Barnstorm (1972)

Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh’s Cabin in Colorado  

The stint with the James Gang had ended in January 1972. The years Joe Walsh spent with Jimmy Fox on drums and Tom Kriss on bass were good and intense. Years in which he shone as lead guitarist thanks to numbers such as Funk #49, Walk Away, or Midnight Man, and soon would become classics not just from the band but also from his long career. Years in which the Gang opened for Cream, The Who, or Led Zeppelin when they toured the U.S..

The moment came to put aside the ‘noise’ and hide out in Colorado to experiment. For Walsh, the trio was the perfect formula. In this new chapter he found his ‘wings’ on Joe Vitale’s drums and Kenny Passarelli’s bass. That’s how Barnstorm was born, both the name of the band and that of their first album. It received critical acclaim but not much success commercially. Barnstorm was the first step in a solo career of one of our favourite heroes, who just turned 69 recently.

The record, excluding 2 of the most electric songs, Mother Says and Turn to Stone, is driven by acoustic and folk sounds, stuffed with rhythms, on keyboards and piano (Joe inherited his mother’s sensitivity when playing it).

During the months of recording, the old Telecaster from Funk #49, the Gretsch Country Gentleman from Midnight Man and his Gibson Les Paul, all of which he couldn’t do without, according to an interview he gave in October of the same year,could finally take a rest, and regain strength and get ready for big hits that would come on the records to follow.

These were triumphant years for James Taylor and Crosby Stills & Nash among others: their influence on musicians of the time, was inevitable. Hence,  Walsh would reach the peak of that record with Birdcall Morning, considered to be one of the best love songs of the time, or with the musical and lyrical intensity of One and One, notwithstanding its brief and simple text.

In the life of this 25-year-old kid, Barnstorm meant a perfect break between the ‘rough times’ in the James Gang and the domino of hits that lead directly to sharing the stage with the Eagles, at a time when eagles couldn’t fly higher.   

With Barnstorm at the start of the 70s, Joe Walsh left us with a good taste in the mouth with a record of 10 singles that don’t even reach 38 minutes in total.

He once said: "Those are great guitars. Something good comes out any time I pick up one of those. I’m superstitious; I think guitars have songs in ’em. I pick one up and something comes out that I hadn’t planned on playing."

Hopefully he’ll decide to pick up one of those acoustics again and let himself get carried away: many of us are waiting for a return to those mountains in Colorado, to that cabin in ruins that appears on the cover of Barnstorm that smells of rain, wood, and the chimney .