Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now
by on October 16, 2017 in Songwriting

I’ve been continuing to organize, declutter, (which ultimately means reflecting), and am coming across such great things. So many photos, recordings, videos, etc.

I’ve been writing about this for various reasons lately… this song. The first time was when I was putting together a study course on how I record vocals and the moment that changed my life, the moment everything changed… now remember, it’s one thing to look at the data… the facts of what happened but when it brings back the actual emotions… wow… very powerful and I encourage ANY and EVERYBODY to do this, if they have the chance.

When I share I’ve done this I get a couple of reactions… 1, is that people say, I’ve been doing that too and it’s amazing what happens! Mainly, the gratitude… it’s so easy to look back on our lives and think we wish we could have done things different… made different choices… but then, you do something like de-cluttering, organizing… (discovering lost gems), and the gratitude hits. We see how far we’ve come. Plain and simple… looking at today… personally, from where I was 20 years ago… 10 years ago… 5, 2… you get the point. How far we’ve come. For me? That’s important.

Ok, typical me, a little bit of a tangent, BUT, I’m back on track now!

The other place I talk about this song is in my songwriting course which again points to the moment when everything changed. And here’s what I went through last night listening to this demo, over and over again.

It took me back to what led up to it all.

I was living in L.A. and was your typical young musician just making the rounds. I won’t even go so far as to say I had a plan, I didn’t. I’ve covered in some of my other writings that I just came to L.A. because I wanted to be *around* all my heroes. Never really thought I’d be in that club… just wanted to go to the grocery store and maybe bump into people like Maurice White or Gino Vanelli… well, not bump into them… I would have just gawked at them!

(Funny enough… I went to a car wash on Ventura Blvd. one day and Maurice was sitting waiting for his car! AND, I was listening to an Earth Wind and Fire song on the way there! True story! And, I did introduce myself. I was in the club by then so I didn’t feel I was *fanning* out on him… or at least I didn’t show him that!)

So I was living in a great 2 bedroom house in Beachwood Canyon with one of the sweetest people on the planet earth. Peter Atanasoff. In fact, the story is so cool… he had taken over the house that one of our friends, Bill Quateman, had for many years. It was just Peter for a while and then he asked if I wanted to rent a room.

Sorry but I need to go off on a couple tangents… Bill Quateman was looking for a bass player and Peter recommended me. This was probably around 1982? Somewhere around there. I was so smitten by Quateman. A BIG personality with tons of confidence. He was signed to CBS records as, what he calls, one of Clive Davis’s million dollar babies.

Bill’s first album cover was a bit similar to the 2nd Elton John album. Same kind of look… a bit dark with a great headshot. So again, I was drawn into this. (and when I think of all the hints that are coming at me, now that I reflect, it’s eery. As they say, pay attention… the universe is really telling you things).

So I end up playing with Bill and going on the road… just a duo and ironically, we head out east, (the first time I’d been further east than Yuma, AZ), and we go to Chicago. Quateman is from Chicago!

So there we are in his mother’s house… the one Bill grew up in with the basement that his bands rehearsed in… and we play down in Champaign, IL, Peoria… and we played on the Navy Pier in Chicago for Chicagofest in 1982 I believe?

A couple of things stand out to me that are real cool and shapes of things to come. I hear that REO Speedwagon is from Champaign, IL so I’m feeling a touch of a connection having seen them from afar at Sound City Studios when they were recording “High Infidelity” and I was in recording with Tom and John Keane for their 2nd “Keane” album for Japan.

Never really thinking that these little brushes are getting you closer to something… never in a million years would I have thought that… but, look what happened?

I remember looking at the records of Bill Quateman’s, (LP Records for all you youngsters out there), and seeing the credits. All the bigtime studio musicians on Bill’s records. Denny Seiwell of “Wings”, Buzz Feiten, Andy Newmark, Rick Shlosser… the list just went on! Oh, and another future connection… Cherokee Studios! I would eventually be working in that studio with future friends… Steve Cropper, Skunk Baxter… you see the picture unfolding?

