40 Years of ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ – The Story Behind The Song by Jack Tempchin
“Peaceful Easy Feeling” as told by Jack Tempchin
Written by Jack Tempchin. Recorded by the Eagles. Released as a single on Asylum Records 12/1/72
“I was playing the coffee house circuit, folk music clubs, in San Diego where I grew up. A friend made a poster with quotes about me, all lies that he made up and attributed to various famous people. The poster found its way to a coffee house in El Centro, California. I guess the owner believed it, because he hired me.
It was a small club in a mini mall. It was my first time in the desert and the view of the stars was amazing. I was attracted to a waitress there, but unfortunately I guess she didn’t feel the same way about me because she went home — without me. I wound up sleeping on the floor in the club with my guitar instead of the girl. It was then that I started writing “Peaceful Easy Feeling” on the back of the poster my friend made. Some verses weren’t good at all, but I did get the phrase “peaceful, easy feeling.”
Then I went back to San Diego where I was living in a big house with a lot of other guys, music hippies like myself. We’d sit in front of the picture window and watch the beautiful girls on the bus stop bench and fall in love with them until their bus came. We talked in those days about how love never seems to show up until you stop looking for it. But, as young guys, we were unable to stop looking for love even for one day.
Next, I went to a street fair in Old Town San Diego and saw a girl with turquoise earrings against her dark skin. I never spoke with her but I put her in the first line of the song. I guess I was trying to distill the beauty of every girl I saw into words on paper and then into a song.
In those days I carried my $13 Stella guitar (that I bought in a pawn shop) with me everywhere I went. Finally, I wrote the last verse of the song in the parking lot of the Der Weinerschnitzel fast food restaurant on Washington Boulevard in San Diego, which is still there today 40 years later.
Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther were helping me to hook up in L.A. I was staying at Jackson Browne’s house and sitting in his piano room playing my new song. Glenn Frey heard it and asked what it was. He said he had a new band (the Eagles) that had only been together for eight days and he wanted to know if I’d mind if they worked it up.
The next day, Glenn brought me a cassette of what they had done with it. It was so good I couldn’t believe it. A few months later, they went to the UK and recorded their first album. When they got back, Glenn played some of the cuts for me, “Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” I knew it was the best record I had ever heard.
That same year, in 1972, my girlfriend and I traveled in a Volkswagen bus across the U.S. Halfway up the California Coast, in somebody’s kitchen that we met on the road, I heard “Peaceful Easy Feeling” playing over the airwaves for the first time. It was coming out of a small transistor radio that was sitting on top of the refrigerator.
Since then the song has found a life of it’s own in the big world, like a kid who leaves home and does great things…” -Midnight Jack
On December 1st, 2012, on the 40th anniversary of the song’s release as a single by the Eagles, The Honorable Mayor Jerry Saunders of San Diego, CA Officially Proclaimed 12/1 as ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling Day’ in America’s Finest City. The Mayor’s Office presented Jack Tempchin with the framed Proclamation (below) at the Hillcrest Der Wienerschnitzel where he completed the song. Wienerschnitzel distributed free Polish Dogs to all attendees, presented Tempchin with a gold-plated wiener (seriously!) and dedicated a plaque at the table commemorating the tune’s completion.
See a photo of Jack’s original lyric sheet (currently on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) at his official fan blog- MyPeacefulEasyFeeling.com, main website- PeacefulEasyFeeling.com and at Facebook.com/JackTempchin