Timothy B. Schmit was at loose ends with unexpected free time during the pandemic, like so many others. He admits to UCR that he was concerned for the world and trying not to get the COVID virus himself. Still, with a work schedule that is often so busy, he was also “fairly content” being at home.
Suddenly, the Eagles bassist and vocalist found himself in a place where he was able to “write more than I ever have.” Day by Day, Schmit’s seventh solo album, recently arrived as a result. It’s a wonderful mix of material featuring contributions from Lindsey Buckingham, John Fogerty, Jackson Browne, among others.
“Simple Man” gave fans an early taste of the album. Drenched in harmonies, the single was a throwback to Schmit’s early days with Poco. It also served as a personal nod to his own love for groups like Crosby, Stills and Nash. He was joined by Beach Boys alumni Matt Jardine and Chris Farmer on harmony, with Buckingham adding additional guitar.
Schmit continues to share tracks from the album, most recently, the jaunty “I Come Alive” and the pleasantly laidback “Heartbeat.” During a phone conversation, he shared that he’s already got a few things percolating for his next record. First, he shared some stories regarding how Day by Day took shape.
“Simple Man” really is a great way to start off this new album. Fans who have followed your career, both solo and with bands like Poco and Eagles will feel right at home.
That kind of vocal harmony thing, I love doing it. I haven’t really done something so blatant like that. The truth is, I just start writing songs. They sort of take a form. They start to [evolve] as to how I might want to continue with it. After a verse or two, I thought, “Yeah, this one’s got to be no lead guy with oohs and ahhs; this has got to be completely sung in harmony.” That’s what I did.
How did Lindsey end up playing on “Simple Man?”
I needed someone to play something beautiful, obviously. I thought of him and we’re not close, but we are friendly. We keep in touch now and then. I called him and said, “Are you in town? Would you want to come over?” He said, “Yes” and he came over. We did two things. I’m playing acoustic guitar, like the one that you hear in the beginning and then all of the way through. I had him put on a second acoustic guitar. He got out his old Fender that he’s had forever, and we just had him play over and over, a bunch of stuff. We sort of edited something together [from that]. It was all good. It wasn’t that hard to edit. It’s simple, like the song and that’s what I like about it, but it’s definitely Lindsey. You can tell.
Watch the Video for Timothy B. Schmit’s ‘Simple Man’
How did you first meet Lindsey?
Poco played with Buckingham Nicks a couple of times, probably in the early ‘70s. That’s when I first heard him play. He and Stevie [Nicks later] hooked up with Fleetwood Mac. Poco was pretty big in London and I ran into him there. I think Fleetwood Mac had their first album out [with them] and I think it might have been way bigger in the U.S. than it was in England. He said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Well, we’re touring and doing this and that.” He said, “We’re just here doing press and promo for the new album.” So I’ve known him a long time. He was very kind to come over at a moment’s notice, because he was about to get really busy. I nabbed him and he said okay.
“Grinding Stone” is a cool everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kind of production. It feels like you walked in on a jam session when you’re listening to it.
I went out to my studio, like I did every day – especially in 2020, because I didn’t have any distractions. I was at a bit of a loss for what I wanted to express. I was gazing out my studio window, which is sliding doors right in front of the console. It has this gorgeous view of a meadow and the Santa Monica mountains. I just thought, “That’s it. I’m going to see what I can do with that. I’m going to write about here where I live.” Once I started getting an idea as to how this was going to go, it seemed like it should be like the Band. I don’t want to be pretentious; it’s not a Band song, but I’m a huge fan of them. I thought, maybe I can kind of model this song after them. There’s always a lot of keyboards, accordions and fiddles. So that’s how I went about that.
How did you work at putting together the vocal blend on that one with Jackson Browne and John Fogerty?
Honestly, what happened was I put all of the vocals on originally, but I didn’t like it. It was too much of me. You know, sometimes it gets a little old and it didn’t have any grit. When I asked them if they would be interested in hearing something, I said, “Can I send you something?” I sent it to them with my guide vocals on it and they pretty much copied my idea, because there wasn’t too much – you couldn’t go any other way with it, really. They didn’t do it together. They came separately on separate days and they worked really hard on getting something down that made me happy. It was great.
Listen to ‘Grinding Stone’ by Timothy B. Schmit
Where did “Conflicted” come from? It’s got a cool doo-wop thing happening.
I was definitely feeling conflicted over something, not in my immediate family, but in a family space where I was having conflicting thoughts about what was going on there. So I turned that into being conflicted about love, I guess, or a relationship. I turned it into that. The doo-wop thing, it’s in 6/8 and it’s got those triplet piano parts. I’m from the ‘50s, I used to listen to all of those songs and it stuck with me. So I guess there’s a little bit of that in there. I just went with it.
You’ve spent some time on the most recent Eagles tour playing through the whole Hotel California album. What do you think it is about that album that continues to be so special with the fans?
That album, you know, it was recorded before I was in the band, so I was a listener as well. I was a fan. It always comes down to the songs. It’s the songs. There’s some deep stuff there. You know, it resonated with people and seems to still do so. I guess that’s it. People ask what do you attribute the longevity of the Eagles to, and it’s really simple: It’s the songs. There’s talent, yes, but you can have all of the talent in the world and without a great song vehicle it’s kind of going to be wasted, if you want other people to hear it.
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