Author Archive

A Calling

My life is better when:

  1. I get the music (I hear)  written.  Get what I hear in my head recorded so that it can be played and heard.
  2. I get the music (I’ve written) out of my living room.   Get it out “there” where others can hear it, too.

These jobs require different skill sets and I would argue one is a right brain task and the other is left brain work.  For the past several weeks, I’ve been in Texas.  Writing.  Re-writing.  Working on new songs.  Now it’s time to go to LA and work them up with my band.

“I was busy when the future came    Looking darkly through a glass   We were introduced, I loved your name    And the future came to pass     Nobody knows but me   Nobody knows but me   Nobody knows what you open and close       Nobody knows but me”       NEVER MINE (Nobody Knows) ©2010 w/m  JD Hinton  Wide Brim Music, BMI   Six Shooter Productions, Inc.

This is my work.  Takes time and attention to detail.  Sweat and inspiration. It is not a job.  It is not an occupation.  It is a vocation.  It is the closest thing I know to what is commonly mentioned as…   a calling.

Big John… and Two JDs

As a boy I did not know what made some records sound better than others.  Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” sounded great to me.  I liked the song, too. I was always thrilled to hear it booming out of AM radio when it first hit the charts.  I still remember where I was on two occasions that it was played. The days of AM Top 40 radio playing songs by Jimmy Dean were numbered.  The British invasion and the development of stereo would see to that.  The record still sounds great.

Before my journey in music – Before acting in Hollywood – My show business days began in radio. I was a kid, but that’s how I got to California.

When I arrived as a disc jockey and music director at KROY in the autumn of ’71, the Sacramento billboards touted Jimmy Dean shows in the Tahoe casinos.  Every time I’d drive by those signs I could hear “Big John… Big Bad Johnnnn” replaying in my mind.

On KROY one day, I was told that Jimmy Dean would be coming by the station to promote his (then new) Jimmy Dean Sausage. My job was to let him “sit in” on my show.  Interview him. Of course there was no planning for this.  We were going to wing it.  I wondered what we would do beyond playing “Big Bad John.”  How would he get along with a young kid interviewer? How soon would Norton, the salesman, ask Dwight, the G.M., to ship me back to Texas?

Jimmy was gracious. Very easy to meet.  After saying hello “on the air” and visiting for a minute, I plowed ahead with the show and records from the A stack or the B stack, etc. in the prescribed order.  When the songs were over I resumed talking to my “in studio guest” (sausage, Big Bad John, music) and then played whatever commercials were on the log.  Of course we talked off the air when the songs or commercials  were playing.  This went on for about an hour.  As professional as he was on the air, he was equally genial off the air.

It helped that we were both from Texas. It gave us ways to connect. We used those connections to play up a camaraderie and orneriness between us.  We had no routine, but I could tell he liked the repartee.  He was good with improvising. For those several minutes on KROY it was as if we’d known each other for years.  (I told you he was a pro.  I just worked to keep up and feed the momentum.)

Toward the end of our visit, I started playing STORY IN YOUR EYES by the Moody Blues underneath our conversation — using the record bed as a pad. I wasn’t sure how we’d get out of this talk before the record intro ended and the song began. I had about 24 secs of intro before the track shifts into gear.

Jimmy starts yammering about how I’m no hotshot. How I should go back to Texas. He gins up a Don Rickles put down humor on me to let me know that I’m not even really all that good a Texan…. and… I let him run on this way a few more seconds. Then, I said, “Oh yeah? Well your face looks like your neck threw up!”  Jimmy lit up with complete surprise, admiration, and glee. He began to laugh this deep throaty laugh that perfectly timed with the musical crescendo that every DJ hopes to reach in his talk up.  The Moody Blues were off to the races and I had just had a wonderful visit with Jimmy Dean.

Robert’s Home

My first job in show business was at W-A-C-O radio as a disc jockey with my own daily shows. Whatever my talents, I was a high school boy and the two bosses I had there were…  patient and merciful.

