Steve Young – Inside Seven Bridges Road
Steve Young is most well known for his composition “Seven Bridges Road” recorded and made famous by The Eagles in the early 1980’s. Steve comments in 2012: “I don’t really like just being known for one song. People and critics in the know realize I’ve written many good songs like “Lonesome ‘Onry & Mean” for Waylon Jennings. In the mid 1970’s, the film “Heartworn Highways” features Young singing another one of his great songs titled: “Alabama Highway.” Besides the segments with Townes Van Zandt, it’s one of the high points in this historical film.
Steve now 70 years old is on a US tour with his son Jubal Lee Young who is 41 years old. There are at least 26 stops on this tour including Portland, Oregon in late June. Steve currently resides in Nashville reluctantly. As he put it: “My heart is on the West coast but I exist in Nashville.” Jubal lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Steve Young and I first met in Nashville in 1986 where I had come for a second time with my then girl friend Jackie to try and “make it” as a songwriter. We went to see Steve perform one night on Music Row in a small nightclub and we were both blown away! On talking with Steve, he invited me to his house there in Nashville to compare notes with our guitars. At that time, Steve had made a new album on his own titled: “Long Time Rider.” Although Steve had been on numerous major labels such as: RCA, A&M and Reprise Records, this time he produced it alone with profound results! This of course is before the days of everybody DIY-ing it and putting their albums on the internet. “Long Time Rider” also impressed long time Bob Dylan compatriot Bobby Neuwirth a friend of Steve’s.
In 1989, three years later, I got to open for Steve on a short hop tour here in the Northwest. In Portland we performed at Key Largo and in Seattle we played together at The Backstage. When I walked onto the stage with no introduction the audience broke out in applause! This was Seattle and this was a Steve Young show. I responded to them by saying: “Gee…and I’m not even Steve Young.” I only wish that every audience that I had performed for over the years would have treated me that way. Steve Young draws a great and loyal audience that helped me excell in my performance. Steve said; “nice set.” That meant a-lot to me coming from one of my Singer/Songwriter idols. Since those days, I have retired from performing music live. But Steve goes on down the road now with his son Jubal Lee opening for him on his current US tour. Steve has done a-lot of touring in Europe as well.
By 1990, I was back in Nashville making the rounds on Music Row while Steve was living in L.A. I contacted him by phone and we agreed to meet up in Austin. Once there, there were more famous friends to meet like Ian Mathews (responsible for the arrangement of “Seven Bridges Road” that The Eagles used).
In 1991 I got a call in Seattle from Heinz Geissler of Watermellon Records in Austin. He wanted to ask me about a photograph I had taken of Steve for his next album cover to be titled: “Solo/Live.” Of course I was thrilled with this and gave my permission.
Steve has made many well known friends across the United States over the years. Van Dyke Parks is a long time friend of Young’s and like me also a big fan. In 1996 Parks wrote a song about Steve called: “The All Golden.” Townes Van Zandt himself wrote the liner notes to “Solo/Live” which said: “For that voice, that guitar and those songs to come together in one person is a wonder.”
In 1999, the country group Ricochet covered “Seven Bridges Road” with very good results. Even the sepia-toned video they made for the song came out well.
What is it about “Seven Bridges Road” that has held up so well over the years and even overshadowed the writer himself? Is it the mystical notes, chords and poetic lyrics about the South that meld so well? Whatever it is, Steve really nailed it! They just don’t write songs like that one anymore.