Joe Walsh – Ordinary Average Guy

Joe Walsh’s career was slowing down when this came out.  It was Walsh’s first album of entirely new music since Got Any Gum?

In 1990, Walsh reunited with former Barnstorm drummer Joe Vitale to co-produce Ordinary Average Guy. This album also features vocal and writing contributions by former Survivor lead vocalist Jimi Jamison as well as backing vocals by Ringo Starr.

This wasn’t Walsh’s best release by a long shot but the song was enjoyable. The song was written by Joe Walsh and Joe Vitale.

Walsh wrote this about his mid-life crisis. It deals with escaping the fame and fortune associated with the life of a rock star. This is a parody of Walsh’s previous release, “Life’s been Good to Me,” which is about rock star excess.

The song was off of Ordinary Average Guy and it peaked at #112 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1991. The song peaked at #3 in the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks.

Ordinary Average Guy

I’m just an ordinary average guy
My friends all are boring
And so am I
We’re just ordinary average guys

We all lead ordinary average lives
With average kids
And average wives
We all go bowling at the bowling lanes
Drink a few beers
Bowl a few frames
We’re just ordinary average guys
Ordinary average guys

And every Saturday we work in the yard
Pick up the dog doo
Hope that it’s hard (woof woof)
Take out the garbage and clean out the garage
My friend’s got a Chrysler
I’ve got a Dodge
We’re just ordinary average guys
Ordinary average guys

Ordinary average guy(3x)
Ordinary average average guys

Ordinary average guy(3x)
Ordinary average average average guys

Ordinary average guy(3x)
Ordinary average….

Joe Walsh – Rocky Mountain Way

The two songs today will involve the Rocky Mountains…by song title anyway. This song just flat out rocks. Joe Walsh includes a talk box on the guitar in the solo.

Joe Walsh left the James Gang just as they were building momentum, having scored hits with “Walk Away” and “Funk #49.” Splintering the band as they were on the verge of stardom didn’t go over well with Walsh’s bandmates or their record company, but Joe felt creatively limited in the 3-piece band and wanted out. Colorado put him near James Gang producer Bill Szymczyk, who continued to work with Walsh and produced this album.

When Joe Walsh moved to Colorado, he formed a band called Barnstorm, whose first, self-titled album came out in 1972. Their next album was The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get, contained this track. The song was co-written by the group: Rocke Grace (keyboards), Kenny Passarelli (bass), Joe Vitale (drums), and Walsh. The music was written before Walsh added the lyrics.

Joe Walsh: “I’m living in Colorado and I’m mowing the lawn. I look up and there’s the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and there’s snow on them in the summer. And it knocked me back because it was just beautiful. And I thought, ‘Well I have committed. I’m already in Colorado and it’s too late to regret the James Gang. The Rocky Mountain way is better than the way I had, because the music was better.’ I got the words. Bam!”

The song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100 and #31 Canada in 1973.

This was one of the first songs to feature a talkbox, which allows a guitarist to make distorted vocalizations with his mouth. Peter Frampton is probably the most famous talkbox practitioner, and his use of the device is prominent on his famous 1976 album Frampton Comes Alive.

 

 

 

From Songfacts

After leaving his group the James Gang at the end of 1971, Joe Walsh moved from Cleveland to Boulder, Colorado, where he wrote this song, which celebrates the scenery and lifestyle of Colorado. In some ways, the song is a rocked-up version of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” which was released the previous year. Both songs use the famous Rocky Mountains as a focal point for the virtues of Colorado.

“Rocky Mountain Way” reflects Walsh’s range of emotions after making the big move. He explained in the book The Guitar Greats: “I got kind of fed up with feeling sorry for myself, and I wanted to justify and feel good about leaving the James Gang, relocating, going for it on a survival basis. I wanted to say ‘Hey, whatever this is, I’m positive and I’m proud’, and the words just kind of came out of feeling that way, rather than writing a song out of remorse. It was special then, and the words were special to me, because the words were like, ‘I’m goin’ for it, the heck with feeling sorry for this and that’, and it did turn out to be a special song for a lot of people. I think the attitude and the statement of that have a lot to do with it – it’s a positive song, and it’s basic rock’n’roll, which is what I really do.”

As for Barnstorm, they played up to their name and did over 300 gigs in 1973. The band broke up after the two albums, which have since been more commonly credited as Joe Walsh solo works.

Walsh is a big baseball fan, and this song has become associated with the game because of the lyrics “Casey’s at bat,” which is a reference to a famous baseball poem. When the Colorado Rockies baseball team formed in 1993, “Rocky Mountain Way” became a popular song at their stadium, Coors Field, where the song is played after a Rockies win.

Joe Walsh described writing the lyrics to this song during an interview with Howard Stern. Walsh explained he had the track recorded but had no ideas for lyrics. He had been living in Colorado after leaving the James Gang over creative differences with the direction of the music. He was mowing his lawn and looking at the Rocky Mountains and the lyrics came to him. He ran inside to write the lyrics but forgot to shut off the lawn mower. The mower ran into his neighbor’s yard and ruined the neighbor’s garden.