When I finished my little stint with Quateman I was settling in L.A. to really try and get to the next level, (whatever that was! remember… I wasn’t really thinking too *big*. was incapable of that), and I ended up in that house Quateman was living in… oh, and the great Peter Chaikin was in the house in the front! So here was another *name* I was surrounded with. Since he was in the front I figured he was the top dog and I didn’t want to really bother him. We’d end up out in the driveway some mornings in morning attire, bathrobes? whatever… but that was as far as I got back then. He had gold records on his walls! He’s too bigtime for little ole me!

Ok, back to moving in with Peter. Peter was a HUGE Buzz Feiten fan and was a close friend of his. When he’d mention his name, of course I would be dreaming of being able to MEET the guy some day and in my limited thinking thought he’d probably smile, say hello and maybe if I was lucky he’d pat me on the top of the head saying something like, “Yes little man, I know… but calm down… it’s all going to be fine”.

Let me tell how different the experience was when I finally met him. Buzz gave me a feeling that was to come from all my subsequent associations along the climb to the top in the music business. He greeted me with a very warm peer to peer energy. This was not teacher to student… at least not on the surface. It wasn’t ordained…

It helped me settle in to what would become an incredible relationship. He let me know right off the bat how much he respected my musicianship. Now at this point we weren’t writing any music, yet. I was petrified to show him anything! This was the guy who played at “Woodstock” at 17 years old with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He was also the guitar player on the GREAT Ricky Lee Jones records. The KILLE acoustic guitar, well, all the guitars, on “Chuck E’s In Love”? That’s Buzz. Let alone the INCREDIBLE records he made with Neil Larsen. Both Neil’s solo record and the Larsen/Feiten Band records.

Yes, I was TOTALLY starstruck, but again, as I said about all the subsequent artists, producers, musicians I’d meet in the years to come, they wouldn’t have any of the worship I was ready to bestow upon them.

Buzz asked me to join his band he’d put together with a guy named Sal Bernardi. Sal was, and is, incredible. A GREAT artist… an incredible poet and was Ricky Lee’s boyfriend around her “Pirates” album. In fact on the back of the album is a photo of both of them.

Sal had these great songs so we learned and rehearsed them. I was surprised that Buzz didn’t really want to be the lead singer. I loved his voice on the Larsen/Feiten albums but Buzz was at a place where he wanted to share the duties. So Sal with the singer. Me? No way… just a background vocalist.

Well, we played some gigs around town with that band and eventually Sal went his own way.

So here’s the big moment… Buzz had heard a song or 2 I had recorded recently and said, “Ok, YOU’RE the lead singer.” and again, I was a bit intimidated, but, I went along with it.

Turns out we didn’t play live with that band, Buzz and I wrote a couple songs and went into the studio to cut them.

We got some studio time given to us by my great friend Michael Boddicker who played keys on the original recordings. We cut with my Linn 9000 drum machine, (or Micheal’s… I can’t remember), and then we added Neil Larsen to the recordings with more keyboards.

We then went into Crystal Recording studios and here’s where it all happened… again, Buzz takes us into the studio with his longtime friend Bob Margouleff who owned the studio, AND, was co-producer on some of the greatest Stevie Wonder records EVER! Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fullingness First Finale… Yes, THIS was the studio Stevie had changed the world in with Margouleff and his partner Malcom Cecil bringing the sound of synthesizers to Stevie and modern music.

There I was, in a temple… were he walls talking? Kind of! Now again, remember, I would NEVER be comparing myself to any of these incredible artists who’d made this room a place of holiness… all I knew was I was in it and taking in the vibes!

Bob Margouleff was brought on to co-produce the project to finish it. We brought John Keane in to play drums on the 2 songs and of course, he drilled them.

I went out and cut vocals to both songs. One was an uptempo tune called “You’re Old Enough” and the 2nd was called “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.

While I was listening to this demo last night I remember distinctly how I was feeling. I was feeling that it was a very serious opportunity and I couldn’t goof around… did I have the confidence to stand there saying, “I’m the next lead vocalist/artist ready to take the world by storm!” as most of the up and comers say and do in L.A.? Of course not…

But once the tape started rolling and I heard this incredible track in my headphones something started to settle. I started singing and as the song played down I got more and more confident.

Listening back now it’s funny to me how some of the ways I was affecting my voice was, I don’t KNOW where it was coming from! Maybe a little Ricky Lee, a little Sal, a little Buzz? Who knows… I certainly wasn’t thinking, “This is ME so you’d better watch out!”