Robert Weathers was my second boss. He inherited me, but Robert began to champion my work early on. When I moved to California, we stayed friends. For the past several years Robert has been in declining health. Last week I spoke at his funeral.

Robert’s home.  Standing tall.  Walking with strong steps and with no need for a walker.  His hair is no longer gray.  It is the color that is the color on a saint’s head.

Thanks again for the patience and the opportunity.  Goodbye good friend.

After REFUGE… Friends

Completing the music for Refuge has been a journey. A good journey. Filming began in July ’09 in the area around Las Cruces, New Mexico. I visited the sets for atmosphere that might help when it came time to create the music that would underscore the film. In LA last September I watched how masterful the film editing process can be. In many ways it reminded me of producing and mixing songs and music in the studio.

Ross and I began writing the film’s score in late January after the editing was finalized… almost a year after I’d first read the script. We’d routinely begin at 1 p.m. and went until 4 a.m. the next morning. Our working day was not that different from all the others who’d worked in the New Mexico desert, except that we stayed out of the sun and heat.

Circumstances sometimes demand that you truly enjoy what you do. The best of those circumstances is friendship. Refuge gave me a chance to reconnect with actor buddy Christopher McDonald and to see the beauty of a Linda Hamilton smile. Refuge was also an important way to reunite as friends/working colleagues with producer Ginger Perkins, director Mark Medoff, editor Sidney Levin and of course with my collaborator Ross. In an unpredictable business, one experience remains. Friendships.

My Yearly Valentine

It’s no secret. Mother died in a bus wreck on Valentine’s Day. That was in 2003. The first year after was full of foreboding loss in all corners.

On the one year February anniversary, a week of seriously gloomy Texas skies dissolved into a soft Currier & Ives snowfall. The lawns and trees were covered in a mantle of pure and silent white. I had geared up for a weather delivered emotional wallop as February 14 landed. This first anniversary I was given a gift in the snow. Peace. Later that day the sun came out. The snow gave way to the blue shining Texas skies. I immediately felt God had sent me comfort in my sorrow. The rough places had been made smooth.

The day mother died I was on an island in the Caribbean for a friend’s wedding. My brother had left me a message to call him, but did not mention why. Phones were scarce and I caught a tram to the main hotel building to call back. On the tram I began talking to a man from Scotland. I excitedly told him that mother was a Scot, and I was proud to know that part of my ancestry. The man got off the tram before I did and as he left he spoke to me directly in a language I did not understand. Then he walked away. I looked back and he was gone. I now believe he was giving me a Gaelic farewell. What I believe now is that his farewell was angelic. In a few minutes I would learn of mother’s death. For reasons I would soon know, I was being told goodbye and to be strong. From Scot to Scot.

Today is February 14 again. It’s 2010. I’m not in Texas for the first time since 2004. In LA it’s sunny. Here there are hearts and flowers and all the usual February trimmings. No one here knows that Valentine’s is different for a small group of people in Texas.

Yesterday I went to the LA Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Afterwards I had the chance to speak to Lloyd Ogilvie. Lloyd was pastor at Hollywood Presbyterian where I attended during the 70s and 80s. Lloyd is a Scot. My mother’s family is part of the Ogilvie clan which I was thrilled to relate. As we parted he gave me the Ogilvie clan parting. I can barely pronounce it. I certainly cannot spell it. He said it to me in English, “ fight to the end.” Don’t give up. I got the message. From Scot to Scot.

Crazy Hearted

Got to see Crazy Heart. Good film. Jeff Bridges delivers and the reviewers recognize that. Glad to see T-Bone Burnet team up with the late Stephen Bruton for so much of the music in the film. When I first moved back to Texas, Peter Coyote told me to look up Stephen in Austin.  I tried, but we missed each other.  I wish now that I’d saved the message he left on my phone when he called back. Saxon Pub won’t be the same without Stephen’s guitar, but these songs from Crazy Heart will play on. Talent, pure and simple. Burnet also dropped in a Townes Van Zandt song which always perks up my ears. Haven’t met T-Bone… yet. Still have his vinyl lp I bought in the 80s. Enjoyed his concert back then at the Palace Theater across from Capitol Records in Hollywood. Good Music memories.

