Poor Timothy B. Schmit.
No matter how many millions of dollars he has in the bank, or how many Caribbean islands he owns, it’s hard not to feel bad for Schmit, because he’s never been much more than the country-rock equivalent of Jan Brady — a guy whose two biggest gifts are a knack for walking into a room after Randy Meisner leaves and a singing voice that combines the estrogen-frosted purity of Christopher Cross with the raw energy of an angry Art Garfunkel. Schmit has definitely paid his dues (most notably during a nearly decade-long run with the perennially talent-rich and sales-poor Poco), and he can certainly sing and/or play the bass, but his timing sucks; he joined the Eagles after the bajillion-selling Hotel California, only to end up watching with dumb, Ted McGinley-esque horror as the band imploded around him.
Instead of spending the ’80s keeping the beat alongside Don Henley’s drum machine, Schmit wandered open-mouthed through a succession of embarrassing solo albums with titles like Playin’ It Cool and Timothy B. I personally think the video for 1987’s “Boys Night Out” is sadder than Schindler’s List:
Eventually, the Eagles reunion rescued Schmit from a lifetime of waiting for an opening in Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, but aside from the 10 minutes he spends singing “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “Love Will Keep Us Alive” every night, he doesn’t have much to do, so he’s continued to pursue his solo career. Of course, at two solo albums in the last decade, he isn’t exactly cranking ’em out, but compared to his bandmates, he’s a veritable font of creativity; his latest release, Expando, comes a mere eight years after its predecessor, Feed the Fire — and a lightning-quick two years after the Eagles’ Long Road Out of Eden.
As some of you may remember, it was Schmit’s big Long Road Out of Eden ballad, “I Don’t Want to Hear Anymore,” that inspired a classic post from my pal Jason Hare in which Schmit’s physical resemblance to the Crypt Keeper was pointed out, followed by a wonderful edition of Mellow Gold Theatre that imagined Schmit as the frequently noogied outcast of the band. To celebrate Expando‘s release, I thought it would only be right to ask Jason for another installment of Mellow Gold Theatre — one which imagines the origins of Schmit’s latest solo venture. Without further ado:
Mellow Gold Theatre: Eagles Edition, Part 2
by Jason Hare
Scene: Guest House #3 at The Irving Azoff Compound and Home for the Obnoxiously Wealthy.
Timothy B. Schmit anxiously walks up the gold-lined path to the doorway.
Schmit: How did it take me 20 years to figure out this place even existed?
Schmit rings the doorbell, which plays “We’re In the Money.”
Voice from inside: ERCCCHOFAHN!
Schmit (loudly): Excuse me?
Voice from inside: ERCCCHOFAHN!!!
Schmit (to himself): Sounds like Glenn has his mouth full again.
Schmit tentatively opens the door and follows the trail of Tostitos Scoops™ into the den. Glenn Frey is sitting on the recliner, intently watching the Cowboys-Packers game on the 64″ projection screen. Don Henley is far across the room, getting a manicure from six naked Korean women.
Schmit: Uh, hi guys. Glenn, I guess you were saying “It’s open” before? Can I come in?
No response. Frey continues to shove Tostitos Scoops™ into his mouth.
Schmit: Is that right, Glenn? I can come in?
Still no response.
Frey suddenly jumps up, runs across the room, and tackles Schmit to the ground.
Frey: HAHAHAHAHAHAH! Gotcha, little man! Noogie time!
Schmit: No! No! Glenn, stop! My bones! So brittle! Stop!
Frey grabs Schmit’s fragile hand and starts smacking him in the head with it.
Frey: Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?
Schmit: (weeping) Stop! Stop! Don! Help me!
Henley ignores him.
Schmit: Don! Don!
Henley: I’m sorry, who?
Schmit: I’m sorry! Mr. Don Henley! Mr. Don Henley!
Henley looks up and glares at Frey.
Frey: Okay, okay, lil’ fella. You’ve had enough. Man, that was fun!
Schmit gasps helplessly for air. Henley, without looking up, snaps his fingers. A seventh naked Korean woman emerges from a closet with an oxygen tank and places the mask over Schmit’s Skeletor-esque face. Schmit slowly catches his breath.
Schmit: Oh boy. That sure was funny! You are so playful, Glenn! Ha ha ha ha! (hacking cough) Well, listen, guys. I know that you’re busy. I promise this will only take a minute of your time.
Silence from Henley and Frey. Frey has gone back to watching the game.
Schmit: So, man, that last tour was fun, wasn’t it, guys? And the best part was that we were able to come together and play new material, and the audiences didn’t run for the bathrooms.
Henley: Tim, if you paid what we charge for concert tickets, would you leave for any moment of the show?
Schmit: That’s a tough question. I can’t afford Eagles concert tickets.
Henley: Well, I can. And trust me. You’d stay in your seat the whole time. Every time you turn your head away from the stage, you’ve wasted approximately 27 dollars.
Schmit: Well, in any case, guys, I know I had a really fun time working on new material, both in the studio and on tour. And I know Joe did, too. Joe…wait a minute, where is Joe?
Henley cocks his head and nods over to the couch. A pair of boots are sticking out from under the couch, a la the Wicked Witch of the East.
Henley: The tour has had a bit of a residual effect on Joe.
Schmit: I thought I smelled Jack Daniel’s.
Henley: We’re going to lift that couch off of him any day now, once I can spare a naked Korean girl. My nails have to be immaculate at all times.
