For over fifty years, Gerry Beckley has performed, written, and recorded with the group he co-founded with Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek, America. But with his 1995 album Van Go Gan, Beckley began a parallel solo career that also continues to this very day. On the heels of his sublime 2019 release Five Mile Road, the singer-songwriter is looking back with a new solo retrospective. Keeping the Light On: The Best of Gerry Beckley will arrive in 2-CD and 2-LP formats via the Blue Élan label on March 26 with the first single, “Self Image,” now streaming.
For its 20 varied and richly melodic selections, Keeping the Light On draws from Beckley’s solo albums including 1995’s Van Go Gan, 2006’s Horizontal Fall, 2009’s Happy Hour, 2011’s Unfortunate Casino, 2016’s Carousel, and 2019’s Five Mile Road. The tracks feature his collaborations with such treasured musical partners as Robert Lamm, Hank Linderman, Jeff Larson, Bill Mumy, Jeffrey Foskett, and the late Carl Wilson.
Five previously unreleased tracks round out the set including “Norman” (performed live by Gerry and Dewey in the 1970s but never released by Gerry in a studio version until now), “(I’m Your) Heart Slave,” “Calling You” from the film Bagdad Café, “Self Image,” and “How Can I Turn You Away.” Beckley comments in the press release, “Yeah, I’m pretty prolific, but I like to preface this with the fact I come from the school of songwriting where you need to write 10 to come up with two that are keepers. That doesn’t mean the other eight are crap, either. But you end up with an abundance of material, and you want to have a home for it.”
While listeners will undoubtedly detect echoes of classic Beckley compositions such as “I Need You,” “Daisy Jane,” and “Only in Your Heart,” the sounds of his solo albums are diverse and all-encompassing. “It’s a challenge because if you’re going to sing all the songs, you want to try to put variety in there,” he notes. “Obviously one of the great things about America is the combined strength; Dewey (Bunnell) is a fantastic partner and a great writer and singer and we really complement each other. So, when I do something on my own it’s not as simple as, ‘Now here’s a Dewey song, here’s a Gerry song…’ Fortunately there are a lot of different kinds of ‘Gerry songs’ that I’ve been able to put on these records.”
The fully remastered collection will be available as a 2-CD set with a 44-page booklet containing photographs taken by Beckley over the past decades. Additionally, it will be pressed as 2-LP set on translucent vinyl and limited edition marble vinyl. All pre-orders placed directly from the label will be fulfilled with a bonus CD featuring nine tracks of Beckley compositions (including America staples “Sister Golden Hair” and “Daisy Jane”) performed by a roster of contemporary indie female artists.
“This record is from this point back, and the stuff I’ve been writing and recording will be from this point forward,” Beckley comments. “This is certainly a summation, I guess, but it’s not the end of the story. It’s amazing to have 50 years in this job. Now I can’t wait to start the second half-century.” We look forward to him keeping the light on for a great while longer. You’ll find pre-order links below for Keeping the Light On: The Best of Gerry Beckley.
Gerry Beckley, Keeping The Light On: The Best of Gerry Beckley (Blue Élan, 2021)
- Watching The Time
- Calling You
- Self Image
- Now Sue
- Goodbye Highway
- Hang Your Head High
- (I’m Your) Heart Slave
- Life Lessons
- Once A Distant Heart
- Cup Of Rain
- How Can I Turn You Away
- Home Again
- Keeping The Light On
Tracks 1, 2 & 20 from Horizontal Fall, Human Nature, 2006
Tracks 3, 7 & 8 from Van Go Gan, Human Nature, 1995 (tracks remixed on Go Man Go, Human Nature, 2000; versions TBD)
Tracks 4, 11 from Happy Hour, Human Nature, 2008
Tracks 5, 6, 9, 12, 17 previously unreleased
Tracks 10, 16 from Unfortunate Casino, Human Nature, 2010
Track 13, 18-19 from Five Mile Road, Blue Élan BER 1184, 2019
Tracks 14-15 from Carousel, Blue Élan BER 1027, 2016