“It was a very expensive song to write,” Walsh said, implying he had to pay to repair the damage to the neighbor’s yard. He said the lyrics describe his anxiety about leaving the James Gang and his excitement about a solo career.

Rocky Mountain Way

Spent the last year
Rocky Mountain Way
Couldn’t get much higher
Out to pasture
Think it’s safe to say
Time to open fire

And we don’t need the ladies
Crying ’cause the story’s sad
’cause the Rocky Mountain Way
Is better than the way we had

Well he’s tellin’ us this
And he’s tellin’ us that
Changes it every day
Say’s it doesn’t matter
Bases are loaded and Casey’s at bat
Playin’ it play by play
Time to change the batter

And we don’t need the ladies
Crying ’cause the storie’s sad, uh huh
Rocky Moutain Way
Is better than the way we had
Hey, hey, hey, hey

James Gang – Walk Away

I’ve always liked the edge of the James Gang. I like the rawness they had and wish they would have stayed together longer. This song and Midnight Man

The James Gang released the album Thirds in 1971  which yielded this song their highest-charting single, “Walk Away.” It peaked at #51 in the Billboard 100. The band released live album James Gang Live In Concert in 1971. Walsh left the group in 1971 to form his own group Barnstorm. He then later joined The Eagles and made Hotel California.

The James Gang had many changes through the years after Walsh left including bringing in Tommy Bolin but the lineup they are remembered for the most is Joe Walsh, Jim Fox, and Dale Peters.

The classic James Gang lineup — Walsh (Guitarist), Peters (Bass Player), and Fox (Drums) got together again for the first time to perform for then-president Bill Clinton’s election rally in late 1996. The group also made appearances on The Drew Carey show during the late 1990s and performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in February 2001.

The classic James Gang trio also toured across the country in the summer of 2006, where they were supported by backing vocalists and musicians.

Walk Away

Taking my time
Choosin’ my line
Tryin’ to decide what to do
Looks like my stop
Don’t wanna get off
Got myself hung up on youSeems to me
You don’t want to talk about it
Seems to me
You just turn your pretty head and walk awayPlaces I’ve known
Things that I’m growin’
Don’t taste the same without you
I got myself in
The worst mess I’ve been
And I find myself startin’ ta doubt you

Seems to me
Talk all night, here comes the mornin’
Seems to me
You just forget what we said
And greet the day

Seems to me
You don’t wanna talk about it
Seems to me
You just turn your pretty head and walk away

I’ve got ta cool myself down
Stompin’ around
Thinkin’ some words I can’t name ya
Meet ya half way
Got nothin’ to say
Still I don’t s’pose I can blame ya

Seems to me
You don’t want to talk about it
Seems to me
You just turn your pretty head and walk away

Walk away

 

 

Joe Walsh – Life’s Been Good

This song peaked at #12 in the Billboard 100 in 1978. Walsh lived this song out. He hung out with fellow stars such as Keith Moon. He said that Keith showed him the ropes of hotel destruction and Walsh was quite accomplished in that art.

The song was on his 4th album But Seriously, Folks… and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1978. This is Joe’s highest-charting song.

Joe Walsh: “I wanted to make a statement involving satire and humor, kind of poking fun at the incredibly silly lifestyle that someone in my position is faced with – in other words, I do have a really nice house, but I’m on the road so much that when I come home from a tour, it’s really hard to feel that I even live here. It’s not necessarily me, I think it paraphrases anyone in my position, and I think that’s why a lot of people related to it, but basically, that’s the story of any rock star – I say that humbly – anyone in my position. I thought that was a valid statement because it is a strange lifestyle – I’ve been around the world in concerts, and people say ‘What was Japan like?’, but I don’t know. It’s got a nice airport, you know… so it was kind of an overall statement.”

 

From Songfacts

This is a humorous look at the spoils of fame and fortune associated with being a rock star. Walsh pokes fun at the lifestyle of wealth and fame and the spoiled mentality – how it’s not me that’s changed, but everyone else.

Walsh lived up to this song, indulging in the hedonism he sang about long after it was released. “I started believing I was who everybody thought I was, which was a crazy rock star,” he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “It took me away from my craft. Me and a lot of the guys I ran with, we were party monsters. It was a real challenge just to stay alive.”

This is the last song on the the album. On the original recording from this album, the music fades away into silence. Then, about 30 seconds later, there is a really funny secret message from Joe Walsh which says “Wha-oh…here comes a flock of wanh-wanhs!”, followed by a chorale of “wannh”, “wanh” “wahn” (collectively sounding like a bunch of ducks or sheep). >>

The cover of the But Seriously Folks album shows Walsh eating a meal… under water. In the same BBC interview, he said: “I had to do that a couple of times, but I did go down to the bottom of the pool, and almost drowned… but it was fun. Not at the time, but it was fun to do. We weighted everything down, but it was very involved and it took a long time, and I was real proud of it. As long as you have access to art, or visually presenting something with your record, I would like to use that, pursue it and try to make it an integral part of the music. It was hard to do, but when I look at it, I can’t believe it either, I can’t believe I was stupid enough to do that, but I was proud of it. I won’t be repeating it, I can assure you!”