Schmit: Right. Well, anyway, so I was thinking that since we had such a good time in the studio, maybe we could just, y’know, jump right back in and make another record!
Schmit: I mean, sure, we didn’t always see eye to eye, but I thought we really did a good…
A Schlitz beer can comes flying at Schmit’s head.
Frey: Bullseye, Smurfette!
Schmit: What was that for?
Frey: Listen, lil’ Schmitty. That album came out okay in the long run, but…
Henley: The long run!
Frey: Ha! Didn’t even mean to do that!
Henley: High five!
Henley snaps his fingers. A naked Korean girl high-fives Frey for him.
Frey: And I don’t think…YEAH! GO AUSTIN! GO AUSTIN! TOUCHDOWWWWWWN! YEEEE-HAWWWWW!!!
Henley: Uh, I think what Glenn was trying to say was that sure, the album came out just fine, but do you not remember the torture it took us to make it? How Azoff had to ply us with $100 bills in a trail from our houses to the studio?
Schmit: I didn’t get any $100 bills. He just had his assistant call me and say, “Be there at 8 AM.” And you guys didn’t show up until 2.
Frey (snickering): Yeah, that was me prank-calling you, using my falsetto.
Schmit: I knew I recognized that beautiful tone!
Henley: Anyway, the long and short of it is, there’s no way you’re getting me in the studio with you assholes again. I’m fine touring because I don’t have to actually speak to you. And I’ll come here every so often, but only for the mani/pedi. So I’m sorry, Tim, but no new album. No way, no how.
Schmit: But, I thought…
Schmit: But what if we…
Henley: Glenn, tell him.
Frey: Go fuck yourself, lil’ fella.
Schmit: Fine. Fine. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to record my own album! I’ll bill it as the only solo album from an Eagles member released this millennium! And I’ll get all sorts of second-billing musicians to play on it! Graham Nash! Garth Hudson! And a bevy of session guys! You hear me? A bevy!
Henley: Sounds good. Have a great time.
Schmit: Oh, I will! I WILL! You’ll see! I already have one song written! It’s called “Ella Jean” and it’s for my wife!
Schmit: And she’ll love it! She’ll be so impressed! (Playwright note: Schmit’s wife was, in fact, not impressed.)
Henley: Best of luck to you, Timmy. Glenn, wish Tim the best of luck.
Frey: C’mere, you!!!!!
Frey gets up out of his recliner and starts chasing Schmit around the room. Schmit leaps into the arms of a naked Korean girl.
Henley: Hey! HEY! These nails aren’t going to manicure themselves!
The girl drops Schmit. Sound of a bone, somewhere on Schmit’s body, cracking.
Schmit: I’ll show you. I’ll show all of you. I’ll even show you, Joe!
Groans from underneath the couch.
Schmit: I don’t need you guys. I don’t need anyone!
Henley: Goodbye, Tim.
Schmit walks towards the door.
Schmit: I mean, if you guys want to even sing just a line or two, just give me a…
Frey: GLENN MAD!!!! GRRRRRRRR!!!
Schmit quickly slams door and runs for taxi, waiting outside.
– FIN –
Bravo, right? Jason totally needs to write more of these. Expando may or may not have been preceded by a conversation like the one he imagined, but at least it’s entertaining — and that’s more than I can say for most of the album itself, which is a lightly salted hash of Schmit’s folk-rock roots and his later, more lucrative forays into adult contemporary sap. There aren’t any really wimpy ballads, but none of these songs really rock, either; the closest Schmit comes to working up a temperature is the dreadful “White Boy from Sacramento,” an ever-so-slightly funky number that sticks its tongue in its cheek and nearly chokes to death. By giving his album a fearlessly stupid title like Expando, Schmit has tacitly promised to take his listeners on a wild rock & roll adventure, and these 10 tracks don’t deliver.
It’s only fair to mention that although Expando is by far the most stupidly titled album of Schmit (or anyone else’s) career, it’s also his best produced. In a deliberate departure from the arid glassiness of the Eagles (and the glossy clunk of his ’80s albums), Schmit recorded Expando in his home studio — meaning that everyone on this album’s ridiculous guest list, from Benmont Tench to Van Dyke Parks to Kid Rock, Garth Hudson, and the Blind Boys of Alabama, trucked on over to Tim’s place to lay down their parts. The result is an album with a pleasant Laurel Canyon vibe — the arrangements are fairly layered, but they’re never busy, and everything has plenty of room to stretch out in the California sun.
If only Schmit had bothered to write some songs that actually went somewhere. Expando meekly offers one plodding midtempo groove after another — and even worse, Schmit used his break from the Eagles as license to ignore his inner editor and let some songs lumber on much longer than they should. Six of the 10 tracks approach or exceed the six-minute mark, but they don’t do much of anything with their expando-ed length. With the exception of “White Boy,” nothing will make you lunge for the “next” button, but you won’t remember most of the album, either — only “I Don’t Mind,” which bounces along on a wonderfully silly accordion-and-tuba arrangement, suggests that Schmit might have more to offer than sleepy adult contemporary fare.
On the other hand, Expando contains zero Glenn Frey, and because rock & roll math clearly states that an album’s net entertainment value exists in inverse proportion to the amount of Frey it features, Expando is better than any Eagles album recorded before Joe Walsh joined the band in 1976 (because rock & roll math also states that Some Joe Walsh trumps Any Glenn Frey). It’s still a mostly inconsequential piece of work, but if you’re looking for a homebrewed vanity project that sucks less than No Fun Aloud, this will be money well spent.