I was just reacting to the music… and when we were done, Margouelff was very excited. He started making calls and was setting up some meetings to take the stuff to.

Well, things didn’t quite work out for that configuration… I ended up moving on and within a year or so that demo got into the hands of Warner Bros. Records which got me into the band Chicago.

I could go off on so many other tangents right but I’m going to spare you a novel here. I’ll actually break it down into other blog posts… but one that comes to mind is that Buzz and John Keane ended up continuing on with that band… I believe John became the lead vocalist after I left… and they were recording in Jeff Porcaro’s studio, The Villa, when I called to tell John that I was going to audition for Chicago. I’ll save that for another post… but for now… check out this demo… and you can compare this to what ended up on Chicago 18.

I will say this… what an honor and compliment that David Foster really took the essence of what we did on our demo to record for the Chicago album. Tempo… all of it.

And you can read another post, or 2, on how I stepped up to the microphone on day 1 of vocals for Chicago 18 to sing this song thinking… “Well, you’ve already sung it once so you know it… just try to do it again…” ah, the moment of truth!

Thanks for indulging me and reading this story. Please comment on how any of this hits you. Let us know YOUR moments of truth. We all have em!

14 Responses to Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now

  1. Mark says:

    Always a joy to listen to you jason.

  2. Jon says:

    One of my favorite songs from the 80’s.

  3. Anthony Arnheiter says:

    Hey Jason, So a poor boy from the woods in upstate NY. learns a few chords loves music and heads off on a journey. That’s me many years ago . Roll ahead to 1978 first recording in a real studio in Denver Co. 8 songs I wrote and sang on . Many years later much money spent on the dream That was me Many Years Ago. Settled in to Co and tried to move ahead . Songwriting was my reason for living . Problem was Life. Always, Right.. Won some awards on local radio . Performed in some fairly big clubs . Hope is My Pocket. Roll ahead to 1984 I move to Santa Barbara CA to try and meet and make some music connections . Music store in Goleta. Many big names etc I rum into a keyboard/pianist /drummer from town who invites me into his thing and turns out one of his good friends is Ted Templeman . Things look promising . I came out to CA with a few tunes I recorded to try and get noticed . Maybe StarSearch who knows. I run into a big name producer in the store hand him a tape who knows right . I sing on the stores local radio slot I mean Im thinking maybe just maybe this kid from the woods might get a real shot . Im writing with this friend of Ted Ts and Im hopin maybe I will get a chance to meet my heros Mike McDonald and or Kenny Loggins . Time goes by Ive got the passion and the hope . Suddenly my connections disappear. Ive lost the job in the store cause I just wasn’t that good a salesman and xmas was over. My friend gets pod at me for really something stupid and he bails . My wife needs surgery again. We need money and I take a day gig and that’s The End Of MY Dream. Its been a long time now . I still try and write everyday but I don’t seem to have a lyric voice so its all start and stop. Ive met many heros since then Mike McD Kenny Loggins David Foster Al Jarreau Bobby Caldwell Paul Peterson and was in awe meeting each and everyone but as I stood there saying hi and shakin their hands I knew this was the closest I would probably ever get to my dream . Time Has Passed I still think of nothing but music and wish there was some magic door I could open and I had a few music friends who encouraged me and I was livin the dream. I got a chance to send a cd to Danny Seraphine a few years back and never heard back so I guess I wasn’t that special. Except I still believe in Me . In know Im in the majority of those who tried and tried but just didn’t move to my dream path but I love this dream way to much to ever give it up. Just wanted to shine a light on those out there who worked at success but didn’t quite get the shot. Anyway Really liked your tune . Nice to know there are those who have had the Dream Fulfillment and live to tell bout it. Take Great Care Jason and always Keep Shinin…Oh yeah moved back to Denver in 87 and shortly after I get a phone call its Mike Grizzi from Starsearch DO I have any more video for them to look at. ? Life Timing Is Everything.. HA..

  4. Oh wow… hadn’t heard this one in a while…. so many memories… Jason, more interesting than anything, is to see how one’s season of life can contribute to so many others’ life experience as well… as you take inventory of your life and “organize” these memories and share your music and experiences with us, we too embark on a significant journey… well done! Great song!

  5. Gina says:

    love your writing – the blogs and notes – Sure think you could write a book with a CD included.
    Consider a tour: little singing, little story telling, little Q&A, little motivational speaking. (Do you cook as well) . Repeat.

