Fire Up Your Heart

You probably heard over the weekend that singer-songwriter John Stewart died. Most of the obits lead with his having written the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” and go onto his membership in the Kingston Trio. If they refer to his solo career at all, they sum it up quickly, as the New York Times did: Stewart “went on to record nearly four dozen solo albums, including ‘California Bloodlines’ and ‘Bombs Away Dream Babies.'” The Times scores extra points, however, for mentioning that he wrote “Runaway Train,” one of my favorite Rosanne Cash songs. Score even more for your local newspaper if they mentioned his travels with Robert F. Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign.

But it’s worth talking more about Bombs Away Dream Babies. It was among the handful of albums appearing in the summer and fall of 1979 that provided a powerful antidote to the cookie-cutter disco that dominated the charts in that year. It didn’t hurt that Stewart had the high-profile help of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who were coming off Rumours and about to unleash Tusk. Their contributions are especially easy to hear on the album’s first two singles, “Gold” and “Midnight Wind.” “Gold” made it to Number 5 on Billboard in August; “Midnight Wind” to Number 28 in October (a criminally weak chart performance for a record that good). But the third single, one without Buckingham and Nicks, is a particular favorite of mine. “Lost Her in the Sun” was on the radio this week in 1980. Allmusic.com calls it “a true later-day folk/rock masterpiece” that “sweeps by the listener with an incredible, comfortable sweetness.” No kidding.

“Lost Her in the Sun”/John Stewart (Buy it here, on a compilation that contains several other Forgotten 45s from 1980—one of which we’ll be featuring here later in the week. Bombs Away Dream Babies is apparently out of print; be prepared to pay big coin.)

(RSO 1016, chart peak: 34, February 9, 1980)

7 thoughts on “Fire Up Your Heart

  1. Fortunately, I have a copy of “Bombs Away Dream Babies.” Stewart used to perform at Anderson’s Fifth Estate in Scottsdale, Arizona at least twice a year. He was still a good draw despite having little commercial success. John, you were GOLD.

  2. Pingback: Forgotten 45: “Pilot of the Airwaves” « The Hits Just Keep On Comin’

  3. Indeed, California Bloodlines is a great record; Bombs Away Dream Babies is something entirely different. “Runaway Fool of Love” and “Somewhere Down The Line” are two of my favorite JS songs. It’s somewhere in my collection, here or back in my Mom’s attic in New York. It’s worthy of a feature in a future show.

  4. I couldn’t believe it when I saw Bombs Away Dream Babies going for more than $100 on cd!
    It’s an incredible album I have on vinyl and cd.
    But for my money, the Phoenix Concerts Live album is Stewart at his best.
    I’ve posted a couple tracks to sample.

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