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Music Review: John Eddie – Who The Hell Is John Eddie?

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Inspired by years of playing the smoky bar circuits, John Eddie has released his rock manifesto entitled Who The Hell Is John Eddie?. It’s an appropriate title since most people can’t answer that question.

Born and raised in Richmond, VA, John Eddie relocated to New Jersey in the ‘70s, to pursue his musical career. At his peak, in the ‘80s, he filled the East Coast bars that Bruce Springsteen had outgrown. In fact, Springsteen became one of his most loyal fans, often joining John on stage. His energetic live shows attracted an ardent following and caught the attention of several major record labels, including CBS/Sony and Elektra. However, after signing a record deal with CBS/Sony, creative differences left him with two failed albums and no contract.

John Eddie floundered for a decade, releasing several self-produced albums before signing with Lost Highway Records. Who The Hell Is John Eddie? is his acclaimed debut effort for the label.

The first track, “If You’re Here When I Get Back,” was the first song released from the album. Musically, it’s a bittersweet melody, which Eddie describes as “wishful thinking put to music.” Unfortunately, this song never saw the light of day, unless you were blessed to live in a city with a true indie rock station.

On tracks like “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This” and “Nobody’s Happy” it quickly becomes clear that he’s an expert on both personal and professional heartbreak. The most poignant example of this is the second track, “Let Me Down Hard.” If you don’t like this song, chances are you’ve never truly had your heart broken. But keep it close, you’re going to need it someday.

If a musician has been playing the club circuits for almost 30 years, he or she has to have a sense of humor. Eddie definitely masters that in his rockabilly anthems, “Low Life,” “Forty,” and “Sh**hole Bar.” “Forty,” in particular, is a clever ditty lamenting his age but chastising older rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards.

At first listen, some of the hard rock country songs may seem cliché, possibly resembling something off The Blue Collar Comedy Tour. However, the music becomes infectious if you see Eddie perform it live. He is passionately enthusiastic for someone who’s been doing this for over three decades, yet achieving minimal monetary success. It feels like he’s performing for a sold out stadium, as opposed to the thirty barflies who are actually listening.

John Eddie’s music is naked with emotion, as if he tore off a Band-Aid and in the midst of the pain wrote a song about it. He has lived a hard life, full of big breaks that never quite worked out, but he has never given up on the dream. In the most heartbreaking track of the album, “Play Some Skynyrd”, Eddie takes the audience to the sad side of life as a singer/songwriter. He sings about how frustrating it is to be pouring your heart out on stage, exposing your deepest thoughts, only to have some drunk redneck yell “play some Skynyrd!”.

This album is a wonderful mix of happiness and heartbreak from a talented musician. I’m proud to say I know who the hell John Eddie is, it’s a shame so few people do.

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About Jamie Richert