    Do you miss performing , how can fans best respect your music and encourage your creativity to continue? What ways are avalable to financially support your music if we are not capable of passing the workshop. I may qualify to Audit a class. I’m not creative at all.

    Outside of the music industry, who influenced you to give you such wisdom and optimistic outlook? Who made a difference in your life ? How did you manage a traveling career and family. What tips can you pass along?
    What books have you read lately?

    If you could ask 3 people to dinner OTHER than your family, who would they be?

    If I had one opportunity to ask you a question, my answer would include asking you 3 more questions.

    You’re making a difference with your music.
    Thank you.

  6. Tracy says:

    I love the song, I love the story
    And I’d really love to read your novel (so go ahead and write one)

  7. Gretchen says:

    Great song!

  8. Scott says:

    Have always loved this song!

  9. judy graves says:

    From the beginning to the end…YOU are the best…Always waiting for more music from YOU! Love you Jase!

  10. Gene says:

    What a cool story. I love hearing all of the background info leading up to a certain point. I was the same way in that I always bought an LP, put it on the turn table and absorbed all of the liner notes to see who played and produced etc.
    Keep me coming. You are one of the greats in my book

  11. Beth Miller says:

    “Well, we played some gigs around town with that band and eventually.”… I Pressed play~?
    Holy Mother of God Jason! It struck me in the soul. Speechless and replay..
    This warped the hour glass, I had no idea it was going to be the real deal, I wasn’t expecting this! My entire being responded like a tuning fork, goose bumps head to toe.- BAM- I was right there in a flash – Feeling things I could not have remembered if you asked me. The layout of the club, your face shining in the lights, laughing about thunder thumbs, your all out commitment to every note..A full house, standing room only happy with the booth as I felt the pinch of my right boot, always a little too tight. that black denim skirt, that had no stretch, pink shirt i loved. I was feeling memories not thinking them. Holding back the enthusiasm of a cheerleader & playing it cool The Smiles all around said it all. Everyone was loving it.
    Felling such a joy to see you where you belonged. All your skill and humility.
    I recalled loving that I could being there in 100% support of you going for it and living your dream, honored to be cheering you on! Long time friends from S.D. what a trip I thought, we would run into each other as if by fate and not skip a beet.. carried on like no time passed. But that was THE Gig I said FINALLY Jason found some good back up people, Thats all
    I could see, I thought it was your band, You were always the main attraction. as far as I could see. And that cat in the hat was pretty good. I think I congratulated him on joining your band. He Smiled glanced at you and said why Thank you.

    Well, we played some gigs around town with that band and eventually….I had a vision ~ It became the Truth.
    Sending your Family Love and strength! As you write that new book.

  12. Jason. This is a fabulous song. Congratulations. Found your work after rediscovering Chicago on You Tube. I had heard the post Cetera guy had an amazing voice, which, of course, is true, but now that I’ve heard you play bass, I think I’ll just sell my P-bass and take up base jumping or something, kidding, I’m actually going to run away join the circus. Anyway, you are a bass stylist and it’s a blast listening to you play. How you sing so well and play bass so brilliantly at the same time I can’t imagine. I guess that’s what they mean by the 10,000 hours. Hope you’ll be playing up here in Massachusetts. All the best, Paul

  13. Rogeria Tavares says:

    Dear Jason, great song! This is just a short note to thank you from the heart for all your amazing musical work. Besides and above that, thank you so much for following your intuition, your big heart, and doing what you have been doing throughout all these years and getting where you have been all this time: on your true path of Good! You’re truly an inspiration and a real example of what a human being should be. It is no coincidence or sheer luck that you are where you are. I saw on YouTube an interview with Chicago at 94.7 WLS (I think it was in 2013), and in that interview you just confirmed to me who you really are… When asked, looking back, if you would have changed anything you have done or do something you have not done, you so wisely said, no since, if you had changed anything, you would not be where you were then… And you also expressed many times throughout the interview your great gratitude for being where you were… And, from my own experience, you were/are so right! We have to really be and feel grateful for all our blessings…and we have soooo many, which we should be consciously grateful for, every day, and as often as we can remember… Gratitude for your life and your sharing so much of your beautiful self with us all! God bless you, forever!

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