folks once they hear it. Generally it is fairly lively; different instances it is quieter. I do not imply to magnify by saying there may be worry, but it surely’s like “Oh my God, pay attention!” The orchestra has a second. After they have been first offered with the concept they have been going to do that [tour]principally, it boiled right down to, “Properly, you are able to do all of it or none of it. You possibly can redo the charts. Right here in Nashville on the Nation Music Corridor of Fame, they’re paying homage to southern nation rock California and interview tons of people that have been a part of that interval of Southern California historical past and time. Whereas they have been interviewing me, they requested me, “Do you may have any reminiscences? I stated, “Yeah, I’ve a couple of issues” – one in every of which finally ends up being the unique rating, for instance, on “Desperado”. I’ve different authentic scores that date again to 1973. I did not know in 1973 that there could be a use for an outdated sheet music, however after I pulled it out it had hen and every kind of notes.
This historic stuff is at all times so enjoyable.
There could be one which stated “MSG”, Madison Sq. Backyard. The blokes had modified the way in which they did the ending, for example. There was one which had Wembley on it, one which stated the Discussion board. There have been all these notes all through the rating which can be related to a selected second or recording. It occurred from ’73 till Lodge California obtained [played] stay after which it was the tip. So it was, “Jim Ed, you possibly can assist put the charts collectively after which come run it, if you’d like” – as a result of on the time, I used to be working right here within the enterprise, within the recording trade, working A&R and producing and what do you may have. The factor is, my fiancée inspired me and stated, “You actually have to do that.” I hesitated on the entrance. Somebody not too long ago after we have been on the street, one of many orchestras we have been speaking about conducting [and] having written all of the elements can be one thing – as a result of once they see “organized by”, they usually do not know that I’m the man who organized or wrote the half within the first place.
It is comprehensible, I suppose.
There are [also] those that grew up at instances with the Eagles. There’s respect that comes [with being a conductor] and I nonetheless should apologize. I used to inform them that I grew to become a bandleader the day we recorded “Desperado”, the very first thing I ever did. Coming into the studio, Glyn Johns and I return to the recording room. I stated, “Hey Glyn, I discover they’ve chairs over there for the orchestra and two microphones. Nobody has headphones. All of the dates I had seen on TV or skilled in LA, the orchestra had headphones on and so they have been recording. Glyn, in his inimitable manner, stated, “Properly, sure, you are going to lead, aren’t you, mate?” I stated, “Properly, I suppose so.” I additionally grew to become a conductor at the moment. To my credit score, I organized and directed accordingly. After I inform this story to the orchestra occasionally after we speak, I say it is such a second that I can relish – as a result of it is the track now that closes the present, as a part of the encore .
Hearken to the Eagles’ “Desperado”
I think about that every one of it is a actual expertise.
I really hear elements that I’ve written that I do not hear as loud or possibly even sufficient in my thoughts, on the document. Glyn had two microphones and it was my job as bandleader to verify I bought out of the orchestra what needed to occur. Now, as a result of I do know this stuff, I’m able to drive appropriately. I went from being reluctant to hit the street to being inspired, and I noticed [that it was something I needed to do]. I get up one night time and I can not sleep and I am sitting there considering, “I can by no means stand in entrance of a giant orchestra on the head once more.” It simply does not occur the identical manner. I imply, I do not need to rule out the likelihood, but it surely was unlikely one thing like this may occur once more. Initially, it was to go to Vegas. Then some dates [were added]. covid shut every part, as he did for all of us. We began once more within the fall and continued till the tip of Might.
I do not know to what extent there will probably be a choice to proceed even additional, however what it’s is superb to me – standing in entrance of the orchestra. There are occasions after I sit there directing, for some time I am completely out of what I am doing. There is no such thing as a present reflection. I simply soak up. I am really a listener, versus somebody who tries to verify issues keep within the web, and that we comply with the band and all these obligations that we have now. I am additionally fortunate to have nice folks touring. Concertmaster, Erica Swindell; Kristine Kruta, principal cellist; and Diane Louie, who’s the librarian. Diane, frankly, is a significantly better conductor than me. I imply, she’s a legit bandleader. She has devoted her entire life to this, she is encouraging and really useful. Then we have now an excellent entrepreneur, Marci Skolnick, who brings musicians collectively wherever we go.
Why do you assume folks maintain the Lodge California album in such excessive esteem?
Nice songs. You realize, I feel that may be his touch upon the state of issues on the time. It resonated. However I feel it is in regards to the nice songs. There’s a famous quote now with [Jack] Nicholson be with jackson [Browne] at a live performance, and Jackson takes benefit of it and he turns to him and says, “Listing.” [Laughs.] It runs the gamut of who they’re as artistic folks. However I feel that [the LP] merely wonderful – and [it has] nice efficiency. It is all about fantastic performances. There’s a track that vince [Gill] sings within the present, “Try and love again.” I typically discover that I am simply sitting there grooving on it, possibly greater than something simply due to the pocket it hits and what is going on on with it. It is actually good and but it did not turn into a single. They moved on.
Hearken to Eagles’ “Attempt to Love Once more”
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