In 1979, Walsh announced his campaign for President of the United States, promising “Free gas for everyone” if he won (he didn’t). 

A famous line in this song, “My Maserati does 185,” was used as the title to a 2005 episode of the TV series Entourage.

Joe did this to explain how he wrote it

Life’s Been Good

I have a mansion but forget the price
Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice
I live in hotels, tear out the walls
I have accountants, pay for it all

They say I’m crazy but I have a have a good time
I’m just looking for clues at the scene of the crime
Life’s been good to me so far

My Maseratti does one-eighty-five
I lost my license, now I don’t drive
I have a limo, ride in the back
I lock the doors in case I’m attacked

I’m making records, my fans they can’t wait
They write me letters, tell me I’m great
So I got me an office, gold records on the wall
Just leave a message, maybe I’ll call

Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through
(Everybody say I’m cool, he’s cool)
I can’t complain but sometimes I still do
Life’s been good to me so far

I go to parties sometimes until four
It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door
It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame
Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed

They say I’m lazy but it takes all my time
(Everybody say oh yeah, oh yeah)
I keep on goin’ guess I’ll never know why
Life’s been good to me so far

Joe Walsh – A Life Of Illusion

This song peaked at #34 in the Billboard 100 in 1981. The album There Goes the Neighborhood peaked at #20 in 1981.

This song began as an instrumental track written by Kenny Passarelli when he was the bass player in Joe’s band Barnstorm, which was active from 1972-1974. Barnstorm never released it, but Walsh and Passarelli worked it up for Walsh’s first solo album, The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, in 1973, with Walsh adding the lyrics…but it didn’t make it on the album.

Passarelli shopped it around, pitching it to Elton John and Hall and Oates. When Walsh was working on this album, he and Passarelli worked with the song again and it was released.

From Songfacts

Life’s been good to Joe Walsh, but what’s it all about? Sometimes it seems like life is just an illusion, and just when you start to comprehend it, it hits you right between the eyes.

Many musicians of his era looked to gurus or other zen masters to figure it all out, but Walsh seems to have sorted it out in this song, where he concludes that letting it all get to you is a waste of your day.

The Mariachi trumpets, played by the song’s co-writer Kenny Passarelli in what Walsh described as “a drunken stupor,” are nonsensical in a way that suits the song perfectly. Why are they there? Well, why are any of us here?

The phrase “a life of illusion” was used three years earlier in the title track to the film Grease, where Frankie Valli sings:

This is the life of illusion
Wrapped up in trouble
Laced with confusion

That song was written by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees.

This was featured in the opening credits of the 2005 movie The 40 Year Old Virgin. It also appears in the 2010 movie Grown Ups and in the 2010 CSI: Miami episode “L.A.”

Life Of Illusion

Sometimes, I can’t help but feeling that I’m
Living a life of illusion
And oh, why can’t we let it be
And see through the hole in this wall of confusion
I just can’t help but feeling I’m living a life of Illusion

Pow, right between the eyes
Oh how nature loves her little surprises
Wow, it all seems so logical now
It’s just one of her better disguises
And it comes with no warning, nature loves her little surprises
Continual crisis

Hey, don’t you know it’s a waste of your day
Caught up in endless solutions
That have no meaning
Just another hunch, based upon jumping conclusions
Backed up against a wall of confusion
Caught up in endless solutions
Living a life of illusion

Joe Walsh – All Night Long

Joe has to be one of the most likable guys in Rock and Roll. Along with having a good time he is one of the best rock guitarists. All Night Long peaked at #19 in the Billboard 100 and #13 in Canada in 1980.

“All Night Long” was released as a single, in addition to being included in the legendary soundtrack to Urban Cowboy. It became one of Joe Walsh’s four Top 40 charting songs in his solo career. The song also found its way onto a live Eagles album.

 

From Songfacts

Independent of the single’s chart record, the soundtrack album made #1 on the Country Albums Chart, #3 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Canadian RPM Country Albums Chart, and #21 on Canadian RPM Top Albums. Quite a bit of success for songs from a movie that cast John Travolta as a cowboy (inverting the concept of a “spaghetti western”), which makes about as much sense as casting John Wayne as Genghis Khan, and yet here we are still talking about it.

Joe Walsh fun fact: he played a prisoner in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers; during the “Jailhouse Rock” scene he was the first jumpsuit up on the table.

This was Walsh’s very next single after “Life’s Been Good.” Uh oh… Here comes a flock of WAH-WAHS!

All Night Long

We get up early and we work all day.
We put our time in ’cause we like to stay up
All night long. All night long.

We keep on grinnin’ ’til the weekend comes.
Just a pinch between your cheek and gums.
All night long. All night long.

Start in the morning and get the job done.
Take care of business and we have some fun.
All night long. All night long.

We like a long neck and a good old song.
Turn it up and then we’ll sing along. Sing along.
Oh, we’re stayin’ up all night long.

All night long.
All night long.
All night long.
All night long.