Traveling With Dad


it’s hard to get back to business as usual. During my radio dj days, going on the air after Christmas was floating time. All anticipation was outside the radio station. Insiders know Hollywood leaves for Aspen or Vail by Dec. 15. See you in January. All work is anti-climactic this week.



was a good but very unusual day. Don’t know what to make of it at this point. Dad wanted to drive up to see the small town and the house where he was born (Westminster, TX). Then, because we were so close, he wanted to cruise up another 15 or so miles to Sherman. Dad was “from” Sherman and to me it’s always been where my grandparents lived. I knew from the way he presented this idea that A) he wanted to go and B… yea! there is a B) he wanted me to go with him or he wanted me to see it… and see it with him.



is not very sentimental-nostalgic. (I cover that base way beyond anyone else’s mere human ability.) In my whole life we have never once driven through Westminster even though it is very close to Sherman. For many years it was on our way to & from Sherman. I did not know it was there. If it meant anything to dad, you’d think we’d have been through there at least once before 2009. Dad took mother through there sometime in the past 10 or 12 years. Now out of the blue he wants to go there before the New Year and show it to me — “before the end of the year” is how he presents the idea to Me. No idea why not with my brother – or with both of us. Me.



and a bit to the east we rolled into a town that has mostly evaporated. We saw the handful of vacant windblown storefronts where there was once a town with a bank and a drug store and 4 or 5 other shops. The stores surrounded a large square lot where dad says the townfolk would congregate when the Traveling Medicine Shows came to town. We saw the streets and one house still standing that dad knew. We visited the cemetery. His great grandparents and some other family are buried there. I watched as dad walked the small field to find the graves. He talked, but only about things that had happened. Nothing emotional or attached to feelings. Just reliving long ago times.


to Sherman. He showed me another house I did not know he’d once called home. Of course we drove by all the places and down all the streets that held any lasting value for him. More stories. Remembered names of people now gone or unfindable. Tales and details he wanted to speak out loud – to bring back to life a moment or a world he once knew that no one else he knows will ever see. He wants me to know its there. What’s important about it is something he’s going to leave for me to sort out.



that time is fleeting and my time with dad is precious. There’s nothing ominous on the horizon. I just sensed this was a way to visit some of the old home places one last time. Dec. 28, 2009. It was a good father-son day.

Merry Christmas & Happy Decade

Merry Christmas! 

This morning’s paper carried this item:

10 YEARS AGO IN THE TELEGRAM — JD Hinton, a long-time Central Texas resident now a singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles–will be performing with a “choir” of Los Angeles singers entertaining Pope John Paul II in the Vatican on Christmas Day.

Ten years of memories and new friendships with the finest singers in the world!

A TEXAS Yuletide!

“… the days dwindle down to a precious few” (oh how I wish I’d written that) and here we are headed toward Christmas 2009.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I am Yule-tiding in Texas where folks are hoping that – just once –  Santa would use Longhorns instead of reindeer on his annual visit.  Back to LA in January.  To my beloved friends in Scotland, Happy Hogmanay!

New band for JD HINTON: “Songs in the Night”

The  JD HINTON “Songs in the Night” concerts in Hollywood feature a new JDH Band… extraordinary musicians.  They are:

Guitarist Billy Watts has recorded/performed with : Dixie ChicksBonnie RaittLucinda WilliamsCarlene Carter. Billy is currently working and performing with Eric Burdon, Jackson Browne, John TrudellTeresa James & the Rhythm Tramps, and The Twilight Lords.

Phil Bloch is recognized as one of the premier rhythm & blues drummers in LA.  Phil has worked with Terry Evans, Ry Cooder, Solomon Burke, Little Richard, Marva Wright, Willie Green, Jr., Hamish Stuart, Delaney Bramlett, Steve Cropper, Tom Scott

Rick  Solem you may know from his time playing piano with Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men.“… I place him right next to The Blasters Gene Taylor in the boogie woogie/blues/New Orleans style of piano playing.”  Dave Alvin

Joe Lamanno has played bass with Tina Turner, Rick Springfield, and Harriet Schock plus a variety of LA and So. California artists over the years including The Association, The Turtles, and Bill Medley.

