Meet Ladd Everitt from Washington, D.C.
Hello, I am a 31-year old American fan living in Washington, D.C. I fully confess I am not America's greatest fan. I have yet to see them live (a recent show in VA sold-out, shocking me, and I missed it) and I only have their first two albums on disc. So why am I posting on this board? Well, let me explain because I really am deeply in touch with what makes these guys so great.
I was a young kid growing up in the early and mid-70s and, like many of you, I came to love America's songs by hearing them on the radio. Much of the pop music of this decade was simply beautiful and I got carried away by tunes like "Horse With No Name," "Tin Man," "Sister Golden Hair," "Ventura Highway," and many others. But there were many other great acts back then (i.e., the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Dan Fogelberg, etc.) and my focus was never solely on Dewey, Gerry and Dan (whose names I didn't even know until over 20 years later).
Flash forward to January of 2000. I had been playing drums since I was 14, but living in a small studio apartment in Washington (my kit was at my parents' home in NY). I decided that I needed to take up an instrument that would allow me to play, write and record music without the help of other musicians. So I decided to take guitar lessons and bought myself a cheap acoustic guitar to cut my teeth on.
Really my first thought upon starting lessons was "wow, I can't wait to start playing and singing 70s tunes." So I went to the OLGA archive on the Internet and started downloading chord charts for all my favorite 70s hits, and low and behold, among them were some of America's greatest billboard successes. They were perfect for jamming this way, and about this time, I happened through a record store one day and bought their first album on disc.
Whoa, I was blown away. I knew the hits, but the other songs on this disc, like "Rainy Day," "Clarice," and "Riverside" were absolutely incredible. So emotionally hard-hitting, the feeling just rushed out of every tune, I couldn't believe 18-year olds had written and performed these songs. After picking up "Homecoming," I fully realized that--like Steely Dan, for example--America does not write bad songs. Not one. They're all outstanding--the consistency is mind-boggling and probably borne out of the fact that something very pure and honest is coming out of their hearts, their souls when they pick up the guitar or sit down to the piano to write them or play them.
The guitar center where I take lessons just had a recital and I played in it for the first time. The song I performed? "Sister Golden Hair," to a very warm reception. Even today it gets such a great response, even from younger folks who think the 70s was cheesy. The power of the music speaks for itself.
I am holding off buying the rest of America's albums right away (even though I've ordered "Hat Trick") because I want to savor the rest of their catalogue with Dan Peek. I've done this with Salinger's novels because I didn't want to move too quickly to a point where there were no longer any new treasures to find. I continue to jam their songs regularly and was spurred on even more after ordering their great Musikladen video, which showed them at the height of their powers.
I write my own music and the influence of this great band probably dominates over all others. My songs are acoustic, with soulful vocals; patient, emotional leads; and good lyrical vibes. If anyone would like a tape to listen to, feel free to email me.
So am I America's greatest fan? Far from it. I'm taking my time, but one day I will have all their albums, see them live, play all their tunes, etc. But I'm in no rush. I envy those of you who had each new album to look forward to in your youth and I'm going to take my time in discovering all their music has to offer.
Feel free to send your comments or questions to Ladd.
Written: 18 July 2001