from Columbia Records
Columbia Press and Public Information,
(photo to be
"A little grittier, a little tougher" is the way Tom
Jans describes his current album, co-produced by Little Feat mainstay Lowell George. Jans,
who began his professional career by collaborating with Mimi Farina, had previously
achieved his greatest measure of acclaim by writing Lovin Arms, a song
that was recorded by literally scores of artists in every musical genre. It was the first
of several Jans songs to score highly on the charts (most recent was the number one
country hit Out of Hand recorded by Gary Stewart).
The son of a California rancher, Tom grew up in the vicinity of
San Jose in a household that he describes as always having music around. My
grandmother played the drums and trombone, he recounts, and the house was always
boogie-ing. I remember one time I was angry and I sent my mothers only Glen Miller
record sailing across the back of the house. My mother cried all day and I realised that
music was a pretty heavy thing in our family.
Jans began writing at a precocious age and listening to a
wildly diverse assortment of music. The first record he ever bought was Johhny
Hortons The Battle of New Orleans (on Columbia, by the way) and Tom
recalls his admiration for the Olympics, Allen Toussaint, Hank Williams and Spike Jones.
At 20, Jans began to play Bay area coffee houses and it was though
one of those informal engagements that he came to meet Joan Baez and Joans sister
Mimi Farina. Toms work with the latter artist resulted in an album and a series of
dates that took them across the United States and Europe, opening for Cat Stevens on some
dates, playing on their own on others. They were really good times, Jans
remembers; I was pretty young 21 years old and I got off on the whole
The Farina-Jans collaboration ended as each felt drawn in
different directions. Says Tom: I began writing in earnest at the end of that
period; I started to piece together the things that were important to me, the things I
understood. Off on his own, Tom moved to Nashville for a year where he wrote
steadily and recorded his first solo album on A&M, produced by Mentor Williams and
embellished with the artistry of Lonnie Mack and Troy Seals, among others.
Now back in Los Angeles and on Columbia, Jans music
has taken on a slightly harder edge. His development as a writer and artist is best summed
up by Jans himself:
When youre younger, you tend to write about
yourself in vague terms; as you get older and come to know yourself better, your images
become more specific. But thats a lot of crap too you write because
thats what you do you hope its the best you can do.