I Have To Dream

It took a lifetime to write this song one afternoon.

As August was becoming September, I looked out the back of my house. The hillside was in full summer bloom. I thought about all the times I’d been at this window. And I wondered about tomorrow. I made some notes on a yellow pad, and then it was time to find the music.

“I Have to Dream” was originally conceived around a piano in a Baptist church in Glendale, California. I am sure that has a lot to do with its feel and the sound of it. Rick Solem understood immediately what the song needed and worked with me on the music. Ross Vannelli provided a perfect arrangement and weaved the theme through the score of Children On Their Birthdays.

It almost didn’t happen. The scene in Children On Their Birthdays where this song appears was not in the original script. After seeing early edits of the film, director Mark Medoff got the cast and crew back together to shoot a new scene. He called me in because he needed a song for this new moment in the film. I will always thank him for that.

Someone To Believe

Producer Kevin Goetz asked if I had a song for his movie Touched By a Killer. I said I did. I meant “I would.”

While watching an early edit on video of the movie, I made some notes about the characters. I found in their story what I felt like we’re all after… Someone to Believe. The moment my fingers touched the piano I played the first six notes of the song.

On lots of songs I use co-writers in order to take my original ideas in directions that I can’t predict. In this song, my music and words came together at the same time and very quickly. I couldn’t write fast enough.

“Someone to Believe” gave me a chance to work with Kathrin Shorr for the first time. It’s her performance you will hear if you see the movie.

She’s a tremendous singer who came to Scotland to sing with me at the Edinburgh Festival last August.

The other great collaboration and friendship that began because of this song was with Ross Vannelli. Ross composed the score for Touched by a Killer. It was his work with this film that gave me the idea that we should collaborate on the movie Children On Their Birthdays.

The Bat Cave

Welcome to Wide Brim MusicBay Area seating

Beware the Leopard Chair

Wide Brim Music

Regards Maggie – Farewell Patrick

It’s sad news to hear Patrick Swayze died.  It was the final bit of bad news about him that began over a year ago when we all learned he had a deadly form of cancer.  This is all so starkly opposite from what we knew about him from his screen roles.

Ashton Kutcher smartly (and I think caringly) sent a tweet about Patrick’s death that included a link to the Saturday Night Live scene where Patrick and Chris Farley played shirtless Chippendales dancers.  It shows Patrick in fine form and willing to do what it took to make the scene work.  Ever the pro, he was the straight man – second banana that helped stage Chris Farley’s comedic highlight.

I liked being around Patrick. It only happened a few times, but it was always fun.  The last time was at a mutual friend’s birthday party in a Hollywood restaurant. We had the whole place on La Cienega to ourselves.  I became the DJ for the night.  The place had a good sound system and everyone agreed we’d need music to make this a party.  I brought boxes of CDs from my collection to provide the soundtrack for the evening.

The party worked!  There was dancing going on immediately. Some couples.  Some groups of women who all hit the floor together.  In some ways it was just like the jr. high school dances you remember.  Girls on one side of the building.  Boys on the other.  At this party, Patrick and a lot of the guys were on the street front patio so they could smoke cigars and backslap.  Their dates and wives had their own fun inside.  I had the music.

I remember this party every time I hear Patrick’s name come up.  After the guys had spent a substantial amount of the party hanging out together, they broke ranks and headed through the open air entry back into the restaurant.  Patrick came up to me and said “Play some Motown.  We’re going to dance with these girls.”  I’d been playing Motown throughout the night.  They could have danced anytime.  But now was the time that they wanted to dance… and now they would sweep in like knights on horseback and show the women who loved them why they came to this party in the first place.

R.I.P.   Patrick

JD Hinton